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Eyal Podell Talks About New ABC Series 'Defying Gravity'

July 31st, 2009 1:13pm EDT | Eric Stromsvold By: Eric Stromsvold
Defying GravityEyal Podell recently sat down with us to discuss ABC's new drama, Defying Gravity. (Two hour Premiere Sunday @ 9PM ET) Television audiences might recognize Podell as being government spook, Ryan Burnett, on 24, or the beau-hunk teacher, Arian Korbel, on The Young And The Restless. Podell's in depth interview reveals that Defying Gravity is much more than just 'Grey's Anatomy in space.'

Starpulse: Eyal, you're on the new ABC series Defying Gravity. Can you tell us more about the show?

Eyal: Absolutely! It's about the mission, which includes eight people on a space shuttle that travels around our solar system. Six planets in six years. We call it affectionately, science fact. A lot of what we're doing is based on research and the general direction that NASA and other space programs are going based on technology that's available today. Nanotechnology takes that a step further; zenon engines are out there and they're using the propel satellites, take that a step further and, you know, that's how we're buzzing around the solar system in six years. Aside from that, it also follows the lives of about four or five people down in mission control, and how they interact while we're on the ship.

SP: Right.

Eyal: It also flashes back to when the eight astronauts and a few other characters from mission control all met during the astronaut selection program and our mission training. So, the storyline takes place between two timelines.

SP: Okay, and what is the mission of the crew? What are they going to the six planets for?

Eyal: Well, it's a scientific adventure. Looking for life; looking for signs of life. Much like what we send our satellites [up] to do today. The hero character played by Ron Livingston (Office Space, Sex And The City) affectionately says something during the premiere episode to discuss that human beings are capable of certain things that probes just aren't, and to that end, human beings belong in space.

SP: And you play Dr. Evram Mintz, can you tell us about your character?

Eyal: Evram Mintz is [the] on-board medical officer as well a psychiatrist. Six years in a tin can hurling through space with only eight people, four men and four women, starts to wear on people's nerves and relations. I mean, the ship is half a mile long, so it's enough space to get away if you want to, but at the same time, a lot of the issues of loneliness and isolation, as well as, a profound impact of some of our discoveries [come up]. So as the on-board psychiatrist it's my job also to look after the mental health of the crew as well as the physical.

Defying Gravity

Image © ABC

SP: You said the show takes place in two different time lines. Is it at all anything like Lost in that there's this deep underlying mystery in the show?

Eyal: There's definitely a deeper storyline. I feel like ABC has definitely been pushing this show, "from the producers of Grey's Anatomy." There is a strong relationship drama component to the show, but yes, you're absolutely right, there is a strong mystery behind the show as well. The true nature of our mission will be revealed throughout the first season. It's not exactly what the crew thinks they're up there to do.

SP: Did you or any of the members of the cast get to go up in the NASA special jet where you get zero gravity?

Eyal: They call that the vomit-comet.

SP: The vomit-comet! Did you get to go on that?

Eyal: No, we did not, but the producers went down to NASA. They spent a bunch of time talking with NASA; and I think NASA would have endorsed the show had they not had a little trepidation of the sort of, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives pedigree of the producers. They felt like, okay, well, we don't want our [space] program to be turned into a sex romp. And I can guarantee that's not exactly what it is. There are relationships but it's not like sex left and right. It's more psychological and nuanced. It's very well written and very human.

SP: As you mentioned before, people are referring to Defying Gravity as a Grey's Anatomy in space. How would you describe it in a nutshell?

Eyal: I think it is 'Grey's Anatomy' meets 'Lost' in space.

SP: That sounds much better and more interesting that just Grey's Anatomy in space.

Eyal: Yes. I think that what's really interesting about the show, what appealed to a lot of the cast members was how it's kind of genre-bending.

SP: How so?

Eyal: It's science-fiction to the extent that I refer to it as science-fact. It's set in the future and we're doing things that we're not really capable of doing today, but they're not so far out of reach that they're implausible, and then it's a little soap [opera] relationship drama. I think it really has the power to appeal to a really wide audience because it's not heavy handed on either end of the spectrum. It's not super heavy on the sci-fi. There is definitely mythology and there's definitely romance. So, I think there's something for everybody, and it strikes a really good balance.



SP: Before we go, are there any last things you feel the world should know about Defying Gravity?

Eyal: I think it's going to surprise a lot of people if they tune in. It's a really, really compelling show. There's a deep mystery without sounding too obtuse but I can't reveal too much, and I think there's a compelling storyline that maybe even would challenge the world view of a lot of people.

Eric Stromsvold
Story by Eric Stromsvold

Starpulse contributing writer

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