GS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Continuum’s Tony Amendola (SPOILER HEAVY)

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With Season One of new SyFy show Continuum out on DVD soon Geek Syndicate spoke to the man, who not only brought the character of  Kagame on the SyFy show to life but also as fan favourites Master Bra’tac (SG1) and Geppetto (Once Upon a Time), to talk about his new show. Continuum Season 1 is out on DVD from 28th January.

Before we get to the interview with the man himself lets just make sure you are all up to date with Continuum. MASSIVE SPOILERS IF YOU’VE NOT WATCHED SEASON 1

Continuum stars Rachel Nichols (Star Trek, Alex Cross) as Kiera Cameron, a high tech police ‘protector’ from the year 2077 who has helped to capture and incarcerate a group of fanatic terrorists. Justice is not served, however, as on the day of their planned execution the group escapes by vaulting back through time to 2012, inadvertently sweeping Kiera along with them.
Trapped and desperate to get back to her own time, Kiera must stop the terrorists before they bring the war of the future to the Vancouver of our present and change the course of history forever. With the unexpected help of a young tech genius Alec Sadler (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), she infiltrates the local police department who are starting to feel the effects of a technologically advanced new terrorist cell in their midst…

On a cold afternoon Geek Syndicate were lucky enough to get to speak to Tony Amendola who plays Kagame the leader of the terrorists.

Geek Syndicate (GS)- Hi Tony how are you doing?

Tont Amendola (TA) – I’m fine how are you?

GS : Yeah good thank you very much. First of all thanks for your time. Now we have watched Continuum, the whole of series one, and we have really, really enjoyed it, so I think to kick things off, first of all what drew you to this project originally?

TA:  Well it was sort of the contemporary edge that it has to it, that using some of the occupied movement, social activism, sort of thing that was very intriguing to me, I just had read the pilot which I thought was just terrific. And you know Simon Barry (Creator, Writer and Executive Producer), and the other guy Jeff King (Executive Producer) who did some writing (Jeff King did some writing for Stargate that introduced the character called Bra’tac, that I played) and also oddly the variety to me. Lately I have been doing Once Upon A Time playing Gepetto, and all of a sudden to go from that to playing Kagame who couldn’t be more different. You know, Gepetto sort of operates from his heart, but Kagame operates from his mind.

GS: You were saying about Kagame, he seems to have started out as a non violent protestor, and you were saying about his reasons for doing what he does, and he seems quite an intelligent terrorist if I can say that, because he is fighting against big corporations taking over. So on one hand he seems to be a terrorist as a bad guy, but on the other hand he is trying to stop the corporation from taking over, and bringing back free will. I mean how do you play that, it is quite a conflicted character.

TA: Yeah, well that’s the intriguing thing, I remember when I was doing it, I came across a quote that seems to be something that would haunt Kagame which is something to the effect of ‘whoever fights monsters, should do it in a way, that in the process he doesn’t become a monster himself’, and that is the thing that haunts Kagame in terms of where he has been pushed to, and the acts that he has committed, and the lives that he has taken. I think that it is a Nietzsche quote, there is in him a very inherent conflict because he sort of swayed from this sort of social activist, peaceful approach and then the next thing is that he finds himself in quite a violent sort of situation, so I do think that does haunt him and hopefully that will be played out more in the coming episodes.

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GS: Going back to you saying that sometimes he is violent and sometimes he is not. Obviously we have already seen parts of that in one of the flashbacks – we see him in the Buddhist temple having a peaceful protest and then when you look back to the past he is then blowing up a building killing thousands of people. Obviously there is going to be a big journey there to find out what makes him do that. Again was that quite hard to get an even balance between someone who is trying to be peaceful, but then in another hand is quite happy to kill thousands anyway?

TA: Yeah, well you know no one really starts off wanting to be a murderer I don’t think, life situations put pressures on people…unless they are psychotic, I don’t think Kagame is psychotic, but in that flashback what was really interesting was you saw that he had a wife and child, he had something else, and all of that was taken away from him in a fashion that hardened him in a kind of way and oddly enough made him less attached. So the family that he had in that flashback is then later replaced by Liber8. And I think of Liber8 as a family, I mean we have the dutiful son which is Travis, which is the warrior (Roger Cross), and then we the prodigal son who is Stephen Lobo as Kellog. And you can see he is torn his he has tried his hardest on Travis, and Kellog who will often go out and do atrocious stuff, and there is just something about that relationship between the father and son that he can forgive him, and then you have Sonya who is almost a daughter-like figure. So he has replaced one traditional family if you will, with a terror-military cultish group and that dynamic is very intriguing to me. There is a great scene when Kellog comes back with the fruit basket, and everyone just wants to kill him, Kagame tries to give him a tough time, but at the same time he forgives him. It is a very fascinating show that Simon is able to incorporate bits of contemporary worries, concerns i.e. the occupied movement i.e social activism, distribution of wealth and at the same time get into family things, and get into a time travel sci-fi thing. I think that it is an amazing accomplishment.

GS: When you first got the part, were you aware from the beginning that you would be killed off at the end of season one? And did that change how you would play him at all?

TA: Yes, I was aware….now you see the thing is am I killed off? I always think in Sci-Fi that you get to die at least once

GS:  Unless you are Daniel Jackson!

TA: (Laughs) You see I don’t want to spoil anything, but yes I was aware, and that was really useful to me, because as a human being when you go in and all of a sudden your character is killed or discontinued you feel like on some level you might have failed, and so being aware of it this was the arc, the first season arc of my character so I knew this was going on, I knew, and when that moment came I didn’t feel like ‘Oh my god, was it something that I did or did they not like working with me. Simon was very clear from the beginning that this is what the arc was. But there are some loose ends that have to be worked out so I look forward to doing that.

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GS: Following on from what you have just said, there is always opportunity in terms of flash-backs the future parts of the series to still be seeing your character anyway.

TA: Yes, trust me Simon is very clever, so I can’t really talk anymore about it and the fact of the matter is that I don’t really quite know how he is going to do this. But you have to trust him, and I certainly do, for example what happens to Kagame between Episode 1 and Episode 4?

GS: Yeah we don’t know what happened there, he sort of vanished.

TA: So that is just one probably six examples of time possibilities.

GS: So has a second series already been green-lit?

TA:Oh yes

GS: Excellent! and is it filming currently?

TA: It starts filming in a couple of weeks.

GS: Fantastic news. How many episodes will there be, because obviously the first season was only a short amount of episodes?

TA: There will be twelve additional episodes, so that will make twenty two

GS: Excellent. And just going back to what I said before about there is definitely room for flash-backs from the future segments. But in the future segments being a heavy Sci-Fi genre show was there quite a lot of green screen work for you?

TA: You know actually there really wasn’t that much because its contemporary sci-fi, in that there is a jump to the present, so there was some green screen work, but not nearly as much as you would imagined. For instance they found a wonderful location, a hanger for that opening sequence where we do the jump and that was a real location, that looked completely futurist, and 2077. But certainly all the stuff that was done up on the roof top with Roger on the escape, I mean all of that was obviously green screen. But there isn’t as much, there is some, but not as much as you would think.

GS: OK. You mention earlier about Bra’tac in Stargate which was a fantastic character and I think a lot of fans will always remember you for that character. You mentioned a bit about Kagame as well, now is there anything from when originally the character was written that you actually wanted to change about the character itself, that you brought to it, maybe at the actual script part?

TA: There is always a little bit of something at the beginning but in this particular case I was just sort of intrigued, as I said earlier by the journey of a guy who is capable of this kind of slaughter and is not a sociopath or psychopath, you know how that could even be possible in a guy that starts off trying to get equal justice for people. And so that is what intrigued me about it and the weight that he has to carry alone. I was very happy that they gave me a little bit of flash-back and a little bit of a family so that was appreciated. He is a bit of an enigma, he keeps the family in check if you will by with holding, or offering love so sometimes he can be quite cold. But no, there was nothing that struck me that I thought ‘oh no, he would never, ever do that’, I have never really had anything, and you know you sit down and Simon is always around set so you run an idea by him and say ‘can I say this?’ ‘I think it would be useful if I said this to Sonya & this to Travis’ and so you can tweak a little bit and I found Simon, Pat (Pat Williams – Director) and Sara (Sara B Cooper – Co-Executive Producer) all very collaborative. Now you have to understand they say no often, but as an actor all you want is to be heard, you want to be able to say ‘OK I have this idea’ or ‘I think this’ and you want to be just simply listened to and considered and then when they make the choice you have to accept that. It is a pretty happy set.

GS: One final question, in terms of the show it is actually set and filmed in Canada, unlike most shows that are filmed in Canada and set in America. Is it nice to be back in Canada, I assume you did a lot of work with Stargate over there?

TA: Yeah, it is really great and that is another unique thing about the show is that is Vancouver and Vancouver, and they sort of get around that in the show too because it is a North American corporate government, the United States don’t exist in this particular framework in the future, and so when they flash-back it is really wonderful to be in Vancouver and Vancouver – yeah I’m glad you caught that.

GS: Well thank you very much for your time, and I think we can both safely say we really enjoyed series one, and really looking forward to series 2.

TA: Take care, bye.

So for those who have not watched the show GS recommend it highly giving it 4/5 for series one. Great actors, an excellent storyline and cool action. Buy the season one DVD now.

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Step into the shoes of a police officer from the future, in the Vancouver of today, with futuristic thriller series Continuum Season 1. Following the show’s broadcast on the SyFy Channel, Season 1 will be released on DVD on 28th January 2013 by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

With an ensemble cast including Lexa Doig (V), Victor Webster (Castle, White Collar), Jennifer Spence (SGU: Stargate Universe) and Tony Amendola (Dexter, Stargate SG-1), Continuum Season 1 is a police procedural like you’ve never seen before. One of SyFy Channel’s most successful series to date, Season 2 is due to air on the channel in late 2013.

CONTINUUM SEASON 1 PRODUCT DETAILS
Release date: 28th January 2013
Running time: 420 minutes
Format: 3 disc DVD box-set
Cert: 12
DVD Price (RRP): £24.99

Source: SyFy Continuum
Reporter: Dark Phoenix, Montoya

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