We got a few minutes to ask some tough questions of the man who only tosses softballs at V's alien visitors. Scott Wolf talked about playing corrupt, ambitious journalist Chad Decker, and the pitfalls of sucking up to aliens. Spoilers...
How has the response been when people found out you'd be in this major genre reboot?
So far it's been pretty great. Our first sort of big dose was going to Comic Con to screen the pilot, and it was really incredible. I'd never seen anything like it, I obviously know - I'm a fan of a lot of scifi shows and genre shows and so there's a level of imagination and depth to the storytelling and it really draws people in. So seeing people react to some of our other cast members who have done other genre shows before was really incredible. When they embrace you, it's pretty great and complete and intense. In a way I feel like a bit of a newcomer into the world of it, and I hope I'm welcomed in. But the response to the story and to our show was really really incredible. We screened the pilot for 4,000 people and that's a really unique experience, you just don't, (you) rarely get a chance to see a piece of work that you've done with that size audience, and they seemed to love it. So it was really encouraging.
You said you were a fan of genre and scifi shows, what shows are you a fan of? Did they influence you at all while making this series about aliens?
Wolf: I grew up watching Star Trek and the original Battlestar and Six Million Dollar Man, Lost in Space, so I think there's a level of imagination in the storytelling, there's really no limits and that's really kind of exhilarating. For the most part, playing a newscaster who, as far as I know, is not an alien, is a human, a lot of my stuff has been interviewing people and acting as a media, so there's hasn't been a ton of special effects stuff. But there's been a bit - and interviewing Anna, the leader of the Visitors on the space ship, we work on a virtual set and then they create this world around us, it's really intense. I mean, to see what they're able to create nowadays, and our show winds up looking like a movie every week, because the limits to what people can accomplish on television seem to be blowing wide open, so there's really no difference between the effects an the storytelling that you see in theaters that you will now on television. So it's exciting to be part of a story that feels epic.
Your character [the news anchor] is ambitious but relegated to being just a talking head. And then when Anna, the leader of the aliens, tells him to ask only positive questions, he goes along with it. Do you think he'll ever actually try to get to the bottom of what's happening with these aliens?
I think he's just so looking for that thing that's gonna launch him, that I think his first thought when aliens land is, 'This could be it.' But only after his encounter with Anna, the leader of the Visitors, and she selects him to do this first worldwide interview where she's going to basically tell the human race why they're here, obviously then he knows he's got the opportunity of his lifetime sitting in his lap. So I don't think he foresees that he's going to wind up being manipulated the way that he gets manipulated, and I don't think he saw himself having to sell his soul to the visitors quite as quickly as he's asked to do it. As our story continues, you see him really fight the good fight. I think he's sort of morally up-for-grabs, because he wants, he's ambitious enough to go to great lengths to accomplish the things he wants to accomplish, but whether his better self or his lesser self will win out in the end is kind of, I think, the fun of his story.
The world treats the Visitors differently because they're so beautiful, do you think that's a real life metaphor for any existing groups right now because of the way that they're treated?
Absolutely, I do. I think one of the things that's intriguing about this version of this story is oftentimes when we imagine aliens and their arrival on Earth, we imagine these scary green men or monster creatures, and in our story they're beautiful, human-looking creatures. So the fact that so many people, because of their appearance, because of their message, fall in line and are inspired by them and feel a sense of hope that these creatures are actually going to do what they say and peacefully enhance the life that we're all living, I think if they were really creepy looking, not as many people would jump on board.
Yes, I think on the surface, there's definitely a commentary on why we embrace certain things and reject other things and that's one of the underlying themes, which there are many of.
With my character, with Chad, one of the themes that they're dealing with is how much faith we place in our media and is that faith honored and is it well-placed or is it ill-advised? And if you place that in the wrong hands, if there's somebody who's sort of morally up-for-grabs, potentially, like Chad Decker is, and you've charged him with getting the truth, you could have a very dangerous situation.
Did you base Chad on anybody that we know?
You know, yes and no. I mean, I think he's described in the pilot script as being an Anderson Cooper wannabe, so there's some of that in there I think. I mean, he's a modern day news guy who sort of lives and dies on people feeling like he's their buddy. It's not this kind of parochial father-figure news guy, he's more of your buddy who's going to give you the scoop. There's definitely a lot of people who I watch and have sort of drawn from, but hopefully he winds up being a product of who our producers and writers are creating.
To me, he's a really fascinating character, because I think he represents a lot about how we function, day in and day out. Which is I think we see the story we want to see oftentimes. And sometimes that's OK and sometimes that gets us into trouble.