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September 25, 2011

‘Alphas’ finale: Ryan Cartwight says, ‘It’s a crazy one’

Posted in: TV

Gary Bell, played by Ryan Cartwright, in a scene from "Alphas." (Russ Martin / Syfy)

The first season finale of “Alphas” airs Monday and the SyFy series has carved out its own personality after starting with a concept that sat somewhere between “The X-Files” and “X-Men.” The characters are a collection of oddballs and outsider souls and at the top of that list is Gary Bell, the autistic young man who can “see” energy and communication signals in the air, making him a walking antenna and the world’s supreme electronic eavesdropper. Ryan Cartwright, a familiar face to fans of “Bones,” plays Gary, and Hero Complex’s Geoff Boucher caught up with the 30-year-old Brit to talk about the show. This is Part 2 of the interview.

GB: You made some memorable appearances on “Bones” as the doomed intern Vincent Nigel-Murray so you know the rhythms of a procedural. “Alphas” is aiming for something different, though, isn’t it? there are those episodes that feel more like a character study.

RC: That was a lot of work through myself and a lot of the other actors, too, and we love the excitement of running around and catching the bad Alpha and that kind of thing, but the beauty of this job is that we get those kind of, well, I wouldn’t call them “acting days,” but those times when you get to explore your character. You get to know each other. Zak [Penn, the co-creator of the series] says it’s like that show “In Treatment” because we’re constantly in these therapy sessions to deal with everyone’s issues and it’s a nice way to explore the characters. It gives you a bit of poetic license.

GB: In what way?

RC: You can just sit down with the doctor and discuss your life problems. That’s a nice set-up for exposition. We love it. And now that we’ve gotten to know our characters we’re allowed to improvise a little, which was weird for me. I really had to think about it first, “What would an autistic person say?” That extra step is a challenge, things don’t drip off the tongue lightly. But now it’s fun and everyone has found their feet. We enjoy each other characters. It’s a dream job for that.

GB: Your character on “Bones” was a relatively fleeting presence on that series but he had quite the impact – his death led to the two main characters finally getting in bed together and he even had a baby named after him.

RC: All of that is just me in real life, mate. That’s just me. I shine through every part I play. Every one is naming their babies after me. No, it’s lovely. You get those roles and you don’t know what they will lead to. “Bones” was just two days filming when I got it and then they called me back. It was the same with my character on “Mad Men.” When I did that I thought it would be just one episode. “Alphas” is the only thing I’ve done in the States where I knew it was a full season, recurring. The others, it’s always been a nice surprise.

GB: The season finale is Monday night. Is there an intriguing tidbit you can share without undermining any of the big surprises? 

RC: It’s action-packed. My ears are still ringing from listening to bullets and rifles all day. There’s a lot of smoke. I think there’s some grenades. A good number of explosions. There’s a massive man — a guy who is an ex-wrestler, he’s a huge man. So there’s a huge man in it. The huge man grabs me. It’s a super-fun one and it’s a crazy one. The fit hits the shan. And then it goes off the wall.

– Geoff Boucher

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