By Stacey Harrison
Ron Moore certainly hasn’t rested on his laurels since his most famous project, Battlestar Galactica, ended its run earlier this year. Along with the Battlestar spinoff, Caprica, Moore has spearheaded a new space-based adventure that explores the nature of reality.
Virtuality follows the crew of the Phaeton during its epic 10-year journey through outer space. In order to remain sane, the crew has access to the latest in virtual-reality technology that allows them to get away to worlds of their own creation. But for any who are familiar with all those Holodeck episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, you know there are always complications with this stuff. When a virus is unleashed onto the ship, the crew struggles in deciding how to contain it and complete their mission. Meanwhile, the entire proceeding is being filmed for a reality-show back on Earth.
Director Peter Berg (Hancock, Friday Night Lights) leads a large ensemble cast through the mind-bending sci-fi thriller. Two of the stars — Sienna Guillory (Resident Evil: Apocalypse) and Clea DuVall (Carnivale) — spoke to reporters this week about their experiences on the movie, and its possibilities as a series. Virtuality premieres at 8pm ET/PT tonight on FOX.
On acting in front of green screens:
Guillory: I think in a way, when you’re working with green screens, it’s hugely enabling. It’s the same thing — the whole thing that Ron Moore came up with. In Virtuality, he gives us a life with no limitations, so you have to use that green screen as a plus. The fact that there’s nothing there to limit your imagination or to limit where you see yourself or how you see the scene unfolding can be a helpful thing, so you just imagine it exactly the way you want it to be, rather than kind of being held back by the physical limitations of a set.
On talking to the camera during her character’s reality-show confessionals:
Guillory: It was part of my character. I decided that she hated having her privacy invaded, but at the same time she was desperate for adventure. She’s kind of complex, an introvert and oversexed. But for me, those moments of intimacy were vital because there are so many big ideas at play within the script and the story. It’s absolutely vital that we’re all regular people, telling human stories.
On how the characters’ fantasy lives affect their real worlds:
Guillory: Ron Moore is providing us with a life with no limitations, so I think it’s tremendously healthy to be able to explore your inner cravings and all the things that you dream of and be able to realize your fantasies without necessarily hurting other people. But also, I think you need to realize that when you do experience something emotionally it does affect who you are, and I think that’s the backbone of what we’re doing, and what happens in our virt modules affects everybody else, even though we think it’s private.
On the amount of improv required — a rarity for a sci-fi project:
DuVall: Whenever I’m doing any kind of genre, it’s all improvisation, because you don’t know – for me, I don’t know what’s going to happen until I get there, so in that way I guess it was similar to other things that I’ve done. But in this, I’ve never had so much freedom with the script. I mean, of course I said everything that was in the script, but being able to build on it and create more and find things that I didn’t even know were there until we were doing it was very exciting, and I think everyone was so good at that, and it really shows onscreen.
On the possibility of the movie becoming a series:
DuVall: There were little bits and pieces that we were given because I think we all had the hopes that it would continue. But they, Michael and Ron, didn’t really give away much. I think that we were all under such pressure to just do what we were doing, that thinking into the future was overwhelming at times. But there’s definitely a lot more to the story that, fingers crossed, we may be able to tell.
Guillory: There’s a lot of – I mean, we had great times when everybody would get round Erik Jensen and Ritchie Coster and all of us would have these kinds of mad ideas about, maybe we’re not actually on a ship. Maybe we’re like all in these little pods being fed these ideas, and we’re going to wake up and we’re not actually – or maybe we’re like asleep and the whole thing is a virtual simulation. So there’s a lot of speculation.
DuVall: Or it’s a time-travel.
Guillory: … but – yes, none of us really knows anything.
Photos: © Fox Broadcasting Co. Credit: Kharen Hill