Almost Human fans, take heart: Michael Ealy truly is one of us. It’s been about three months since the news came from on high that Fox was canceling the beloved sci-fi show about a human and android buddy-cop team and Ealy—like a lot of us Almost Human fans—is still bitter about it. Even the Emmy nomination Almost Human received for its special and visual effects work hasn’t taken some of the sting out of it.
“Absolutely not,” he said in response to whether the Emmy nod would help alleviate the pain. “Absolutely not. The sting of the show not being on the air, it’s still there,” he said. “It’ll probably always be there because the fans of the show … were, and they still are, some of the most interesting and supportive fans I’ve ever had for any project. Every time I go somewhere, they’re telling me how much they love the show, and they can’t believe it was canceled. We just sit there and commiserate about how we both love the show and what we loved about it. An Emmy nod is more bittersweet than anything, but it doesn’t take the sting out of the show being gone.”
Commiseration was a theme of the conversation, as both of us discussed our love for the show and our irritation at it being tossed aside. “It hurt,” he said. “I won’t lie. It hurt.”
Even still, an Emmy nod is still a feather in Almost Human‘s cap. “Honestly, I’m pretty excited about it,” Ealy said about the nomination. “I was actually asked to participate in the VES Awards, and Almost Human was nominated for one of those. Our visual effects supervisor, Jay Worth—I thought he did an incredible job, episode after episode, [with] world-building … Oftentimes, we’d have to look at something that was blank and know that there’s supposed to be a bunch of stuff up there and scroll through this information. They just made it work—it’s the magic of their job, I guess, because I can’t do it.”
Even though Almost Human isn’t airing new episodes, it’s worth noting that the cancellation hasn’t killed the appeal of the show. Petitions that were created even before the official cancellation was announced are still being signed by fans all over the world. “I know,” Ealy said at the mention of the still-active petitions. “You know, it’s interesting. It’s a testament to what people really want to see, what people enjoyed and how badly they want to keep it going. I marvel at those people who keep pushing the petitions. Obviously, it can’t come from me, so … it’s always interesting to see that people are still fighting for the show. [With] all the hard work that we put into it, I think that’s amazing. I’m very grateful for those people.”
Also, if you go on Tumblr, Twitter, fan-fiction sites like Fanfiction.net or Archive of Our Own, or sites that host fan art such as Deviantart.com, you can see that the show is still inspiring fans to create their own adventures with Dorian and Kennex. But has Ealy seen some of these fan-produced works? “Oh yeah,” he said. I certainly have seen my fair share of fan art and fan fiction, and sometimes, some stars get uncomfortable when discussing a few of the more interesting fan works out there. Ealy was the exact opposite.
“Some of the best drawings, paintings, short films—I mean, I’ve got to be honest—I haven’t seen much of that type of fandom, if you will, from my other projects. So it’s been a bit flattering to see a young kid or a grown adult dress up like Dorian. I think that’s the ultimate form of flattery. Or to see somebody make the time to make a painting—and I’m not talking about drawing on their computer. I’m talking about hand-paint a portrait of Dorian being contemplative or whatever,” he said. “I was blown away by that stuff, and a lot of that stuff I tried to retweet whenever I could. I really wanted the fans to know how much I genuinely appreciate that. I know it takes time to do a painting. I am not good at painting, and I know it takes time to do a painting, so it was great. A lot of the photos that people put together on their computers—I was impressed. That stuff takes time. Some of the pictures the fans came up with, I thought would rival what the network and the studio were producing. It was like, well, maybe this [fan art] should be the poster. They had some very good stuff. I’ll miss that actually. I miss that a lot.”
The surprise was on him when I informed him that people are still creating Almost Human-based fan works and are still meeting in groups on social media to tweet and post about the show. “Wow,” he said. He was more shocked when I told him about an Almost Human Tumblr convention that happened just recently. “Really?” he said before taking a deep sigh. “That’s bittersweet, I’ve got to be honest with you. It’s so bittersweet because we worked hard from start to finish, and we really wanted to achieve something that was going to have this kind of effect on people. The fact that people are still feeling very special about show means we succeeded. That, despite the fact that we were canceled, we as the cast and crew succeeded in doing something different and interesting and fun. I’m very, very proud of that.”
So what was it that attracted Ealy to Almost Human, sending us down this long and winding road of hope and loss and commiseration? Dorian said, “What really drew me to the project was the original script, the pilot episode and the character of Dorian,” he said. “I’ve never played someone who wasn’t human … Just as an actor, you don’t know what that means until you jump into it. For me, it was a big challenge in playing an android that was almost human. That presented its own set of challenges and its own set of … kind of fun quirks that I was able to play with and message and have a good time. It was just an incredible role. These things don’t come around that often; you get an incredible role on an incredible show with an incredible cast and it doesn’t hurt that J.J. Abrams was producing, and you’re just like, all right, this is great!”
Almost Human had also been Ealy’s biggest career introduction to the world of science fiction. You might recall him playing Det. Sebastian in Underworld: Awakening, but that role didn’t offer everything his role in Almost Human did, including the loyal sci-fi fanbase. “I did Underworld prior, and that was just a glimpse [into sci-fi], but I was human in Underworld. I was the only human in Underworld. I didn’t really get the full gauge of what it is to be in a sci-fi/fantasy project,” he said. “But Almost Human presented that opportunity for me and the fanbase that is in that world at Comic-Con and, honestly, cons all around the world—you can’t deny the power of that fanbase. I understand now why there’s so many sci-fi/fantasy-based projects, because these people take it very seriously. They embrace it. They love it. If you treat the material with respect, they will embrace you. That’s what I’ve learned. It was an incredible experience for me to be completely out of my element, but at the same time, I felt like I was really going somewhere with this character of Dorian and I was really excited about the possibilities of where he was going to continue to go.”
Speaking of the fans, interacting with them was one of the highlights of Ealy’s time on Almost Human, as well as exploring the idea of connection. “You know, it was so interesting to tweet back and forth with the fans because the fans picked up on the favorite moments, which were usually in the car, the moments between Karl [Urban] and myself in the car. Those were some of the favorite moments because they were either funny or they were heartfelt,” he said. “They were the times … where these two characters really bonded. We either ribbed each other or we embraced each other or we tried to learn something from each other. Those were some of the best moments, to be honest with you.”
You might be wondering where the van-flipping rates on Ealy’s “memorable moments” list. “Don’t get me wrong; flipping a van and doing some of the cool stuff, the stunts … trust me, it was all very incredible and I had a ball doing it,” he said. “But it was those moments between Karl and myself, and I had a couple with Mackenzie [Crook] in his lab. Those were the moments where two characters connected and it was amazing because to connect with an android is not something we can really understand. But yet, we were doing it on a weekly basis on the show, and to me, that was the core of the show. At its core, it wasn’t so much about the fancy stuff. It was about the connection, so we enjoyed ourselves in that way.”
Urban and Ealy became so cool with one another that one of their on-set pranks resulted in an picture that had fans buzzing. The picture, featuring Ealy and Urban wearing ridiculous afro wigs and shades, was part of a filmed joke that Ealy initially described on Instagram as a “short film.” Of course, the fans immediately wanted to see the video footage. Ealy laughed as I asked about the video. “I got a couple of tweets about that,” he said. “People are dying to see it.”
The “short film” is, in fact, a real take from the set. “I don’t think I was very clear; when I said we’d made a short film, it wasn’t like it was on someone’s camera or anything like that. We started off the scene behind the door and the crew did not know we were coming out like that. So rather than do the take as scripted, we came out in those characters and just did our own take. So it’s probably more of a blooper than a short film, and I’ll take the blame for calling it a short film,” he said, laughing. “It was more of a take that we did [in which] we kind of let go as those two characters … and the crew just gave us a standing ovation and recorded the whole thing. They filmed the whole thing because they thought it was going to be a regular take. They just let the cameras roll while we kept playing. It was one our funner days for sure. We worked really long hours, and any time Karl and I could make the crew laugh, we knew we had something magical. Oftentimes, the crew would laugh, especially with the scenes in the car. The crew would just be laughing, so we always knew we had some magic in there.”
Ealy confirmed that Dorian was one of his favorite characters to play, if not the favorite. I observed that it seemed like more of his personality was embedded in his portrayal of Dorian. “Yeah,” he said. “The creator of the show, Joel Wyman, always told me, ‘I had already seen your work, and you’re a good actor and all, but it was you. It was more about you and who you are as a person that made me want you to be Dorian.’ So that to me was very flattering, especially when the audience responded so positively to Dorian. That was very flattering. There’s definitely a piece of me in every character, and with Dorian, there’s definitely a big piece of me in him too.”
I was particularly interested in how Dorian was written, since it seemed like there were several instances in which Dorian’s real robotic underpinnings showed through his rather human personality. In my recap for “Are You Receiving,” for instance, it’s mentioned that Dorian states a building’s security cameras have been “killed” rather than the more human response of “destroyed.” and in “Blood Brothers,” Rudy tells Dorian, “Thank you, my friend,” a statement repeated by Dorian to Kennex in “The Bends.” Whether ad-libbed or written, Ealy confirmed that all of these instances are meant to paint a much more in-depth picture as to how Dorian works.
“Some of them were scripted; some of them were improvised during the day, just depending on when it happened. One of the things Joel and I talked about in creating Dorian was [that] every day, he picks up patterns, just like a machine, so much faster than a human would pick up patterns. Picking up the lexicon of the cop talk, so to speak … he can pick that up so much faster than a human. He really is like a computer in that way,” he said. “He’s able to pick up on things so much faster, process things so much faster because he is a computer, but at the same time, he’s forever evolving as a droid because he’s picking up on these things so fast. Yes, there were times when certain terminology was used and it was something he picked up from Rudy or from John … or even from the captain, from Lili [Taylor]. It was just great because you could play with that. One of the things I enjoy most about Dorian was being able to observe all the other actors and what they were doing and at some point or another, trying to replicate it, because that’s kind of what you would do if you were a droid. You want to try and be human.”
We’ve also seen Dorian sing some awesome (or awesomely cheesy) songs on Almost Human, such as Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” and Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” If Dorian had a penchant for downloading songs, what would he download? Would it be a specific genre (like ’70s glam or ’80s R&B cheese)?
“That’s a good question,” he said. “I don’t know … I think because he’s Dorian, though, I don’t think he would have had a preference. I think he would have embraced all music for the most part because it represented the humanity he was trying to attain daily. I don’t know if he would have had a preference, but it was sure was fun having those moments … [Those were] some of the most priceless moments of the show, in my opinion.”
Even though Fox has pulled the plug on Almost Human, that doesn’t mean that the show can’t get revived, especially in a television landscape post-Orange Is the New Black, which resides on Netflix. With NBC’s Community and Fox’s Enlisted going to Yahoo, did he think that Almost Human could be picked up as well, if not by Yahoo then by Netflix or any other entity? “There was a time when I would have said, ‘Absolutely not,'” he said. “But in this day and age, in this competitive market, anything is possible … It’s doubtful, but anything is possible.”
Last, how did Ealy feel about his Almost Human fanbase? How did he feel about how they have supported the show and are still fighting to bring it back?
“I would say that the fan support validated my choices as an actor and … the work ethic and the amount of work that went into that character day in and day out. I think the fan support really validates that and all of the cast and crew that worked really hard to make the world of Almost Human look the way it did,” he said. “I’ve never worn more makeup in my life on a project, and I’ve got to thank my makeup artist for putting on so much makeup daily so that I look a little washed out. I mean, that was hard work, you know what I mean? And the special effects makeup team had to add stuff to me, whether it was an ear or a cut in my head or whatever. Everybody worked so hard, you know? … [E]very time the fans tweeted about it or instagrammed something, you just felt validated, like what we’re doing matters. What we’re doing, people care about it. We’re not doing this in vain [and] we’re going to do something special here. Sometimes, something special doesn’t live forever. But it can always be forever as long as the fans keep it going.”
Yes, we fans are sad that Almost Human is gone. But we don’t have to keep weeping sad fountains over its cancellation. Even now, the fans are keeping the show alive by creating new fan-generated adventures for Dorian and Kennex. There’s also still the hope it’ll come back, bigger and better (and possibly more Internet-friendly) than ever. If Ealy, who is currently filming his role in the 2015 thriller The Perfect Guy, still has a space in his heart for Dorian, and if the fandom still has this intensity three months after the cancellation, then there’s still a chance that Dorian hasn’t been truly decommissioned by The Powers that Be. He’s just in stasis in Rudy’s lab, waiting for that new spark of life.
The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!
Kind Of Family TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended The Bradys 1990-: Enormous Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age
Family Pet The Brady Bunch: Tiger The Bradys: Alice Married…With Children: Buck Thirtysomething: Grendel The Flintstones: Dino
Typical Guest Star The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones The Bradys: There’s no room Married…With Children: Sam Kinison Thirtysomething: Carly Simon The Flintstones: Ann Margrock
Expression Of Joy The Brady Bunch: Groovy! The Bradys: Ritual hugging Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.” Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you? The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo
Expression Of Rage
The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…” The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been) Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!” Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?” The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”
Typical Problem The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen. The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed. Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents. Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer. The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.
Typical Solution The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens. The Bradys: Bobby gets married. Married…With Children: They hate him. Thirtysomething: If only we knew… The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.
House Style The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69 The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90 Married…With Children: Roach motel Thirtysomething: Enviable The Flintstones: Suburban cave
Clothing Style The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds The Bradys: Made in the USA Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties The Flintstones: One-piece
Most Annoying Character The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict) The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable) Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious) Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends) The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)
Attitude Toward Sex The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it! Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No. Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident. The Flintstones: Prehistoric
How Spouses Fight The Brady Bunch: They don’t. The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens Married…With Children: Tooth and nail Thirtysomething: They stop talking The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.
How Kids Get Into Trouble The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette. The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair. Married…With Children: By committing felonies Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket. The Flintstones: They don’t.
How They’re Punished
The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.” The Bradys ”Next time, ask.” Married…With Children: By the authorities Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face. The Flintstones: They’re not.
What Family Does For Fun The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon The Bradys: Has flashbacks Married…With Children: Exchanges insults Thirtysomething: Talks The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In
Unsolved Mysteries The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die? The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use? Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other? The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?
Worst Behavior The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.
The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun. Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog. Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it. The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.
Best Reason To Watch The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be. The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now! Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it. Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life. The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.
Best Reason Not To Watch The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses. The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now. Married…With Children: She has a point. Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real. The Flintstones: The Simpsons