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Interview with Kyra Zagorsky and Steve
Maeda of "Helix" on Syfy 1/6/14
Moderator: Stephen Cox
January 6, 2014
5:00 pm CT
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by.
Welcome to the Helix conference call. I would now like to
turn the conference over to Stephen Cox. Please go ahead
Stephen Cox: Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining us today.
Weíre really excited to have a call with you regarding
Helix, our new scripted series which premieres Friday,
January 10th at 10:00 pm ET with two back-to-back episodes
with limited commercial interruption.
We have the series star, Kyra Zagorsky on the line for you
as well as our executive producer, Steve Maeda. And so
without further ado, weíll hand it over to your questions.
Operator: And our first question comes from the line of TV
America. Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Mike Hughes: Yes, Steve, the setting of being up in the
Arctic really seems to work well for this kind of thing. It
makes you think of, like, ďThe Thing,Ē and stuff like that.
Kind of talk philosophically about why a setting like this
works so well visually and emotionally for this kind of
Steve Maeda: Sure. Itís a setting that is great for us
because itís not the newest setting under the sun. It seems
familiar enough, but I think weíre doing a pretty
interesting spin on it.
And what works for us really well is that it lends itself to
a very claustrophobic environment because you can go outside
but only for brief periods of time. Itís really dangerous.
The weather is horrible, as Iím sure people who are in the
Midwest and the East Coast right now can relate to.
And what it does is it forces you to be inside most of the
time and thatís how we really saw this. Thatís how Cameron,
who wrote the pilot script, really envisioned the thing to
begin with, which was a contained environment, someplace,
you know, itís almost like being set on a spaceship where
youíre trapped inside with, you know, unseen horrors and
then thereíre all sorts of human problems as well that
develop from that. So it really lends itself to the series
as a whole.
Mike Hughes: Okay, cool. And I sympathize with you there.
Iíve got 14 inches of new snow outside right now, so Iím
never going to get out of my house again.
Steve Maeda: Yes, youíre trapped.
Mike Hughes: Yes. Hey, just one other thing. And it looks
like this is maybe an entirely studio show. In other words,
I was thinking that even the outdoor scenes you probably
shot in a studio. Is it entirely a studio shot are you
shooting in Montreal, or where are you shooting at?
Steve Maeda: We are shooting in Montreal. The writers were
all in Los Angeles where itís actually kind of balmy right
now. But Kyra and the rest of the gang, weíre up in
Montreal. Weíre pretty much all studio shots because we
started in the summer. I wish we had the budget to be able
to go to the Arctic and really do it.
But I thought the group up there - the crew and all our
production people - did a phenomenal job and maybe thatís
something, Kyra, maybe you can talk more about that because
you were there having to deal with our snow and all that
Kyra Zagorsky: Yes, it was pretty incredible. We had a room
that we called the freezer. If you were shooting in the
freezer that day, that was sort of a joke. But the fake snow
and how they would do it, theyíd get the fans going, and it
was - it looks incredible and the only thing that was tricky
is it was supposed to be freezing, we had these huge arctic,
you know, coats on.
But there were a couple of times that we did end up moving
the set outside to shoot some of the outside scenes just
because we needed a bit more space and that ended up being a
little bit more helpful and easier to breathe, too, when
youíre dealing with some of the fake snow stuff. But it was
a lot of fun and it looks amazing.
Steve Maeda: Itís pretty incredible what they managed to do
up in Montreal getting it to look like, you know, a blizzard
in the Arctic.
Mike Hughes: And Iíll just ask one other thing. Kyra, you
grew up in the mountains of Colorado, Iím told. So did you
grow up liking snow and have you changed your mind since
seeing the horrors of the Arctic in this thing?
Kyra Zagorsky: I love the snow. I love it. I think that
because I grew up in that environment, itís almost nostalgic
for me. I just get so excited to see it. I prefer being in
the snow than the rain in the winter, for sure. So thatís
the one thing about being in Vancouver sometimes in the
winter. Itís a bit tricky.
But yes, I absolutely love the snow. I do. I know right now
youíre not enjoying it, but youíre trapped in your house.
But thereís just something about the snow and how beautiful
it is. And thereís something - it just kind of wipes the
earth clean for a second. I love it. Itís beautiful.
Operator: Thank you and our next question comes from the
line of Joshua Maloni with Niagara Frontier Publications.
Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Joshua Maloni: Hi Steve. Hi Kyra. Thanks for attending
today. So, Steve, I watched the pilot. I really enjoyed it
and I thought it was smart and really suspenseful. I wonder,
though, or think that thereís going to be some misguided
critic out there who says itís just another zombie show.
What would you say to someone like that? What makes the show
so much more than that?
Steve Maeda: Yes, our watch word over the season, or some of
our watch words were not zombies. There is certainly a human
element to the show and a science fiction kind of trope that
weíre sure to get compared to and thatís okay.
I donít mind that, but weíre really trying to not make it a
zombie show. I would say the main difference about our
vectors, as we call them, is that they are not kind of
mindless sort of eating machines.
And thatís something that youíll see in later episodes.
Theyíre very scary and theyíre human and they look horrible.
But our team will discover teams into and around the virus
and also what weíre going to find out about the vectors is
that theyíre incredibly smart and so they retain a lot of
their intelligence, if not their humanity, which I think
makes them very different from zombies.
And you know what? The comparisons will come and thatís
okay. But weíre really trying to do something that feels
different than the typical zombie show.
Joshua Maloni: Right. And Kyra...
Kyra Zagorsky: I think also since the show is based in real
science, thereíre real life epidemic scares out there
throughout history where thereíre these huge viruses that
have wiped out huge populations and so weíre dealing with
something that the CDC hasnít seen before, but it comes from
And so thatís something thatís based in reality. And then
you put the science fiction on that and itís a really
interesting combination. I think thatís another thing that
makes it unique.
Steve Maeda: That was great. Thatís a good way to put it.
Joshua Maloni: Yes, good point. Kyra, Iím wondering, you,
Billy and Hiroyuki are both so intense on screen. Whatís it
like working with them in person? What do they bring to the
Kyra Zagorsky: Oh my gosh. Well, working with Billy is
incredible. I mean, heís technically amazing. Heís been
doing this for a long time. Heís a master at what he does.
Heís very emotionally connected and full and always
available and powerful.
And so itís an interesting combination. And the other thing
about him is that heís a blast to work with. Heís so funny.
For me, the thing that I love about the show is the
psychological thriller aspect of it.
And itís frightening and itís scary and thereíre all these
things that happen. You have these really dramatic scenes
and then you get in a scene with him and I canít tell you
how many times I would start cracking up. And Steve was
there for some of that.
Steve Maeda: Yes.
Kyra Zagorsky: But he is just so funny and heís just a blast
to work with. And Hiro is somebody that Iíve always admired
since I saw him in The Last Samurai. I think heís an
incredible person and artist and he is always right there
for you and heís always supporting the story to its fullest.
He was amazing. I learned so much from just being in the
room with him. So I think, for me, they just raised the bar
for me and it feels like, as an actor, youíre only as good
as your scene partner and I feel like anything that I do
well on this show is probably from being in scenes with
those two. So it was a pretty exceptional experience.
Steve Maeda: And I feel like weíve really got a pretty
incredible cast chemistry as well. I mean, considering that
we have some of our actors who have been doing this for
years and years and years and, you know, some that are like
Billy, who are household names, and then others who you may
not have seen before.
And I think everybody really elevated and brought their
A-game to this and Iím hoping that, in addition to the folks
you recognize, thereís going to be some real breakouts in
this as well.
Kyra Zagorsky: Yes, absolutely.
Joshua Maloni: All right, looking forward to each episode.
Operator: Thank you. And our next question is from the line
of Erin Willard of SciFi Mafia. Please go ahead. Your line
Erin Willard: Hi. I was really looking forward to this
series since I first heard about it and I loved the set tour
back in October and I had such high hopes so now that Iíve
seen the first three episodes, wow, do I love this series. I
loved it. You Sci-Fied it. Itís well written. Itís so well
acted. I could go on and on.
Steve Maeda: Oh, thank you.
Erin Willard: But what is it that each of you likes best
about the series?
Steve Maeda: Kyra, you want to go or do you want...
Kyra Zagorsky: I love the psychological thriller piece of
it. I think that because we are trapped in this isolated
environment with a deadly virus, whatís really interesting
is that everyoneís darkness comes out because weíve got
these life and death stakes going on and then thereíre these
interesting relationships going on but we canít quite deal
with the relationship right now because weíve got something
better to do, which is survive.
But it takes some of the characters to some very dark places
and they start doing things that they might not do if they
were in regular circumstances. And so their true humanity
comes out, the good and the bad. And I think thatís whatís
so interesting about the show and for me, the unique part of
it, the psychological side of it.
Steve Maeda: Yes, I would absolutely agree with that. And
for me, on top of that, I would say the main thing for me,
as I stand back now and look back at the season that weíre
finishing up, is Syfy in particular - both Sony and Syfy -
but Syfy really wanted us to get out of the box of a typical
And from the very beginning, you know, the pilot was a great
template and really set the stage for us. But then Syfy just
gave us free reign and said, you know, between studio
networks, Ron Moore, and everybody, we all tried to put our
heads together and say what can we do?
Where can we take this show where it starts in one place and
then goes someplace hopefully really unexpected where we
want the audience to play along and say, ďHey, I know whatís
going to happen here. Of course, itís going to be this,Ē and
then have it be something completely different.
And we tried to do that with creative choices we made, with
story ideas, with some casting choices, whether characters
live or die, with music choices, with how we edited the
show. And so that was really fun to have the creative
freedom to be able to get outside of the typical show box.
Kyra Zagorsky: And something else that was fun, off of what
you said, Steve, is that because we had the 13 episodes
right away, every director would come in so excited to go
with their own creativity. So, you know, sometimes directors
get hired into TV shows and itís so formulaic and theyíre
kind of a slave to whatever everybody wants them to do.
But everyone came in with their own style and it blends
together with the Helix style that was set. But at the same
time, theyíre bringing their own ideas and their own input.
And so they were so pumped to be there. And it was really
fun working with all of them.
Operator: Thank you. And our next question comes from the
line of Jamie Ruby with SciFi Vision.com. Please go ahead.
Your line is open.
Jamie Ruby: Hi, guys. Thanks for doing the call. I also
loved seeing the set and I really love this series so far. I
canít wait to see beyond the screeners. But one of the
things you mentioned about the different music and that - I
was curious - who came up with the idea to use the upbeat
music that plays in different areas because I really thought
that that fit really great. It just works really well.
Steve Maeda: Oh, thank you. It was sort of a group effort in
a way but really it was Ron who came to our first editing
session and said, ďHey, you know what? Letís try to do some
different things here. Letís cut it up and letís really have
fun with this.Ē
And then as we were thinking, we had the idea to try to do
something different musically. And initially we werenít
thinking about doing a lot of songs.
And I think it was one of our producers, who actually came
up with the old Burt Bacharach song and the Dionne Warwick
version and weíre like, ďYes, that would be awesome.Ē
And so what we tried to do is take that through the series
and - not all the time - but every once in a while, weíre
going to pull out an old chestnut and have some fun with the
musical parts of the show. And that was something that Iíve
got to say thatís one of my favorite parts of the entire
Jamie Ruby: I was curious, can you talk about - because Iím
not sure who all else is going to be in it - but I know that
mostly itís kind of a closed cast because you have this
close-knit group. Can you talk about how youíre working with
the same people? I mean, does that make it different from an
acting standpoint? You do have a big ensemble, but you canít
bring in a bunch of guest cast.
Kyra Zagorsky: You know, we actually do have a lot of guest
cast. Thatís the fun surprise about the show.
Jamie Ruby: Oh, cool.
Kyra Zagorsky: Because when you think about - how many was
it, Steve? Thereís 103 scientists on the base?
Steve Maeda: Thereíre 106 scientists - yes, 106 scientists
on the base and a bunch of support staff. And then we have
people - there are some other people that we wonít mention,
but just to know that there are other cast members who kind
of come and go.
Kyra Zagorsky: Yes, and thereíre a lot of surprise
characters that you just would never expect and thatís
whatís kind of fun about it. Thereís a huge element of
surprise that starts to happen pretty soon in the series
that thereíre some pieces where I have a whole episode where
Iím not working with any of the core cast but just other
interesting characters. So itís pretty fun. It kept it
Steve Maeda: Yes, that was part of the challenge, too, with
the show, I think. The claustrophobia plus the cast, in a
sense here, which is how do we open the show up? And that
was something that we were very conscience of in sitting
down and trying to plot out stories.
You know, what can we do? How can we open up this base and
make the world larger? And part of it was getting outside
when we could. And the other part of it was actually,
literally going deeper and unpeeling the layers of the onion
and finding that the surface level of this base is just the
beginning and that thereís much more going on in and around
Jamie Ruby: Okay, great. Iím very surprised at that, so glad
to hear it.
Steve Maeda: Good.
Operator: Thank you. And our next question is from the line
of Tim Holquinn with ScreenFad. Please go ahead. Your line
Tim Holquinn: Hi. My first question is for Steve. Iím a
longtime fan of shows youíve worked on since The X Files and
Lost and CSI: Miami.
Steve Maeda: Well, thanks.
Tim Holquinn: And it seems your experience on Lie To Me,
though, may be most applicable to Helix, considering the
amount of dishonesty and duplicitousness that plays among
its principle players. Can you talk a bit about the abundant
amount of withholding that goes on?
Steve Maeda: Oh, sure. Yes, I mean, itís kind of a dramatic
staple but, yes, we absolutely came to this with the idea
that the series plays out in a pretty tight time period.
Weíre doing this idea of having each episode be a day.
And so the idea was not to flash back and not to show what
people were doing before the show started. We really wanted
to keep it as contained as possible as far as keeping the
timeline tight and the jeopardy up.
And so it really was loading characters up. We had a lot of
discussions before we even started talking about what the
second episode was going to be, in loading characters up
with enough back story that would allow things to spill over
and play out over the course of the 13 episodes of the
So yes, we really, really wanted to make sure that everybody
had enough going on with them that once the tension
increased, once things were going really poorly, which
happens really fast, that we had characters who had their
personal situations which could spill over.
And so everyoneís got an agenda. Everyoneís got secrets,
every single character. And some of them are big Ė giant Ė
you know, things that will impact the plot some are smaller,
but just as important character secrets.
And we just really tried to load everybody up as much as
possible in a way that felt credible but also gave them lots
to play once things started to go down the toilet. So, we
were very conscience of that.
Tim Holquinn: And just a quick follow up for you, Steve, I
was wondering, did Ron Moore personally handpick you for the
job of show runner or if not, can you tell us about how you
came to that job?
Steve Maeda: I mean, Ron was definitely one of the main
draws about the job. And I met with Ron and I met with
Cameron who had created and sold the pilot and also with
Lynda Obst who was one of our producers.
We had a nice meeting of minds and that was that. And Iím
sure they met with some other people as well but we had a
nice rapport and it seemed like theyíd be good people to
work with, and they were. We had a really good experience
and Ron was tremendous. Heís got a lot of stuff going on. We
was very busy, but also was very available for us and had
huge input in the show.
Tim Holquinn: Okay, and for Kyra, Iím a big fan of yours and
especially your role here, as well. I thought you were
excellent in the first three episodes. Iím wondering, did
you get a show bible initially revealing your characterís
outcome or did you have to discover it episode by episode?
Kyra Zagorsky: I had to discover it. I had to discover
everything and that was, I think, part of the fun in being
on the show. It was so exciting. You could not wait to get
your next script to see what was going to happen to you.
But there were a couple of things. The only information I
got was that I had a history with Billyówith ĎAlaníóand with
his brother, ĎPeter,í whoís played by Neil. So, that was the
only information that I was given.
So that was interesting. By the time I was working through
the third episode, that was the piece when I really felt Iíd
gotten myself kind of grounded into the character.
I feel like when I find the characterís darkness, when
everything opens up emotionally, thatís when I started
going, ďOkay, now Iím starting to really feel like Iíve got
a handle on her.Ē
And what was great is, when I first got up to Montreal and I
met with Cameron and Jeffrey Reiner, we had a talk and I
just realized this is my role. This is it, you know. So I
have no idea whatís to come, but I have to just trust that
Iím her and start working with her.
Steve was great to work with, too; when a new script would
come out and I had questions about things, I would always
write to him and Iíd have a dialogue with him about things,
just figuring out what her character is made of. So it
became a really interesting team collaboration. It was
pretty incredible. But it was all a big surprise for me.
Steve Maeda: Thatís pretty typical, too, for a serialized
show. And even though you have certain things figured out,
you donít have all the pieces when you begin. We had a
pretty solid idea of where we were heading through the 13
but Iíve heard it described before, which I think is a
pretty apt analogy of, we know that weíre starting off in
Los Angeles and weíre heading toward New York. But along the
way, you may not know that weíre going to stop at Omaha and
then, three episodes in, youíre like, ĎOmaha sounds pretty
great.í And so you can take that left turn or right turn
still heading toward your same place at the end, but you can
discover things along the way.
And whatís great about that is you can discover things in
the show story-wise, but then you also discover, as you see
your actors, you discover who they are and they bring things
to the character that you may not have seen before.
And thatís really wonderful, to start watching the dailies
and start seeing the cuts and to see what our actors were
bringing. Then we went, ĎOh, well hey, how about this?í And
it gives us, you know, more ideas, which is really nice.
Kyra Zagorsky: You guys took me for a great ride in this
series. I had the best time and, yes, Walker goes through
some amazing things. Itís pretty incredible. Every episode
was pretty dynamic.
Steve Maeda: Itís a pretty tough 13 days for Walker.
Tim Holquinn: Youíre doing a great job.
Operator: Thank you. And our next question comes from the
line of Tony Tellado with Sci Talk. Please go ahead. Your
line is open.
Tony Tellado: Hi guys. Itís great to talk to you. Actually I
was on the set tour as well, and Steve, you were on my
roundtable in San Diego.
Steve Maeda: Oh, great.
Tony Tellado: Yes. Can you say a little bit more about Dr.
Walker and Dr. Farragutís relationship and how it maybe
developed a little bit? Was anything added when you were
cast, Kyra, or anything like that?
Steve Maeda: I mean, from our point of view, the characters
always had a relationship even in the very early drafts of
the pilot script. We deepened that a little bit. We
complicated it up as we were conceptualizing the show very
And that was part of just trying to, again, load up the show
with a lot of potential drama to play out because we knew we
were going to be stuck up at our base for the 13 days and so
for us, it was trying to really make that character sing and
have a lot of really interesting things to go through.
And I would say, in a lot of ways, Walker, at least you
know, as the show progresses, becomes very central, without
giving too much away. Itís a pretty important role and itís
a pretty interesting character. And weíve got some, you
know, good-ratings willing, weíve got some interesting
places to take her.
Kyra Zagorsky: Yes. And I think something that - when - just
coming into the series and, again, as I was mentioning, I
didnít know where the show was going to go, but just knowing
that this character is my ex-husband and then weíre here to
do this job.
And some of the things that would start to come out and just
kind of playing with Billy and a new episode would come and
you see some interesting little dialogue between them or
whatís going on.
But they had marital problems, you know. Itís one of those
things that you just kind of bring relationship history and
see that there is definitely a personality thing that
happened between these two.
I think Walkerís character is something that I discovered
from the information of just things that would happen in the
show, which sheís the type of scientist that I think that
really likes to be in the field. Sheís very accomplished.
Sheíd already, you know, sheís won an award. Sheís gotten
herself to the top of the field in her work. And I think
that what sheís about, you know, at this point in her life
was about trying to really be out there helping people.
Like, go to these countries and get right in the middle of
the virus and get hands on and be there.
And I think there is a difference in their personalities and
that maybe he was a little bit more in the lab kind of
thing. And so you just start to see some of these
interesting personality clashes of where theyíre going to
start having some issues with each other.
And it comes out in some pretty cool ways in some of the
episodes. I particularly had some fun working with him when
we had Jeremiah to direct because heís got such an
interesting style. I mean, he directed Christmas Vacation,
and thatís just one of my all-time favorite Christmas
My brother and I would watch it every year without fail.
Itís so good. And so heís got such a great, quirky way about
him already that he really pulled out some of the
interesting marital stuff between us that was really - it
And so thatís what would kind of happen, is like I said, I
would discover it as we would go and then Billy and I would
play with each other and itís just - youíre just bringing
human relationships to the table, you know, and seeing where
Steve Maeda: Yes, and part of what we try to do, as well, is
make them all - all of our CDC scientists are incredibly
accomplished and incredibly good at their jobs but also very
flawed characters who have maybe not handled things so well
in their personal lives. And that usually brings some pretty
rich drama forward.
Kyra Zagorsky: Yes.
Tony Tellado: Well, having been on the set and touring
everything, I think you guys really are - you know, what
Iíve seen so far, youíve used him very well. You know, using
all the technology thatís available with some green screen
here and there, and Iíve been in that cold room and it is
And so itís amazing what that room is and what Iíve seen
already, itís really used well. And then having that one
facility that used to be a research facility, I understand
it, so this way you had, like, all the labs almost set up
for you. So you guys are really using everything that you
have at your disposal to make this work.
Steve Maeda: Oh, thank you.
Tony Tellado: Great. Well, thank you. Thanks again and best
of luck. Iím really looking forward to seeing what the
seasonís going to be like.
Operator: Thank you. And our next question comes from the
line of Robin Burks with FanGirlConfessions.com. Please go
ahead. Your line is open.
Robin Burks: Hi, Steve. Hi, Kyra. Thank you for talking with
us today. Iím really, really excited about this series. I
know we mentioned that itís not zombies. But if you could
describe the series to somebody who has no preconceptions
about what itís about, how would you describe it?
Steve Maeda: Oh, thatís a good question. I would say it -
the way that weíve been describing the series both in, you
know, in press and then just in talking about it in breaking
stories, it is an outbreak show, at least at the beginning.
And it starts off as a show about this terrible outbreak
that happens in this very remote and dangerous location. And
our team has to go up and deal with that.
What then happens, though, itís hard to describe because
itís - we donít want to give too much away, but it becomes a
mystery and it gets very deeply into science fiction and it
gets very much into thriller and mystery elements.
And what you thought the show was going to be about is not
what the show is about any more, which I think is great, and
thatís, you know, as I was talking about earlier, the
freedom that Syfy gave us to kind of go out and say, ĎHey,
it starts as this, then it becomes that,í you know, go, see
what direction that takes you in, that was pretty incredible
and allows us to have the show be - you think itís one thing
and then it turns out well, wait, itís also about this. And
- but wait a second. Itís also about that, too, and thatís a
lot of fun.
Robin Burks: Yes, it sounds like it. Kyra, how would you
describe Dr. Julia Walker and what is it about the character
that really drew you to want to play her?
Kyra Zagorsky: Well, I would describe her as a very
intelligent, accomplished woman in her field. Sheís one of
the top scientists with the CDC. And the thing that I loved
about this character is that she was incredibly ambitious
and got herself to where she is in this line of work but she
exists for purposes outside of her relationships which I
think is a really important thing for female characters in
film and TV.
And so although I am the ex-wife of Dr. Alan Farragut,
thatís not at all what my purpose is in the series. Iím
there because Iím trying to, you know, deal with this virus.
Iím there to do my work as a scientist. Iím passionate about
But sheís an independent woman and she does have her flaws
in her relationships. Sheís just a very full human character
and I think thatís what I really loved about her. Because
sometimes when weíre creating strong females, we give them a
weapon and, you know, turn them into something macho or, you
know, or often it has to be a superhero character or else,
you know, she has to be a full on business person and has to
be cruel or something.
And there is something about this character that I just
thought sheís just a full-bodied human character. You know
and - but sheís got a lot of purpose outside of her
ex-husband and I think thatís what keeps her active and
Steve Maeda: Yes, thatís what we were very conscience of, I
think, when we were trying to talk about the characters and
really round them out. And we got a lot of - we had many,
many discussions about the female characters and how to
really make them feel, you know, as real as possible to have
to be credible as scientists, to have them be really smart,
to not have them just be defined by their relationships.
And, you know, itís easy to fall into those kinds of tropes.
We try very hard not to do that and to, then, of course, you
see what your actor or actress brings and itís like, okay,
good. We can do that as well. Oh, look, you know, theyíre
very good at this type of thing or this type of scene and
letís play into that.
Letís actually embrace - you know, initially the - I can
tell you that the Dr. Jordan character, whoís played by
Jordan Hayes initially was a character that we thought was
going to be very backstabbing and was going to be kind of an
Eve Harrington character from All About Eve.
And when we actually got our actress and watched Jordan and
weíre like, well, we could kind of play that but thatís not
really who she is and not who sheís playing so letís try and
steer the boat in that direction and it worked great. I
think she was wonderful.
And with Kyra, she, I think for me anyway, Kyra really
inhabited the role as it was written and then brought extra
depth to it as well and we just kind of ran with it and she
was really wonderful.
Kyra Zagorsky: Itís a kind of a dream role. Thereís so much
that I have to go through emotionally, physically,
intellectually. Itís the whole package. So yes, I couldnít
be happier being able to work on this show.
Robin Burks: Sounds great. I canít wait to watch. Thank you.
Operator: Thank you and our next question comes from the
line of Michael Hinman with Airlock Alpha. Please go ahead.
Your line is open.
Michael Hinman: Good afternoon everybody. Howíre you doing?
Steve Maeda: Hey.
Kyra Zagorsky: Good. How are you?
Michael Hinman: Sorry I missed the set tour around up in
Montreal and, you know, I wish Iíd been up there because I
hear it was a really cool set. But knowing that and seeing
the first three episodes in the set and I know that this
base is supposed to get bigger and bigger, you know,
probably as we go.
But, I mean, are you still worried about a little bit of,
like, story claustrophobia? You know, because on the
Starship you usually can get off the ship and you go to the
planets and other defined spaces; like Lost, you had
flashbacks that took you back to where everybody lives. But
how do you get around that and not get claustrophobic when
it comes to what youíre doing with the story?
Steve Maeda: Well, itís a really good question and itís
something we talked about at length when we were initially,
you know, kind of developing and talking about the series.
And the idea was, one of the things that was really
important to us is to get outside whenever we could. And, of
course, outside means, you know, either in our refrigerated
room or, you know, out on the green screen, you know,
exterior, but at least we were outside and didnít have four
walls around us.
And then the other thing we did was just think of ways that
we could open up the show. And one thing weíre doing - I
donít think Iím giving too much away on this - is, while
weíre not doing flashbacks, part of what the virus does is
it makes you hallucinate.
And so hallucinations play a fairly good sized piece of
certain episodes. And what they allow you to do is go to
places you wouldnít otherwise be able to go. And Iíll leave
it at that.
Kyra Zagorsky: Yes, and I think the other side of that is
embracing the claustrophobia and thatís kind of what a huge
piece of this show is, just watching people go through
having to be stuck in that.
And so I think the audience is going to feel some of that.
It might not be comfortable but itís really cool to just
kind of be experiencing that along with the characters that
So yes, youíre in that same room again. There they are.
Theyíre stuck right there and youíre right there with them
empathizing for what theyíre going through. And so I think
thatís what can help the audience connect to the humanity
and, again, the good and the bad of each character, of what
Steve Maeda: Yes, and the challenge for us was to figure out
how to use those rooms again and again and again, those
locations, and we are a combination of some sets that we
built, of some labs that we actually repurposed for, you
know, in a building, a big, giant laboratory structure in
Montreal and then a fair amount of green screen and, you
know, exterior and interior green screen work.
So the idea was to, you know, try to keep it as real as
possible, use whatever we could, try to get different looks
at it, put people in different types of situations and then
also to, again, open the show up as much as we could by
going a place you wouldnít expect to go outside, by going to
a place you wouldnít expect to go inside.
And then, even though youíre still in this very inhospitable
place thatís kind of closed in, itís a pretty big base and I
feel like we got good use out of our sets and you shouldnít
feel like, oh, weíre back there again. It feels like we - I
think, anyway, like we use things the right amount.
Michael Hinman: Thatís excellent. And, you know, and itís a
very talented group of people. But a lot of people talk
about Ronald E. Moore being attached to this.
Of course, that might be a blessing in a way because a lot
of people get excited about his work, but is it also adding
pressure to what you guys are doing because now you kind of
have to, not just live up to being a new series, but living
up to being a series like Battlestar Galactica, for
instance, or something like that. I mean, does that kind of
add to the pressure?
Steve Maeda: Itís a huge, high bar to hit and so, yes, there
is pressure, but itís fantastic. Iíve got to say. Not just
with, you know, the fact that Battlestar, kind of came
before and that Ron has a lot of that, you know, attached to
But he was great. I mean, just as a partner, as a producer
on the show, as someone to, you know, come in and talk about
ideas and to weigh in, he was fantastic. I couldnít ask for
And so, you know, sometimes you work with someone and the
relationship doesnít go well. Sometimes it does. He was
really tremendous and his producing partner was as well. I
mean, they were there for us. They were doing another show
at the same time and still were there for us and were able
to, you know, give us as much time as we needed from them.
And so it was really - it was just sort of this whole, like,
sense of Ron that kind of pervaded the entire show from
start to finish. And so, yes, the pressure is tremendous.
Certainly, that was what we said in the beginning, ĎHey,
letís look at Battlestar,í and said, ĎWow, there are really
things that we loved about that show. Letís try to rise to
that level and get as close as we can.í
Kyra Zagorsky: The cast just has to jump in and do their
best right from the beginning because in some ways itís
great because thereís already attention to the show because
of Ron Moore, because of his legacy. So then we all just
have to come in and do our absolute best and it opens up the
freedom, I think, for the cast to bring everything theyíve
Michael Hinman: Excellent. Well, I look forward to seeing a
lot more, so thank you guys so much for taking the time.
Operator: Thank you. And our next question comes from the
line of Julie Hernandez Seaton with Scifi Pulse. Please go
ahead. Your line is open.
Julie Hernandez Seaton: Yes, hi. Thanks for being here both
of you because weíre really excited - Iíve been really
excited about this show since I got to take the tour and see
you all up there up in Montreal. And so I was wondering,
Kyra, how this role or this project is different from other
projects that youíve done in the past.
Kyra Zagorsky: Howís it different? Well, most of the time,
what Iíve done in the past is come in and do these really
cool guest stars. And so being in a show where you are one
of the core cast members, thatís going to be one thing
thatís going to be a hugely different experience.
And youíre kind of creating. When Iíve come in to do guest
stars for shows, thereís a sense of being in somebody elseís
playground. And usually itís a great experience but you come
in, you know, ready to go and prepared and you have this
amazing experience and then thatís it.
And sometimes, like, for certain shows, especially in the
SciFi world or Supernatural, like the Stargate, those things
that Iíve done, thereís a sense of your character kind of
lives on with certain people and thatís kind of fun about
how SciFi works but with this. Youíre creating a playground,
as far as the cast goes.
So itís great because it gives me a lot more ownership of my
craft and of where I go with it and being able to bring my
full experience to the part just because Iím there from the
Steve Maeda: Yes, I think thatís a really good way to put it
and also, I mean, for us, itís a great opportunity as
opposed to, you know, the feature version of this which
would be, you know, two and a half hours long and youíd
introduce a character and youíd meet them and spend time
with them and then resolve it and youíd be done.
This is the 13 hour version of it and so it really allows
you to spend some time with these people, really let the
relationships play out. Somebody that you thought was, you
know, this horrible, horrible person in the beginning ends
up not being quite so horrible or at least you understand
where theyíre coming from and you have time.
You can go for episodes thinking one thing about a character
or a relationship and then find out six episodes down the
road that wait a second, thereís more to this than I
thought. And so that was our challenge is making sure that
that stuff happened and still felt credible.
Julie Hernandez Seaton: Yes, and also that weíve mentioned
before that this is a really impressive cast and itís an
ensemble cast. So are there any funny or interesting stories
that you would like to share about what happened while
Kyra Zagorsky: While filming. Oh, my gosh, well...
Steve Maeda: When youíre spending, you know, 12, 13 hours a
day, five days a week, sometimes six days a week, with those
Kyra Zagorsky: Well, there is something that was really
hilarious and it was during the pilot and it was one of my
favorite moments because it was such a pressure day, it was
such an intense day and the working conditions were kind of
crazy because we were in those suits that you see and
sometimes theyíre a bit tricky to work in because you canít
really hear everyone outside.
And so they had to figure out ways to rig the mikes into the
helmets so that you could at least hear the person in the
scene with you and sometimes that was tricky.
Or if you move a certain way and your air gets shut off - so
there were certain things that we had to work around with
the suits. And there was just this one day that was just so
intense all day long. And then we get into doing some of the
dialogue in the scenes and Billy has to talk to Neilís
character and Billyís characterís name is Alan and his
brotherís name is Peter.
But, you know, I guess he just didnít have the registered in
there yet. Heís trying to start the scene and Iím completely
connected emotionally and Iím right there and then he starts
looking at Neilís face and starts going, ďAlan, Alan,Ē
calling him his characterís name.
And it - he didnít register. So instead of, you know, I
thought the more he says it then itís going to wake him up
and heís going to stop and heís going to realize what heís
done. And he just didnít. He just kept going deeper.
And I lost it. It was just so funny because the tension was
so high and then, you know, weíre in these really dramatic
close ups and he just had no idea that he was even doing it.
So there were things like that that would happen that were
just so funny that if the audience knew what was going on
with some of these really intense scenes, they would just,
you know, theyíd be amazed.
And then there was one really interesting day. Itís a very
cool scene. I canít wait for you all to see it. I think itís
in Episode 6 maybe. But Jordanís sitting there and at one
point, and Hiro is a heroóHe just is. Heís just magic.
Like, he kind of happens to be in the right place at the
right time. Heís kind of like the secret little ninja. And I
wonít tell you how it happened but somehow Jordanís hair
started to catch on fire. And Hiro grabbed it, gets it out
and it was just a split second and it was just - no words
were spoken. He just kind of handled it and everybody else
was starting to freak out.
And I thought this guy really is a ninja. Like, what is
going on here? Yes, I mean, we had so much fun. And thereís
so much that happened. Itís like a big mess of crazy
experiences but yes, that first thing was always calling
Neil his character, it was just was so funny, because the
thing is, he did it two days in a row.
Kyra Zagorsky: Yes, and I thought, this is great. I will
never forget this. It was so funny, but yes, there were lots
of good times on set.
Julie Hernandez Seaton: Well, thank you so much.
Steve Maeda: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you and now our next question comes from the
line of Suzanne Lanoue with TV Megasite. Please go ahead.
Your line is open.
Suzanne Lanoue: Hi. Steve, I know you said no zombies. I
hate to ask you that but I havenít seen the pilot and I
donít like zombies whatsoever.
Steve Maeda: Okay.
Suzanne Lanoue: I watch a lot of science fiction.
Steve Maeda: Then youíll like our show. No zombies.
Suzanne Lanoue: Well, thatís what I was going to ask you. I
watch a lot of science fiction but I do not watch, ďThe
Walking Dead,Ē because everybody I know loves it but I -
they gross me out and they creep me out. So how gross will
these guys be? Will I be grossed out?
Steve Maeda: Well, weíre a little gross. I have to be
Kyra Zagorsky: Yes, theyíre gross.
Steve Maeda: Thereís some gross going on. We definitely
wanted to have our infected people, our vectors, as we call
them, play that something was wrong with them so that they
didnít just look like everybody else. It can be a very
And so, yes, there is definitely, you know, there are horror
elements in there that we did not shy away from. That being
said, itís not a gore fest at all. And while there is gross
stuff that happens, we were not trying to come up with,
like, the coolest way to do something really vile. I mean,
there are gross things; but itís not a gore fest. Thatís the
best way I can put it.
Suzanne Lanoue: Yes, I donít know why it bothers me. Itís
zombies. I can watch, you know, the grossest scenes on
Supernatural or Bones, or any of those because I know itís
fake. But, you know, zombies just creep out and theyíre
Steve Maeda: Yes, yes, yes. Theyíre pretty gross and I like
to watch gross zombies but we really were very conscience
about trying to steer away from that as much as possible. So
our guys are gross but theyíre gross in a different way.
Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, okay. Well, Iíll give it a shot
Kyra Zagorsky: I love how you say I can watch that stuff
because I know itís fake.
Suzanne Lanoue: Well, I guess because - youíre right. You
are so right. But I guess because I heard that Walking Dead
was very, you know, like, realistic in a way, that they try
to make it look real so maybe thatís what - I can watch The
Night of the Living Dead because thatís not gross at all.
They had the one scene where they eat the people but itís
kind of implied, so the old ones I donít mind.
Steve Maeda: Yes, there definitely are some horror moments
in the episodes. There are scares and there is gross stuff
that happens. We really, though, I think that was not where
we tried to lean into. Itís not our strength.
We donít have the budget or the time to be able to, you
know, out-gross or, you know, out-action a lot of the shows
that are out there. So with us, it was much more about,
okay, whatís the understandable character element thatís
going on that we can relate to with the emotion in a scene
that we can try to find?
Whatís the really cool reveal that we can come up with where
youíre going to, like, oh, no way, I didnít see that coming?
And so thatís where I hope our strength is.
Kyra Zagorsky: If anything, it was more scary or disturbing
than it is gross.
Steve Maeda: Disturbing, yes. I would say sometimes uneasy,
Kyra Zagorsky: Especially when you were at lunch and you had
to sit across from the vector in the makeup. That was one of
the things where we thought, okay, I donít want you to just
sit next to me at lunch when youíre in that makeup.
Suzanne Lanoue: Well, I imagine itís much worse when itís
real life right in front of you.
Kyra Zagorsky: Yes, yes. And theyíre eating with you as if
thereís nothing wrong.
Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, Kyra, you havenít been - youíve done
mostly guest starring roles, safe to say, and so this is
your first big role. What would you say was the most
challenging or difficult thing about doing this role?
Kyra Zagorsky: The most difficult or challenging... I would
say thereís a certain piece in the middle of the series that
thereís a huge mystery that happens to my character thatís
just - itís just kind of incredible and we were shooting
And I would say that was the most challenging piece because
emotionally I was connected, like, all day over and over
again and it was just every day there was so much going that
kept just getting worse and worse and more insane for her.
And it was so much fun and I really had to rise to the
occasion but it was incredibly challenging because we were
moving so fast and it was day in and day out for a few days
in a row there.
So that was a big challenging piece but it was, like, I was
mentioning before, it was - that was the piece in the series
where I had to kind of bring everything about myself to the
table at all times. So it was definitely fun but itís, like,
you know, if youíre an athlete, itís like, leave it all on
the field. That was just where I was at for a while with
Steve Maeda: And definitely itís a challenge for the actors
because not only are they having to come every day and bring
it for six months, but also youíre shooting out of sequence
and one of the things that we did this year was we shot in
blocks, so we do two episodes at the same time.
So sometimes they were, you know, going between episodes,
like, okay, now you remember that thing that you just shot
that happened, well, that hasnít happened yet, so get your
mind wrapped around that it was incredibly challenging.
Kyra Zagorsky: Yes, yes.
Stephen Cox: This question will be our last question.
Operator: Certainly. And our final question comes from the
line of Mynda Bullock with Nice Girls TV. Please go ahead.
Your line is open.
Mynda Bullock: Hi guys. I am so excited about this show and
thank you for taking the time out for us. I watched the
promos, the first 15 minutes and the way itís shot and the
whole virus, this scares the liver out of you. And it just
gets worse and worse. So was there ever a time during
filming where it just freaked you out, the virus itself,
what it does?
Kyra Zagorsky: Yes. Especially with the first couple of
episodes, I mean, as Steve mentioned before that thereíre a
lot of twists and turns that happen where the series starts
as one thing and it starts to become something much bigger
and much darker and, you know, more interesting.
But in the beginning when youíre looking at this and youíre
thinking about it, the CDC gets brought up to this place to
deal with this virus and itís something that theyíve never
seen and that, in itself, is quite frightening in a story
because this is something that happens all the time, a real
life epidemic scare, you know.
I mean, I think there was just a couple reported cases this
last week in Vancouver of some deaths of people passed away
with H1N1. You know, itís something thatís really out there
for people. People are trying to make decisions about
whether they should vaccinate their children or not, which
is still a big debate, you know.
Itís something that is a true fear for people. So when we
were getting into the story in these first few episodes and
youíre seeing these people who are at the top of the CDC,
they should have every answer. Itís almost like a God
And they donít know what to do. I think thatís pretty
terrifying and, you know, when we didnít know what was going
to be happening next as an actor, with where the story was
going to go, thatís an interesting thing because you just
think I have no idea what I can do.
How much worse can it get and I have no handle on it. And
now, at some point, this is going to get everyone sick and
we donít have any answers. And thatís pretty frightening
because thatís, you know, total annihilation of the whole
planet. So what do you do there?
Steve Maeda: Yes, thatís one of the things we really played
with, this notion that we have to keep this thing contained
and we have to solve it or figure it out or at least keep it
here in this place because if it gets out, itís going to be
And so thatís the thing that, you know, our folks, our CDC
scientists and the other scientists are not only scared for
their own lives but scared of what might happens if this
thing gets out.
And so we really play with that and kept that very much
alive throughout the course of the series. Itís scary. Itís
an invisible villain. You canít touch it. You canít taste
it, but itís there.
These types of stories I really like and I had done research
on them before just because I was interested in them. But
the kind of outbreak and epidemic stories not only are they
something that people can really relate to but also it tends
to either bring out the best or the worst in people and
sometimes both because people get so terrified, theyíre so
scared of whatís going to happen, that they donít know how
to deal with the situation.
And thatís something that we really, really tried to play a
great deal is, does this bring out the best in you or is
this going to bring out, you know, the shellfish kind of
side that is, you know, more just concerned with
self-preservation? And that is just automatic drama which
Kyra Zagorsky: And then also, youíre getting this
information that you want to study and you want to sound
educated when youíre in the scene and know what it is that
youíre talking about, what it is that weíre working from,
that weíre doing.
So for those of us that were working on that stuff in the
show, weíre doing a lot of research so itís kind of fun.
Itís kind of like going back to science class, you know, and
I spent a lot of time with You Tube trying to discover,
okay, how does this thing work when youíre dealing with this
type of microscope and blah, blah, blah.
Steve Maeda: Right.
Kyra Zagorsky: But then suddenly you start seeing all these
interesting articles and youíre researching, oh, okay, so
Spanish Flu. Let me get back to this, you know. I havenít
studied about the Spanish Flu since I was in school, you
know what I mean?
But then you start really reading up on things and I think
there was some article that had come out around when I was
working on Episode 9, I think, and I think it actually came
from the CDC but it was something about are antibiotics
And thatís kind of frightening, you know, when youíre
thinking about, wow, in this day and age, so what does that
mean, then? People just have to deal with whatever happens?
So thereís a lot of real life things that were coming up
while youíre just researching the Sci-Fi stuff along with
things based in facts that start to make you a little bit
more aware of how dangerous things can be.
Mynda Bullock: Well, thank you so much. I think thatís kind
of the heart of it, is just you canít get away and escape
and it does bring out the worst or the best and Iím so
excited to see it. Wish you all the best. Thank you.
Steve Maeda: Thank you very much.
Kyra Zagorsky: Thank you.
Stephen Cox: Thank you everyone for joining the call today.
Weíre very excited to Helix to premier this Friday at 10:00
pm ET on SyFy. And weíll once again thanks Steve and Kyra
for their time. Everyone have a great day. Thank you.
Steve Maeda: Thank you everyone.
Kyra Zagorsky: Thank you.
Steve Maeda: Bye-bye.
Kyra Zagorsky: Happy new year!
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude the
conference call for today. We thank you for your
participation and ask that you please disconnect your lines.
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