Paving the road to hell are good intentions, and that probably best sums up the new FOX series The Passage, about the search for a cure to all diseases that results, instead, in a plague that turns its victims into vampire-like creatures and threatens the fate of humanity. Man, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar thought he had problems dealing with Screech?
Based on the best-selling trilogy by Justin Cronin, the show, which debuts in early 2019, sees Mark-Paul cast as ex-FBI agent Brand Walgast, who, the actor details to us at San Diego Comic-Con, "is employed by a government medical organization called NOAH. His sole purpose is just to pick up test subjects for Project NOAH. They've been using death row inmates, so I've basically been employed to go pick up these guys and bring them to their facility. But they eventually need to get younger and younger test subjects, which is why they go after a young girl in foster care. That's sort of where the story takes off, because my character struggles with the morality of it all."
That struggle happens when he is ordred to locate Amy Bellafonte (Saniyya Sidney), who is designated the perfect subject for the next phase in NOAH's experiments. Instead, he comes to realize the danger of what's really going on and is determined to protect her at all costs, which triggers a massive manhunt. Added into the mix are previous subjects locked up in the facility, whose escape could begin our downfall.
"The minute I knew there was interest in me to play the character, I did the research and read all three books, much to the chagrin of my wife, because it literally consumed every moment of my day," laughs Mark-Paul. " But the story was relatable to me, because I have a 12-year-old daughter — and young kids — and could relate to how Brad would morally and ethically make the decision that he does in the show. On top of that, it’s very rare as an actor that you're given the blueprints to your character and have the author come to the set and explain to you how he came up with the character, what he was thinking when he was writing the character, and then to give you the blessing, which he did as well, to be like, 'You know what? You’re my Amy, you’re my Brad.'"
One point he does make is that although the word "vampire" is used in reference to Cronin's books, it's not a term that's put into play on the series. "Yes, there are similar qualities to vampires, but we don't have the whole garlic or crucifix thing," he says. "These were created... I take that back. I was going to say that they were created in a lab, but the original Viral, as we call it, was in a cave in Bolivia. I think the thing that separates us from other vampire-viral stories is that there's a very heartfelt story in the center of it with my character and the young girl. And I think it's kind of relevant to what we're going through in society now with civilization on the verge of extinction, and having to fight to get back to a resemblance of what we were."
As to the journey his character is on in this first season, he says.... actually, he doesn't say a lot, which is by design. "I don't want to give too much away," notes Mark-Paul, who, for the record doesn't, "but my character isn't around a lot in subsequent books. A lot of what happens to my character shapes what will end up happening in the future, but I think what I've been told — and I'm being super cryptic on this — is that we will go into the backstory of my character and flashback to his relationship with his ex-wife and their daughter, and explain why he feels the way that he does in the pilot. Other than that... well, it's kind of awkward as a character that I don't have much of a future, but we're going back into my past. All of that will be relatively new."
Color us intrigued. The Passage premieres in early 2019.