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Thursday 27 Nov 2014

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Defying Gravity: character guide

l-r: Paula Garces, Laura Harris, Dylan Taylor and Eyall Podell in Defying Gravity

The crew

Maddux Donner (Ron Livingston) – Maddux is a veteran astronaut saddled with an inescapable tragedy from his past – the death of two crewmates on Mars (for which he feels responsible). A last-minute inclusion on the new Antares crew, Donner's reflective and tough-minded questioning makes him the moral voice of this mission. If there's a way to do things right this time, Donner will lead the way. Romantic entanglements with ship geologist Zoe Barnes (as well as pilot Nadia Schilling) make Donner's job as chief engineer on this six-year voyage as uniquely personal as it is professional.

Zoe Barnes (Laura Harris) – A respected geologist, Zoe Barnes is a secretive and delicate beauty, known for her clear-eyed enthusiasm for space travel as much as for her abject refusal to date her co-workers. Zoe carries a quiet torch for Donner. Zoe is impulsive and boasts an unexpected, edgy sense of humour. She also cherishes her bond with fellow scientist Jen Crane, a much-needed confidante as Zoe's unknown future clashes with ghosts from her past. Only one thing is certain for Zoe: as the safety of Earth grows further each day, she'll need all the help she can get.

Ted Shaw (Malik Yoba) – Ted is the seasoned, dedicated commander of Antares, accustomed to carrying out orders without fear of consequence. A veteran of the Mars mission, he was at Donner's side when they were ordered to leave two astronauts behind. If nothing else, the ordeal brought them closer as friends. Now married to Eve, Ted's loyalty is tested again and again as he juggles loyalty to his wife in Mission Control and camaraderie with his crew on Antares. Throughout the six-year odyssey, Ted will struggle to keep order on the ship, and find his friendships challenged, his love tested, and his fears realised when he discovers his own inner demons have come along for the ride.

Jen Crane (Christina Cox) – The wise-talking biologist on Antares, Jen Crane suffers no fools. She's the friend you hope to have: wise and supportive, with an opinion on everything. However, Jen is also a quiet, stubborn enemy whom you wouldn't want to cross. Though she dated Ted Shaw during training Jen married Rollie Crane just prior to their inclusion on the Antares mission. When Rollie is removed from Antares in the 11th hour, only to be replaced by Ted Shaw, a test of fidelity – and sanity – will be Jen's burden aboard the ship as she ponders the true meaning of the phrase 'alone in the universe'.

Nadia Schilling (Florentine Lahme) – An ace pilot at the top of her graduating class at ISO, German-born Nadia Schilling is a tough and sexy addition to the Antares crew. Not only does she pride herself on executing her duties on Antares to the best of her abilities, she expects the same of others, including Maddux Donner (with whom she's had a sex-only relationship for the past several years of training). With the last-minute inclusion of Donner on the mission, Nadia makes it clear to Zoe she has no problem – in fact, even relishes – competing for Donner's attention over the next six years. The changes Nadia will experience while in space will be the most extreme of all the Antares crew; this hard-edged female pilot has some very interesting layers.

Dr Evram Mintz (Eyal Podell) – Wise beyond his years, Mintz is an Israeli-American battle surgeon who serves as ship doctor and psychiatrist. Though highly intelligent, Mintz's acute, dim view of humanity comes from watching too many people die in war – a view he likes to dim even further with alcohol. While it's his job to maintain the crew's physical and mental health, Mintz realises he has his own problems to deal with: no matter how far from Earth he travels, he'll never quite leave the past behind. Mintz is involved with ground crew medical officer Claire Dereux, a love affair-turned-professional as they conspire to keep the Antares crew alive and functioning...at any cost.

Paula Morales (Paula Garces) – From a poor family in Brownsville, Texas, Paula is the payload specialist aboard Antares. Religious, optimistic and hard-working, she speaks three languages: English, Spanish and Ameslan. A former schoolteacher who aspires to be a broadcaster when she completes the mission, one of Paula's duties on Antares is hosting Classroom In Space, a video presentation where she interviews the other astronauts and explains the daily routines and activities onboard Antares.

Steve Wassenfelder (Dylan Taylor) – With a passion for unraveling the mysteries of the universe and a wit as sharp as his mind, Steve is the theoretical physicist aboard Antares. He is also a hardcore gamer and an unabashed geek. Despite his intellectual accomplishments (or maybe because of them) Steve has never had a girlfriend and, initially, has no idea why he's on the mission. As such, he passes his free time playing Halo, watching the porn he brought to see him through the six-year mission, and generally keeping the crew in glib one-liners and attitude.

Misson Control: On Earth

Mike Goss (Andrew Airlie) – Famously cool to the point of freezing, Goss is the flight director of the Antares, stationed in Mission Control. A man whose decisions always seem to leave scars on others, he was the commander of the infamous Mars mission tragedy, thus cementing his ill-fated bond with Donner. Against his better judgment, Goss allows Donner and Ted the opportunity to replace Ajay and Rollie on the Antares mission – a decision he will question every day for the next six years.

Eve Weller-Shaw (Karen LeBlanc) – In addition to being Ted's wife and the mother of their three-year-old son, Roy, Eve plays a vital role in the Antares Mission and is privy to all its secrets. Bestowed with many gifts, yet burdened by a tragic past, she is a woman of many contradictions. Working alongside flight director Goss, Eve oversees all aspects of the mission and is central to its success...or its failure. Eve maintains an air of mystery; it's often hard to know which side of good or bad she is on – perhaps both.

Ajay Sharma (Zahf Paroo) – Painfully endearing and sincere, Ajay is a Hindu from Mumbai who prays regularly to Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity who is the remover of obstacles. Once a flight engineer onboard the ship, Ajay is now a member of the ground crew in Mission Control and is selflessly devoted to the Antares mission and its crew, especially Maddux Donner. As the Antares mission evolves, so too will Ajay: as secrets reveal themselves, our naive and sunny philosopher will have his faith tested, revealing his own unexpected shades of grey.

Rollie Crane (Ty Olsson) – Once the Mission Commander onboard Antares, Rollie is now cap comm, calling the shots as best he can from the confines of Mission Control. The type of guy who is everyone's best friend or big brother, Rollie is fiercely loyal, good and kind. Married to Jen for two years, Rollie has always been, and will always be, desperately in love with her. When an accident threatens Rollie's career, we'll see his natural honesty clash with ISO brass, an unnatural and heart-wrenching test for this tried-and-true company man.

Claire Dereux (Maxim Roy) – A proficient and a dedicated flight surgeon, Claire monitors the medical condition of the eight astronauts on Antares from Mission Control, along with Evram Mintz, her 'boyfriend' in space. Claire's scientific curiosity and dedication to the mission become less of an asset and more of a threat to ISO brass when she begins to question the strange inconsistencies in the Antares crew's physiology. Claire is the first of the ground crew to suspect the mission is not at all what it appears to be.

Trevor Williams (Peter Howitt) – A once-disgraced journalist with something to prove, Trevor is the Anderson Cooper of the future, covering the space beat for the British News Network. His scathing editorials on the folly of manned space travel and his relentless pursuit – some would say obsession – to uncover the truth behind the Antares mission, makes him a thorn in everyone's side. The problem is, Trevor's on to something...

Arnel Poe (William Vaughn) – After suffering a crippling accident in training, this once bright star of his ISO class is now assistant cap comm in Mission Control. A loyal and dedicated West Point grad, Arnel begins to question the sacrifices he's made for the programme while striving to be the anchor on the Mission Control floor. He's the straight-shooter wing man who, one day, still hopes to save the day…that is, if Trevor Williams doesn't get to him first.

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