Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up from a sound and restful sleep and before you know it, all hell starts breaking loose? That was exactly what Jace Corso a.k.a. One faced when he was automatically revived from stasis in the opening teaser of Dark Matter’s premiere episode. One minute he was sleeping like a proverbial baby, and then the next, he was trying to do a good deed and avert disaster. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished, and One not only had his heroic efforts usurped by a fellow crewmate, but was also roughed up in the process. During a break in filming on the Dark Matter set in Toronto, actor Marc Bendavid, who plays One, smiles as he recalls his first day of work on the series and making his outer space debut.
"The first shots of all but one of our characters in the opener have them stepping out of these stasis pods in their bare feet and wearing these skintight leotard-type spacesuits,” recalls Bendavid. “One wakes up first and discovers that the ship is venting atmosphere. So on my first day of work on Dark Matter, we filmed One running down this very dimly lit, soaking wet corridor with sparks flying down on it in as he heads towards the Raza’s bridge.
“If you look at the floor, it looks like a nice smooth surface, right? Well, after several takes, the bottoms of my feet were blistered from running on this nice looking floor. I thought, ‘I can’t run anymore without looking silly and like a complete loser.’ That, however, worked perfectly to help set up the whole idea of One being a bit of a loser, because once he gets to the bridge, the first thing that happens to him is that he gets his ass summarily handed to him in a fight with Melissa O’Neil’s character of Two. So some of my earliest memories of starting work on Dark Matter are being abused by the floor as well as by one of my castmembers,” says the actor with a chuckle.
“As far as how the rest of the shoot on the first episode went, it and episode two were directed by TJ Scott. He’s an incredibly talented and busy director who has worked on other shows such as The Strain and Gotham. With Dark Matter, he had the challenge in episode one of establishing the sense of this dysfunctional family. These are six, in fact seven of us, including the Raza’s android [Zoie Palmer], who’d probably have nothing to do with one another in normal circumstances. They’re different from each other in so many ways, and have all been thrown together and basically trapped in this flying metal box. They have no exit or any clue as to what might be waiting for them around the next bend. It was up to TJ to establish the dynamic of what this ‘family’ is going to be. It’s obvious they’re going to be stuck together for a while, so it becomes very much a matter of who do you push up against, who can you depend on, and who do you trust?”
When his initial audition for Dark Matter came along, Bendavid put his scenes on tape and sent it off to the show’s producers. About a month or so later, the actor received word that he was on the shortlist for one of the roles and had a callback for a second audition in Toronto.
“That’s when I met [series co-creator/executive producer] Joe Mallozzi and [executive producer] Vanessa Piazza,” recalls Bendavid, “but even before that, Joe phoned me to talk about what they were looking for with the One character. He said that they had anticipated having a difficult time casting some of the other roles, but it ended up being One that they were getting the most stuck on, for whatever reason. Although they had seen several other actors, they just couldn’t find the right fit.
“Joe took the time to really spell out for me what they were after with the One character and the sort of moral quandaries and struggles that he’s dealing with. He’s essentially the person on the ship that the viewer is most meant to identify with as behaving like he or she would if they were in such a situation. It’s fairly apparent that One is lacking extreme proficiency in anything. You have a character that is inherently good with weapons, another who can fix computers and anything else mechanical, one who can kick butt and break your neck with her bare hands, a character who’s good with guns, and one who knows how to fly the Raza’s shuttle. Then there’s One, who seems rather lost.
“So I did the callback and two weeks later my agent phoned and told me, ‘Guess what?’ and here I am today.”
In addition to One and Two, the rest of the Raza’s human complement includes Three (Anthony Lemke), Four (Alex Mallari, Jr.), Five (Jodelle Ferland) and Six (Roger Cross). When they awoke from stasis, One and the others were surprised to find that all their memories of who they are as well as details of their mission had been deliberately erased by someone onboard. The ship’s android is eventually able to retrieve the missing facts surrounding their identities; except for Five, they are all mercenaries with lengthy criminal records. While trying to digest this new information, the crew becomes involved in a dispute between a small group of miners and a corporation looking to take over their planet and its mining operations. One tries to convince both sides to resolve their differences peacefully, but the situation soon turn nasty. A resolution benefitting the miners is subsequently reached, but not before a great deal of blood is shed.
Although his brief stab at diplomacy failed, One was among the Raza crew who believed that they were doing the right thing by helping the miners. He genuinely appears to want to leave his dark and sordid past behind him and turn over a new leaf, but it is going to take One time to find his niche when it comes to being one of the “good” guys. That journey of discovery is one that Bendavid will be taking right alongside his character.
“It’s really tempting, especially in the Sci-Fi genre, to want to look like your character is winning,” says the actor. “There are so many opportunities to be a ‘rock star’ onboard a spaceship, and like I was saying earlier about the other characters, when you have a certain skill set, it can really help you look great. So one of the biggest acting challenges for me with One is showing how to lose or fail really well, because in season one of Dark Matter he screws up a lot. One has good intentions that always seem to be aligned with a morality and sense of right and wrong, but he just doesn’t have the proper skill set to execute what’s in his heart.
“So you’ll see One stumble more than once this season, and I’ve been having a great time stumbling with him. Joe Mallozzi and the rest of the show’s writing team have given me some wonderful moments so far to shine as One. Even with all the fight sequences, explosions and gun battles, the most exciting scenes for me to shoot are always the two-person ones where two characters are trying very hard to achieve something and are at odds with each other. I filmed a scene just last week that I thoroughly enjoyed where my character is being interrogated and beaten up. One has to think quick and be manipulative in order to save someone from danger, but, course, he fails at doing that.
“I also have some really cool scenes in episode nine with Roger Cross, where One is sort of debating whether or not to let circumstances override that moral sense that has been driving him since the beginning of the show. He’s wondering if he should do the right thing, even though all signs are pointing at it being the more difficult thing to do. So without giving too much away, those are some of the scenes that remind me of a scene study back in theatre school and where your character doesn’t have a gun, a bomb or a loud voice to achieve his goal. He only has his mind to convince the other person, and he must rely on his skills of persuasion, manipulation and deception to get what he’s after. Oh, there’s also a really surprising turn in episode four that provided me with an acting opportunity that I never had before, and it was super, super exciting,” he enthuses.
Besides Dark Matter, the actor has appeared in a variety of made-for-TV movies including Her Husband’s Betrayal as well as other TV shows such as The Border, Flashpoint, Nikita, The Listener, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Hard Rock Medical and Bitten, in which he made multiple appearances as Scott Brandon.
“For a few years I’d been booking roles like baby-faced killers or the unexpected murderer, which I loved because I was playing against type,” explains Bendavid. “Before Bitten, my last big acting job was playing Romeo onstage in front of 800 or so people, so to then book the role of a sadistic serial killer on Bitten was really fun. I usually don’t enjoy watching my work at all, but I was curious to see how this turned out because I felt like it was a real challenge to, once again, play against type.”
The American writer Napoleon Hill once said that, “patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success,” and Bendavid has definitely juggled all three of these “Ps” throughout his pursuit of work as an actor. “The thing is, this job of acting isn’t hard, it’s the actual career choice that is hard, because most of the time you’re not doing the job,” he says. “By that I mean that you spend most of your time hustling for, auditioning for and trying to book the job that you may or may not get in the end.
“So what’s the most exciting or rewarding thing for me about the actual job or working as an actor are all the things you see here today. It’s having the opportunity to collaborate with amazingly talented professionals in order to take what is on the written page, make the best [creative] choices, and tell the most entertaining story possible to your audience. Everyone here at Dark Matter is so good at his or her job that it elevates, motivates and excites you to want to be as good as those around you.”
Dark Matter airs Fridays @ 10:00 p.m. EST on Syfy (U.S.) and on Canada's SPACE Channel. The series is also airing around the globe - check the local listings in your particular country. As noted above, all photos copyright of Prodigy Pictures and Syfy, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!