On ABC’s new drama Defying Gravity (premieres Sunday, 9 p.m. ET), Ron Livingston plays one of eight astronauts — four men, four women — who embark on a six-year mission to explore the solar system. Or so they think that’s their objective. Turns out, there’s something Mission Control refers to as “Beta” pulling the strings. What it is and what it wants are mysteries that unfold over 13 episodes, which split time between the current happenings on the spacecraft Antares and flashbacks to the crew’s training and selection process.
So what can Livingston, who stars as flight engineer/tragic hero/ladies man Maddux Donner, tell us about the series from former executive producers of Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives? There will be space sex. “The idea was, what’s a really cool workplace environment that we haven’t seen before,” he says, burying the lead. “The astronaut corp halfway to Venus seemed like a cool place to go to work. Then a lot of stories follow from what needs to be done day-to-day. It also keeps the men and women cooped up in a confined enough space that the other half of the mystery from week-to-week is who’s gonna end up sleeping with who.” There we go! “That’s a big part of the show, and it keeps it fun.”
You know what else is always fun? The EW Pop Culture Personality Test.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When do you yell at the TV?
RON LIVINGSTON: It’s only when the Bears are losing.
The person you’ve written a fan letter to?
I wrote a fan letter to Peter Jackson a bunch of years ago, but I think I was lookin’ for a job, so it probably doesn’t count.
Something from your childhood you wish you still had?
This little plaster of Paris thing that I made in second grade. It had a bunch of plastic beads in it, and I used to bury it in the yard and pretend it was treasure, and then dig it up and then bury it again and then dig it up. That was fun. I wish I still had that.
Your geekiest possession today?
I think I got a Yoda sweatshirt that somebody gave me. I think it was half gag, but it is pretty cool. I don’t think I could part with it.
Have you ever worn it?
I’ve yet to wear it out, but it gets a laugh when I put it on around the house.
The movie you have to watch every time you spot it on cable?
Casablanca is kinda hard to turn off. Rocky I tend to watch through to the end every time…I’m still a sucker for It’s a Wonderful Life, so I try to leave the TV off around Christmas time or else I’d be right there.
An R-rated movie you saw too young?
I saw The Shining really young. I don’t think it scarred me, but I had a paper route and I delivered to some apartment buildings, and it made it a little scary to walk down those hallways.
Your position on karaoke?
My main position on karaoke is just say no. I also think there should be a cut-off level where once you reach a certain amount of talent or ability, you shouldn’t be allowed to do karaoke anymore. Go get a band and actually do that. There’s no need to show everybody else up.
If you had to do one song, which could you be talked into?
Probably [Willie Nelson’s] “Whiskey River.”
The best concert you’ve ever seen?
I saw Ray LaMontagne at the Hollywood Bowl the other night. He was pretty good….You know, I saw the Scorpions back when I was a kid. [Laughs] That was pretty exciting. That tends to leave a little more of an impression when you’re young. I grew up in Iowa, so we had Cheap Trick come through a lot, but some of the other acts were a little harder to find.
Last question: Jon or Kate?
Oh, you know what, I wish them both the best. I just want everybody to be happy.
Photo Credit: Kharen Hill/ABC