A Cocktail Convo with Mark-Paul Gosselaar

Mark-Paul Gosselaar doesn’t want to alarm anyone, but he started out our interview with this: “There could be a vampire apocalypse in our future.”

Turns out, he’s right. The Vampire Apocalypse arrives tonight at 9PM, courtesy of FOX. “It looks like it’s headed that way. If we don’t find the cure to this pandemic that’s about to reach the shores of our country.”

Mark is starring in the new show The Passage. A drug-resistant global pandemic threatens humanity. But so does a potential cure. Doctors are taking what can generously be called moral shortcuts to get a solution. A drug appears to make everyone immune to everything.  There is just one small side-effect: it turns patients into Virals, aka vampires.

Saved By The Book

The show is based off Justin Cronin’s YA novel of the same name. And that’s what helped get MP on board. “Which in interesting in our show. We stay very close to the books, Liz Heldens did an amazing job writing the adaptation.”

The adaptation is where things get tricky and, often go off the rails. It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially on a series predicated on bad decisions being compounded by worse decisions. But Mark assures us that won’t happen here. “What she’s done is she’s sort of filled in the backstory. And what you’ll see from the backstories, specifically with our characters and some of the scientists that are trying to find this cure is that yeah you’re right, they make some really bad decisions. But through the back story we’ll come to learn why they make these decisions. And I think that’s what’s gonna separate our show from other genres. At the core of it, it’s a character driven piece that I think audiences will enjoy.”

Über-producer and director Ridley Scott saw the potential of this early on. He snapped up the rights to The Passage years ago. But like so many things in Hollywood, it takes time to develop and get studios and actors on board. “I don’t know if people are aware, but we’re also produced by Matt Reeves. You said sink my teeth and we’re a vampire show. Fans of their films can understand this sort of scope and magnitude that we’re trying to produce on broadcast. It’s a pretty ambitious project I think people will enjoy.”

This Bites

Vampires have had quite the renaissance over the past decade or so. From Twilight to Vampire Diaries, we’ve been inundated with hot, blood thirsty immortals.

That is not the case here. “I’m glad you brought that up. These are actually humans that have been converted into these vampire-like beings. We call them Virals.”

These vampire babies aren’t looking for love in a sea of mortality.  They’re looking to feed. “It’s based on the vampire myth. So yes they do drink blood. They have reaction to sun. They’re fast, they’re uber-predators. They’re killers. They’re indiscriminate. They’re super terrifying, and it’s gonna be fun to see this version of a vampire on our show.”

Age Is Just A Number

The answer, the scientists hope, is to put the cure in someone too young to experience the vampire side-effects. So Mark’s job is to deliver a young girl to experiment on, played by Saniyya Sidney.

There’s an old saying in entertainment, never work with animals or kids. But in this case, Mark’s leading lady is a young girl. Saniyya was just ten when she was cast.  But since Mark-Paul was a child star himself, we wondered if she leaned on him for guidance. “Absolutely none. I mean she’s an amazing individual.”

Turns out, the kid’s already got the skills that pay the bills. “She’s such a brilliant talent. There’s really nothing you can add to someone like that. I was along for the ride and just proud to be her partner on film.”

“What you see in the pilot episode and beyond, I think people will be where is she from? She’s an amazing talent.”

A Survivor’s Guide

Now that the MPG has spent months immersed in vampire survival, we had to finish up the interview by getting some tips on how to survive the Vampire Apocalypse. Turns out, it’s pretty simple, as long as you can sleep with the lights on. “Stay out of dark places. Stay in light. You can’t outrun ’em. So I guess just have bright lights. Go to water. They don’t like water either.”

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

A Bloody Mary. Come on, it’s a Vampire show! What else are we gonna drink?


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