From commercial funny man (pepsi, pizza pops, bud light), to movie slow poke (Tideland, Charlie Bartlett), to the biggest House Party animal in last year’s under-performing (though not without its moments) original Comedy Network series, Toronto actor Dylan Taylor has been on the up and up for a few years now. You could even say he’s been getting high ever since high school but never dreamed he’d one day be taking a trip beyond our atmosphere. Okay, perhaps Dylan isn’t actually leaving earth anytime soon, but Steve Wassenfelder, the immature genius he plays on Defying Gravity, is.
“I’ve often been cast as slow, dimwitted characters. This time I’m a theoretical physicist, maybe the smartest guy on the ship, but also the youngest, which we sometimes see with my video game obsessions and juvenile attitude towards girls.”
The primary concentration of the show is a six year mission visiting seven planets manned by eight people from four countries (got all that?). Because the show is set in the not too distant future (including flashbacks, the story takes place roughly between 2040 and 2060), much of it will be grounded in a recognizable reality. As Dylan informs us, “the fashions on earth haven’t changed all that much and a lot of the gadgets are the same that we have now, only better.” They seem to be taking the smart route of not expecting the audience to completely suspend disbelief and are attempting to show a lot of the realities of space travel. For example, how people and things react to zero gravity is a constant concern. “But there’s also an ominous mystery element to the mission, plus our characters have the added pressure of being seen by millions of people on earth who watch us on TV like a reality show. The writers have done a really great job planning the entire series’ arc.”
Production of the Fox TV/ Omni film co-produced series wrapped the first 13 episodes only a few weeks ago in Vancouver, with news of its early August premiere on ABC reaching the cast only a week ago.
“Just before getting the role, I was starting to get in shape, probably the best I’d been in years.” Says Dylan, “I was a little worried because casting directors who had seen my previous work would be expecting a certain type. Sure enough they wanted me to put some weight back on for the role, which I did, but not much when they decided that after 5 years of training my character would have slimmed out a bit, like Barney in The Simpsons before he went to space. In the deeper flashbacks I’ll look more like the comic book guy.”
The great thing about a science fiction TV series, is there’s lots of room for special effects, action, comedy, romance, allegory and character development. And Vancouver is no stranger to Sci-Fi serials either (X-Files, Smallville, Battlestar Gallactica). Many of the major creatives behind the show have a pretty impressive track record going into this, including the pilot episode’s director David Straiton (House), executive producers James Parriott (Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty) and Michael Edelstein (Desperate Housewives), and of course the always likable face of star Ron Livingston which was all over one of my all-time favourite mini-series, Band of Brothers.
With so much going for it, it’s hard not to think that Defying Gravity is poised to succeed. “It’s the best thing to happen to space since Bowie, I’m hoping they get the rights to that song too.”