From creator/writer/executive producer Mika Watkins and pilot director Paul W.S. Anderson, the YouTube Original series Origin is a sci-fi thriller that follows a group of strangers who find themselves stranded on a spacecraft that’s heading toward a distant planet. As the abandoned passengers work together to ensure their own survival, they also discover the terrifying truth that they may not all be who they claim to be. The series stars Tom Felton, Natalia Tena, Nora Arnezeder, Sen Mitsuji, Fraser James, Philipp Christopher, Nina Wadia, Madalyn Horcher, Siobhán Cullen, Adelayo Adedayo and Wil Coban.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actor Tom Felton talked about how he got involved with Origin, what attracted him to the project, how cool it is to do a TV series that’s set in space, the collaborative environment on set, how his character evolved, working with a fellow Harry Potter film franchise alum, and the experience of shooting in Cape Town, South Africa.
Collider: How did you come to be a part of Origin?
TOM FELTON: It took a little bit of convincing. I read the first couple of scripts, and they were very well written. Obviously, it’s different when you’re going into a film because you know how it ends before you start, which is my preference, really, rather than figuring it out, as you go along. Even when we started shooting, (executive producer) Mika [Watkins] hadn’t finished the episodes, so things were still being developed, as we were going along. But I had a very long chat with Mika, before signing up for it. We talked about the show, in general, and a little bit about my character and about what his relationship is to the other people on board. So, you do a little tape, send it in, and they say, “Sure, if you want it, you can come into space.” That’s pretty much how it happened.
What was it about what Mika Watkins told you that sold you on the TV series?
FELTON: It wasn’t what she said, it was how she said it. I’m far more interested in working with people that I think are gonna be collaborative and that are gonna be fun to work with, and that aren’t gonna be a nightmare, and she seemed very sweet, very knowledgeable, and very keen to collaborate. She was keen for me to not just turn up and read lines, but to be an actual part of the development of the show. And then, you start to really put a bit more of yourself into it than you maybe would have done, previously.
This seems like one of those characters that could easily get stuck in the stereotypes that we’re used to seeing in this kind of a show, but everything along the way seems like it’s a bit different than what you expect. Was there anything you wanted to avoid doing with this character?
FELTON: Yeah. I definitely think it’s a unique show. I don’t think there’s been anything really like this before. I wasn’t cautious, really. I felt like I was in good hands with Mika and the people who were directing each episode. I thought they knew exactly where they wanted the shape of it to come from, and I was very lucky to be afforded many takes to just do whatever I wanted or to improvise. Whenever it didn’t work, I was told to shut up and go back to the script. So, it was a nice mixture of freedom and also trusting the work that you’ve got in front of you is top quality.
How often did they actually tell you to stop doing what you were doing?
FELTON: More and more, as the show went on. No. Actually, not that many times, to be fair. I occasionally had to be reminded to swear a little less because Logan has a foul mouth. It got a bit out of hand, at one point. The F word was coming out, in every other sentence. But, I wasn’t reprimanded too often.
What did you enjoy about getting to do something like this?
FELTON: It’s set in space, which is cool. And then, there’s the ensemble nature of the show. I’ve never really done anything like that before, where there are nine or ten leads, and everyone has their own role to play. I wouldn’t say that sci-fi is something that I’ve been heavily invested in or involved, in my life, but there’s something very cool about this setting, and every character is really defined. I think every character will be someone’s favorite.