Showrunner Naren Shankar spills scoop on both the character and the actress playing her
The adaptation of James S.A. Corey’s book series about an interstellar battle over control of an ancient alien bio-weapon will return for season 2 in 2017 on Syfy with a fan-favorite making the leap from page to screen. Martian marine Roberta “Bobbie” Draper will be joining the fray, and we’ve got your first look at The Expanse character right here with three exclusive photos.
New Zealand actress and boxer Frankie Adams will be playing the part of Bobbie, and her 6-foot-frame and Samoan heritage certainly did not hurt her ability to land the part. Expanse showrunner Naren Shankar shared some intel on bringing Bobbie to screen, as well as teasing another Caliban’s War character that will be appearing at some point.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Fans of the Expanse books are really excited to see Bobbie Draper onscreen. Tell me about how you found actress Frankie Adams to help bring Bobbie to life.
NAREN SHANKAR: When you ask a casting director to find a 6-foot half-Polynesian, the response is usually one of stunned silence, like, ‘Really?’ And we were like, ‘Yeah, really.’ We’ve been very conscious about maintaining the ethnic identity of the characters in the book as much as humanly possible. And we were really intent on doing that with Bobbie.
We actually looked in the U.K., Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Hawaii, and New Zealand. And when [co-author] Ty Franck saw the first casting tape on her, he said, “That’s her, that’s her,” right away. She’s a professional boxer, as well as being a model and so she had the physicality and a very interesting, unusual kind of face you rarely see on television. She’s awesome and we couldn’t be more delighted to have her on the show.
How quickly until we meet her, because there’s still a good third of the first book to get through? She shows up in the second book, but I know you guys do move things around a lot. So, how soon until we meet Bobbie onscreen?
You will meet her in the first three seconds of the show. She’s in the opener. We do pull things forward in the book, we’ve pulled things out of the novella, a lot of rearrangement of certain elements, but while respecting the overall plot framework of those books. We pulled her up. But with Bobbie — you know what happens at the very beginning of Caliban’s War — and while there was a ton of world building there in Season 1, the one thing that we weren’t really able to get into was a true Martian perspective on the events that are going on in the world.
We had those two episodes with the capture of Lopez and the Donnager, which gives you kind of a window into it, but we didn’t really spend much time with the Martians and how they felt about Earth and felt about the Belt. And so, what we are doing in Season 2 is giving a different view into the events of the story.
So, we start with Bobbie at her team in episode 1. And we get to spend time with them before the events on Ganymede and the beginning of Caliban’s War. So, what it allowed us to do is build characters, build the team camaraderie, build all of that Martian perspective that we had to pull back in Season 1 and bring that front and center into season 2. That helps us frame the Earth, the Belt, and Mars. That really is the tripod on which we’ll see them stand.
Are we also going to be meeting any other characters from the second book, like Prax?
Absolutely. I’m not going to tell you exactly when in Season 2 we’ll see him, but yeah, for sure. Because we’re moving right into the events of Caliban. And I think that one of the things we’ve adjusted, as a series, is when Ty and [Daniel Abraham] wrote Leviathan Wakes, they didn’t know if there was going to be a second book or not. So, when they wrote Caliban’s War, the events of that are set about a year-and-a-half or so after the end of Leviathan. We kind of went for dramatic compression and tension. We put all that together. So, it’s happening in a more compressed time framework, but we feel like it has actually helped up the stakes and helped up the drama pretty substantially.
Check out the first three exclusive images of Adams as Bobbie above, and for more Expanse news coming soon, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.