From Emmy® Award-winning executive producer J.J. Abrams and creator/executive producer J.H. Wyman comes Almost Human, an action-packed police procedural set 35 years in the future, when police officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids. Michael Ealy plays Dorian, a discontinued android with unexpected emotional responses.
Can you describe your approach to playing Dorian, an android with human qualities?
My approach to playing Dorian is to play him as human as possible. I would love for him to have very nuanced differences from the actual humans in the show. There are episodes where the range of the character will vary depending on factors usually beyond his control. At the end of the day, I want to have fun with him and embrace what seem like his own personal quirks—what sets him apart from the other cops on the show. I modeled Dorian after Jason Bourne, Robert Patrick’s version of a Terminator in Terminator 2, and Jeff Bridges in Starman.
What’s the role’s biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge to the role is finding that fine line that is almost human. There are a slew of traps out there when playing this character and I try to avoid all cliché versions of androids that have been portrayed before now. Walking in his shoes everyday gives me the opportunity to grow with him and learn what I can, like he does. He operates from a place a free will so his ability to learn and modify behaviorally is constantly fascinating to me.
Do you feel like you have more or less freedom playing a non-human character?
It took me a while but I now find that I have more freedom playing an android. It allows me to be awkward at times when most humans have complete and utter control over themselves.
This series has some serious sci-fi heavyweights attached to it, including J.J. Abrams and Karl Urban. Does this add any pressure, knowing how demanding sci-fi fans can be?
There is definitely pressure in this role and for this series. Yes, the big names attached are rooted in the sci-fi world but at the end of the day we are a cop show at the core. I have played numerous versions of law enforcement thusly giving me a slight advantage, in my opinion. Demanding sci-fi fans are going to love the show as will a much broader audience. To be perfectly honest, I believe we have something for everyone to enjoy!
How do you feel about the RoboCop comparisons that Almost Human is earning in the blogosphere?
I don’t agree with any RoboCop comparisons. I feel like the show stands on its own and that the classic Blade Runner is a more suitable film to compare origins. Ultimately, the audience will see the first four episodes and make their own judgments, so come what may. However, I tried to watch RoboCop for research and quite frankly it doesn’t hold up.
Who is your favorite android of all time? We’re partial to Mr. Data from Star Trek.
I may get in trouble for this but my favorite android is KITT from Knight Rider. So what if he didn’t look human! He was in fact a car—a machine. In many ways I find Dorian more similar to KITT than other androids. At its core, Almost Human is about a wonderful relationship, or brotherhood rather, between man (John Kennex) and machine (Dorian). That takes time to establish and earn credibility. More importantly, there exists a theme of hope that I observed frequently as kid growing up watching Knight Rider with my dad.
Don’t miss the Almost Human two-night series premiere Sunday, November 17 and Monday, November 18 at 8/7c on FOX.