YouTube Original premieres its new series Origin on November 14th 2018. Starring Tom Felton (Harry Potter franchise) and Natalia Tena (Game of Throne), the show was created by Mika Watkins.
This sci-fi thriller follows a group of strangers on a spacecraft bound for a distant new planet. The abandoned passengers must work together to survive, but quickly realize that one of them is far from whom they claim to be. The drama is available to stream on YouTube Premium.
Mika, Tom and Natalia spoke of their new show at the TV Critics Association.
It was a little hard to tell what the core of your story is from the trailer. So, can you just take us into the world a little bit more?
Mika Watkins: It’s about a group of strangers who wake up on a spaceship which was bound for another planet to find that everyone else is gone, and they don’t really understand why. And it’s about their discovery of what happened and why they’ve been left behind.
The audience will soon discover who they used to be and why they got in the ship. There is this core idea of (an) offer of going to this planet, that you get a fresh start and you get, what they call, a blank slate. So, in every episode we spend 40 percent going back into the past of one character and finding out what made them want to sign up for that.
How do they determine they’ve been abandoned rather than just lost communication?
Mika: Basically, there’s someone within the group of characters who are particularly good with tech. She manages to hack into the computer and realizes that there’s been a massive evacuation and all the other life departed the ship.
The starting point of the story is the strangers waking up, not necessarily knowing where they are. It’s kind of a genre trope. What is the fun of playing with that kernel, that has been done lots of times before, but making it your own?
Mika: I think because I’ve never seen a show set on a spaceship that also takes you off the spaceship for such a significant chunk of every episode. It’s fun to be able to do all the sort of sci-fi horror and tap into what that audience really like, but also combine it with telling stories of so many different genres and different natures, because every episode is like its own film. So that’s probably the main fun.
How would you describe the series?
Mika: It’s literally 50-50. It’s action, horror, sci-fi and then character drama, human stories. I think it’s always doing the two things. I wouldn’t write something that was just horror or a sci-fi thing, so I try and always go through character.
Tom and Natalia, can you give us brief insight into each of your characters?
Tom Felton: I play Logan Maine. He’s a young scallywag from California, a bit of a petty drug dealer/criminal. I think he’s someone that hasn’t really had many opportunities in his life, has lost all hope and passion, really, that his life can be turned around. And through losing an unsuspecting dear friend of his, he decides to pull the trigger and start afresh.
Natalia Tena: My character is called Lana Pierce, and she’s been in the special forces. So she’s basically a weapon of a human. But she’s suffering from PTSD, which I find is a very interesting combination, because there’s a side of her that’s very brave, fearless and disciplined, and has all the skills to survive, and then there’s the other side that’s actually very vulnerable, and a bit broken.
I think, same as all of us, we’re all escaping our past a bit, and going to see if we can do better somewhere else.
Tom, did anything surprise you about your character that you discovered, that you would have played it differently if you had known?
Tom: No, because you find out when you read the scripts. I’m more familiar with the idea of when you get a script for a film you know where it’s going to end.
We’ve only had the first episodes to read so it’s largely based on conversations that Mika and I have with all the cast members about directions of where the characters are going to go.
Natalia, you’re well-known for Game of Thrones. What keeps you coming back to fantasy and sci-fi?
Natalia: I love reading fantasy, I love watching it. And when you get a good script you’re like, “Yes, I definitely want to part of this.” So, it’s kind of luck of the draw. It’s what comes my way, and I’m like, “Yeah, that’s great.”
At any time are we going to see the entity that inhabits the ship? Is it a creature?
Mika: Yeah, it’s a creature. It’s something that’s come onboard from outside the ship. It’s very scary and gory… About Episode 4 that you see it for the first time.
Tom: Essentially, the creature has the ability to take a human body as a host and can control their actions and mind frame in very subtle ways. It makes it very difficult for us to know who’s telling the truth and who’s not. It’s a bit of a whodunit.
The ship itself seems very impressive. Can you speak about playing on that set and how much of it is practical versus special effects?
Tom: It was all practical, really, other than the exteriors in space. But we were very fortunate to have fantastic, huge sets that were very immersive. I’m used to a practical wall coming out at one point to stick a camera in. These sets were on such a scale that they didn’t need to do that.
When you read it on the page you’ve no idea actually what it’s going to look like. So we were all, I think, very impressed with the set design and the ship in its entirety.
Natalia: Yeah. There was a shaft and it was very high up and it was scary. At one point my character has to climb it and there wasn’t much acting involved in being terrified of doing that.
It’s great that we have such talented people to help us use our imagination and create this world.