We're not even halfway through Season 2 of the sci-fi comedy/drama show "The Orville" and already the series has taken us to places previously unseen — not just new alien planets, but also new experiences for the crew as each character develops.
Among the crew is an artificial intelligence from the planet Kaylon 1 named Isaac, played by British actor Mark Jackson. Before landing the role, Jackson was predominantly known for his work in theater.
"I did one audition [in London] and they sent off the tape and bizarrely, the next day my agent got word that Seth MacFarlane had liked the tape and was very interested, so we sent more stuff over, backup material and, yeah, that was it," Jackson told Space.com. [Machine Dreams: 22 Human-Like Androids from Sci-Fi]
The actor's extensive stage credits include appearing in the award-winning "Noises Off" at the Old Vic Theatre and playing Capt. Stewart in "War Horse" in London's West End. But those roles are a far cry from playing a sentient android from a super-advanced alien civilization.
"Like all parts, you just look at the script, see what's there, what does your character do, what do they say, what do other characters say about them and therefore you build up the flavor of the character," Jackson said. "And then, of course, I have that suit to wear. So Isaac's suit is so specific and once you put it on, it makes you feel so specific, and you move in very specific ways. So it can't help but inform how you play [the role]."
Serving as science and engineering officer on board the USS Orville, Isaac is not actually an official member of the Planetary Union — the show's equivalent of Star Trek's Federation. He instead works as a representative on behalf of the Kaylon race to help foster better relations between his people and the Union.
In the show to date, Isaac has amputated Gordon Malloy's (Scott Grimes) leg, broken Alara Kitan's (Halston Sage) arm, spent 700 years in exile and in the most recent episode, he's even begun an intimate relationship with Dr. Claire Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald).
"Well, what could be next?!" Jackson said. "This show is unpredictable and that's what I like about it. When you just think you are going to expect something, then it doesn't happen, and it happened with this last episode actually. … And I think that's what the fans love is that we keep on surprising them."
In Season 2 so far, we've seen intriguing new planets including the Xelayan home world and the Moclan home world. But we haven't yet seen the planet Kaylon 1, and there are only eight episodes left, after all.
"You're gonna find out a lot more this season. So I don't want to spoil anything for you, but the viewers are gonna get a lot more background. We're already delving into Isaac's character a lot more, which is fantastic," Jackson said.
And future episodes promise a deeper look into Isaac's past, the actor promised. "You're gonna see his backstory," Jackson said. "You are gonna find out how he got his name, actually. And it wasn't how I thought he got his name. So that was interesting."
But never fear, the character development doesn't overwhelm the science fiction drama. "We've got a couple of two-parters coming up and they are epic. We have huge space battles coming up as well," Jackson said.
Exciting stuff. Yet "The Orville" is a show just as much about the exploration of the different character's interactions as it is about uncharted space. "It would be nice if they [Isaac and Dr. Finn] had something going, wouldn't it? What we need to do is, if they do, we need to figure out like a Brangelina name for them — Isaac, Claire, Clisaac? Clisaac's not bad," Jackson said. "Hashtag Clisaac, I wanna see this on Twitter now."
You heard it here first, folks.
Watch the full interview here:
Season 2 of "The Orville" airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST on Fox in the U.S. It's also available on demand on Fox Now and Hulu, and on Fox.com in the U.S. In the U.K., it airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. GMT on Fox. The first season of "The Orville" is available to buy on DVD and a season pass can also be purchased from Amazon.