If there's a more charismatic, kickass soul in the entire universe of "The Expanse," then we simply can't muster the courage to name one better than Belter Camina Drummer.
Perfectly portrayed by Canadian actress Cara Gee, Drummer has become one of the most intriguing characters in the Amazon Prime sci-fi saga since her introduction as Fred Johnson's fierce Security Chief at Tycho Station in Season 2.
As the penultimate Season 5 launches the first three of ten episodes on Wednesday, Dec. 16, viewers can expect to see a lot more of Drummer as she leads her own potent faction of attack ships towards a showdown with renegade OPA (Outer Planets Alliance) terrorist Marco Inaros and his Free Navy.
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Drawn mostly from "Nemesis Games," the fifth book in the bestselling series from authors Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham's (written as James S.A. Corey), this upcoming outing has been called "the most epic and the most personal season we have ever done, simultaneously," by Showrunner Naren Shankar.
Along the way we'll be treated to Gee discovering new emotional facets and hidden sorrows of the driven, tattooed captain with a steely glare that could melt Goliath power armor.
Space.com connected with Gee to chat about Drummer's mounting presence in the series' new season, working with directors to develop her character, parallels between Belters and her First Nations heritage, and whether or not she’d take a real ride into space to be the first woman on the moon.
Space.com: As an actor, what was it like to extend your range and expose Drummer's softer sides in Season 5?
Cara Gee: A dream come true, definitely, is a great way to put it. We've seen Drummer be so hard for so long, and to get a more intimate view of her personal life is really important. We see strong female characters, and that's become kind of a catchphrase almost. And I'm thrilled to play the most badass of all the strong female characters. [Laughs.] It's incredible.
But I think it's important to remember that she's human as well, and to see what life is like for her at home. It's really valuable.
Space.com: Are you surprised to see fans' intense response to Camina Drummer build over the last three seasons?
Gee: It's gone straight to my head and I'm insufferable in real life. Do you know how popular I am on "The Expanse?" [Laughs.] No, it's intriguing. All credit goes to the writers. Every time I get a script I'm one of those people as well and want to know what happens. It's like Christmas Day and every time I turn a page and Drummer gets to do something else that's kickass, I feel so lucky I get to portray that. I do feel sometimes that supporting characters can have a more intriguing pathway.
I shot a television show ages ago and I was the lead. And it was an interesting experience of watching the people around me go through all these really interesting twists and turns. Sometimes you're the audience's way in when you're the lead, and I think you can get more creative with supporting characters. You need that anchor in the center so that the supporting characters can get wild.
Space.com: How was it working with veteran series' directors like Breck Eisner and others to develop the character's inner voice and dramatic journey?
Gee: We're lucky to have some incredible directors come onto this project. Right from the top, Naren [Shankar] creates an extremely collaborative environment. So we get together and we have rehearsals and read-throughs in our off-time. The whole cast is incredibly nerdy about the show and we talk about it constantly. And the directors are the same.
Breck is like the number one nerd for "The Expanse." He loves it. And he's been with the show for so long. Sometimes on other shows directors come in and out and they're sort of like guns for hire. On this show we tend to attract people who are more invested and know more about the arc.
We had a director named Marisol Adler this year and she came in and knew the show inside and out. I got to do a lot of really nuanced work with her. Thomas Jane directed an episode this year. Which as an actor was a dream. And he gave beautiful, really concise notes. Something you can sink your teeth into. It's been incredible.
Space.com: What's the most engaging or challenging aspect of being a Belter?
Gee: To me, it's actually a really huge responsibility to portray that. I am First Nations. I am Ojibwe and so I see a lot of parallels between the struggle for basic human rights that the Belters are experiencing and what Indigenous people in Canada and America and all over the world are experiencing.
To me, it's kind of funny. Everybody wants to be Belter, but nobody wants to be a Belter. I feel such a strong responsibility with that, and the show does such a great job of speaking about those human rights issues. It's such a no-brainer that of course, Belters deserve access to clean air and water. My biggest hope is that it triggers a connection to equal access to essential resources in real life.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently announced that Blue Origin would land the first woman on the moon. Would you be interested in taking a real trip into outer space?
Gee: I mean, if he asked me, I might have a hard time saying no. But I am a bit afraid of heights. [Laughs.]. So I don't know! I learned to scuba dive last year and I think there's some interesting overlap as far as being in an atmosphere that you cannot survive in without technology assisting you. If he calls me up, I'd be like, "Okay J.B., let's talk details." But I'm not dying to do it, no.
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Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.