Syfy's The Expanse casts its protagonist and an Oscar nominee in a role that hints at change

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Aug 21, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT

The cast of Syfy’s upcoming space opera The Expanse is finally coming together, and along with former Punisher star Thomas Jane, they’ve made some high-profile hires ... some of which seem to indicate early deviation from the source material.

The biggest? Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Saddam, 24, House of Sand and Fog). She might not be the most familiar name, but she’s one heck of an actress. She brings some solid credentials to the cast, having nabbed an Emmy and scored an Oscar nomination before heading into deep space. Aghdashloo will play Chrisjen Avasarala, a "smart and passionate member of a political family legacy who has risen high in the ranks of Earth’s governing body without once standing for election." WARNING: MILD BOOK SPOILERS FOLLOW. Readers of the The Expanse series will recognize Avasarala as a key player in the second book, Caliban's War. Her appearance this early in the show's run could indicate that some significant changes are in store for the order of events in the show. END SPOILERS.

While Aghdashloo is a big name, it's arguably bigger news that the producers have also signed Steven Strait (Magic City, 10,000 BC) as water-miner-turned-ship's-captain James Holden. According to Entertainment Weekly, the character is described as “a natural leader who’s not sure he wants responsibility, but who will soon have no choice when he is drawn into a dangerous plot.” MORE MILD BOOK SPOILERS ZOMG Holden is sort of the main protagonist of the book series, and while Thomas Jane's Miller is just as big a player in the first book, it's Holden and his crew who are the anchor throughout the existing entries. That being the case, Strait is sort of set to be the face of the franchise should The Expanse succeed beyond its first season. END SPOILERS

The series is set 200 years in the future and is framed around the story of a missing young woman. The case brings a detective (Jane) together with a ship captain (Strait) in “a race across the solar system to expose a conspiracy.” Yeah, we’re intrigued. With both Jane and Aghdashloo on board, we’re definitely anxious to see more.

The 10-episode series is set to launch in 2015.

(Via Entertainment Weekly)