Pop-Culturalist Chats with Chad Michael Collins
It’s almost time to wrap the fall television season, and one actor that’s made a breakout performance this year is Chad Michael Collins. He’s the leading man of BYUtv’s hit sci-fi series, Extinct, which airs its two-part season finale tonight! In the role, Chad has shown his innate ability to bring the many different shades of his character to life. Pop-Culturalist was lucky enough to chat with Chad about Extinct, what fans can expect from the two-part season finale, and why he’s so passionate about sci-fi.
P-C: Tell us about Extinct and your character.
Chad: Extinct is a new sci-fi series that came out this fall. It takes place after humanity has been wiped out by an alien invasion and destroyed the human race. The show picks up four hundred years later when a friendlier, more benevolent alien group comes to Earth and reconstitutes a handful of us to help restore humanity. We’re called Reborns. Our goal is to figure out how to bring back the human race, but we’re all struggling with the memories of the invasion, what we’ve lost, and trying to survive.
I play Ezra, the first Reborn. I’m sort of the de facto leader of the gang because I was the first. Before the invasion, Ezra was a former Army Ranger and a family man. He’s determined to find some way to reunite with the family he’s lost: his wife, Lynn, their young daughter, and also his wild card of a younger brother Silas.
P-C: What drew you to this project?
Chad: I was drawn to this project because I’m a huge sci-fi fan. I grew up on the genre and love it. Battlestar Galactica is still one of my all-time favorite shows. After I read the script for Extinct I knew I had to do this project. Orson Scott Card, who was involved with Ender’s Game, co-created this Extinct series with writer Aaron Johnston. The world they imagined is very cool, and, as an actor, a sci-fi series is always appealing because it’s true make-believe.
The series incorporates a lot of flashbacks. It’s like playing two sides to the same character. We jump back and forth between the present day and the past when things were happier. It’s such an opportunity and a challenge as an actor. You don’t often get to play two or three versions of the same character.
P-C: How important are flashbacks for viewers and then for you as an actor?
Chad: The back story is hugely important. It helps develop all the characters. You understand where they’re coming from and can sympathize with them. I personally loved it. It was one of my favorite aspects of the show. It’s widely important for Ezra. Yes, he’s trying to survive and restore humanity, but there’s a lot of self-interest there. He’s very, very determined to be reunited with his family. He bumps heads with the alien race and with the other Reborns, but the flashbacks help you understand where he’s coming from.
P-C: The show puts a strong emphasis on second chances. If you had the opportunity to do something over again, what would it be and why?
Chad: Oh boy. Good question! I try not to live life with too many regrets because I strongly believe that things happen when they’re suppose to. Even though I got started late in acting, I think it found me when I was ready.
If I had to choose one, I probably would say where I went to college. I went to a school in upstate New York, which is my home state, but I had offers in more exotic locations—like Hawaii and Florida—and I wished I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
P-C: The first few episodes were available to binge-watch on October 1. Did the cast know that was the release plan? Do you have a preference as an actor/viewer when it comes to releasing multiple episodes at once?
Chad: I found out about that a few weeks prior to the first episode airing. Personally, I love it. BYUtv is a cool network where there aren’t any commercials or advertisements. It’s great for viewers to watch when they want. It was cool seeing the reaction on Twitter. Most fans who gravitated to the series watched the first eight episodes in one or two days. Now they’re just waiting for the two-part season finale. For me, it’s how I watch TV. I like having it all at once.
P-C: What can you tease about the two-part season finale?
Chad: The finale was really fun. By episode 9 and 10 you’re going to see a hard divide between the group. Everyone has, at this point, found their reason or their purpose with their second chance. For me, I’m reunited with my family and trying to figure out what to do with Silas, my brother, who is the leader of the Skin Riders. [They are] trying to capture us with a parasite. There will be a big showdown between the Skin Riders and Silas.
P-C: Has there been any conversation about a possible season 2?
Chad: We haven’t heard yet. We’re supposed to find out after the two-part finale. But the head of the network told us recently that the show was performing very, very well—better than expected.
We knew we made something special here, and the response online has been incredible. The season finale wraps up a lot of stuff but there are some really interesting questions that come up. So we definitely have some new directions to head off and explore.
P-C: Do you have a favorite fan reaction? We know you’ve done a few conventions recently.
Chad: Yeah, the fans have really loved the costumes. I saw a post of a father and his four-year-old son who watch the show together, and the little boy was dressed in an all black outfit with a bow and arrow—just like Ezra. It’s probably one of my favorite fan reactions and feels really validating because we wanted to create a show that families could watch together.
Pop-Culturalist Speed Round
P-C: Guilty pleasure TV show?
Chad: I wouldn’t say it’s a guilty pleasure but I love Archer. Wait, no! Here’s one, Mystery Science Theater 3000.
P-C: Guilty pleasure movie?
Chad: Again, I wouldn’t say it’s a guilty pleasure, but I can watch Braveheart any time it’s on, anywhere, anyplace, at any time of the day.
P-C: Favorite comic book?
P-C: Favorite social platform?
Chad: I’m an OG so I’m going to say Facebook. It’s challenging to interact or post anything in 140 characters.
P-C: A band or artists that fans would be surprised to learn is on your playlist?
P-C: Hidden talent?
Chad: I’m super good at Nintendo’s Contra!
Photo Credit: BYUtv