Ryan Cartwright reflects on season 2 of Syfy’s “Alphas”

Ryan Cartwright is known best for his role of Gary Bell on Syfy’s “Alphas”. The show just wrapped up its second season, with a very shocking ending. The show has not been picked up for a third season as of yet, so if you want more “Alphas”, make yourself heard! Ryan took out sometime to chat with Media Mikes again, read our season 1 wrap-up here, to chat about this season and his upcoming guest starring role on “The Big Bang Theory” and what he is currently playing on his XBOX 360.

Mike Gencarelli: Now having played the role of Gary for two seasons in “Alphas”, how does season two for you compare to the first?
Ryan Cartwright: I have found that he has become a lot more isolated and on his own. He is a kindred spirit with now dead Anna and her message. He doesn’t really trust Dr. Rosen or anyone anymore. He probably loves them in his heart but doesn’t trust them. He sees that everyone has their own motives. They are going against what he believes is the purest belief of the Alphas from Dr. Rosen’s original message. So it is just a lot more isolated but also a bit more confident as well. He seems to have come in his own this past season.

MG: The finale left us all in shock with Gary being the last man standing, any insight into what happened?
RC: I don’t know. They always end them on these cliffhangers and I don’t know what they are planning…if and when we come back. I was just glad to be the only one standing [laughs]. You can’t kill the autistic kid. You just can’t.

MG: Have there been any talks at all if a third season is in the cards?
RC: It is down to the viewing figures, which I think we’re pretty solid throughout. It was difficult going up again Monday Night Football every week. I think we did pretty well. They are going to sit down now and go some market research and see what people think. So it is up to the money guys.

MG: Your character definitely dealt with a lot more issues like the death of Anna, your mother’s hospitalization etc; how did you prepare for this emotional aspects?
RC: I think with Gary it is more of a technical approach. He doesn’t show emotions the same as everyone else. I think the most emotional he has gotten was when Anna died. It was more tearing up from frustration. With his mum being ill, he understands it but it doesn’t affect him emotionally. He is just dealing with the circumstances. Just the technicalities of what that means and he can’t help but kind of think about himself and stay in the first person with it. It is hard for him to see others point-of-view. I think it just harbors back to the research I have done and just filtering it through that.

MG: You mentioned last time we spoke about the research you did for the role, did you find you had to do anymore research for this season?
RC: I really did enough to begin with. I felt that the character was then about to speak for himself. I think he successfully did that the first season and now has come into his own. I just went with what I had already created and all of the writers and producers were on the same page. It was just keeping that character’s continuity in these situations.

MG: Do you have a favorite experience or episode from season two?
RC: There was one were we all went out to the forest called “Alphaville”. That was pretty fun. It was a nice change from being at the studio. It was like a big camping trip for the cast. That is the one that I remember the most but it was also the biggest change for us not being in the studio.

MG: We recently spoke Summer Glau and we need to get a campaign going to get her as series regular.
RC: Yeah! She was in this season for a fair amount of episodes. It is up to the producers and where they want to take it. I think it is that line between what people what and what they want and then what they want. It will come down to creativity rubbing up against monetary things.

MG: Tell us about your guest starring role on “The Big Bang Theory” this November?
RC: What it was is that the creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady really like “Alphas”. They are big fans of the show. I wasn’t sure if I would like it but it was great. I am not sure if they are going to call me back and continue the storyline. To be honest though, I don’t do much in it. They got me in for the role of Cole and I am suppose to play this British intimidating person that Johnny Galecki’s character Leonard is jealous that he is going to steals Penny’s intentions. I haven’t done live studio since I was back in England, which I did a fair bit there. “Alphas” is hard work but this was fun and easy. It was also right around the corner from me, so I just hoped on the bus.

MG: Hopefully you can come back. We need to get a twitter campaign going for that as well.
RC: I would love to. I only got to do a little bit but I really wanted to do more. Once you experience the audience clapping live, you get just want to do it again. Yes, those Twitter campaigns always succeed [laughs].

MG: Last time we spoke you said you are fans of video games, what are you currently playing?
RC: I just got “Dishonored”, which is amazing. “Assassins Creed III” is about to come out. As well as “Halo 4”, so boys and I are going to go crazy for that. Zack Pen, the creator of “Alphas”, is taking us down to Microsoft for a big gaming party there. It will probably just be us getting our asses handed to us by the Microsoft employees.

Interview with Syfy “Alphas” Ryan Cartwright

Ryan Cartwright is currently playing Gary Bell in Syfy’s hit show “Alphas”.  The show is a huge hit and already renewed for a second season.  With the show nearing the end of its first season Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ryan about the show and how he prepared for his character.

Mike Gencarelli: Gary is not only a fun and interesting character but he is also very complex, what do you enjoy most about playing him?
Ryan Cartwright: I enjoy the fact he is not some kind of tokenistic character.  Everyone kind of got on board and helped give him a life behind the eyes.  It could have been one of those roles that was an embarrassment.  It is just really fun to have his sense of humor.  He is kind of knows he is cheeky and it is that knowingness behind the eyes that cracks up myself and the cast.  You can see them laughing a lot of the times and they keep it in the show. I do like to make Malik (Yoba) and Warren (Christie) laugh.  That is good fun.

MG: How did you prepare for the role and do you find the character challenging to play?
RC: Yeah, when I first read the role I needed to figure out the specifics for the character.  There are many different elements to him.  Filming-wise, my only challenge is that I have to do an American accent and that was like the easiest part of this show.  It was just fascinating going around and researching autism and general neuroscience.  It is still something that is not that well understood.  It is new and people are still learning about.  When early reviews came out for the pilot, I was amazed that, even when it wasn’t in a derogatory way, the only reference was to “Rain Man”.  It made me realize and reminded me exactly how little autistic people have been portrayed since then even.  It was fascinated and a fair bit of work.  I had about a month and a half though to research and figure out the character.  It was so well written anyway, so it was just finding that marriage between what was on the page and what I felt comfortable doing.  Once he was up and running, after the first few days filming, I got the feeling and he has just been super fun to play.

MG: What do you use for inspiration when you are “scrolling” through the information with your alphas ability?
RC: I have to figure out all those little mannerisms.  I think in the script it just said “he waves his hands through the air” and I was like “hold on, hold on”.  They were going to be putting in a graphic into this, so I had to figure out a whole system for what I would be visualizing and how my hands would be “controlling” these streams.  After I figured it all out, I spoke to the writers and the visual effects guys and made them a little video and drew up a little chart.  It was almost like a sign language chart with what the hand mannerisms meant.  It was really cool and everything matched.  It wasn’t just a random flurry of hands in the air.  It can get confusing sometimes when he is having to multitask but like I said it is fine now that he is up and running.

MG: Already just in season one, we have seen Gary change and grow more independent, what can you tell us about this?
RC: This is his first group of people that he has hung around with on a permanent basis that haven’t treated him as a second class citizen.  They realize that he has these abilities and it is the first time he is being proud of himself.  There is that childish pride and the self confidence is in full bloom.  As you can see in the first few episodes, he is kind of petulant. As the series is progressing though, he is maturing and realizing everyone has their own place in the group.  He is maturing just from being around these intense situations and seeing people die.  I think that he is realizes what a group actually is, which is something that they say with autistic people, they cannot realize the concept of other minds.  They know there is other bodies but it is hard for them to see the other people’s intentions, wants and needs.  I think he is getting a crash course in that just with his work with the group and it is progressing quite rapidly.  He has been through in the deep end.

MG: What can we expect from the upcoming finale of season one?
RC: It is crazy and pretty intense.  Gary will not be the same after the event of the finale unfold.  It is definitely a bit of a life changer for him in particular.

MG: What has been your favorite episode to shoot in this season and why?
RC: I really enjoyed the episode “Bill and Gary’s Excellent Adventure” with Malik.  It was that fun kind of buddy cop…like a bizarre kind of “48 Hours” [laughs].  It was really nice to play out that relationship  and we improvised a bit.  By that time as well it felt very organic for us to bounce off each other.  That one was definitely a fun episode.

MG: How does working on this show for you compare to your other television work i.e. “Bones” and “Mad Men”?
RC: I am super happy that it is of a high caliber because you never know.  With “Bones” and “Mad Men”, I was just like an actor for hire.  I signed on for one episode and I would be lucky when I got the call to come back.  Where as this was a commitment from day one for an extensive period of time.  It was more of a risk signing on.  I am just super happy that it is a cut above the rest and it is really good.  It is nice to be actually proud of the work you are doing and also enjoying being able to watch it.  With regards to the acting, I think it was a little bit more work upfront for me, but I do not feel like it is any different that the stuff I have done before in terms of quality.  I am very happy with it.

MG: The show was already picked up for a second season, any idea when you start filming?
RC: Oh crickey [laughs], it is weird because when we got the news that it has gone to series and we were bouncing off the wall.  It feels like we just got home from this grueling shoot and it is awesome news for sure.  But I am like “Wait, wait, let’s not go straight back…let me enjoy some sunshine and my Xbox for a little bit” [laughs].  I am super happy about the news, of course.  I am going to guess we are going back to shoot probably late March at the earliest.  They have to regroup and plan the new scripts and story lines.  I think because it isi also shot up in Toronto that people try there best to avoid the harsher weather up there.