On the next episode of The CW series Containment, called “I To Die, You To Live,” Lex (David Gyasi) attempts to maintain control outside of the quarantine, and enlists help from Jake (Chris Wood), who is growing resentful for getting trapped inside, to track down an infected patient. And while Katie (Kristen Gutoskie) tries to keep it together for her students, Jana (Christina Moses) is counting down the time until she can be reunited with Lex.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, co-stars David Gyasi and Chris Wood talked about why they were so drawn to this show, finding real moments of hope and joy in the story, how these guys would probably rather switch places with each other, establishing an emotional connection with actors that you’re then separated from, working with such a varied cast from different backgrounds, and how they felt when they read the script for the season finale. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: The idea of a virus like this is just absolutely terrifying. When you guys read this script, what was it that most struck you about the story and the character that you’re now playing? When you read something that could conceivably happen, is that something that you just can’t help thinking about?
DAVID GYASI: I loved it for that reason. I had read an article, two weeks before I got the script, which was talking about Ebola and the affect that Ebola has on humanity, and for me, it was really challenging. The writer said that the first way it affects us is that, if a loved one is ill, we can’t help but try to comfort them through cuddles, or whatever way we can. That’s how the virus jumps its host. Humanity wins because we won’t allow someone we love to suffer. And then, the second way it affects us, over in the West, is that when these things are happening in Third World countries, the writer suggested that we really shut off from it because it’s so far away. We just go about our daily business. And I felt I was guilty of that. So, two weeks later, I read a script that goes, “What happens if a situation like this were to happen in the West? How would we deal with that?” For me, that was a big reason to take the job.
CHRIS WOOD: The realism behind the story and the realization, in reading it, that this is all very plausible, grounds the characters in truth. You can’t ask for much more than that, when you get a character. There’s a depth behind it that’s believable and that you can’t wait to sink your teeth into.
On The Walking Dead, a virus turns people into zombies. On The Strain, a virus turns people into vampires. But on Containment, the virus affects humans and humanity, which seems more terrifying than any monster story could ever be.
GYASI: Yes, sure. But as we go along, you will find real moments of hope and joy through an extreme sadness. It will just really move you. When people ask, “What should people be prepared for?,” they should be prepared for a roller coaster ride of different emotions.
We really get the impression that Lex and Jake are brothers-in-arms at work, but now they’re separated by this quarantine and Jake seems resentful of the fact that Lex is trying to get him to place himself directly in the line of fire of this virus. Do you think these guys wish they could just switch places with each other?
WOOD: I think at first, for Jake at least, there’s a resentment of Lex’s decision making. He feels like Lex has withheld information from him, when he sent him out to get patient zero, ultimately knowing that he would get trapped inside the quarantine zone. So, he’s pretty pissed at him. But he also does begin to register that the outside is a safer place to be and I think he, in some ways, envies that position. He’s also not the kind of guy who wants that responsibility. With time comes clarity and Jake gets to a place where he sees that Lex’s situation is pretty difficult, in and of itself, although he still harbors a bit of resentment and a little bit of the feeling of, “Hey, my life’s a bit harder,” as we try to stay alive.
GYASI: And I think that Lex is someone who would rather take the bullet. He’s the person who, if he could, he would swap with Jake, in an instant, and he would swap with Jana, in an instant. But he can’t, and that tears him apart. He’s being torn apart in this very extreme way. He also has to be the face of the government, go in front of the public, and have this kind of demeanor of, “Everything will be okay, we’re on top of it,” but deep down, he’s unsure. He always feels like he’s being pulled in many different directions. Lex and Jake are both being pulled out of their comfort zones.
As actors, what’s it like to have to establish an emotional connection with your fellow actors, and then be separated from them?
GYASI: I found it quite helpful. Since the pilot, [Chris and I] have been training together every day, and we’d eat together, so that bond would flow around the writing and around our movement. We would just know how the other one moves, and then that would translate. And then, of course, we got separated. Our shooting schedules were opposite. I’d be working and Chris would be off, or I might do the morning and Chris would do the afternoon. You just naturally pine for the person and really miss them.
WOOD: When we got to show up, to even be in the same room for a table read, or if we had a phone call, we got to work together and be on set for the other person for whatever the circumstance was, it didn’t have the life-or-death weight behind it, but it carried that quality, naturally, in our real lives. The line began to blur to a place that hopefully translates to the work a bit easier.
GYASI: Sometimes with TV, you shoot so quick that, if you have quite a big scene and you’re last up in the day, you might only have 30 minutes. So, having that kind of rapport with someone means that you can get it done in 25 minutes. Obviously, I had that with Christina Moses, as well. Christina, Chris, Kristen [Gutoskie] and I all auditioned at the same time. We were there at the same time and we were tested together, so we’ve been on this incredible journey together. With Christina, the chemistry that we had was really exciting. In the read-through, it was just fantastic and I couldn’t wait to work with her. I was so happy she got the job, but then we were split up. It was just painful, but then it made it so precious when I had a phone call with her. We would do our best to come in, or at least be on the phone. Sometimes when you’re filming, you end up having your Second A.D. reading the lines, but we were there for each other.
WOOD: It makes a big difference. The story is all about the loved ones torn apart. If on my end of the phone call, I’m reading with an A.D. instead of David, and he’s reading with a script supervisor instead of me, it changes the energy. It’s so important that that magnetism and that relationship, in all the different pairs of people who are separated, that you can feel that as an audience member. We made a rule, at the beginning, that if it’s possible to get there, we will. If someone is out of the country, that’s different, but we were pretty lucky.
What has it been like to work with such a varied cast from vastly different backgrounds? Is it impossible not to learn a lot from a group like that?
GYASI: Completely! The one thing that united us all was the work ethic. You could just see that this was a group of people where, even if you didn’t have a big scene together, they wanted to go over it. People were available for rehearsals. And Chris and I were probably more fortunate than most that we got to work with quite a few people. I remember Trevor St. John’s technique, and how he is so spontaneous with his delivery. Every single time, it’s different, but absolutely truthful. Claudia Black is so playful with the way that she approaches work. With Chris, it was like sparring. We loved to get together and rehearse, and learn from each other that way. Christina Moses doesn’t want to move on unless she feels it’s truthful. It’s a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to be around.
Without giving anything away, when you guys read the script for the finale episode, what was your reaction? How did you feel about how everything came together and how it was all left, at the end of the season?
WOOD: We had a lot of very tearful table reads and very emotional moments at home, when they would release the scripts. You’d take those pages and read them for the first time, and I think we all took turns having our own private breakdown, as the story unfolded.
GYASI: It was never really about what my character was going through. It was the other characters. I was like, “My goodness, that is heart-wrenching.”
WOOD: If you take the first episode and the last episode, and you look at the starting and ending points for all of the characters, it’s a pretty amazing journey that happens there. In just the way these characters think of themselves and the world, it’s quite different, by the end of the season. This situation changes all of them.
Containment airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.