Friday 06 Dec 2013
Ashley stars as Jack Holt, Mitchell's second in command – tough, armed and dangerous.
How would you describe your character in Outcasts?
On the surface Jack Holt is a very simple guy and a strong character. He has special qualities, and the reason he's there is because he's good at practical combat. He's very physical and strong but not necessarily perceived by everyone else as the smartest person on the planet. As the series develops they realise that Jack is in fact a bit smarter than they thought.
Do you think there is a softer side to Jack?
Jack definitely has a softer side. I think most people do. A lot of the hard exteriors people put on are down to being alone, and Jack doesn't have any family with him. He was very close to his Mum, and with not having her around and being by himself in that situation he finds it quite hard. From a young age Jack has grown up with people like Mitchell and the others on the planet being his mentors, or sometimes even father figures. There is always a side of him you see looking for companionship and I think it's because of the family element he has missed out on.
What attracted you to the role and what did you think when you first read the script?
When I first read the script I thought it was amazingly well written. I think Ben did a really good job. The genre came totally out of the blue for me – I never thought I'd be doing sci-fi at this stage in my career. I was overwhelmed and really glad to be offered the part. I got the call and was offered the part six days before I went to South Africa, so I didn't have much time to think about it or to prepare. I have family and children here so it was a really hard decision to make solely based on that, but when it came down to the script, the project, the production company and working with the BBC again it was a no-brainer for me.
This group of people have found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. What has Jack's response been to it?
While he's been there, Jack has pushed himself into learning his trade, being part of the expeditionaries, and caring for and exploring the planet. Essentially, where the series starts you find us not doing much, just being a buffer for the actual protection and the security. Jack is pretty frustrated about not being able to actually do what he's been trained to do. As the series goes on and we learn things about the planet and other inhabitants on the planet, Jack's job becomes more relevant and he relishes that. There isn't much he fears so he's always ready to go out there and test himself.
What would you say Jack's biggest challenge has been so far?
When it comes to his work it would be the ACs and the battle. But in his head Jack is by himself – he is a very lonely person. He doesn't have anyone to drink with after work, and he doesn't have a girlfriend. He has 'a thing' for Amy's character, Fleur, but she doesn't feel the same way so that is quite a big challenge for Jack.
Can you say anything about the life and the people Jack left behind?
He was very close to his mum but that's all I really know about Jack's back story.
Can you tell us a bit about Jack's journey throughout the series?
He loves what he does and he loves being part of the expeditionaries. He had a really strong bond with Mitchell, and once that relationship ends he becomes very impressionable. He's looking for someone to follow and at some point he realises that he needs to be the leader and take control of his own destiny, which is what he accomplishes. I can't really say much more without giving away the story.
In terms of the planet, how would you describe the landscape of Carpathia and Forthaven?
The landscape is just amazing. Jack has been there for 10 years and so some things have become normal to him. They would have been very confined to Forthaven and to the base, but are still wowed by it when they get out and explore the rest of the landscape. In real terms, it's pretty much similar to how South Africa is which is why we utilised it. You can find near enough anything there – you can be in a place where it looks like a dessert and sand dunes, and then 15 minutes away there's a huge mountain range. And then you have huge fields and forests, so you have everything. It's crazy.
As you have mentioned, the characters have been there for several years. What kind of place is it and what is daily life like? Do you have a routine?
The biggest thing about the Outcasts is that there's the idea that if we all had the chance to start again we could change how things were before. Right our wrongs, or not make the same mistakes. In episode one you see how perfect our world is until things go wrong. There always has to be that battle between evil and good in order for the world to continue. If everything bad didn't exist and everything was perfect, I'm sure it would be a very boring place. Not that I want bad things to happen, but the idea of having a completely clean life where people don't drink, smoke, take drugs and are not abusive to others – physically or verbally, is a fantasy, and that's one of the points on the show.
Can you divulge what your character was chosen for?
Jack has a very strong mentality and is physically very strong. He is able to do a lot of things that most humans are not capable of when it comes to strength and his physicality. He is basically a brute.
What was it like filming in South Africa?
It's a beautiful place. I went to South Africa 11 years ago just before my first son was born. I spent four weeks in Cape Town doing something for CITV. It was an amazing experience, but I realised going this time how much things had changed. The gap between the rich and poor out there is huge, which is leading to a considerable amount of crime. This time I took my kids out there and it was an eye-opening experience for them and for me to watch them experiencing it.
Having left Earth and having to find a new planet to populate, it is not necessarily that far-fetched. Did filming it make you think about that more? Is it something that you think could happen in the future?
I have no doubt that sometimes we don't know everything, and some things we shouldn't know. I'm sure scientists are researching and trying to find somewhere else for us to live, if we keep treating this planet the way we are. It's not going to last that long, whether it's going to be in my lifetime, or my kids'. I don't know that that will happen, but at some point, if it continues to go the way it is, life here will cease to exist and we'll have to find somewhere else to live. The fact is there is a big possibility that there is another place that is very similar to Earth out there that we probably could inhabit. It certainly made us think about it a lot. Even though we get caught up in the gadgets and gismos, sci-fi is very loosely but always based on what could actually be reality.
So what would your ideal planet look like, or have to offer?
Heat. I mean, pretty much like Carpathia, without the ACs and the other alien element.
All of those chosen for Carpathia have a special skill, what would yours be?
Music and film. Entertainment.
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