‘The Passage’ – Henry Ian Cusick and Jamie McShane Interview on Fox’s New Thriller

Fox’s new dramatic series The Passage, based on the best-selling book series by Justin Cronin, is set to premiere on January 14, 2019. The sci-fi thriller involves the unexpected consequences of the hunt for a cure for humanity’s most deadly diseases.

The cast of Fox’s The Passage season one features Henry Ian Cusick, Jamie McShane, Saniyya Sidney, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Caroline Chikezie, Vincent Piazza, Brianne Howey, McKinley Belcher III, and Emmanuelle Chriqui also star in the series’ first season.

Paired up for roundtable interviews at the San Diego Comic Con, The Passage stars Henry Ian Cusick (The 100) and Jamie McShane (Bosch) provided a little insight into their characters and the plot.

Can you describe your characters?

Jamie McShane: “I play Dr. Tim Fanning. I am a scientist who becomes a neurologist. I went to Harvard with my buddy here.”

Henry Ian Cusick: “I play Dr. Jonas Lear who is a microbiologist and we’ve known each other for a long time. We were best friends. We share a lot in common.”

Jamie McShane: “A lot. He has this expedition to find a cure for a various diseases, and we find that there’s a strain of a virus down in Bolivia which seems to be prolonging people’s lives and they’re being able to fight diseases and all. So, he enlists me to join him down there and it goes very awry. It messes me up first.”

Henry Ian Cusick: “He becomes the viral. He becomes Patient Zero. We take him back to Project NOAH and we do tests on him. The virus that he has is resistant to AIDS, cancer, Ebola – everything you can think of – so we’re trying to figure out how we can use that for good. But we’re heavily funded by a military department who want to use it for other reasons. That’s our side of the story.

We’re getting hit at the same time by an avian-type flu coming into America that’s going to wipe out half the population in 12 hours if we don’t get a cure. And then we decide to get this cure we need to get…because we use test subjects who are convicts from jail on death row…we decide to get a young girl.”

Jamie McShane: “Because the younger the convicts have been, the better it’s worked on them, the less they’ve transformed into virals. So, they decide to get a young girl.”

Henry Ian Cusick: “We need a young girl, a young kid, and we choose Amy Belafonte.”

The Passage star Henry Ian Cusick
Henry Ian Cusick in ‘The Passage’ (Photo by Eliza Morse © 2019 FOX Broadcasting)

How does your character come to terms with choosing a child and doing experiments on prisoners? Is he okay with that?

Jamie McShane: “That’s a great question.”

Henry Ian Cusick: “That’s the part of the character that I like doing. You know, here’s a man who went out with all the best intentions in the world to find a cure for all these awful ills that the world has, loses his best friend, loses his wife, comes back and he just works and works and works. He’s sort of in that unit the whole time and doesn’t leave. You’re going to seem him in that, working the whole time. And, then he gets to the point where, ‘I need to work on a child.’ So, that is the moral dilemma and that’s when it becomes interesting for an actor.”

How does The Passage compare to The 100 in terms of horror and scariness?

Henry Ian Cusick: “So, The 100 is a lot more in your face and blood splattering on the screen – not to say that The Passage won’t. […] I think it’s a lot more psychological and there’s a lot more heartwarming stories and a lot more about relationships rather than just, ‘Let’s all fight.’ I’m not saying The 100 is that. Obviously, The 100 has all that, but it’s not going to be as hardcore I don’t think. I could be totally wrong though.”

From what you’ve described it doesn’t seem like your character gets into the “heartwarming” storyline.

Henry Ian Cusick: “I don’t know yet.”

Jamie McShane: “I think he’s in a lot of the heartbreaking with things that happen. Like he said, he lost his best friend, his wife is dying and he loses her. He’s pretty much responsible for all the things that happen in these three books and the storylines. How do you feel about that?”

Henry Ian Cusick: “Not so good.”

Have you read the books?

Jamie McShane: “Yeah, we have.”

What drew you to the story?

Henry Ian Cusick: “Well, we read them because we got the parts.”

Jamie McShane: “The way Justin writes and crafts the books, in a way you get a little lost but you get to where you’re like, ‘All right, I’m going to trust this in getting lost.’ Because it happened several times for me during the course of the three books, and then it all ties together. Because you’re like, ‘Wait a minute – who are these people? We just jumped in time, how did we get here?’ And then it all ties back so well.

I find it fascinating how when everything does go awry and the world reverts back to a much earlier time – they don’t have the cars, they don’t have electricity as such – how people have to go back and start over again. If you look at the technology we have now what you can do with a camera and Wi-Fi and internet and all that, they have to go back to, ‘There’s a junk of a car. How do we get it to run? How do we get it to move? What is it?’ Having to hunt for your own food again, having to grow your own food. I find it fascinating, that sort of going back in time and such.”

Do we delve much into your backstory and get into the relationship you had that led up to this?

Henry Ian Cusick: “Yes. Absolutely. You’ll see me with a dark beard. Jamie’s hair is down to (his shoulders). All the hippie love power back in the ‘70s.”

Jamie McShane: (Laughing) “He’s lying.”

Henry Ian Cusick: “We’re going way back to the early days of Harvard. I don’t know… We don’t know, but we have a lot of backstory.”

This doesn’t mean you get killed off on The 100 though, right?

Henry Ian Cusick: (Smiling) “I didn’t say that.”

Jamie McShane: “I do not get killed off.”

Henry Ian Cusick: “He definitely does not get killed off.”