12 Monkeys, 201 - Kirk Acevedo and Aaron Stanford
12 Monkeys, 201 "Year of the Monkey" - Ramse (Kirk Acevedo) and James Cole (Aaron Stanford) ©2015 Syfy, photo by David Lukacs

On April 18th 2016, star Aaron Stanford returns for 12 Monkeys Season Two telling us about using the time machine and have a little bit of fun with it!

We met Aaron at the NBC press day to talk about the new season. In that he is accompanied by guest stars Madeleine Stowe (Twelve Monkeys, the movie, and Revenge) and Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey).

The series tells the continuing story James Cole, a man from 2043 sent back in time to stop a malevolent organization known as the Army of the 12 Monkeys from destroying the world by releasing a deadly virus.

With a popular novel and movie like 12 Monkeys, sometimes the fans don’t want the story to change in a series, how did you deal with that?

12 Monkeys, Season 2 - Aaron Stanford at the NBCUniversal Summer Press Day, April 1st 2016 ©2016 Syfy, photo by Trae Patton
12 Monkeys, Season 2 – Aaron Stanford at the NBCUniversal Summer Press Day, April 1st 2016 ©2016 Syfy, photo by Trae Patton

I was a huge fan of the film, basically everybody involved was as well. So we were very conscious that we were dealing with something that was very sacred. You just have to put the pressure of that aside and do the best you can with the story.

The original story of 12 Monkeys began with a short film called La Jetee, which was shot in the sixties. It essentially was the same story, completely different format, completely different length, they remade it into a film and we took that same base story and turned it into a television show.

They wanted to make the show very different, you can see that in the casting choices that they made. It just ended up being a very different animal and from what we’ve seen, the feedback in social media, everyone’s very happy with it and really into seeing where it goes.

12 Monkeys, 201 - Aaron Stanford and Amanda Schull
12 Monkeys, 201 “Year of the Monkey” – James Cole (Aaron Stanford) and Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) ©2015 Syfy, photo by Steve Wilkie

What can we look forward to this year?

In 12 Monkeys Season One we basically stuck to the apocalypse of the future and present day. This year we get a chance to use the time machine and have a little bit of fun with it.

We get to go to the 1940s and drink cocktails, we get to go to the 1970s and drink Tab and shoot people and drive around in ‘Serpico’ cop cars and we go to the trenches of World War I, all this stuff that basically anyone who likes time travel that’s what you love about it, that’s what you want to experience.

One of my favorite films is Time Bandits which does a great job of that, taking people to all these different fantasy places they’d love to go to, so we get into that in Season Two.

12 Monkeys, 203 - Amanda Schull and Aaron Stanford
12 Monkeys, 203 “One Hundred Years” – Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) and James Cole (Aaron Stanford) ©2015 Syfy, photo by Steve Wilkie

How does that change your character?

He enjoys it, he’s a person who hasn’t had very much pleasure in his life, he hasn’t much enjoyment. so he goes to these places and he starts to really have fun and become attached to these places and not want to leave when it’s time to leave.

The show is really about the characters, can you talk about some of the relationships your character has and where some of them will be going this season?

The core of it is the love story between Cassie (Amanda Schull) and Cole, which is this very bittersweet, drawn out engagement between the two of them, where there’s so much simmering tension between them and they never are able quite to make it happen. So that’s very much present in Season Two as well,

There’s the Jennifer Goines’ (Emily Hampshire) character who nobody quite understands, somehow Cole is able to communicate with her. He’s like the ‘Jennifer Whisperer.’

Deacon (Todd Stashwick) has an expanded role as well, so basically all of the relationships are further explored and all the back stories are expanded. This season everything becomes enriched and becomes deeper and a lot more rewarding because of that.

12 Monkeys, 213 - Madeleine Stowe and Aaron Stanford
12 Monkeys, 213 “”Memory of Tomorrow” – Dr Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) and James Cole (Aaron Stanford) ©2015 Syfy, photo by Steve Wilkie

Will there be more of a sense of hope in this season?

I think for the Cole character, the entire first season, his role is that of an assassin on a suicide mission. He’s pretty much given up hope for himself and for the rest of the world.

He just wants to make a last-ditch effort at somehow resetting things and just getting out of it.

The things he experiences and the people that he meets and the relationships that he has in the first season change him completely. So at the beginning of 12 Monkeys Season 2, he’s no longer an assassin. He wants to save everybody.

He becomes a hero and a leader. And I think he’s very much proactive. He doesn’t want to leave it to other people, and he does believe that there is hope and that things can be changed for the better.

Personally, I did find hope in the first season. I think that was the journey. The beginning of the season was very bleak and very dark, then in the finale when we see Cole make this decision to take on fate, take on destiny and say, ‘No, I’m going to change things,’ I think that’s the moment where the hope is born. And that’s where we start going into 12 Monkeys Season Two.

12 Monkeys Soundbyte

In the movie, the role of Cole dies at the end. I asked Aaron if his ‘Cole’ Is destined to die at the end of the series. Play the illustrated audio to listen to his answer.


Guest Star Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey) pictured below in the first episode of 12 Monkeys Season 2.

12 Monkeys, 201 - Brendan Coyle and Rick Acevedo
12 Monkeys, 201 “Year of the Monkey” – Dr Kalman (Brendan Coyle) and Jose Ramse (Rick Acevedo) ©2015 Syfy, photo by David Lukacs

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.