Friday 13 Dec 2013
Daniel Mays plays Cass Cromwell, a PAS officer on the planet Carpathia – unpredictable, he is fiercely loyal to Tate.
Tell us about Cass.
Cass has been given a second chance on Carpathia, thanks to Tate, so he is fiercely loyal to him. A decent human being, he's an integral part of the running of Forthaven, as a protection and security officer. He wants to do the best he can for the security of the city.
What attracted you to the role, and what did you think when you first read the scripts?
It was just a very interesting and fascinating concept to take on really. I thought the notion of starting again if Earth had come to this end was really interesting to get into. If we strive forward and make this new world and prevent making the same mistakes again. If we could make these characters as human and believable as possible, the thing could really come to life. It's a risky thing to take on, but in life you've got to take risks.
So this group of people have found themselves in extraordinary circumstances – what has been Cass's response to it?
When you find out the back story of the character, he's carrying around a very chequered and dark past, and the planet represents the ultimate redemption – so more than anyone he embraces the opportunity of starting afresh. He's someone who really wants to turn his back on Earth and forget about his past, but inevitably that comes back to haunt him.
What would you say is Cass's biggest challenge?
I think every day is like a challenge, they've been there for years, and it's a very primitive existence. There's a line in the first episode where he actually admits to Fleur (Amy Manson) that he was scared when stepping off the transporter – if you imagine, they step off and it's their first breath, and it's 'how on earth are we going get on and make this thing work?' The stakes of the game are really high because as far as they're concerned, these are the last people alive ever: they're the last hope for humanity. When you take on that concept, every day would be a challenge.
Can you talk a little bit about the journey of Cass throughout the series?
He very much works in tandem with Fleur, they're a great double act and they have a lot of banter with one another. Throughout the series they have a very platonic relationship, but I think possibly he has deeper feelings for her than she does for him. Cass's job is to protect and serve, very much like a policeman, so with Fleur he goes out on various expeditions. When things intensify, along with the arrival of Eric Mabius's character, Berger, things really start to come unstuck and the rules of the game change when Berger tries to bring down Tate. Cass is Tate's right-hand man so he's going to do everything he can to protect him.
How would you describe the landscape of Carpathia and Forthaven?
It's very gritty; it has a great reality to it. Ed Thomas, our production designer, has done an amazing job on the sets. That was one of the things that blew me away when I arrived in South Africa. The scale of the sets: they were like film sets. The street was amazing to act in and, along with the special effects which are also stunning, it really gives it an element of believability. That to me was the biggest challenge we had. I didn't want the audience to not believe in the characters or the world, and I think by the end of the first episode, without doubt, you get it.
Also, those different landscapes in South Africa are just perfect.
Yes, it added to the series – it's such an epic show, and I think the landscape is stunning. South Africa has so many different locations: we were on sand dunes, beaches, and snow-capped mountains. There's no other country you could have gone to and had all of those locations.
How was filming in South Africa and had you been before?
I'd never been before: it was just an unbelievable experience. Just a beautiful country to be in, and an interesting country – obviously there's a lot going on there which was eye-opening in terms of poverty and everything else. I was really fortunate that I was able to experience that, and again that was an element of why I wanted to do the show.
Is there anything in particular that Cass misses from Earth?
No. I mean obviously he would miss certain elements of it, but there are other characters that have massive survivor's guilt – like Michael Legge's character, the fact that he's left his sisters behind. Cass has come from such a dark place that he's only looking forward.
Are you allowed to divulge what your special skill was and why you were chosen to go to Carpathia?
For instance, Michael who plays Tipper is a genius mathematician – there are other characters in it who have certain skills and talents, and that's why they've been picked. Cass is very much a pet project of Tate's. Tate has this very idealistic view of life and he wants this place to work – he's very much the driving force behind Forthaven as he's the president.
The scenario that they find themselves in – having to leave Earth and find a new planet to populate – isn't necessarily so far-fetched according to various scientists. Has this series made you think about that more, and do you think it could happen in the future?
The element of global warming and recycling and all these things… it's difficult because we're sort of eating up the planet. People discovering Mars as well… maybe we'll get to a place one day when we'll have to think about living elsewhere. The show isn't set so far into the future that you can't believe it.
If you were chosen to go to another planet, what three things would you take with you?
I'd have to say my iPod; photographs for memories, and the new bed I've just bought. God, that sounds really boring!
What would your ideal planet look like and have to offer?
I don't know if you'd want it to be completely different to Earth or not … you'd want it to be quite similar and have elements that are completely out there. I suppose that's what Carpathia is: it's got the same atmosphere as Earth but then it's got two moons!
All the people chosen for Carpathia have a special skill; in real life what would your special skill be?
To make people laugh, probably.