We had the opportunity to speak with the cast and producing team of AMC’s Humans this past weekend at New York Comic-Con. Fans will have a chance to meet Sam Padallio’s Ed Hawkins and reconnect with Tom Goodman-Hill’s Joe when the show returns in February 2017. But until then, here’s a sneak peek of what we can expect from their characters in the upcoming season.
What can you guys tell us about what your characters have going on in season two?
Tom: “Joe is trying desperately to save his marriage and also is trying to work through the children’s welfare. The impact of the synth family coming into the family life means that they’ve decided they’re going to move house and try to make a fresh start, try and just live without a synth for a bit, but that’s out of their control, so very quickly they come back into that life, mainly because Mattie has not lost touch, so everything kicks off straight away again, but Joe is really kicking against it. He’s kicking against it at work as well and just is desperate to try and claw back some semblance of what he sees as the normal/standard family life. The fact is, a life with synths is a normal life now and he’s just struggling to come to terms with that.”
Sam: “For me, I play a character called Ed Hawkins who is…”
Tom: “No you don’t.” (laughs)
Sam: “Ed is a young guy struggling to run the family business that’s been left and he runs this little beachside café so the scenery is a nice departure from some of the urban landscapes we’ve seen in the first season. We have a bit of countryside and fresh air. Ed is looking after his very sick mother and trying to keep his business afloat, so he’s struggling with it. Because of that, he hires Anita to come and work at the café and help him balance life and so he…it’s really one of his first interactions with a synth. It’s just a very interesting dynamic. He treats her as a human since he’s a bit of an awkward funny guy, so he ends up cracking a joke or two that he realizes doesn’t land. It’s quite nice the way he…he doesn’t really see her as a machine, as a servant. He has an empathy with her from the beginning. It’s a really cool dynamic. She’s sort of hiding in plain sight again and we’ll see where that takes the two of them.”
Do you have any favorite jokes from the first season? I know you have a lot of dad jokes.
Tom: “Yeah. We love dad jokes. From the first season? What was it? It was Anita with…I can’t remember…what are you doing for dinner? Hopefully, it’s microchips. I think that one was…it was really bad. It was really bad. They’re not a strong point. That’s… I don’t know if I can think of one now. That’s terrible, because Season two is a lot darker. We’ve been going a different way. Less comedy.”
Sam: “But a little more fun as well. There’s a couple of moments. Ed works in a town. He runs a café, but he also restores furniture, and he’s a bit more of a physical guy, so he hasn’t really interacted with synths over this period. It’s more of a family trait to get everything done by himself, but there’s a few moments where Ed’s quite excited by this chair leg he’s restored and takes it to Mia and…” what do you think? Check out my wood.” There’s a few moments of…he realizes that… “feel this! Feel this chair leg,” which obviously doesn’t…it sort of lands with Mia but I think he’s an idiot.”
Are those purely from the script?
Sam: “That actually was in the script.”
So we know that Joe is trying to save his marriage and all that, but what’s the state of the children right now with everything they’ve gone through over the end of the season?
Tom: “So Mattie, of course, is practically an adult in the first season anyway, so this season she’s now at university, and she’s struggling, not because she’s not clever enough, but because she’s kind of too clever, knows too much…her knowledge of IT is so strong and she’s struggling to fit in. She’s ahead of the game. She’s learned so much from Leo that she can’t really cope with all that and she just wants to be back in touch with the conscious synths. But she’s her own boss, so there’s nothing really that Joe and Laura can do about that.
What they have done is move, so they’ve got a big enough house for her to stay at home for that first year at uni just to try and keep an eye on her. Sophie is very much a little girl, but the impact on her has been huge, she misses Mia so much. I think we saw at the end of Season one, even after Anita leaves, right at the end you see how it does sting and she makes little jokes like, “Mum, I’m sorry. Mum, I don’t understand the question.” It’s just a little side moment at the end of the first series, but that’s where it picks up in the second.
Sophie is really struggling to cope without Anita being there. She loves the order of that life, so she wants more of that. In the middle is Toby, who’s probably having the hardest time of all. He’s right in the middle of his adolescence, which is hard enough as it is. He’s trying to make friends at the new school, and he meets a girl at a new school, and she’s a very troubled girl, and I don’t want to tell you anything else about that. It’s all very synth-related. They’ve all got issues related to the synths and Joe is trying so hard to extract them from that world and if anything, he’s pushing them further in. It’s a really tough time for Joe because he’s trying to be a good dad, full-time dad, and it’s harder than he ever thought, basically.”
Joe was a little tough to like at the end of Season one. Do you think it will be easier or harder to like him in Season two?
Tom: “I don’t know what you mean. (laughs) He’s the nicest guy in the whole show. He didn’t do anything.”
Tom: “He didn’t anything wrong. He was just using his new device to have the most capability! Yeah, he’s tough to like, very hard to get over and obviously, that’s the main sticking point between Joe and Laura, the whole issue with Anita/Mia. There is a nicer Joe this time. He genuinely does want to make it all work. He’s appropriately remorseful. He now understands what he’s done is wrong but at the back of his mind is still this feeling that she was just a toaster. He can’t escape. He’s against his own instincts.
He is really, really struggling to face a life in which there aren’t always going to be synths around and that just impacts massively on his relationship because Laura is rightly concerned with their welfare. It’s always going to be a problem. He does see…he does his best and he really is a stay at home dad now, for reasons you’ll find out. He really is doing his best. He really pulls the strings for it. I think he’s more likable.”
I feel like Joe was in a little box of reality, like “This is what something is and it can’t be more than this thing.” That was keeping him from making better choices. Will that continue to happen or do you think when he has to make tough choices this season he’ll be in favor of the synths, will he be able to do that in this upcoming season?
Tom: “Well, you’re going to find out. I can’t really say. If I say, I blow it. (laughs)”
We won’t tell anyone!
Tom: “But of course, that’s where this season is going. This season is about the humanity of the synths and the synthetic in the human, so it’s just taking that…where the first season was all about the humans’ influence on the synths, this is all about the way the synths have shaped human behavior and how that just continues to happen, and they become more integrated whether they like it or not. Some people struggle more than others with that.”
It seems like Ed is almost the opposite here, where you’re struggling with not seeing Mia as just a toaster. Is it like that or is it just … How is your character handling that?
Sam: “It’s interesting. Having not had much experience with synths, it’s…Ed’s mother is gravely ill, and so Mia is there as almost a support network. He’s a lonely guy. He doesn’t have many friends and so having a presence with him continually is a comfort, so he’s able to open up to her when he thinks that she is just a machine. He’s able to share some personal things with her, and I don’t know how to talk about it without spoiling it.”
Tom: “I know! (laughs) I can see you struggling with it.”
Sam: “How do I talk about…? His relationship with the synths is not like a lot of other people’s. He has a close friend in the show who is very anti, who is very pro-human, so he’s trying to decide where he stands. I think having a lot of interaction with Mia, his opinion forms throughout the season. That’s about as much as I can say. It’s tricky, isn’t it?”
Tom: “It really is, because the spoilers kick in in the first two episodes, really, and it’s really hard.”
I wanted to hear about something you said about Joe being very…just a toaster, and being anti-synth, but all of a sudden, that thing in the first two episodes of Season one, it felt like Joe was trying to replace his wife…he was trying to deny it, but it does feel like that’s what it was…
Tom: “At the start of Season one, he’s the one going, “We’re going to get a synth. This is going to make life easier. It’ll repair my marriage. They’ll be able to do all the work. I’ll have more time with my wife. The kids will have much more time to do their work, and we can do family things together.” He went into that eyes wide shut because he just didn’t understand what the impact of that was going to be. He was too naïve, and that’s Joe through and through. He makes impulsive decisions and realizes he hadn’t thought about it in the opposite situation. That’s absolutely the case, and now he’s furiously back that up. He literally wants to live in a community without synths, and it’s impossible.”
Can you tell us if Leo’s design will have an influence on your morals, on Ed’s morals, seeing that his Mom is ill and Leo was ill?
Sam: “The storyline takes place in a bit more of a…removed from some of the other characters within the show. At the point where we first meet him, he’s in his own little microcosm really, so there isn’t an interaction or a knowledge of the vast world and of what’s going on. He’s very much just trying to make ends meet and trying to survive. It’s an interesting thought further down the line, but when you first meet him, it’s not in his mind.”
Do you think that if Laura were to become an advocate for synth rights, if you could ever be supportive of her then? (via @dmarie84)
Tom: “You just asked the biggest spoiler filled question (laughs). If you were going to sum the theories up in one question, you just did it. I literally can’t open my mouth about it without being shot by my producers. You’ll find out.”