The Future Is Now for 'The Crossing's' Marcuis Harris
The refugees are just like anyone else. All they want is to be with their families in peace, to know happiness and harmony in their lives.
"I think that's something anyone can relate to," notes "The Crossing" actor Marcuis W. Harris.
It's not a conversation about current events. It's a conversation about ABC's new science fiction series, in which Harris plays grieving father Caleb. And the refugees aren't from some war-torn land across the globe; they're from America, 180 years in the future. The memorable images from the series' pilot include a shot from above of scores of people, some alive, many dead, in the ocean off Oregon's coast at night -- though there is no crash, no shipwreck anywhere in the vicinity.
"The sci-fi aspect interested me, absolutely," says Harris, who takes a decided departure from his turn in HBO's critically acclaimed comedy, "Vice Principals" with the new show. "First of all, in broadcast network television it's heavy procedural -- precinct cop dramas, medical dramas, firehouse dramas, rescues. We haven't seen sci-fi done successfully on a network in a number of years.
"But it's not just a sci-fi show," he adds. "It's not a conventional sci fi show. Time travel is at the core of it, yes, but it's also a drama about relationships, about families and people who would risk everything -- their security, their lives -- for a glimmer of hope that they can have a new, better life in a new place. It's a story of these people being able to properly navigate the terrain in this foreign place, having to depend upon each other for safety and for ways to navigate this environment."
So, as is often the case in good sci-fi, it could be relevant to current events.
From the vantage point of Sheriff Jude Ellis (Steve Zahn) and Department of Homeland Security agent Emma Ren (Sandrine Holt), it's a saga of coping with the time-traveling refugees -- some of whom turn out to be genetically enhanced beings with abilities beyond those of "normal" humans.
As Caleb puts it, we wouldn't believe what turns out to be possible. The character certainly seems to be someone we could like and trust. But nothing is for certain on "The Crossing."
"I like the notion that when you look at (Caleb), you get a sense that maybe you even know this guy. As the season continues you realize, oh, this guy is more like a glacier -- there's more under the surface. There's so much more to uncover about him, what his journey has been and what his motivation requires. He surprises a lot of people once we get to know him a little better."
Harris has surprised himself. For instance, the Cleveland native had a whole career in finance, working with such firms as Bear Stearns and Citigroup in New York for eight years, before taking a leap of faith and following his heart's desire to become an actor. Bolstering that faith: He won a scholarship to the Lee Strasberg Theatre institute. Subsequently, he appeared onstage in such plays as "Blues for an Alabama Sky" and August Wilson's "Jitney."