North Texas Daily

Interview: Karl Urban and Michael Ealy are “Almost Human”

Interview: Karl Urban and Michael Ealy are “Almost Human”

Interview: Karl Urban and Michael Ealy are “Almost Human”
October 18
13:17 2013

Preston Barta / Film Critic

Here to hopefully start a new series to make fanboys drool is “Almost Human,” starring Karl Urban and Michael Ealy. The futuristic drama takes place in the near future where police officers are forced to partner with synthetic androids to help maintain tranquility.

Urban (“Star Trek,” 2009) plays John Kennex, a detective that finds droids untrustworthy after a raid goes wrong. Still recovering from the trauma, Kennex is assigned a new partner— a synthetic with human characteristics named Dorian, portrayed by Ealy (“Think Like a Man,” 2013).

Examining the lines between humanity and technology, “Almost Human” provides everything a good and fun show needs: high quality entertainment, cool gadgets and compelling characters.

The North Texas Daily had the opportunity to talk to Urban and Ealy about their roles and their transition to television.

Obviously you guys have both had a lot of success on the film side of things. What attracted you to doing a television series, and this series in particular?

Karl Urban: “For me, it was a multitude of things. Firstly, it was my relationship with J. J. Abrams and Bryan Burk. I had a fantastic time working with them on ‘Star Trek.’ When they approached me with this material, I read the pilot and was immediately drawn to the characters, the dynamic between the characters and the world. It seemed to me that what they were endeavoring to achieve was a fun, action-packed kind of buddy cop show, and do it in a way that hadn’t quite been done before. I was completely impressed with their vision for this world, these characters and the limitless possibilities of where we could take it. I felt like I would be kicking myself if I turned this down. So that’s really kind of what drew me to the project.”

Michael Ealy: “It started with that pilot script, which changed multiple times by the time we actually shot it, but each time it got better and better. From the first read, I was just highly impressed with this world and this level of writing. It never hurts to associate yourself with the J. J. Abrams camp. But at the end of the day, for me, the opportunity to play a character like Dorian doesn’t come along very often.”

What’s the most difficult part of this show for you guys, as actors? Michael, I would imagine it’s the having to act like a robot that’s acting like a human.

Ealy: “I think originally it started out that that was probably the hardest part for me: to try and absorb the idea that a machine is being human or a machine is trying to act human. That was definitely difficult at the start. I’m starting to get the hang of that now. But right now, I think the hardest part is actually trying to understand and develop somewhat of a bible for the world that we live in— we’re trying to find out what are the rules of the world that we set up. I think that’s probably the hardest part for me right now.”

Urban: “One of the aspects that I find most challenging, I think, is the physicality of it.  As I said before, this is a real fun, action-packed show. When you are attempting to achieve the quality of action and sort of the engaging performance that we are on a weekly basis, it certainly takes its toll. We shot an absolutely amazing sequence last week where Michael was fighting with another robot and I was fighting another cop. It was absolutely amazing, but I tell you, the next day both of us couldn’t move. And of course you don’t have a day off.  You’ve got to get back to work and do it all again the next day. So I think there’s a certain physical aspect of doing this show that I’m definitely finding a challenge.”

Was there anything about your roles that you added that wasn’t originally scripted for you?

Urban: “That’s an interesting question. For the most part what you see on screen is what’s on the page. We’re really blessed with having an amazing team of writers headed by Joel. The wonderful thing about the process is that if Michael and I feel like we have something to contribute we are working in an environment where it is welcomed.

So we will do what’s in the script and on the page, but then also we have the freedom to try one for ourselves. Michael and I do take that and it’s been really amazing to see, I think, that through that part of the process it’s certainly opened up avenues for the writers to explore directions, which may have not been previously considered.”

Ealy: “I would say kind of the same thing. What we’re able to discover every day that we go to work about these characters has been— there is a significant amount of off-the-page intrigue, again, in establishing this world that we’re not— we can’t use sense memory. We’re in a world that doesn’t exist yet, and I think that has been probably one of the more interesting components in terms of trying to understand what we’re doing and where this thing is heading.”

“Almost Human” premieres Monday, November 4 at 7 p.m. on Fox.

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