Published on June 29th, 2013 | by Ernie Estrella3
Exclusive ‘Continuum’ Interview: Erik Knudsen Breaks Down Season 2 (Part 1)
Season 2 of Showcase’s Continuum (currently airing on Friday nights at 10pm on Syfy) is up and running and we spoke with star Erik Knudsen whose character, Alec Sadler is the most important character of the sci-fi series. In the first season, Sadler was Kiera Cameron’s (Rachel Nichols) high tech teenage sidekick and only friend after she time traveled back to 2012, from the year 2077 to stop a terrorist group from her time called Liber8. With Alec’s help, Kiera hopes to preserve the past and find a way back to the future and reunite with her family. But at the start of this season, we find out that it was Sadler from the future (played by William B. Davis) who purposely selected Kiera and Liber8 to change history and to make sure a world where corporations run the world does not exist. We spoke with Knudsen in great length about the new season, focusing on Alec Sadler, as well as some of the bigger themes and developments of the first half of Season 2. Here’s Part 1 of our conversation which covers the first four episodes of Season 2:
BuzzFocus: Talk about the differences you’ve noticed between Seasons 1 and 2 in Alec:
Erik Knudsen: Season 1 Alec is naive, and in Season 2, it’s Alec faced with a lot and having to deal with a lot and deciding what to do and who he’s going to become. In the first season, Alec was naive to everything; he was just a young teenager growing up on a farm who happened to come across Kiera who came from the future, and he was ignorant of everything. He was amazed that his technology he created brought her back. He figured he was someone important in the future but he didn’t really have an idea of how big. At the end of season 1 he realized that he was responsible for Kiera coming back in time.
Season 2 takes a whole different level because Alec now knows the type of person he becomes in the future. He knows that he owns a really big company but perhaps he’s not a good person. He’s spoiled, and something’s corrupted Alec in the future to make him a not-so-nice-person. He’s faced with the challenge of choosing the right path and making sure he doesn’t become the Alec that he knows he will be. Older Alec sent them (Kiera and Liber8) back to change his course and to do the right thing. So he’s thinking that maybe giving up technology is the right thing, or doing something better.
First, I think it’s a great decision to get you off the farm, moving in with roommates and socializing with people. Talk about Alec having more face-to-face time with Kiera, having friends outside of Kiera and establishing a world that’s not exclusively dependent on Kiera’s actions.
EK: In Season 1 all of my scenes were shot on one day (each week) behind the computer doing all of his tech talk. Now because he’s finding himself, and (thinking about) giving up that science and inventing part, I get to interact with other actors, which is awesome for him. I was happy Alec was getting out of the barn, because I could watch the show and get a vibe of the characters but acting with Rachel (in front of me) and being with more cast and be social really helps an actor. I was also happy to see Alex growing up and straying away from just being behind that computer all the time.
EDITOR’S PICK: Read our 12 Big Reasons to Watch Continuum
What’s the most adjustment you have to do with the two seasons where you can now react to expressions, hear the cadence in someone’s voice, or read body language as opposed to having lines fed to you?
EK: There wasn’t a period of adjustment, it was more about getting back to acting the way that I’m used to. The computer was the hardest thing for me in Season 1 because I don’t know how people are going to say their lines, whether they’re more aggressive or more happy, so I felt more comfortable acting going back to this.
Ep. 201 SECOND CHANCE
Let’s start breaking down these episodes. Starting with the premiere, “Second Chances.” The bomb dropped in that first episode when we already know that Kiera wants Alec to preserve the future, but find out that older Alec wants his younger self to radically change it. How does that affect the season or the entire series?
EK: He feels responsible. Kiera and Alec are like brother and sister in Season 1, and at the end it was a game changer. I was curious to see how we were going to change the relationship. Was she going to hate him? Was he going to avoid her? Instead Alec pulls away to keep his distance from her because he thinks he’s doing the right thing by staying away from that course of creating Sadtech. He wants to live his life by getting a normal job. She went from being his only friend to being by himself again and trying to become a new person.
We see future Alec thumbing through the catalog of protectors and stopping at Kiera, was it by design or was it luck of the draw?
EK: No, it was definitely by design, Alec knew exactly what he was doing. Kiera was a compassionate person and was domesticated with a husband and son. Maybe there wasn’t a lot of thought put into who he was going to send back, but Kiera definitely fit the role the most as far as people he could send back and obviously (older) Alec made a great choice.
Before heading into episode 202 did you think that Travis was going to be out of the picture, and what’s your take on Roger Cross appearing to be super human?
EK: Roger Cross is such an amazing actor, it would be a horrible idea to get rid of him after the first season! [Laughs] He was far too interesting a character. I love the idea of him being super human; it’s quite possible in the future there’s going to be body modification and people can become super soldiers; he is such a terrifying man on camera. He really plays with that fear aspect for Continuum. He’s where we can go with the fear of where the future can go. So it’s important to have those people (Travis and Garza) we can be afraid of, just because it can make the future that place.
Episode 202 SPLIT SECOND
In “Split Second,” we have another bomb at the end with Alec and Kellog (Stephen Lobo) are living it up on the yacht, are surrounded by beautiful women and just brokered a partnership. That’s got to beat living on a farm, no?
EK: Yeah, he went from feeding his horses and hiding in an attic in a barn to being surrounded by women in the matter of two episodes–it was quite the change.
What’s your take on the wo-manpower on that boat? What does Alec think they’re there for?
EK: Alec is completely not used to that. It wasn’t hard to play a character that–I’m not a ladies man by any means–was a fish out of water when it comes to being surrounded by beautiful women. He likes it, he gets the benefits of being such a smart person. Kellog’s trying to tempt him with women and luxury, but he wasn’t raised like that, so he knows those things don’t last. When I first read that script I wondered if Alec was going to be a playboy from that point going forward. Ultimately though, Alec’s a one woman kind of guy.
Admit it, when you got on the set that day, and saw all the bottles of Cristal, you thought that you were shooting a hip hop video.
EK: [Laughs] Oh yeah, there’s supposed to be a hot tub in that scene, then we got to roll around Vancouver at night… I felt like I was in a rap video for sure.
[Laughs] There’s a fun subplot in “Split Second,” with Alec working at a low level customer service job. It’s a character building type job, but he doesn’t stick with it longer; do you think that changes Alec for the worse, thus pushing him one small step towards the corporate mogul we know old Alec to be?
EK: (After what happens at his stepfather’s farm) he just wanted to stop doing what he was doing. It doesn’t pay off for him in the future, he knows that for a fact. He gets a small time job just doing what he thinks he can do, obviously, it’s work with computers, but maybe he wants to cut off from the world and make minimum wage and live like a normal teenager. But at the end of that episode he’s fed up with customers and he’s not able to deal with that. Alec is too smart a guy to be telling people how many gigabytes of hard drive they get in their computers. It’s frustrating. Alec knows that Kellog will be able to help him; it’s not he ideal partner choice because Kellog only looks out for himself. He thinks he can change Kellog’s views, maybe, or for the time being, he’ll use Kellog for his money to create better technology. Yeah, it would be great character building for Alec to work a job for a long time, but he’s far too bright to be working at a computer store selling computers to people who have no idea what they’re talking about.
That brings us to one of the themes of Continuum. Because of the way Alec is wired, is this then destiny winning out over free will?
EK: The thing with free will is being able to choose your own path, that’s what Alec is figuring out, that there is no destiny. You can choose your path. You can do whatever you want, but working at a computer store wasn’t a working fit for him. He’s supposed to invent and he can choose what he does with his technology. Instead of creating weaponry, and things that can harm people like implanting microchips in brains, then maybe he can create technology that can give people the power. He’s changing his path as far as what he can do with his technology.
What does Kellog give Alec that Kiera doesn’t?
EK: Kiera knows who Alec is in the future. So does Kellog, but he’s looking out for himself. He’s greedy whereas Kiera just wants Alec to do the right thing. However Kiera frustrates Alec, she discourages him from inventing stuff because she knows what he’s going to invent. Kellog totally supports him and anything he can make a quick buck off of. Kellog offers the money aspect and as much as he’s providing Alec with the lab, it’s still Alec making the choices. Kellog is just going for the ride and profiting off of it.
Sonya and Travis started out as lovers and turned into mortal enemies but this is the start of something huge.
EK: Liber8 is splitting up. Travis and Sonya (Lexa Doig) start their own teams. Love is a powerful thing and it can really change things for the worse. Now that there are two teams working against each other just complicates things and makes things more aggressive. Love and heartbreak are involved and there’s a little bit of bitterness and that’s going to make Liber8 even more aggressive I suppose.
Ep. 303 SECOND THOUGHTS
Now in Episode 3, we get Alec’s first break in character when he takes the drug, Flash, a drug developed in the future to treat Alzheimer’s, as it’s able to give the user an experience from his or her memories but becomes a black market product once the disease is ultimately cured. That’s a big moment for Alec, especially with what is revealed with taking Flash. Also talk about Alec’s mind set knowing the warnings Kiera was giving him.
EK: He obviously knows Flash is a horrible drug but he is so sick of not knowing answers and everyone keeping answers from him. He doesn’t know much about his father; this is the only way he felt he could truly get an honest answer without anyone else trying to lie or benefit off of him. This is based off of his memories and perhaps see who his father was. Then he sees “Crazy Jason,” which is mindblowing because that could be his father. It’s the only key for him to find the truth where he feels everyone else could be lying to change his path or to affect his future.
This is interesting because he’s been fed so much as to what his future will hold and this great life he’s going to have. To me this is an intense, crucial moment for Alec, but then you have to step back and remind yourself as a viewer that the drug can give you a false picture of the truth.
EK:Yeah, it could be totally something Alec wants to be true or it an be something that truly is a memory. Perhaps “Crazy Jason” is an immediate resolution for him or maybe he had it in the back of his head so we still don’t know the truth, yet. He tried it because he thought he could get some answers.
It’s almost like the question, did Kiera and Kellog really hook up in Season 1?
EK: Exactly. [Laughs]
We know that Flash had this significant meaning for Kiera because of what happened to her sister Hannah, do you think Alec picked up on that in the car?
EK: In the end, she cared for him far too much. I think he knew perhaps there was something in her past, that she was being serious for a reason and again, knows something that he doesn’t. He gathered from that conversation that Flash wasn’t a good thing.
Do you think that this may or may not see the last of flash and Alec?
EK: It could come back. It’s a time travel show, so it’s the only way to get at Alec’s past because so much is hidden in his childhood. It will go away for awhile and he’ll find more answers the hard way. [pauses] But you’ll see. [Laughs]
What’s your take on the play for Julian? Travis and Sonya are taking extreme measures to ensure his safety.
EK: In Continuum there’s different ways in changing the world. In this season, Liber8 thinks they can change the world with violence and killing people. Alec thinks he can change things in technology and innovation. Julian (Richard Harmon) thinks he change the world with his words and letting the world know the truth by educating–and a little bit of violence and aggression. That’s where his character is going. Liber8 is protecting him on his side because they’re anti-corporation, Julian is still young and finding himself and what he’s going to do in the future. He’s facing the same problem as Alec but they have two different beliefs as far as how they can achieve what they want. Ironically, they are fighting for the same thing, they just don’t realize it.
Ep. 204 SECOND SKIN
Alec takes the baby steps towards dating Emily (Magda Apanowicz). It’s a new interaction, it’s a romantic setting and it’s with someone his own age, as opposed to Kiera.
EK: When you’re first in love and in 18, it changes your world, your perspective. It really changes things up for Alec. It’s awesome to experience (and convey) emotions of interest than giving scientific facts. I go from telling Kiera what to do and lots of science jargon. Now Alec has some real emotion with Emily and people can see that side him, that he’s not just this typewriter. He has a heart. Alec falling in love is really, really important for the story as far as changing his course. Perhaps the older Alec never fell in love and was never sympathetic towards humans and just lived behind a computer screen his whole entire life. Now that he’s fallen in love, he has a heart now and the technology he develops can be used to better the world now that he knows what it’s like to love.
I spoke with creator Simon Barry and Rachel last season about one of the themes underneath Continuum, was this one of loneliness with several character, especially with Kiera and Alec and Kellog to name a few. This big step for Alec is appears to be an attempt to step out of that lonely space for him.
EK: He’s trying everything. He tried to talk to Kiera, eventually you’ll see more people he tries to pair up with, he’s tried it with Kellog. I guess he’s realizing how long he’s been stuck behind those computers and not living his life. That’s probably making him a better person based on who he’s paired with, because Kellog obviously isn’t making him a better person. With Emily he’s going to become better and experience happiness.
One detail I liked in Season 1 was Alec helping Kiera acclimate to 2012-2013, to be social, and strike up friendly conversations even though he didn’t necessarily practice these things. Are we going to see any more of that? We do get a reverse of that because we see Kiera try to push Alec to ask Emily out before they eventually meet.
EK: There’s still a little bit there. She’s still trying to adapt to 2013 but now she has other people to go to like Carlos (Victor Webster), there’s not as much. Kiera’s adjusted fast, but there’s still that brother-sister comedic relationship there, which I love. He still helps her out and she’s there for him. They’re both learning from each other.
Are we going to see a change in wardrobe or hair as a result of this newfound romance?
EK: [Chuckles] Not yet. Alec’s got a girl now but he’s still a farm boy and has no idea what fashion is. Maybe in Season 3 because of what happens, we’ll see a little bit of change. I’m not going to reveal too much but it’s worth a wardrobe change. He’s becoming a man now and is no longer a boy in the farm. He’s working with adults now.
So he’s not going to hold onto that plaid too tightly?
EK: [Laughs] I don’t know, because he does hold onto it for awhile.
On a side note because of this episode, the resurfacing of Elena and her suit, let’s talk about cosplay and your best convention story as a result of being on tour with Continuum.
EK: The first Expo we did was here in Vancouver, their very first ever Fan Expo. We were a brand new show and weren’t expecting anyone to know anything about us. When we got on stage it was almost a sold out show. People were so excited to hear this story and find out what Continuum is all about. It was huge and super exciting. We were the same time slot as Stan Lee and we still had tons of people there. I’ve yet to see any Continuum costumes, which I’m hoping this Halloween and next year’s Fan Expo we see some Kiera suits and Alec wearing plaid.
With Alec you’ve really entered the realm of geek culture. How much of a fan are you of pop culture and geek culture?
EK: I guess people see me as a nerd [laughs] and I look nerdy, sci-fi parts a lot easier than I do the handsome leading roles, because of the way that I’m built and look, which is fine because that’s kind of who I am anyway. When I was a kid I was into science and I get to live out my childhood dreams in the characters that I play so for me I love these roles mostly because the fans are so intense, hardcore and it’s really gratifying to make people happy. Whereas some of these roles you just have to be a good looking person, there’s no substance to them. The nerdy guys have the brains, the wits and the awesome lines and I’m loving it!
What about coming to Comic-Con? I doubt Syfy would bring you on (they’re not), but would Showcase front the bill for that trip?
EK: I don’t know if the show is going but I would LOVE to do it. I went out to Comic-Con for Jericho and it was the time of my life. It’s a geek’s dream to be at Comic-Con. And I think Continuum would do VERY well there. Hopefully.
The relationship between with Julian and their mother Ann (Janet Kidder), what do you think about her giving him his late father’s journal, and Ann beginning to understand Julian’s actions and causes?
EK: Our mother is lonely now, she’s lost her husband who she loved very much. She lost her one son who was arrested and Alec moves out and shuts her out of his world. It’s kind of mean, but staying home isn’t the right choice for him right now. She instead goes to Julian because he’s showing love and affection back. Ann’s the only real factor left into knowing his father. They connect and it’s heartbreaking for Alec. She’s taking Julian’s side in court and Alec sees a whole other side of his mother that’s betraying him. Julian is living in his father’s words. He wasn’t brainwashed, but he grew up listening to his father and his causes. Now he feels the need to pass his father’s words even more. Now that he’s dead, he feels he needs to amplify that. He wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and Ann is providing that information to him.
Even though you are establishing new things for Alec, do you miss working with those actors, since they were your home base and only interactions on the set in Season 1?
EK: Absolutely! I loved working with Janet and Richard’s my best friend here in Vancouver. We hangout all the time. Down the road we have some scenes together, which for us were amazing because of our on screen interactions, were fun portraying now that we’re best friends. First season we had a few but not really interacting with each other. This season there’s a lot more Julian and Alec interacting coming up.
Travis’ CMR was activated with Elena’s link up. Alec could have discovered that Travis had a CMR but goes undetected, despite his response to the link. Fans are going to be asking a lot of questions after this fourth episode.
EK: He does. [Laughs] I don’t want to reveal too much, but he does. That is a very good point and is resolved in future episodes. Elena was a set up to something more in future episodes. CMR is a huge, huge, huge tool in helping Kiera and Alec conquer Liber8. It will definitely come into play, eventually. [Laughs]
That’s a good tease for Part 2 of this interview when we cover episode 205, “Seconds” and much more after it airs. Let us know what you thought of Part 1 of this discussion, and the first four episodes of Season 2. Please keep in mind not to spoil anything in the comments section for US viewers who are not caught up to viewers in Canada. Thanks.