The series "Continuum" is a Canadian television show that began airing on Showcase last May. In the beginning of 2013, the show made its U.S. debut on the SyFy Channel and now airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. E.T. Here, we talk with stars Rachel Nichols and Victor Webster, as well as creator and executive producer Simon Barry, about the time-traveling action drama, via conference call.
Q. Simon, how did you come up with the idea for this series? How did the rest of you become involved?
Simon Barry: Well, the idea for me came out of a really pragmatic approach to trying to get my love of sci-fi really into a pipeline of television production that was feasible. Time travel is a really great vehicle for that because you can have a very large mythology in a big universe, but still be set in the present-day world, which obviously is more production-friendly. So it was a pragmatic decision at the beginning, but then once the mythology and the characters started coming together, of course it grew beyond that into a much more passionate process for me in terms of the many characters that the show presents, and also just some of the bigger themes that we are trying to explore in the show.
And then the first step was to find a Kiera, and we worked very diligently to find the right person for this part. And when Rachel presented herself as an option, we were thrilled and jumped on the chance to work with her right away. Once we had cast Rachel, we basically built the cast around her.
Rachel Nichols: My story is very long, but yet very interesting. One of my best friends in the entire world got the script to me...She said, "I have a friend and she's got this script that sheís casting, and I hope Iím not stepping on anyoneís toes, but I think youíd be great for it," and she sent it to me and I loved it. Which is very unorthodox. Usually you don't get a script from your best friend that's amazing that you immediately want to do. And then my team was absolutely, completely on board. They loved the fact that a friend of mine had found it. We just went full steam ahead, and it happened very, very quickly just prior to the holidays last year when we were closing the deal. Suddenly, I was moving to Vancouver for five months, on January 5, I think it was, last year. So it was a very interesting process for me. Unorthodox for me, but thrilling at the same time. And very fast, so that was fun as well.
Victor Webster: Well, I got a call on a Wednesday asking me if I'd like to come to Vancouver to do a chemistry test with Rachel, and I hadn't read the script yet. I was a little hesitant at first, and then I read the script and I was like, "Absolutely." Got on a plane for a chemistry test with Rachel on Friday, and then got a call I think that weekend that I would be moving to Vancouver. And then I think Monday I was on a plane to Vancouver for six months.
Q. Was there any kind of chemistry test with Erik (Knudson)? That's a really key relationship, since heís the one keeping Kiera from going completely out of her mind when she lands in the present.
Simon Barry: That's a good question. We never really felt that we needed to do a chemistry read with Erik and Rachel because when we cast Erik, we immediately recognized how good he was. He's an amazing find and an amazing actor and just a great individual. Has a great soul and a great demeanor. I think we felt a little bit more confident about them not reading together in that sense, because there is that disconnect and this unfamiliarity that we really embraced in the first few episodes because they hadnít met. So from that standpoint, no. The chemistry read we didn't feel was really important. For Rachel and Victor, though, I think it was important on many levels, not the least of which was just Rachelís comfort of knowing that this is going to be someone she was going to be working with hopefully for many years. And also, for our partners at the broadcaster and the studio level who really wanted to sense that there was something going on between the two of them that felt like a good mix. That's something that you can really tell right away in those kinds of chemistry reads. It just made decision-making a lot more efficient.
Q. Rachel and Victor, is there anything you added to your characters that wasnít originally scripted?
Rachel Nichols: Initially, Kiera was Kyle, so I brought some anatomy with me. Thatís a really interesting question because I started thinking, "Wow, did I?" And then I started thinking, "Well, I must have." And then I thought, "Well, everything is so collaborative that Iím not sure which sort of characteristics belong to which creator." There is a large element - and Simon and Victor can both attest to this - thereís a large part of me that's very goofy and very clumsy, and I don't necessarily think Kiera was supposed to be that way. But I think that part of my personality lends itself very well to the fish-out-of-water situation, given the fact that I'm from the future so thereís a lot of stuff that I obviously donít know about 2012. So I'd like to think that my own awkwardness is a good add-on. But that's the first thing for me that comes to mind anyways - the goofy aspect of my personality.
Victor Webster: No, but I agree with Rachel. I think that one thing that we had was the relationships were there. The drama was there. Everything was there, and there were definitely some funny moments written in. I think the only thing really on my end was just bringing up a little bit of that self-deprecating side, like the scene in the elevator when he's locked in there. They're so great about letting you really jump into your character and seeing what comes out. I think that that's something we all worked on as a family, as a team, is bringing up a little more of the comedy. Other than that, I think that was it. Everything was on the page for my character anyway.
Simon Barry: I think Victorís underselling it, and I think Rachel and he both put their finger on it. I think these characters really did come out of a great collaboration. I love that Victorís giving me - and the other writers - credit, but the truth is that we found these characters I think in a way together, and it was really fortuitous because as much as we - the writers and I - would love to think that we laid it all out, Rachel and Victor absolutely, and Erik to that effect as well - actually all the actors - they really did bring a very special quality to everyone. I think that because the process moved very quickly and because we all wanted to aim high and succeed, that creativity really pushed everyone into bringing whatever they could. And we as filmmakers were very open to it. We wanted it to happen that way. It was very organic and it was fun.
And the truth is, Rachel's right. She does bring her personality in ways to the character that we never wrote on the page, but that really brings it to life. And Victor does have a genuine sense of self-deprecation and humor, and also a kindness and a straightforwardness that we really appreciated him bringing, because I donít think it was as clear on the page. They have really defined the characters now in way that, in writing the show, we think more about what they bring to the table necessarily than what we as writers have brought to the table. Weíre embracing those things that I think we love, and hopefully the audience loves as well.
Catch "Continuum" Monday nights at 8 p.m. E.T.; back episodes are available for free on Hulu and for a small fee through Amazon Instant Video. Watch for part two of this interview next.