Noah Huntley (28 Days Later) took time away from shooting in Plovdiv, Bulgaria to speak about his newest endeavor, Pandora, a sci-fi action show from Mark A. Altman and Steve Kriozere (ABC’s Castle). Pandora is set to air on The CW network on July 16th 8 PM ET/PT.
This show, which will run for thirteen episodes over the summer, is set in 2199 and centers on Jax (Priscilla Quintana, Traffik), a resourceful young woman who has lost everything after the death of her parents. She finds a new life at Earth’s Space Training Academy, where she and her friends learn to defend the Galaxy from threats, both human and alien.
Huntley, who portrays Jax’s uncle, Professor Donovan Osborn, says the show is 1/3 of the way done filming and that production won’t wrap until the end of August. He thought that it was “going to be quite nice… to see what we’re doing before we’re done. Which is quite rare these days.”
When asked to explain more about the show, he commented, “It’s basically set in 2199, a hundred and fifty plus years in the future. It’s following a predominately young cast of 6 youngsters who are at a training academy, which I’m kind of one of the central professors of. We sort of colonize different planets. There are Zatarians, a sort of malevolent race, we are in a ten-year war with. Its sort of Star Trek meets Battlestar Galactica in orientation.”
He continued by saying, “It’s a great format to be able to explore lots of issues. It’s a lot of contemporary issues but taken into a futuristic environment. So, it’s got that slant to it. It’s also got a sort of political thriller piece running through it that identifies it quite separate from the (other) sci-fi (shows). I’m this professor of this academy. I’m also sort of a major figure in the Earth Intelligence Service, which is sort of like a futuristic CIA.”
There is a mixture of American and, predominately, English cast and crew. “A hybrid,” as Huntley explained, “We’re sort of getting the best of all of it really. And that’s feeling really satisfying to be a part of.”
When asked if Pandora will be more Earth- or Space-based, he replied, “As part of the older cast, (we) anchor the show to Earth, but we are very much interacting with an Earth that has colonized other planets after sort of a natural disaster that has happened in the future. And they’ve taken on different elements of humanity as we know it. So, it’s a more stratified Earth-humanoid race in the future but with other races also have come into it, bringing some of the alien tech and all that into it.”
Touching on the professor’s “secret” life that has deep political connections, I asked him if his character’s secret will be revealed in the first season or if it might be something that will carry on in future seasons should Pandora find a following. He laughed and replied, “We’re very much working on the first season and there’s certainly a lot of expansion potential this season. At the moment, we are just focusing on what’s at hand. It’s definitely creating a corporate political world as much as a personal world for the 6 main young characters. The lead character, Pandora, is (the professor’s) niece. So, there’s a story going on there. It’s great because it poses these political questions. And questions about impersonal corporate agendas and puts them into a global scale, but off-setting a globe that is colonized and much bigger exo-planet. It’s sort of like it allows (the viewer) to look at things in a more of an objective way rather than something rehashing (the usual sci-fi shows). It helps (the viewer) be more objective about what you’re perceiving.”
Most viewers of The CW will notice a darker leaning with some of it’s newer shows, i.e. Riverdale and Charmed, so I asked Huntley if Pandora might lean that way. His response was, “If the darkness is fear, as how fear is a motivating force or not, I think it always creates a dramatic. The idea that if we don’t do something, something bad is going to happen helps motivate people to be involved rather than sitting back and assuming someone else is going to do it for us, whether that’s looking at the political arena we are in globally at the moment, or something else, you’re left with an urgency around this. A day that passes is another day that things get worse. So, if that’s the sort of darkness element of The CW than that’s the benefit I would draw from it. I think this is one of the most broad-reaching shows that I’ve come across, certainly on The CW. I think it’s dark on so many levels. Politically, potentially, quite dark. My character (Professor Osborn) is incredibly quite intimidating on the surface. He’s not a nice guy, he’s a baddie. And yet, it’s not as black and white as that. I think, although there are all these dark elements through, it they’re helping to expose the light elements too and the values that are also endemic to the show. Yeah, there’s darkness, but it is also bringing more light. It’s well balanced. It’s not simply drama and terrorism for drama and terrorism’s sake. It’s an optimistic show. The problem with sci-fi is that it is often easy to go dystopia and suddenly you’re dealing with the apocalypse and Armageddon and that’s where it heads. This (show) seems with every step it takes toward the danger, it seems to have a rich foundation apart from everything we are dealing with. (There are) five different races so on the terms of the metaphor of living together with our differences, it works really well. I think that optimism runs through the show. It treads that path well.”
After discussing Pandora, we touched on his recent endeavor, Harry and Meghan: Becoming Royal, a Lifetime movie that released at the end of May. Huntley played Caspian, a fictional Good Day UK anchor, a brash character who is reminiscent of Piers Morgan or Harvey Levin (TMZ). “I had so much fun playing (Caspian). I do think he’s a heightened character, but I think it also speaks to a generation now where we’re kind of aware of, and consumed in some ways, by media. Also by the voices of current affairs.”
Huntley mentioned the satisfaction of hearing from the producers of how well he and his “co-host” did that there may very well be a spin-off of the Good Day UK premise as other current events present themselves. It humbled him to know that he was able to turn such a narcissistic character into something that can be enjoyed in the future.
But that is back in 2019 and Huntley is very entrenched in his current character, Professor Donovan Osborn, way in the future. Be sure to catch him in his newest show, Pandora, airing in just a few weeks on The CW. Set your DVRs or tune in at 8 PM ET/PT, it’s sure to be an exciting ride into what the Earth’s future may look like.
Photo Credit: Kenneth Han