Last night, Syfy launched the first of three nights for its highly anticipated event series Ascension. The series is inspired by the real-life Project Orion that existed under the administration of President John F. Kennedy. The show sets up an alternate version of reality in which, in 1963, President Kennedy and the U.S. government, fearing the Cold War will become hot and lead to the destruction of the Earth, decided to launch a covert space mission.
One of the series stars is actress Andrea Roth who plays Dr. Juliet Bryce, head doctor of the Ascension.
Andrea should be no stranger to fans of television as she has appeared in several series. She played Janet Gavin for seven seasons on the hit FX series Rescue Me. She’s also appeared on Blue Bloods, Ringer, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Rogue. On the big screen, she’s appeared in films such as The Collector, War and The Untold.
Today Andrea sits down with us to discuss her new show Ascension, how amazing the sets were for the show and how her new series compares to working on Rescue Me.
Pop Culture Principle – What attracted you to this particular project?
Andrea Roth – It’s the first time I’ve done a science fiction show. This project came my way and I read it and I just loved it. It’s really crazy and really interesting. Although it’s supposedly in space, it’s really, ultimately setup to be a character piece. What the writers are doing is pretty mind blowing.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us what Ascension is about and your character Juliet Bryce?
Andrea Roth – I play Dr. Juliet Bryce and I am one of the head doctors on Ascension and I was born on the ship. I have a daughter Nora and I want to say we are having some struggles, but I don’t know exactly where it’s going right now. I think if anything our struggle will be that I know from past experience that she is falling for someone that I know she will probably not be matched with and from past experience and pain, I am trying to keep her from doing the same thing.
Pop Culture Principle – Did you do any particular preparation for this role?
Andrea Roth – The character is still just a human being who was born into that life. The choice that I made because it was the sixties and assuming what my parents would have been like, I am a little more reserved. I think she’s very strong underneath, but she has a soft female exterior which is what worked better with men back then and probably still today.
Pop Culture Principle – Your character has an interesting relationship with the young girl Christa. What was it like working with actress Ellie O’Brien?
Andrea Roth – I loved every minute of working with Ellie. I remember the first read through with Brian and we wrote a note to each other that said best actress ever. She’s so phenomenal-not only is she an absolute sweetheart, but she is so talented. We both loved working with each other very much.
Pop Culture Principle – How amazing were the sets for Ascension?
Andrea Roth – They are crazy! I remember some of us were there for a camera test and I was sitting down at lunch. The director of photography had done some really big budget films and he was talking to one of the cameramen about the sets. The cameraman mentioned he had heard the sets are huge and the director of photography told him that they weren’t huge, they were ginormous. When we finally got to walk in, you see four levels of this spaceship’s interior with the elevator in the middle that goes up for levels. On all four levels, they really are all sets. It’s so bizarre that you are on this big set and there are sets within sets. I mean you see my office, the bar, the sleeping quarters and it’s pretty impressive.
Pop Culture Principle – The ship left in 1963, so you have all missed significant events like the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and so on. Will you deal with those events or just won’t know anything about them?
Andrea Roth – We’ve lost contact with Earth, so for all we know, the Earth doesn’t exist anymore. That’s why I wanted my character to have a more gentle quality because like all humans, we are messing each other up on the ship. We still have experiences like race and political events that change and shape the where we are; we still deal with things like that.
Pop Culture Principle – Just based on the pilot, the show seems it will have a lot of social and political elements that people will have to deal with and figure out. Would you agree?
Andrea Roth – Yes and I am sure that there are going to be so many questions people will have as to why, how and what. Luckily our creator Phillip has six years of this written in his mind. Whenever we are on panels and we get questions that we aren’t sure about, we go to Phillip and he has this all figured out and can answer those questions. Unfortunately, we aren’t privy to the ins and outs of how everything exactly works, but whenever he starts talking, people really understand what everything is about.
Pop Culture Principle – This has been set as a six episode mini-series. Is there a chance that this could continue on as a series?
Andrea Roth – Absolutely, time will tell. It’s interesting; I have no idea how people are going to react to the show.
Pop Culture Principle – How confident is your character when it comes to Proxima being the saving grace for the human race?
Andrea Roth – It has been sixty years without a hitch, real problem or a murder on the ship and that just doesn’t happen in real society. My character will more than likely die and won’t make it there, but my daughter will and I believe and hope that she does. Our parents chose something for the good of humanity and their children. My character is a believer in the cause and really there isn’t anything else for me to do because we can’t turn around. It would take 50 years to get back to Earth and there is a good possibility that there is nothing there. For me, we are on our way and I am hopeful that my daughter has a lovely life on the ship and gets to settle this new world.
Pop Culture Principle – The ship still has this class structure with the lower deck and upper deck people. Will this class structure lead to issues on the Ascension?
Andrea Roth – Yea, I guess we really do. My character hasn’t had much interaction with the lower deck yet. I guess if any character did, it would be my character because I am the good doctor and I think my heart wins out over all things. So, we’ll see if I get to go down there in the future.
Pop Culture Principle – Why do you think there is such a love and devotion for science fiction shows?
Andrea Roth – I got to see it firsthand. Several of us did Comic Con and they are the fiercest, most loyal fans out there. It’s really amazing to see their love for the genre. I didn’t even use Twitter when I was on Rescue Me and we had loyal viewers, but they weren’t really people that used Twitter. With Ascension, I’m doing a bit more with Twitter and it’s amazing to see that the science fiction fans are so good at and on top of all things social media.
Pop Culture Principle – The thought of deep space travel has to be physically and emotionally demanding. What do the people on the Ascension have to counteract those affects?
Andrea Roth – Well, we have a lot of parties. As you can tell, there are a bunch of affairs on the ship and some hanky panky that shouldn’t be happening. We have music, Gidget movies and a lot of books. Of course there are things like the beach and exercise and things like that to keep you occupied.
Pop Culture Principle – You were part of the hit series Rescue Me for several seasons, besides the obvious, how are the shows different?
Andrea Roth – Ascension is an entirely different machine compared to Rescue Me because there are so many things being setup. It’s not just the relationship complexities, there are some mysteries to be unraveled, figured out and resolved; it’s more specific. I am very good at being loose, but I am learning to be really specific with words and at times it’s been a little challenging, but it’s great and I really trust Phillip and his vision.
We would like to thank Andrea for sitting down and talking with us about her new series. Remember, Ascension continues tonight on Syfy at 9/8c. If you would like to keep up with all the latest news and information on Andrea, you can follow her on Twitter @andrearoth888.