The Expanse Season 4: Exclusive Cas Anvar Interview.

Thank you to Cas and his team for making time for ahead of the December 13 launch of The Expanse Season 4 on Amazon Prime.

Our interview with Cas Anvar, who plays pilot Alex Kamel on The Expanse follows. The transcript has been edited for clarity.

Daniel Rasmus (DR) The save the show campaign was a big thing for you. You were the face of that, what did you learn from that experience?

Cas Anvar (CA) I learned we had a feral fan base that is willing to go to the ends of the earth to save us. That was what I learned it was quite an unbelievably overwhelming and fulfilling experience to feel that kind of love and appreciation.

DR Did you learn anything about the technology of social media or social media in general?

CA Yeah, I had a crash course in social media.

During our Case Anvar Interview, I asked about when they finished filming, which was around Marc of 2019. He said the show takes about a year from filming to the final version. They are currently in the middle of filming season 5.

DR Do you read the books ahead of the filming of the various seasons?

CA I do. I usually read one book per season and familiarize myself with the story before we go.

DR So are there other significant so I’ve seen episodes one through six and I’m assuming from what it looks like they’re 10 this season. It looks like they simplified a few things like the relationship between Miller, Murtry and Havelock, the kind of triangle thing. Is there anything else from the plot standpoint that I should keep my eyes open for?

Cas Anvar Interview
Cas Anvar as Alex Kamel on The Expanse. Photo credit Rafy Photography and Amazon.

CA The way the writers attack the scripts is they basically they take them, the broad strokes of the book. The major plot points. And then they make it appropriate for television and some things down and combined characters. You know there’s characters that people have fallen in love with over the seasons, that may or may not be in any particular book, and they get to decide whether or not they’re going to include them in the book. And if they do they have to figure out creative ways of finding stories for them. I don’t know if you noticed this but Bobby Draper was one of the Martian military going into the Ring. In the book, it wasn’t Bobby. He was another Martian Marine, just some random Martian right before. So they took that opportunity. It was a great opportunity to witness Holden going through all this stuff it creates a nice relationship between Bobby and Holden and adds a lot of depth to the lead characters and with each other. Bobby in the book doesn’t get to meet a lot of the characters in the first five books. She has a relationship with Alex, but not with all the other characters. They have some creative license that they do and season four is no exception, they did the same thing.

DR Yeah I know the, I was very intensely connected to the whole Behemoth thing and then the show ended up being very simplified from the complexity of the novel which, you know, you just have to do that you’ve only got so many hours to shoot, So, going back on the production side given the gap in filming, in all the issues between cancellation and pick up. Did they end up having to rebuild the sets or did Jeff throw some money at it and say save everything until we’re done negotiating?

CA Buzz happening with the fans and there was the possibility that maybe there was some stuff going on with Amazon so somebody was very wise figured out a way of not tearing down the set. They dismantled Avasarala’s set. That got that dismantled. But the line producer told them to dismantle it perfectly. So that nothing was damaged, because he had a feeling, he had a hunch. So everything was preserved and then that was it, there was no more taking down of any sets before the cast made the call to bring the show back. So we were very lucky that we were literally, you know, the ax had almost fallen, in terms of that. It was just a matter of days before some serious damage would have been done.

DR I’m glad they were able to make that deal and in time. Now a couple of years have you seen the technology of the special effects change with the new production team. Have they brought in some new technology for you to play with?

They brought in virtual reality goggles that allow us to rehearse on a virtual set with the goggles and actually see the Racie and see the Rocie underneath our feet and the planet off in the distance. It’s a very very cool experience.

CA I mean there’s some really cool stuff that we work with. They brought in virtual reality goggles and allow us to rehearse on a virtual set with the goggles and actually see the Rocie, and see the Rocie underneath our feet and the planet off in the distance. It’s a very very cool experience to be able to rehearse on the set in a virtual reality three dimensional way. That’s pretty cool.

DR How is Alex, different this year?

CA As is it’s season 4, we start off kind of having settled into our skin, we’re a little more comfortable as a team. We’re kind of a fighting unit now. We’ve gone through the fire we’ve kind of had our baptism, with all the hell that we went through and now, by the time we start season four we’re, we’re a confident calm. You know, fighting team. And I think it shows I think that’s how we approached it and that’s the kind of the energy we give off. Alex is very much kind of settled into his role as the pilot and having the responsibility of everyone on his shoulders when he’s flying the ship. Whereas in the first couple of seasons that I think stressed the hell out of them. Now he’s kind of taking it in stride.

Cas Anvar as Alex Kamel on The Expanse. Photo credit Rafy Photography and Amazon.
Cas Anvar and his fighting unit: Steven Strait as James Holden, Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata and Wes Chatham as Amos Burton. Photo credit Rafy Photography and Amazon.

DR Well, I left you with dead engines in a decaying orbit so you got new shit to play with now.

CA Just you wait.

DR Amazon sent me 1-6.

CA You are gonna love it.

DR So this is kind of an aside. When I was doing some research, your face now comes up whenever you ask for information about Alex Kamel. This there is a kind of book page that’s got a comic book version of you but most the time it’s you. I had some interesting conversations for a piece I wrote where I interview Star Trek cast members, about how they felt 20 or 30 years down the road that their 20, or 30-year old face is still the face of the character in comic books in other places. They never age. Have you thought about what it means to be a character that you’re going to be for decades?

CA That’s a good question. It never really occurred to me because we’ve always been fighting for our survival on the show. We’ve never even had two seconds to enjoy any kind of success on the show. We really haven’t. Every single year we’re basically looking at being canceled. Every single year we were fighting to be heard. We’re fighting to be seen. And that was all before Amazon. We were not promoted and, you know, we’re the best shows that no one’s ever watched.

We’re the best shows that no one’s ever watched.

DR Well, you have a lot of things in common with the original Star Trek serious. And that’s not bad company.

CA I’m sure when they did it they had no clue they would become icons. It was probably better that way.

DR Well you have the unfortunate position of following them and other shows that have done that and I think this is one of those that you’re going to end up seeing the expanse panels and convention breakouts and stuff for a long time.

CA Don’t get me wrong. I feel very proud of the show and I feel we’re doing very very special. I think we are giving something to the world in terms of really top-notch, high-quality well-crafted science fiction anthology. If we do get the chance, if we’re fortunate enough to get a chance to actually complete the book series it will be a very very special treat for fans. To be able to watch from beginning to the end what the writers have in store for this group. I think will be unprecedented. Maybe Star Wars or Star Trek kind of did a pretty good job, but this is a, is a modern-day, dark gritty real version that if we can complete it, it’ll be pretty phenomenal.

DR Well, and I think you’re one of the first shows that’s had that much creative consistency. Because, you know, Roddenberry bailed on season three. You’ve got Ty and Daniel still hanging out with you guys doing stuff so. And so you’re one of the few shows where the creative is still highly involved. You can tell where the creative teams leave. I just watched Zoo and after season one it went off the rails.

CA And you can tell when George R.R. Martin left Game of Thrones.

DR Absolutely. And speaking of dark and gritty, GoT just went a little too dark and I don’t mean in the script. So, do you think you’re going to get to go through book nine, what’s the feeling on the set?

CA You know what, all I can tell you is—I have no idea—all I can tell you is we have a very positive optimistic feeling. Amazon loves the show. They’re super supportive, Alcon Entertainment is happier than I’ve ever seen. We got picked up for season five before season 4 even aired. So those are all great signs.  Those are all things that never happened before so it’s all looking great, positive.

DR I will let you go I appreciate the time. If you ever in Seattle give me a buzz. I would love to take you out to dinner and continue the conversation.

CA   All right. Take care.


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