Memories are a big part of what helps define our individuality as human beings, but what if you somehow had your memories stolen from you? That is the situation facing Griffin Jones a.k.a. Six and his fellow crewmates onboard the spaceship Raza when they awake from stasis in the opening episode of the Sci-Fi TV series Dark Matter. Created by executive producers/writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie (and based on their graphic novel of the same name published by Dark Horse Comics) the show follows the Raza crew as they reluctantly work together to try to determine who amongst them took their memories and why. Veteran actor Roger Cross, who plays Six, had no hesitation about signing up for this deep space assignment, but it took a bit of juggling to pull things off.
“I was actually in Vancouver shooting the movie Lockdown when I first heard that Joe and Paul were doing this new show called Dark Matter,” recalls Cross. “”I met with them, read for the role and then waited to hear back. I was in the Dominican Republic working on another film, when I received a call that they needed me to do a second audition for Dark Matter, so I recorded myself doing a new scene I’d been sent and e-mailed it off. That clinched the deal so to speak,” says the actor with a smile, “but by the time everything came together, I was back working on [the FX TV series] The Strain.
“Given the scheduling, I figured I would have to pass on Dark Matter. However, TJ Scott was directing me on The Strain and he was going to be directing the pilot for Dark Matter. TJ told me, ‘Don’t worry, we can make this work.’ He ended up talking with the producers and they found a way to share me, so at one point I was doing both The Strain and Dark Matter, but it was all good.
“When I began filming Dark Matter, I loved watching everyone work and seeing what they brought to the table. I think the show was very well-cast, and although everyone is different in some ways from the characters in the graphic novel, we all fit nicely into our roles. Within the first few days of filming, the cast had a genuine comfort level with each other. Of course, when you start a new project, you’re getting a foothold and finding your character. The neat thing about the Dark Matter pilot and the characters being robbed of their memories is that, like us, they were starting from scratch, So as actors, we're getting to take that journey of self-discovery with our characters, which is terrific.”
As if waking up without their memories isn’t unsettling enough, Six and the others must deal with another shock when the Raza’s android (Zoie Palmer) is able to repair a damaged portion of the ship’s computer core containing information on the crew complement. It turns out that except for the youngest one onboard, Five (Jodelle Ferland), the rest are mercenaries and wanted felons with serious charges against them. However, despite their unsavory pasts, Six and his fellow crewmates also seem to possess – in varying degrees - redeeming qualities, which is evident when they assist a group of miners in danger of losing their livelihoods along with their lives. In the process, Six displays some impressive fighting as well as marksmanship skills, but he is more than just a pair of fists and a loaded ammo clip, as Cross explains.
“It would be so easy to play the cliché mercenary, and that’s not Six,” says the actor. “Yes, he’s a tough guy, a killer and all the rest, but he also has a conscience and is a very caring person. There are all these other layers to Six, and as an actor, it has been a great challenge for me as well as a tremendous amount of fun to strike that delicate balance between bringing out those other layers and yet still show his dangerous sides in order for him to be a compelling character.
“As season one of Dark Matter continues to unfold, you’re going to find out a bit more about Six. One of the biggest moments for my character comes in episode eight, where he discovers how he ended up where he is, and it’s not pretty. For Six, that revelation comes with the question of, ‘OK, how do I accept that this is what I’ve done? Whatever the reasons, justification or ignorance that caused me to behave in such a way, how do I now deal with that?’ Something else I’m really enjoying with Six is the special bond he has developed with Five. I don’t want to give too much away, but Six is someone who likes to take care of people and doesn’t like injustice. If he sees something going wrong, he’s the first person to defend the small guy and say, ‘Hey, back off.’ Sometimes it’s easier to just turn a blind eye, but that’s not who Six is, which is what gets him in trouble.”
At the time of this interview (late April), Cross and the rest of the Dark Matter cast and crew were in the middle of shooting episode 11 of the show’s 13-episode first season. It was being directed by Martin Wood, whose long and varied list of genre credits includes such other TV shows as Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Sanctuary and Primeval: New World.
“Martin is a very well-prepared, very genuine guy who knows what he’s doing,” says Cross, “I’ve known him for a long time, so I feel at ease when working with him. In this particular episode, there’s a situation where our characters have done some things to make up for their pasts, but in doing what they think is the right thing, it may have been the wrong thing and caused more hurt. This is another ongoing challenge facing our characters – if they don’t take action in certain instances, it could make matters even worse and then they have to deal with those repercussions. So Six and the others mess up and do dumb stuff, and the viewer gets to see when their actions backfire and end up biting our characters in their butts.”
Hot on the heels of next week’s Dark Matter, Cross’ fans can look forward to the actor reprising his role of Reggie Fitzwilliam starting in episode two of The Strain’s second season (airing Sunday, July 19th @ 10:00 p.m. EST/PST) on the FX Network, and later this summer, he also returns as Travis Verta in the fourth and final season of Continuum.
“One of the big thrills for me with The Strain was meeting [series co-creator/executive producer] Guillermo del Toro, who directed us in the pilot, and seeing not only how gifted he is, but also what a good person and family man he is,” praises the actor. “Sometimes you don’t know quite what to expect from someone with a legendary name, but Guillermo is terrific and the project is great. Just like on Dark Matter,I get to work with an incredibly talented group of people. Most of my scenes are with Jonathan Hyde [Eldritch Palmer] and Richard Sammel [Thomas Eichhorst] and working with them is like going to an acting class every day. I also had the pleasure of sharing scenes with David Bradley [Professor Abraham Setrakian], some of which are my favorite scenes from this season.
“As far as Continuum, I’d been flying back and forth from here [in Toronto] to Vancouver to shoot some of the big exterior stuff that we did this season, and when Dark Matter finishes, I’ll return to Vancouver and block shoot my remaining scenes for the fourth season Continuum episodes that my character appear in. I love those guys and it was like going back home for me. You’ll see some of the old Travis in season four, and you’re also going to see some new situations that he’s involved in. Travis and Kiera [Rachel Nichols] have reached an understanding and are working together, but we’ll have to wait and see just how far that understanding goes.
“I’m blessed to be involved in such well-written and well-executed TV shows like The Strain and Continuum, and may Dark Matter keep going and have as many years.”
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 or the FX Network, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!