Christopher Gorham, star of CBS' upcoming mystery-horror limited series Harper's Island, told SCI FI Wire that the show is "like Survivor in that way."
That means it will end its story after the initial 13 episodes, and a second season will feature "an entirely new cast, an entirely new story and in an entirely new location," Gorham said in an exclusive interview. "The only thing that it will have in common with this incarnation of Harper's will be the name Harper's Island. But it won't be Harper's Island. It'll be Harper's Safari or Harper's Cruise Ship or something like that."
Gorham (Jake 2.0) stars as Henry, a man whose friends and family gather together on the title island for his wedding to high-school sweetheart Trish (Katie Cassidy). It's far from a joyous homecoming for many, as seven years ago someone killed several people on the island, including the mother of Henry's best friend, Abby (Elaine Cassidy), who reluctantly agrees to return to the island for Henry's nuptials. Worse, someone starts killing members of the wedding party.
SCI FI Fire spoke exclusively to Gorham by telephone last month. Following are edited excerpts from that conversation. Harper's Island debuts on Thursday and will air at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Harper's Island sounds like Scream meets Ten Little Indians meets Survivor meets I Know What You Did Last Summer meets April Fool's Day. That work for you?
Gorham: That's it. That's it exactly.
There are a lot of characters and, obviously, a lot of deaths. How well will we get to know these people, especially Henry, before they start dying off?
Gorham: You know, they do a really good job of that. One of my concerns going in, especially with the first couple of episodes, was that there were 25 characters. How can you service 25 characters so that there's enough there that the audience cares about any of them when they get killed off? But they were remarkably adept at it. They did a really good job. They focused in on certain groupings of people, which helped, so you're not just dealing with 25 individuals. And they pulled it off. There's a lot of ground to cover, but you really do care about these people.
Give us a feeling for Henry, and since all the characters seem to have some deep, dark secret, what's his?
Gorham: We were told at the beginning that everybody has a secret, that everybody has something that they're hiding, that they haven't talked about. And everyone is a suspect at the beginning, Henry included. Early on, Henry, like most of the characters, is really happy. But, as very ambitious people tend to, he can fly off the handle a little bit. That temper is the first thing that'd make you suspicious of him.
If the show is a hit and CBS decides to do a second season, and assuming that Henry survives all 13 episodes of the show this year, how open would you be to coming back for a second go-round?
Gorham: One of the reasons I was excited about this is that [executive producer and show runner] Jeff Bell assured me from the very beginning that, no matter what happens, no matter who is left standing at the end, no one from this cast will be in season two of this show. It's a one-off type of deal. It's like Survivor in that way, where it will be an entirely new cast, an entirely new story and in an entirely new location. ...
Please indulge the sci-fi fans among us by finishing the following sentences. If Jake 2.0 were still on the air, your character Jake would be ...
Gorham: Rich. He'd be very wealthy and happily married to Diane, to Keegan Connor Tracy's character. It's funny with that show. We were going shoot 19 episodes, and we stopped at 16, but the producers had written episode 17 and they had outlines for 18 and 19. We knew it wasn't coming back, but they had a three-episode arc that would end the entire series, and it did have Jake and Diane ending up together at the end of the show. So I think that's where they'd be.
Same question, different show. If Odyssey 5 were still on the air, your character Neil Taggart would be ...
Gorham: He'd probably be back in space, because it was a five-year show. By now they probably would have saved the planet, and he probably would have been back where they started, at the beginning of that show, maybe even on the same shuttle mission. And, if that's the case, probably incredibly nervous.