Alphas, Syfy’s new show about seemingly ordinary people with super brains, won’t debut for a few more weeks, but that doesn’t mean those involved won’t talk about their show. Executive producer Ira Steven Behr, as well as stars Ryan Cartwright and Azita Ghanizada, recently spoke to reporters about their work on Alphas.

On their involvement with Alphas:
Ryan Cartwright: “I think I was the first actor on board. I was having another fun, horrible pilot season in LA… And then this really good script came up.”

Ira Steven Behr: “I had taken a year off actually to finish off a novel… And I just turned down TV work for a year… As soon as I was done, I called my agent and said let’s see what’s out there. And one of the first jobs I went on was Alphas… I just thought the possibilities for a really good show were there.”

Azita Ghanizada: “I was the last person cast. I think they had a hard time finding Rachel… I just kind of went in and did it, and they hired me, those silly bastards…. I’m lucky that they were foolish enough to cast me.”

On what attracted them to Alphas:
Ryan Cartwright: “I was actually excited by a lot of the good humor in it. I love comedy… A lot of the pilots I was going up for were comedies, but they didn’t compare because a lot of the comedy was a lot wetter and not as real. The comedy in Alphas… it’s a lot better and more real. I really like the comic element of the characters.”

Ira Steven Behr: “I’ve done a lot of genres in television. And it’s always been a struggle… to try to get humor into the shows. It wasn’t always easy, and it was often impossible… They [at Alphas] actually have supported the humor, and as long as it’s real, I think it will remain a really important part of the series.”

On where the show will go in its first season:
Ira Steven Behr: “Oddly enough, in about three and a half hours, I will be going into the network and pitching the final episodes of the season and telling the network where we are going… One of the things that really appeals to me about the show and is in line with some of the other stuff that I’ve done, is that this is a show that is going to evolve and is always evolving and every episode is not a cookie cutter of the week before…”

“I think what’s obviously going to happen, without giving anything away, this is a group of people who are not really your first choice to be an investigative unit or going out into the field… They’re kind of working for the government… And working against this organization of Alphas called “Red Flag.” And Red Flag keeps telling them they’re on the wrong side.”

“By the end of season 1, there’ll be cracks appearing all over.”

On the “superheroes” of Alphas:
Ira Steven Behr: “We don’t consider ourselves a superhero show by any means. We’re trying to take what’s going on in the human brain and just up it… The characters themselves are not exactly suited to the position they’re in. They’re not exactly heroes, if I dare use that word. And I think there’s a true, honest humor to the show.

“The stories can get extremely dark, don’t get me wrong… We try to remain true to how ordinary people would react to those situations.”

On which “Alpha” power they would choose:
Azita Ghanizada: “Rachel has sensory overload, so even when she’s kissing someone it’s a big thing… I’d like to be able to look at people and tell them to take their pants off. I would just walk around all day and tell people to do random, crazy sh*t.”

Ryan Cartwright: “I wish I had a better memory. Long-term, and short-term as well. I wish I could learn dialog better. I have a British accent, which is kind of a superpower. I’m pretty good.”

Ira Steven Behr: “I need so much help, I cannot even think of where to begin. I do have an Alpha ability, I can turn gold into sh*t. I kind of gravitate I guess in a way to Rosen [David Straithairn’s character], because if I have any ability besides a writing ability, it’s to galvanize a team.”

On the scientific basis of the show:
Ira Steven Behr: “We certainly use neuroscience as a basis for a lot of these jumping off points for these tales that we tell. If you go on YouTube, you know, you’ll see the most amazing things that people can do… Now, instead of being a savant, you’re an Alpha. And maybe your skills are pushed a little bit up over a savant level.”

On playing Gary, an autistic character:
Ryan Cartwright: “You know, if you’re playing anything like that, you have to go in with a lot of respect…  It was really good, piecing together Gary, to the point where I could give him a really good sense of humor… You don’t want to play the syndrome, you want to play the character or the person.”

On Gary’s journey as an Alpha:
Ryan Cartwright: “He’s gone straight into the deep end, now that the team, they’ve properly stepped into the arena… Also now, there’s just a ton of action and it’s gotten seriously dangerous… Whether it’s even right to put a person like Gary into these life-threatening situations. It’s very interesting, because in some ways it seems like the best thing for him… It’s still his decision.”

On what Cartwright has learned from playing Gary:
Ryan Cartwright: “Oh crikey. I guess, just on like a neurological level, learning about how I, and most people, think. We don’t always think literally, we don’t always go to pictures in our minds, we just fill in the blanks. Our brains make us socially aware of the minutia of what people are doing. We get by living on the gist.”

“It’s quite relaxing sometimes when I play Gary on the set… and just to deal with language during the day. Sometimes when you’re finished filming, it’s kind of difficult to look people in the eye.”

On the portrayal of disabled people in Alphas:
Azita Ghanizada: “For Rachel at least, going into something that is so special, so unique… We kind of found it and we kind of rooted it in as much humanity as possible… I don’t really think that there would be anything in there that would offend anyone.”

Ryan Cartwright: “I think with Gary, I think everyone was very sensitive to portray him from day one… You want the person to be a real person.”

Ira Steven Behr: “They’re so special because of their disabilities… What could be considered a disability is their gift.”

Alphas will premiere at on Monday, July 11 at 10pm on Syfy.

(Image courtesy of Syfy)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.