Playing a robot on Almost Human is actually harder than you may think.
The new Fox serie, set in the not-too-distant future, features police officers who are partnered with androids. Most of the androids are part of the MX line of robots that are driven by statistics and mathematical configuration. In other words, they have no soul, but they still look human, which creates an interesting process for the handful of actors who portray them. Among those actors is Darren E. Scott, who played John Kennex's (Karl Urban) original partner and several other iterations.
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"There was a lot of talk in the beginning about our physical mannerisms and how we were supposed to play the character when we were on camera," Scott tells TVGuide.com. "We just came to the conclusion that physical-wise they move like human beings, but mentality-wise, they're not as human as human beings should be. They're a little more robotic because we're programmed specifically to base our decisions on analytics, logistics and statistics. It's more like a robotic version."
Unlike the MXs, the DRN model — such as Michael Ealy's Dorian — has what they call a "synthetic soul" program, which makes him more human sometimes than Kennex. "[Executive producer J.H Wyman] was very adamant. He was like, 'I don't want to see a robot. I want you to be human,'" Ealy says. "The key is to be as human as possible. As an actor, I have to throw some mechanical beats in there to remind myself sometimes that he is almost human. It's not perfect."
"People thinks it's a lot easier than it look," Scott adds. "People think you just walk there all robotic and talk like this, but from an actor's standpoint, we have to still bring the emotional content and preparation to the character, but when the delivery comes, it has to be very static. It's challenging."
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Besides holding poses for long periods of time to create the illusion of being a robot, the most difficult part of the process is going through makeup. "The initial makeup test was a long process," Scott says. "Generally they plan for about two hours, but because of some trial and error, they were experimenting with different things. So, for me personally, it ended up being four hours. Now, the process when we come in every day takes about 20 to 30 minutes tops."
But for Ealy, it can sometimes go on for much longer. "I spend an hour in hair and makeup," he says. "I've never done that before. It is the hardest thing to sit there because there are times where I have to do prosthetic pieces."
Still, Ealy has no qualms about the extra work that goes into his Almost Human role. "Playing that line between man and machine is what makes the job fun to be honest with you," Ealy says. "It's going to be hard for me to do my next job where I'm just human because I'm going to be bored. For right now, I'm having a lot of fun with this guy."
Almost Human airs Mondays at 8/7c on Fox.