Syfy has a hit on its hands with their new tale, 12  Monkeys. After watching the first two episodes, it’s clear that this is an intense thriller with the fate of the human race on the line. Cole (Aaron Stanford) comes back in time to find Dr. Cassandra Railly and enlist her help in finding the root cause of a massive plague that nearly wipes out humans.

I spoke with Amanda Schull (Center Stage, Suits) about her character, the challenge of saving the world, Cassie’s relationships with Cole and Aaron, who should watch the show and more.

Read on for edited excerpts of our conversation and tune in for the 12 Monkeys premiere Friday, January 16 on Syfy.

Who is Dr. Cassandra Railly? 

She’s a virologist and she specializes in containment of infectious diseases. Se’s just going on about her life and things are going pretty well in her life. Everything’s kinda right on track professionally and personally and Cole played by Aaron Stanford kind of comes into her life and ruins all of that from top to bottom. 

He definitely does that. What’s very interesting about this show is the time travel aspect of it. Is that something you’ve been a fan of in the past or was this new to you?

To be totally honest, it’s new to me. I didn’t really know much about time travel. I can’t even pretend that I completely understand it now, but it is new to me. I’ve become fascinated by it and excited by it. It allows us as actors to portray the same character in sort of different planes of reality which I think is quite a luxury and hopefully for the audience it’s very interesting as well.

When you’re getting the scripts did they talk about the time-space continuum and about what can affect what? Or, is that not really a main concern for the series?

It’s not so much a concern for my character in particular. It is a concern for the series, however my character doesn’t need to completely understand how everything’s working, what everything Jones is doing and how it works. I definitely had some elements of it explained to me when I asked. My character lives in 2015 where this is not yet a reality. She doesn’t need to understand the ins and outs of it yet.

Have you seen the movie?

I had seen the movie. I chose to not re-watch it before we shot the pilot. I didn’t want anything to infiltrate my subconscious and affect my performance, so I chose not to re-watch it, but I watched it after we shoot the pilot before we started the series. I fell in love it all over again.

It is interesting. You’ll realize that there are so many little nods that the writers have snuck in throughout the whole series actually. So many little things even names, wardrobe choices, little things that you’ll notice if you’re familiar [with the movie]. I think with a lot of them you need to be recently familiar, maybe not if you’re a huge avid fan of the film and remember all sorts of things about it. It does make watching the series kind of– takes it to different level.

Will we see the downfall of Cassie?

You’ll see what happened and what made her kind of I don’t know if downfall is the right word that you’ll see. You’ll see what really spiraled her further on to this mission.

What is the Cassie’s relationship with Aaron and Cole?

I think their dynamic is complicated. Her relationship with both men is very complicated and unique and you’ll see the different facets of it play out over the course of the season in different ways in different time periods as well. Within the flashbacks, as well as going forward, you’ll see what sort of makes them tick and what doesn’t make them tick. 

What do you think drives Cassie? Is it Cole? Or, her interest in science in general? Or a combination?

I think it’s a combination for sure. I think obviously she wouldn’t know about this or be interested in this without Cole introducing her to this whole situation. You’re exactly right that her scientific brain and just what she’s fascinated by and medicine and understanding how diseases work and why things happen is what makes her really latch on to this. If he’s telling the truth and the world does get decimated by a plague in a matter of just a few years, then she just may be the very person to try and stop it. And, she knows that.

Cassie has a pretty strong moral code and Cole kind of challenges that. Does she stretch the boundaries of what she thinks is right or wrong knowing the future?

She definitely does sort of morph into a person willing to do what’s necessary. She does stretch. That’s a really good way to put it. She understands, especially the more she learns, that all of the different players who are involved and all the things that are going on, she definitely understands that she needs to do things she wasn’t necessarily willing to do before to put this whole thing to rest.

What kind of launched this is a message that Cassie left in the future, will that come back into play because of the time-space continuum? 

The message will be revisited in future episodes.

She knows the message is going to be left too. I find the whole message thing quite fascinating.

It is. It sort of hard to wrap your mind around, isn’t it? If you already know certain things are going to happen, how does that affect the way you carry them out. It made me question if you know the world is going to end, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to do anything? Or are you going to enjoy your last few days on earth? Are you going to be with the people you love? Or are you going to try and stop it?

Without spoiling it, is there a certain moment that’s your favorite?

Oh, dude. There are so many good moments. I can’t– I can tell you that towards the end of the season, it’s a really grand statement to say “minds will be blown,” but I know that my mind was pretty blown when I read the script. So when we got to do some of the stuff towards the end of the season, there were some things that happened that I just did not see coming.

12 Monkeys isn’t just for science fiction fans

Something I tell my mom and dad because they aren’t entirely familiar with science fiction is that you don’t need to be a science fiction enthusiast to understand and appreciate this show. I think that it’s played in reality and the characters are interesting. 

The storylines are interesting. It’s not just science fiction. It’s so much more than that. I think that there’s so many other storylines, plots and conspiracies that can keep people on the edge of your seat excited. I know that I was personally and I don’t understand a lot of science fiction myself and I was hooked just reading the script.

12 Monkeys airs Fridays at 9pm ET on Syfy.

(Image courtesy of Syfy.)

Carla Day

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Contributing Editor and Writer for Collider, BuddyTV, TV Fanatic, CliqueClack, and other publications. TV criticism, reviews, interviews with actors and producers, and other related content. Founder of TV Diehard.