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Meet the 'Alphas' characters

by jmaloni
Mon, Jul 11th 2011 04:05 pm

Behind the Screens recently caught up with "Alphas" exec. producer Ira Steven Behr. The writer behind series such as "Dark Angel," "The Twilight Zone" and "The 4400" offered a breakdown of the characters, which include David Strathairn (neurologist Dr. Lee Rosen), Malik Yoba (hyperadrenal Bill Harken), Warren Christie (hyperkinetic Cameron Hicks), Azita Ghanizada (synesthete Rachel Pirzad), Ryan Cartwright (transducer Gary Bell) and Laura Mennell (influencer Nina Theroux).

"The cast is phenomenal," he said. "I mean the cast is one of the things that drew me to the project.

"David is David, you know? I mean, I've enjoyed his work all the way back to 'Matewan.' He's one of those actors who, you know, when I look back at people I've written for, it's like that's the guy I'm really proud to know he's read lines that I've written.

"Malik is really focused and powerful and knows his stuff and is a pro and just plays the truth to the scenes.

"And Warren - he's our loner. I always try to find some kind of a McQueen character, right, that I can play with - the guy who doesn't say a lot, but is able to communicate a lot without a lot of dialogue at times. And Warren is able to do that.

"The funny thing about Warren is he's a really sweet guy - a really nice guy. And when I was up there in Toronto it was like, 'You've got to play against that nice guy at times,' you know? 'You've got to do the mystery thing,' and he's doing that now completely.

"And Azita is a riot in the fact that she is the absolute antithesis of her character, Rachel. In real life, Azita, if she was on this call I don't think any of us would get a word in edgewise. She just has the life spirit in her, let's say, and obviously she's playing this really conservative, really uptight, really quiet girl searching for her identity. And Azita has, like, seven identities in 10 minutes, so she's great.

"And Laura's terrific. She is able to do 'the push,' as we call it, when she's able to get her victims to do what she wants - if they are indeed victims. But she does this thing with her eyes and it's pretty damn cool to watch. And obviously she has a really interesting physical presence. I mean, she's kind of magnetic on screen.

"Gary, you know, Ryan's character, what'd you say? I mean it is amazing. I've said this already in other interviews. I'm sure I'm going to say it to death, but I'm shocked at the level of work that Ryan has done with this character.

"We keep talking amongst ourselves. Whenever we're not sure whether Gary would do something or someone with autism would do something, it's like we should just call Ryan, because he'll tell us. He'll know. He has done a ton of research. You know a character is successful - and I've been on a lot of writing staffs - you know a character or an idea is successful if everyone on staff wants to write for it, or for that person. And you know, everyone wants to write Gary's scenes. Everyone wants to come up with Gary's scenes, and that really is the highest praise you can give to a character or to an actor is when everyone is just jazzed to sit down at a computer and think up stuff for that person to say and do."

"Alphas" airs Monday at 10 p.m. on Syfy.

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