UPDATE: ‘Past’ Its Prime … Fox has canceled ‘Past Life’ after just three episodes and has pulled the remaining episodes from its schedule to ‘burn off’ at another time. The crime drama had just 3.49 million viewers upon its last airing on Feb. 18.
The new Fox drama ‘Past Life‘ premieres Tuesday night at 9pm ET with a special sneak peek after ‘American Idol,’ before settling into its regular timeslot Thursdays at 9pm ET. The series focuses on an unlikely duo of detectives who investigate whether what is happening to you today is the result of who you were before. Kelli Giddish as Dr. Kate McGinn and Nicholas Bishop as Price Whatley could not be more different. Kate is a true believer who believes there are levels of consciousness and explanations for human behavior that science can’t begin to explain. Price on the other hand, is a damaged soul who constantly battles guilt over the accidental death of his wife. Price feels that Kate operates on a questionable scientific level. (Hmm, a believer and a skeptic, ‘The X-Files‘ anyone?) Fancast visited the Atlanta set of the series to get the lowdown on these unique characters, what kind of research they did, and if those Mully-Sculder comparisons hold up.
How did you come to this project?
Giddish: Pilot season is crazy, where you’re getting five scripts every day to read, and you pick the ones that you want to go in for. I was in New York and read the ‘Past Life’ script, and loved, loved, loved the character of Kate. I thought it was a really interesting premise, so I came in and did it and they loved it. They flew me down to Baltimore and I tested, and then they flew me out to LA and I tested with Nick and that was it.
Bishop: My agent in Australia sent me the script and said it was for an American pilot. I’ve auditioned for a few pilots over the years. I’ve gotten close to a couple of them, but it never actually happened. At that time it was called “The Reincarnationist Project.” I put the audition on tape in Sydney, and then they sent the tape to Warner Brothers, and Warner Brothers flew me over and then the rest is history.
What drives your character?
Giddish: Kate is a Texas girl, drives a big truck (even in Manhattan). I think we’ll find out as the season unfolds, what personal experiences really caught her and grabbed her and made her a believer in reincarnation and the possibility of all these things that could happen. She’s in New York now and has a great mentor in Malachi (played by Richard Schiff). She’s an intuitive, pretty inventive, empathetic person. The thing is what’s so special about what the writers have written from her, is just “trust me”. You don’t have to believe in the reincarnation, just come and try my method for a second. I really connect with that. I don’t not believe in reincarnation – I’m not a full believer in it and I’m not saying that’s exactly what’s going on, but I think there are people out there that use it as a therapeutic tool. You have these lives and these dream things that are going on. Whatever’s going on in that reflects something on what’s going on in your life right then. It’s just another way to think about what you need, what you want, maybe what you need to stop doing. It’s another way to confront your issues.
Bishop: Price was an NYPD homicide detective for about 12 years. How this comes about is that his wife passes away before the series starts. She dies and he feels very responsible and guilty for that. He then is at a bit of a loose end, drinking too much, turning up for work late. So he gets fired from the force. He had a good reputation though, so Kate gets in contact with him and asks if he wants to come on board because she knows she needs someone to do the investigative work, to work with homicide. He doesn’t have a lot of direction in his life at that point, so he thinks why not? He basically becomes a PI, and starts working for the group.
Will X-FIles fans like this show?
Giddish: I never watched the X-Files, but then I certainly did once I booked this show. I went out and got the first season – which was so funny. You see when they first started that show – the dynamic is a little like that. I think people that enjoyed that show will definitely enjoy this show. You have a believer, and you have a cynic. It’s a great pairing. I think what Nick and I bring to it, it’s going to be really fresh and new, and is going to go in a really cool direction.
Bishop: It’s very much got that feel – he sees things in black and white, and she sees the gray areas. That’s a really great relationship to keep nurturing, it’s a lot of fun. Price feels very much out of place at the Talmedge Center, he’s used to working at a police station. This is all very new to him, these people deal with theories and methods that he’s never used before. He’s definitely the odd man out. He’s not a quitter though, he’s not going to turn up and not do the job.
What kind of research did you do for the role?
Giddish: I did a regression. I went and found this woman in Manhattan and was like “yeah I’m gonna do it.” I went to see her, and to see what kind of person she was. How does she believe in this and why? What’s her office like? What’s she going to do to me? And it was amazing, she’s not a kook. I had a great conversation with her – she hypnotized me. I came out of the experience feeling that she was the stenographer for my dreams. She kinda leads you. But at the end of it she asked, “How long do you think you were under?” And I said a half hour or so right? And she said “an hour and twenty minutes.” It was great. I went through dreams, and maybe past lives, who knows? I did come out of her office feeling a lot more open-eyed and curious. Who knows? It’s fun to think about. Doing a TV show about this, it’s like the ultimate playground because the audience is going to come with us on this great ride saying “what if”? What if reincarnation really does exist? And you get to play for a whole season.
Bishop: To be honest, as an actor I usually do a lot of research for my characters. I think it’s a fundamental part of the work, but I didn’t go and do any research on past life regression therapy because my character has to come to this totally innocent and ignorant to it all. It didn’t make sense for me to go and research it. I thought I’d just like to come in and be baffled by all this stuff they talk about. But I played a detective before back home, so I’ve done a fair amount of research on the inner workings of how cops operate. I’m going to do a drive-around with a detective here in Atlanta. Those things give you good perspective.
What will be the format of the episodes?
Giddish: I don’t think it has to be a crime every week, but there’s different worlds that are going to show up in every episode. There’s two distinct worlds – Kate and what’s her story with her mom, and then the group and what’s going on withMalachi. And then we get to have a guest star on every week – which is awesome. More than half. This is their show, when they come onto our set. It’s a movie about them. We’re going to get some really great people in here. You’ve got the regressions- all the time and space and location to go with that. Maybe the first couple are crimes, but I’m sure that’s going to open up. It’s about unraveling a mystery.