With Season Two in full swing, we wanted to catch up with Colony‘s two leads, Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies to talk about the new season—and what it’s like to work with one of your dearest friends! We also got the chance to dig deep into the mind of Colony co-creator Ryan J. Condal to find out just what it takes to get this kind of project off the ground and into the hearts of fans nationwide. Read our exclusive interviews below, and make sure to catch a brand new episode of Colony tonight at 10/9c on USA!
How was it working together again on Season Two?
Josh Holloway: It’s been fantastic! I was so thrilled that Sarah and I could work together again—I mean this has been a decade in the making [Ed note: since working on 2007’s Whisper]! We’re both still married to the same partners and now we have children. And I think it’s important because the story centers around family—now we’re both in a place where we can very much understand the stakes of marriage, long-term relationships and children.
I think there’s also something to be said about finding your work family too, right?
Sarah Wayne Callies: Oh it makes an enormous difference! I maintain that any actor is only as good as their scene partner, so the more trust you have for the person you’re working with, the greater the risks that you can take. We’ve had days on set where we’ve had to wait through some pretty substantial revisions and through it all I always knew that Josh was never going to hang me out there to dry haha. We’re looking out for each other and we’re not going to stop until it’s something that we’re both proud of, so that’s a real gift!
JH: The creative collaboration is why we do this! It’s been fantastic to work with such confident, agile writers that are willing to work with us. They change things to make the stories better and we really appreciate that.
And obviously your relationship with Carlton [Cuse] goes way back as well.
JH: Way, way back! And it’s just fantastic. He comes to work with no ego which for somebody as successful and accomplished as him is pretty impressive.
What are you really excited for viewers to see this season?
JH: Well, the gloves are off this season. It’s going to get dark.
SWC: Yes, and we’ll see outside the colony—which I think is going to be a big change.
JH: And the story line is split, so now we’re going to be exploring different story lines which opens up so much more of this world!
The show has found serious success with fans! What do you think makes Colony unique, and what’s going to hook new viewers this season?
Ryan J. Condal: Colony is a unique cocktail of genres that I think has found resonance with fans across a range of TV interests. There is a family drama at the core, espionage and thriller elements, and the science-fiction backdrop upon which the whole story is told. This last piece adds a layer of mystery and intrigue for the audience to puzzle about for seasons to come. I think the show’s success comes from the fact that all these elements work in harmony together to create something that, while built of known parts, is wholly unique when assembled.
This season, the show has gone into much darker territory. We are more fully exploring the depraved depths of authoritarian rule and the pressures that places on societies. If I were to describe the theme of Season Two in a word, it would be “escalation.” The occupation has tightened the screws in response to the resistance activity in Season One. What results is a more fringe, radical wing of resistance that doesn’t follow the law of chivalry that Broussard’s cell tried to. When the resistance acts out, the occupation tightens the screws more. It’s a terrible, vicious cycle.
What has been the most rewarding part of creating this world? There are so many surprising elements to explore—have things emerged organically or did you craft this world in detail on paper way in advance of seeing it realized on the small screen?
RJC: Making TV is really rewarding, regardless of what’s being made. It’s a dream job, and it’s a privilege to have. The collaborative aspect of making TV is what drew Carlton to the job when his career started, and it’s what drew us together all those long years ago. We love collaborating together and then working with much more talented people—other writers, directors, actors, production designers, costumers, visual effects artists, composers—to bring the whole thing to reality.
As do most things, Colony started as a core idea—”the Nazi occupation of France, but in present-day Los Angeles. With aliens.”—and then we built it out organically from there. Carlton and I set up this idea with Legendary Television way back in 2013, and we have been talking about it ever since. So we’ve had a long time to scheme on how to frustrate and tease the audience with our mythology. But trust us, we have it all planned out. We promise.
What’s your creative process like and what drives you to keep creating?
RJC: I think creative people are driven by a restlessness. I’ve been restless since I can remember, and the only way for me to satisfy that urge—or at least to keep it relatively still—is to write.
Listening to a writer talk about ‘process’ is boring to me. I’ll say this: it involves long hours hunched over a keyboard, staring at a blank screen while being tormented by demons named ‘Doubt’ and ‘Despair,’ all the time hoping that a little angel named ‘Inspiration’ will show up and save your ass. Spoiler: she doesn’t visit often!
Sci-Fi has seen a real resurgence in pop culture and on mainstream television. What do you think it is about the genre that appeals to viewers? What in your opinion makes for the best Sci-Fi?
RJC: The best science-fiction challenges the viewer to look at his or her own world through the prism of genre. Colony is no different. At its best, the show explores the themes of occupation, authoritarianism, and resistance through the prism of a science-fiction-based colonization of a major city in the typically liberal democratic West. We seek to explore what happens when a people are put under those pressures, and to watch them make horrible choices when faced with unthinkable moral dilemmas.
Science-fiction is the spoonful of sugar that helps to make certain timely subjects explorable, without triggering a gag reflex. And, I think, in these troubled times, that is what makes the show the most relevant it’s ever been.