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Interview With Dark Matter’s Melissa O’Neil

Syfy’s hit series Dark Matter just returned for it’s third season. In case you’re not familiar with the show, it’s about a group of some of the baddest criminals in the known galaxy who lose their memories. Which makes them even more dangerous for certain people. The show spends a lot of time on the personal growth of each character as they cope with their current circumstances; while weaving together a larger narrative. Before Con Season gets in full swing, we managed to get an interview with Melissa O’Neil ahead of her appearance at Awesome Con. Her character Two; is the leader of our band of misfits. She’s called Two because the characters names are designated on the order they awaken. Besides asking questions about the current season, we learn about other projects and how Syfy has put women and minority characters in the forefront of several shows.

Is it safe to assume that the crew has gotten out of the compromising position they were left in at the end of season 2? What details can you give about where they are personally considering what just went down?

Is it?! You can’t possibly believe that! I feel as though nothing is ever safe to assume on Dark Matter. But, yes, considering the promo videos that have come out, and the season premiere by the time this interview comes out-  it does seem that everyone ‘gets out’. As far as where everyone is on a personal level… it seems to me that almost everyone is facing a version of the first BIG question that Dark Matter has asked for our characters from the beginning: ‘Who Am I?’.

Will Ryo be the only main antagonist of the season? How will this play out with the individual crew members throughout the season?

Space is a vast, unpredictable and, on occasion, unfriendly place. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he is the only main antagonist but Ryo’s journey, which is decidedly separate from the rest of the crew, is heavily featured. I think the fans are going to lose their minds in the best way as this particular storyline unfolds before them. Each crew member has their own opinion about Ryo and how they perceive his intentions and actions. Speaking for Two, I’ll share that an uncorrected falsehood certainly drives a wedge between her and the redemptive ideals that she once held for the members of our crew… and herself. The whole crew grapples with the idea of this man who has done what they did not — Ryo integrated his past, his old memories. How can the crew know for certain who he is anymore?

Will there be any more focus on the background of the various crew members this season?

In fact, a great deal of focus will be on the background of various crew members.

I’ve always been interested in how much training if any does the crew go through before each season. You put a lot of work into the action scenes and it shows. I can also see a progression between the seasons as the cast got more comfortable.

Thank you! Everyone at Dark Matter has a great time doing action scenes. We’re fortunate to have the one and only John Stead at the helm of these pieces as our stunt director. Between the fights he choreographs, the team he assembles and our capable cast and talented stunt performers – I’m happy to hear the effort is recognized. The training before the first season happened about two months out from shooting. Rehearsing fights and training with the woman who eventually became my stunt double and friend – Anita Nittoly. Before season two came out – that summer had more to do with parkour and kicks more because I found it interesting and wanted to be ready for whatever Joe might write this way. I wish I could speak for Alex, he’s always doing something physical and would probably share something of value here.

Oh! Sidebar. I had a fight this season that involved weapon work. Two swords. One in each hand. I found it very difficult. So, I sought out a camp that had a physical element to it for fitness but also a weapons component.  Long story short, I wound up in Thailand – learning about all sorts of things! That’s a different story though.

Back to crew training- having spoken to Alex recently, I believe he’s returned to his ‘roots’ with regards to physicality, and is just fight training. I think ‘training’ happens pre-season if people seek it out. I take all the help I can get it, Alex clearly needs to work on his fights (yeah, right!), and everyone else is just naturally gifted. We’re a lucky show

Science Fiction has always seemed like the most progressive genre. How do you feel about the Syfy network as a whole providing more opportunities for women and minorities in leading roles?

The Syfy network knows what’s up. Many of their shows are set in the future and to know that they support, produce and promote these visions of the future where women and minorities are smart, strong willed, capable, and in leadership positions is — well, first, it makes me feel proud to be a part of the roster. But, to get to the point, when you put this imagery out there and prioritize representation, there is an effect, big or small, on the people watching, and an impression left on the next generation. Being able to see oneself in a story —  succeeding, leading, and contributing — is a powerful thing. The stories we consume can shape us.  So, I feel that Syfy is crushing it.

What got you into acting? Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to talk about? 

I lucked into it. I chanced into the world of musical theatre and stayed there for 8 years where I learned a great deal. With the exception of the few leading parts I booked, I did a lot of work in the ensemble. I learned the most about acting in these spaces. From watching others, from messing up and getting to try things again and again, from committing to return to play and discover again and again even if no one was/is watching. But maybe you weren’t asking about that. I got into acting on television because the television agent (and my now close friend, Daniel Birnbaum) at The Talent House where I am represented had seen me in Les Miserables recently and thought that I would be a good fit. I sent off my first couple of self tapes. Two auditions later, and the first television job we are booking together was ‘Two’ in Dark Matter. Life’s funny ain’t it?

Upcoming Projects! Obviously Season Three of Dark Matter is THE project to talk about and I’m thrilled that people are going to be seeing it soon. I think it’s going to be a fan favourite kind of season. Outside of that, over the summer, I’ll be shooting on a new show called Condor based on the 1975 film Three Days of the Condor.

If you can speak on this; there’s been the ongoing question about if Killjoys and Dark Matter are in the same universe. Do you know if the network or the creators have come to kind of consensus on this?

There’s certainly been casual chatter about this but I don’t know if the network or the creators have talked about it at length or in any way that would be indicative of a potential crossover episode. To me it does seem that they could certainly be in the same universe but I feel like tonally the shows are quite different. Who knows! I wouldn’t rule it out!

You can check out the trailer for the current season of Dark Matter below. It airs Fridays at 8pm EST, 7pm Central on Syfy. And you if you’re in the DC area between June 16-18th, you can find O’Neil at Awesome Con. Stop by to say hi and tell her the Fan Bros sent you.