Space traveling tends to either bring out the best or the worst in people as Christina Wolfe and Shalini Peiris know very well thanks to their work on Syfy’s The Ark. Wolfe and Peiris portray manipulative psychologist Cat Brandice and the Ark One’s chief physician Dr. Sanjivni Kabir, respectively. ComingSoon spoke with the actresses ahead of the series debut on February 1, asking them about their respective characters’ development over Season 1.
“The Ark takes place 100 years in the future when planetary colonization missions have begun as a necessity to help secure the survival of the human race. The first of these missions on a spacecraft known as Ark One encounters a catastrophic event causing massive destruction and loss of life. With more than a year left to go before reaching their target planet, a lack of life-sustaining supplies and loss of leadership, the remaining crew must become the best versions of themselves to stay on course and survive.”
Tudor Leonte: Shalini, it seems that space combined with death and hopelessness tends to bring out the worst in any person. How does space change your character?
Shalini Peiris: The stakes couldn’t be any higher. I mean, they have been enlisted for this mission, but then as you see right from the beginning, it does not go to plan, so then the stakes of survival are raised even higher. As you said, it can bring out the worst in people, but it can also bring out the best. You realize almost instantly that if you don’t band together, our survival depends on us banding together. You have no choice but to be your absolute best.
And, Christina, what about Cat?
Christina Wolfe: Oh, that was so interesting you answered that, Shalini, because I agree, but with Cat it takes longer. At first, she does not engage with the rest of them. You find her in such an almost like childish state where she kind of wants everything done for her and she feels entitled and almost angry, like, ‘Can I speak to the manager if things aren’t working out?’ I think that are the qualities that will have to actually change in order to ensure everybody’s survival, including her own. She will realize that in her own way, in her own time, but it’s not as quick as the rest of them
Shalini, fans see Dr. Sanjivni Kabir at the beginning of the series as the Arc’s chief physician. Can you please tease us a little bit about your character’s development over the season?
Peiris: She is pretty much overwhelmed from the very beginning because she is an exceptional doctor, but she’s one of the more junior doctors. She finds herself having to take charge, without her mentors by her side. You immediately see the pressure that she’s under and you see her very quickly cave into that pressure. It’s very interesting to see her reach out for help, but then you see her make mistakes along the way as well. I think it’s really exciting to actually see a doctor, such an authority figure that you would place complete trust in, and to see that they are very human and have moments of real weakness and feeling completely overwhelmed. I think that’s something we can all understand and relate to.
Christina, initially it appears Cat is a bit manipulative, she starts like a character with lights and shadows, let’s put it like this. What about her development over the season?
Wolfe: The development that happens to her is very much about how she interacts with others. In this community where they only have each other, you start to burn bridges and you also realize at the same time that you need other people. She does come to that realization because of events that happen during the series. It’s very interesting to see kind of like, ‘Oh, she wants everything to be about for herself, but at the same time, she knows that in order to survive, they need to work together.’ It’s an interesting space for her to have to navigate.
Shalini, is there any particular moment from Season 1 that you enjoyed shooting?
Peiris: I think Episode 4 was particularly fun with the hallucinations. I mean, I know we’re in space, but it felt even more otherworldly. That was really fun. I think there are moments as well further on in the season where you see her journey and where it takes her. That was particularly challenging for me, but also incredibly gratifying. It was just the best place to go to work, honestly.
And Christina, what about you? Either any moments or any lines in particular you enjoyed delivering on the show?
Wolfe: I loved the moments where [Cat] gets her way because there are so many and it was just so funny to enjoy it for her, you know? I don’t know if I can actually talk about them because maybe they’re spoilers, but… just the way that she indulges her whims, it was so fun to play.