Ron Livingston leads audiences into space in 'Defying Gravity'
40 years ago man landed on the moon. 40 years from today, mankind takes on its next space conquest: Venus.
In "Defying Gravity," a crew of astronauts will board their ship, the Antares, for a six-year voyage as they set out on a unique and mysterious mission.
The new CTV original series premieres Sunday, Aug. 2 at 9pm ET with a two-hour episode, and has been dubbed "Grey's Anatomy in space" by series creator James Parriott.
Leading the crew on their mission is Maddux Donner, played by Ron Livingston, who is best known for his roles as Berger in "Sex in the City," "Office Space," and his Golden Globe-nominated turn in "Band of Brothers."
The series also stars Laura Harris ("24") as ship's geologist Zoe Barnes, Malik Yoba ("New York Undercover") as Antares commander Ted Shaw, Christina Cox ("Blood Ties") as biologist Jen Crane, Florentine Lahme ("Impact") as pilot Nadia Schilling, Paula Garces ("The Shield") as pilot, scientist and on-board documentary producer Paula Morales, Eyal Podell ("24") as psychiatrist and medical officer Evram Mintz, and Dylan Taylor ("House Party") as theoretical physicist Steve Wassenfelder.
Livingston tells CTV.ca that he comes by his love of space exploration honestly, as his father was an aerospace engineer and fostered a love of all things galactic.
"I've always had a soft spot for the NASA programs, and I broke a couple space ship models growing up. I remember watching the first Enterprise launching on TV," says Livingston.
The actor says what he likes the most about "Defying Gravity," is that it illustrates what the future of space exploration might actually look like.
"This story about astronauts in the space program is one we don't see too often, and it tends to be historical. We know about the last generation conquest of space... but what about the generation coming up, what are their astronauts going to look like, what are their missions going to look like? How are they going to deal with each other? That was an exciting question," says Livingston.
"Technologically, the images we've gotten from Hubble and the Rover explorers, really allow us to do something we've never been able to do before, by putting together images of space and the planets that are realistic and look real. That's been exciting to see that."
Because he's so well known for his dramatic and comedic work, Livingston's die-hard cult audience might find it strange to see that actor take on his first major role in a science fiction project. However, Livingston says there was no hesitation in taking on "Defying Gravity."
"I just like to do stuff that looks fun, that looks like something I'd like to watch. Sometimes it's exiting for me to do stuff I've never done before," says Livingston.
"I think the way it works out, is if you do stuff you like and you think is good, you have a much better chance of doing something that other people will like, especially if they are somebody who has agreed with you in the past."
As a staunch environmentalist and outspoken political advocate (he resurrected his infamous "Berger" character for an Obama campaign video), it's no surprise when Livingston hints there might be something larger at play on "Defying Gravity."
"In the early parts of the show, we start by focusing on the mission and the training, but as we get into the first season and you start to see what's happening to the world at large in the generation of the 40 years gone by... it takes the direction we seem to be heading today and project to where that's going to lead us," says Livingston.
"I think there are environmental problems we still have, some of them we've gotten better, and some of them are quite worse. That's something we'll discover in the world of the show as it goes on."
Like the fictional space commander James Tiberius Kirk, Livingston was born and raised in Iowa. The actor later attended Yale University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Theater Studies and English Literature, performing in the Williamstown Theatre Festival and later moving to Chicago. The actor now resides in Los Angeles.
Livingston spent six months in Vancouver in order to shoot "Defying Gravity" earlier this year.
"My favourite place to work is home, because I get to sleep in my own bed at night," says Livingston, "But as far as being on location, Vancouver is a great set up and it's close to home, and it's a beautiful city. It's always a little tougher when you have to call home instead of drive home, but Vancouver itself is fantastic."Watch Episodes Now ►