James Holden is a good guy. He believes in justice and stopping bad guys from doing bad things. But is the hero of Syfy’s The Expanse changing a bit before our eyes? In the season 1 finale, he ignored Kenzo’s pleas for mercy and instead started shooting at the spy while leaving him on Eros station to die.
Was that the first step in an evolving Holden? A clue to that could come from last week’s episode, in how Holden reacts to the death of an innocent on a cargo freighter carrying relief supplies to Ganymede that he and Amos commandeered to get themselves on the station. Holden tried to save the Weeping Somnambulist crew when they were boarded by pirates, but one of them was killed in the crossfire.
How much will Holden mourn that loss of life, or does he now view it as a mere casualty of war? We asked the man who plays him, Steven Strait, when he stopped by EW Morning Live (Entertainment Weekly Radio, Sirius 105, channel 105) and you can now hear the entire interview below on the EW Morning Live podcast.
“This is a continuation of an arc that has been progressing throughout the season on Holden’s ethical compass and how that moves and shifts as he takes on more responsibility for what’s going on,” says Strait. “I think he’s pained by it, for sure. He’s got a guilty conscience already. But as we’re moving through the season, one of the most fun parts about playing Holden is that the arc is really vast but it’s also very subtle. And you see him slowly getting more comfortable with the fact that there are casualties in taking on these larger responsibilities and that they have to be accepted.”
Strait says Holden is starting to see that the big picture sometimes requires smaller sacrifices. “There is a certain amount of damage that will happen based on his actions of him being the leader of the Roci and trying to tackle the protomolocule,” he says. “So his ethical and moral grounds are shifting and we’re starting to see with Holden the priority in the goal and the mission as opposed to the overall ethical structure of everything that is going on. It’s becoming less about what’s right and wrong and more about how do we get this done?”
Strait notes that there are positives and negatives to playing this new Holden 2.0. “It’s a fascinating thing to play with him because he is so idealistic and so black and white when you meet him, and watching that construct in his mind slowly crumble as the real world keeps eroding is, for me, the most fun piece about playing him. It’s the most interesting piece for sure. He’s becoming more Millery and his being more jaded. For me, as an audience member watching him, it’s like I’m trusting that he’s more competent. But it’s also a little sad because it was one piece that I really fell in love with playing Holden reading the books. And as that starts to change in him, the purity is starting to get tainted a bit. So like everything on this show, there’s multiple ways that each decision affects people personally and then the overarching structure, which is the way things really happen.”
With only four episodes left in season 2 — the show was recently renewed for season 3 — we asked Strait what we can expect coming up. “Big stuff,” he says while smiling. “One of the wonderful things about this show is it hits you with something huge and it always has something left over. For anyone who’s read the books, they know the story develops in vastly different and interesting ways that I certainly didn’t see coming when I was reading them. So there’s big stuff happening on Ganymede and this episode also establishes that there is something going on Venus as well. And all of these little tidbits are going to start to grow and there’s climatic and amazing stuff ahead. I don’t think folks at home will be disappointed.”
Listen to the entire interview — in which Strait talks about the show’s renewal, why he loved the scenes between Bobbie Draper and Avasarala, and a lot more — above (along with interviews with The Walking Dead’s Christian Serratos and Survivor’s Malcolm Freberg. Or subscribe on iTunes to listen on the go. And for more EW Morning Live podcast news, follow us on Twitter @EWMLPodcast.