The Version Interview... Sam Palladio on Humans series 2
Humanoid synthetics have become an inextricable part of society, obediently serving and protecting the human population. But what happens when these synths are given the right to consciousness and their own free will?
Series 2 of Humans picks up several months on from the events of series one, Niska (Emily Berrington) is still at large and in possession of the consciousness code. Her synth family, Mia (Gemma Chan), Leo (Colin Morgan) and Max (Ivanno Jeremiah), unaware of her location, are each trying to find their place in the world while Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) and Laura (Katherine Parkinson) attempt to mend their marriage.
Sam Palladio tells us more about the new series....
Were you a fan of the first series of Humans?
Absolutely. I’m a sci-fi and comic-book geek, and thought it was really compelling. Then I had this audition to be a part of it – I thought Ed was a character I could relate to and play.
How was Ed relatable?
He’s a good representation of the everyday human. He has a lot on his shoulders, financial burdens and a mother in very ill health. He has qualities you can see in everyone. He’s struggling to balance the books in a time of recession, which clearly hit a lot of people in real life. He’s a good guy trying to get through life and there’s nothing particularly extraordinary about him, which I really liked.
Was it unsettling to work with Gemma Chan playing a synth?
It really was. Her attention to detail is astounding and every movement is thought through. You’d think a simple act like walking down some stairs and into a room would be easy, but Gemma can’t look where she’s going because a synth would never fall down the steps. So she has to memorise everything while respecting the economy of movement. Being on the receiving end of that was a weird, creepy kind of energy – you’re usually feeding off facial expression or tone or mood, but you get nothing off a synth, in a great way. It all helps the drama. Ed looks for the humour in a dark situation, so he’s trying to be funny and cracking bad jokes, and they don’t land on the synth, as far as he’s aware. Everything is getting through to Mia unbeknownst to him, so every moment of humanity – he’s a generous guy and always does his friends favours, hence why the business is failing – is taken note of.
Ed seems to have an understanding with Mia.
Yeah. Ed’s lonely – he doesn’t have many friends and he’s been left with the burden of the business while also being a carer for his mother. To have Mia there is a comfort, even if he doesn’t realise it at first. Companionship is what he’s been missing. He treats Mia with compassion, and that’s part of Mia’s journey to having feelings for this guy. He’s a softie.
What sort of a relationship do you have with technology?
The entertainment industry in particular is all about communication and being aware of what’s going on, which can take over an actor’s life. My grandpa has always been the tech-savvy one of the family. He’s 95 now, and he has a YouTube channel and always knew how to convert files and so on. I think he’s a synth, to be honest!
Would you want to own a synth?
I don’t think so. Like Ed, I like to try and do things myself and I’m a bit of a control freak. As much as it would help with keeping my apartment clean, the loss of control is a funny topic. They would be useful in the real world, and for science, technology, healthcare and so on. It’s when they become domestic and part of everyday life that it becomes a bit creepy.
Where do you stand on the AI debate?
It’s all got to be paced. It could come too quickly and we’ll find ourselves more disconnected than ever. Gone are the days of going out on your bikes with your mates after school and swapping Pokémon cards. Now kids are walking into traffic because they’re staring at their phones, playing Pokémon Go. I hear stories of kids trying to swipe left or right on books – we have to rein that back a bit and not become drones ourselves. The more we embrace it, the more machine-like we risk becoming.
Did you stay in Margate during filming?
Yeah – I’d never been there before but it was a pleasant surprise. I grew up by the coast in Penzance, so any excuse to be by the sea is great with me. It gave the sense of isolation for Ed that I could relate to, having grown up in Cornwall: seaside towns are beautiful and tranquil, but to get out of there can be difficult sometimes.
As a sci-fi geek, you must be excited about going to New York Comic Con.
Working on a TV show that allows me to go is fantastic. The big kid inside me is very excited. I’m going to put a Darth Vader mask and wander round incognito.