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Virtual Environments Worked Well For ‘Virtuality’ Actors

Clea Duvall and Sienna Guillory talk green screens, gay characters and the environment

Green screens can sometimes be loathed by actors, but not Sienna Guillory.

The actress, who plays Rika Goddard on “Virtuality” airing this Friday on Fox, said that while a lot of her work took place in front of the screens, she enjoyed the challenge.

“I think in a way, when you’re working with green screens, it’s hugely enabling,” Guillory told reporters at a news conference that included Airlock Alpha. “It’s the same thing — the whole thing that [executive producer] Ron Moore came up with. In ‘Virtuality,’ he gives us a life with no limitations, so you have to use that green screen as a plus. The fact that there’s nothing there to limit your imagination or to limit where you see yourself or how you see the scene unfolding can be a helpful thing, so you just imagine it exactly the way you want it to be, rather than kind of being held back by the physical limitations of a set.”

Guillory is part of an ensemble cast that gathered to bring “Virtuality” to life. Set in the not-so-far future, a group of astronauts are on a 10-year mission to the nearest star — a trip that becomes even more important when Earth faces some ecological challenges and finding something suitable for life has become more important. Since each step of the way is being documented in a sort of reality show that is being sent back to Earth, the crew tend to find escape in a virtual reality module. Sadly, however, even their fantasies can go haywire.

The telemovie is meant to be a backdoor pilot for a potential series, but the two hours shown tonight goes deep in a number of story threads that doesn’t really allow an opportunity to look away before a commercial.

“I think that the creative imaginative genius that is Ron Moore and [executive producer] Mike Taylor, they’re so infectiously enthusiastic,” Guillory said. “They assumed that the audience was intelligent and demanding, which made us as an ensemble want to rise up and meet the challenge. So in those moments when we’re actually filming, we’re on set, they lent us that bravery, and they allowed us to inhabit the roles and just let rip with whatever stupid idea came into our minds.”

Clea Duvall, who plays pilot Sue Parsons, is no stranger of Moore, known to many genre fans for his work on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” as well as showrunning “Battlestar Galactica.” The two, however, worked on the short-lived HBO series “Carnivale,” and Duvall said she was excited to be working with Moore again.

At the same time, Duvall said she likes how Moore is not afraid to tackle sensitive subjects, and present style of characters that are not commonplace in other shows, if they exist at all. That includes characters who are wheelchair bound as well as a married gay couple.

“It’s all presentation,” Duvall said. “If you present something like it’s totally normal, people will see it as totally normal. If you present it as it’s something really bad, people will see it as really bad. And I think the media has a big responsibility in that, because they do shape the way people see things.”

But it’s not just characters. It’s the world around us that needs addressing as well, Duvall said.

“I think that the environment has been such a big issue, and I think people are taking more responsibility now, and hopefully the people that are going to see this and realize that, yes, this is a fictionalized show, but dealing with a very real possibility – probability,” she said. “And hopefully it will get more people to recycle or carpool or ride their bikes or whatever little steps we can do to reverse or at least slow down the damage that we have done and are doing.”

It seems that only ratings will determine if Fox will allow “Virtuality” to continue past the telemovie and delve deeper into the crew that makes up the Phaeton. Duvall said she’d like to know more about the characters as well.

“There were little bits and pieces that were given [about the characters] because I think we all had the hopes that it would continue,” Duvall said. “But they, Michael and Ron, didn’t really give away much. I think that we were all under such pressure to just do what we were doing, and thinking into the future was overwhelming at times. But there’s definitely a lot more to the story that, fingers crossed, we may be able to tell.”

“Virtuality” airs Friday beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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