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Star Shamier Anderson discusses his buzzy new sci-fi thriller, as an alien assault on Earth plays out from the POV of humans across multiple continents
An aging sheriff in rural Oklahoma. A young Middle Eastern family in Long Island, New York. A communications expert for the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. An American soldier in Afghanistan. While on the surface these people have little in common, their world—the whole world, in fact—is united in chaos when an alien incursion threatens Earth.
Yes, there are some creepy crawlers connecting the characters on this extraterrestrial thriller from X-Men film franchise producer Simon Kinberg and Hunters writer David Weil, but for Canadian actor Shamier Anderson, it was the human aspect of Invasion that piqued his interest. It was the character-driven pieces and the multiple perspectives of individuals going through the same thing, but through their own lens, that I thought was really interesting, says the former Wynonna Earp star. We’ve seen War of the Worlds and shows of that tenor, but this is definitely a fresher, newer perspective of what this story is in today’s time.
Our own, ongoing global crisis has demonstrated that while fighting a common threat, many have never felt more alone. This imagined crisis touches on similar themes. As much as we feel isolated, especially during this pandemic that we’re in, where we all have to socially distance and wear masks and feel a sense of isolation, we’re all connected, says Anderson. I think the show really does a great job showcasing that.
The first half of the inaugural season is spent introducing the viewer to this mysterious planetary shakeup and its impact on the characters. For Sheriff John Bell Tyson (Sam Neill), it’s a wrench in his impending retirement. Mitsuki Yamato (Shioli Kutsuna) is not only struggling with the loss of her partner in a spaceship explosion, but her inability to see it coming and intervene. Aneesha Malik (Golshifteh Farahani), who sacrificed her career as a doctor to stay home with her children, discovers in the middle of this potential apocalypse that her husband Ahmed (Firas Nassar) is cheating on her.
Deep in the Middle Eastern desert, U.S. Navy Seal Trevante Ward (Anderson) at first believes he’s still fighting the same old war when things start to go awry. He is a very complex man who has a very interesting path, Anderson explains. He begins to realize that something is off. Something is happening. He thinks it’s something to do with the opposing forces but discovers that there’s an alien invasion. As we go through the entire series and we start to unveil and unravel more emotions, he gets to really show sides of him that he never thought he had inside.
Ironically, for all the interconnectivity teased on the show, Anderson spent the first half of the series in Morocco by himself. Let’s just say, the creatives did not let people meet each other on purpose, just so we can really feel that sense [of isolation], says Anderson. In the beginning, we only had table reads with select cast members in select locations, because not everybody got to meet.
For Anderson’s character, that isolation from his fellow cast members serves a creative purpose. Trevante is very alone in the beginning, he says. The challenge for me, as an actor, was just how tumultuous the process was emotionally, having to tap into myself and constantly be emotional, be in isolation, working by myself. It’s a lot of monologues, a lot of soliloquies, a lot of things that I had to do without having a scene partner, which is difficult at times.
Thankfully, the latter half of the season promises to give Anderson more scene partners, even if his character is not convinced of their intentions. I think he’s apprehensive of individuals that he meets, as he should [be], says Anderson. You’ll see throughout the series that when he meets new individuals, he tries to assess them. And as he assesses them, you get to see how he deals with humans and how much of a soft guy this guy really is at the core.
The stakes may be high, especially as the characters become more familiar with the enemy they face, but for Anderson, the real lesson of Invasion is that we are never truly alone in our struggles. Connection for me is the biggest theme, and that whatever you are feeling, it’s universal, he says. Whether it’s fear, happiness, love, anger—whatever you are going through in your own world, everybody can relate to that. That said, if Anderson came face to face with the antagonists on this show, he would hardly be a team player. If they ever invade us, I would definitely run, he says with a laugh. I will not be Trevante.
Invasion streams Fridays on Apple TV+