Saturday, July 28, 2018

SDCC - MARS Cast Interview

Photo Credit: James Vallesteros
Andy Weir, JiHae, Susan Wise Bauer, Stephen Petranek, Dee Johnson, Jeff Hephner and Leland Melvin
From Left to Right

MARS EXPERTISE: Voice on space law and economics of Mars

Andy Weir built a career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, The Martian, allowed him to live out his dream of writing full time. The New York Times Bestseller was adapted into an award-winning film directed by Ridley Scott in 2015, and he received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2016.

Weir’s recent novel, Artemis, is a near-future thriller set on the moon.

Weir is a self-acclaimed ‘lifelong space nerd’ and a devoted hobbyist of subjects such as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics and the history of manned spaceflight. He lives in California.

Historian and best-selling author of The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory, The History of the World series, and The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home among many others.

MARS EXPERTISE: Expert on colonization throughout history
Susan Wise Bauer is a writer, educator and historian She is the author of two world history series, The History of the World (W. W. Norton) and The Story of the World (Well-Trained Mind Press), which grippingly narrate the process of exploration and colonization of new lands from ancient times through the settlement of the Americas.

Bauer entered college at seventeen as a Presidential Scholar and National Merit finalist and finished her bachelor degree within five semesters with a major in English and a minor in Greek. She also spent a summer studying 20th-century theology as ned Mind Presa visiting student at Oxford. She earned a Master of Divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, where she added Hebrew and Aramaic to her languages. In 1994, she completed her Masters degree in English language and literature at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Her concentrations were in translation theory, 17th-century devotional poetry and psalm paraphrase in the Tudor period. She received her doctorate in American Studies from William and Mary in 2007 with a concentration in the history of American religion. From 1994 until 2010, Bauer taught writing and American literature at William and Mary.

Bauer runs four companies (Well-Trained Mind Press, Well-Trained Mind Academy, The Bed & Breakfast at Peace Hill and Books & Sheep, Inc.). She lectures regularly on writing, education and history and serves on the board of The Clemente Course in the Humanities and Common Magazine.

CREW MEMBER: Hana Seung/Joon Seung
ASSIGNMENT: Mission Commander of Olympus Town/Former Secretary General of IMSF

Hana Seung: Commander Hana Seung has effectively has been the sole person in charge of a planet for almost a decade. Not only has she overseen the expansion of the Olympus Town colony – both in population and physical size –she’s also spearheaded the long-term effort to terraform the planet with the ultimate goal of making it habitable for humankind in the future. Hana’s authority is challenged by a new entity on Mars – Lukrum, a private company focused on the extraction of natural resources. She must endure the true test of leadership when Lukrum arrives…and when tragedy strikes.

Joon Seung: While Hana Seung was leading the Mars mission on Mars, her twin sister Joon Seung had been leading it on Earth. That was a tall order, especially in the wake of China’s withdrawal from IMSF and MMC’s bankruptcy. But once she brought in more member nations and contractors to compensate for those losses, Joon resigned as Secretary General of IMSF to fulfill her lifelong dream of reuniting with her sister and going to Mars. It’s a dream that means too much to her to let anything stand in the way of it. It’s now or never…

As an actor, JiHAE stars in Universal Pictures’ motion picture “Mortal Engines,” based on Philip Reeve’s science-fiction novel of the same name. In the film adaptation by Peter Jackson and his fellow Oscar-winning collaborators Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens, JiHAE plays Anna Fang, an airship pilot and fierce resistance leader in the sweeping futuristic tale where cities now roam the globe on huge wheels, battling each other in struggle for Earth’s ever-diminishing resources.

As a musician, she’s released four critically-acclaimed albums. Her latest LP, Illusion of You, was lauded in the likes of NY Times as “beautiful, mystical and poetic,” featuring a song she co-wrote with the legendary Leonard Cohen and Dave Stewart.

JiHAE also has written and produced a multimedia rock opera with Academy Award-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley, performed at the London Olympics, Cannes and the United Nations and has become heavily involved with a variety of nonprofits and charities, including work with Hillary Clinton’s 2012 Hours Against Hate global initiative, the Willie Mae Rock Camp and Let's Come Together, a public platform for artists to musically unite for human rights.

JiHAE runs a multimedia studio and music for production company called Septem.

CREW MEMBER: Kurt Hurrelle
ASSIGNMENT: Leader of the Lukrum Industries Mining Colony
Kurt Hurrelle is the leader of the Lukrum Industries mining colony, the first of its kind on Mars. Gruff, blunt but no altogether cold, Kurt has military bearing without the haircut. Like the rest of his team, he’s signed up for a four-year stint to mine minerals and even make a ton of money for him and his daughter, with whom he’s close. And thought Kurt and Olympus Town are often at cross purposes, he and Hana come to form a tenuous bond predicated on survival.

Jeff Hephner was recently seen on “Chicago Med,” reprising his role of ‘Jeff Clarke’ from the NBC’s sister franchise show “Chicago Fire.” No longer a firefighter, Hephner plays a fourth-year med student rotating through the emergency department. Previously, the actor starred in TNT’s “Agent X” alongside Sharon Stone and Gerald McRaney, where he played John Case, a smooth, athletic, tough and quick-witted operative.

Hephner additionally played hospital CEO ‘Dr. Ed Harbert’ in the CBS hit-series “Code Black,” opposite Marcia Gay Harden; and ‘Ben Zajac,’ Illinois State Treasurer and candidate for Governor, in Starz’ “Boss,” opposite Kelsey Grammer, Connie Nielsen and Kathleen Robertson. Hephner’s additional credits include Fox’s “The O.C.,” the CW’s “Hellcats,” “CSI: New York,” “Castle,” “NCIS” and “Without a Trace.”

Engineer, Former NASA Astronaut, Author
MARS EXPERTISE: The voice of sustainable exploration on the Red Planet and one of the elite few people to have traveled to space

Former astronaut Leland Melvin is the only person drafted into the NFL to have flown in space. Before becoming an astronaut, Melvin was drafted into the NFL by the Detroit Lions. His career with NASA began in 1989, when he worked in the area of nondestructive testing, creating optical fiber sensors for measuring damage in aerospace vehicles. Melvin has flown two missions on the space shuttle Atlantis in 2008 and 2009 and has logged more than 565 hours in space.

After hanging up his space boots, Melvin was appointed head of NASA Education and served as the co-chair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) Education Task Force and developed the nation’s five-year S.T.E.M. education plan. He was the US representative and chair of the International Space Education Board (ISEB), a global collaboration on learning about space. Today, he uses his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) careers.

Melvin holds five honorary doctorates for his service in education, the sciences and philanthropy. He was chosen as an ICON MANN with Quincy Jones, Forrest Whitaker, Steve Harvey and 24 other men selected for their ability to inspire people of all ages through their vision and commitment to creating positive change throughout the world. Melvin has been honored with the NFL Players Association “Award of Excellence” for inspiring athletes to pursue excellence on and off the field.

Melvin is author of Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances, a memoir that offers an examination of the intersecting role of community, determination and grace that aligns to shape our opportunities and outcomes. He also has written a chapter on the power of visualization in Venus Williams’ book, Come to Win. Melvin’s research findings have been published in numerous scientific journals.


Format: Six-Part Hybrid Event Series
Premiere: November 2018

The prospect of terraforming Mars once was considered science fiction, but soon, it will be a reality. Season 2 of MARS returns with a hybrid, six-episode arc that alternates between scripted drama and documentary sequences to predict what life will be like on the Red Planet forecasted by what’s happening now on Earth. It picks up in 2042 when the International Mars Science Foundation (IMSF) astronauts have developed a fully-fledged colony, but to fund their mission, they need the help of the private sector. MARS delves into the archetypical friction between science and industry on this unforgiving frontier. The mission to terraform a virgin planet comes with heavy adjustments, including how humans we’ll cope with contamination, illness, death, natural disasters and even the first Martian baby. Are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes when Earthlings become Martians?

Jeff Hephner                                                                   JIHAE

Leland Melvin                                                    Stephen Petranek

BIG THINKER & Co-executive Producer, Scientific Advisor and Big Thinker,
CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: MARS; Award-winning journalist; Author of How We’ll Live on Mars, upon which the series is based
MARS EXPERTISE: Leading voice for Mars missions and colonization of the Red Planet

Award-winning journalist Stephen Petranek says humans will live on Mars by 2027. He makes the case that living on the Red Planet is not just plausible but inevitable in his TED Origianl book How We’ll Live on Mars, upon which the series MARS is based.

Petranek’s 40-year career in the publishing world is marked by numerous prizes and awards for his writing on science, nature, technology, politics, economics and more. He was editor-in-chief of the world’s largest science magazine, Discover; editor of the Washington Post Magazine; founding editor and editor-in-chief of This Old House Magazine for Time Inc.; senior editor of science at LIFE; and group editor-in-chief of Weider History Group’s 10 history magazines. His first TED Talk, “10 Ways the World Could End,” has been watched more than two million times. He is now working on a science-based nonfiction book about the environment.


After almost a decade alone on Mars, scientists at the International Mars Science Foundation’s (IMSF) fully developed Olympus Town settlement prepare for the arrival of a group of highly skilled astronauts working for Lukrum Industries, a for-profit corporation specializing in natural-resource extraction. Tensions arise when the miners from this new colony, led by Commander Kurt Hurrelle (Jeff Hephner), request IMSF’s aid without prior warning, forcing Olympus Town Mission Commander Hana Seung (JiHae) to determine how to ensure a peaceful coexistence. In present day on Earth aboard the world’s northernmost oil platform in the Arctic, extreme conditions make for a Mars-like work environment. A worker shares the struggles of being away from his family for three weeks at a time.

IMSF and Lukrum, now sharing a common water and power source, have established a tenuous coexistence that threatens to dissolve when Kurt (Jeff Hephner) and his crew make unexpected headway in their mission to mine the planet, and Hana (JiHae) works to maintain diplomacy between the two camps—until tragedy strikes. Mission physicist Amelie Durand (ClĂ©mentine Poidatz) prepares to leave on her return journey to Earth—without love interest Javier Delgado (Alberto Ammann), Olympus Town’s hydrologist and geochemist. Meanwhile, on Earth, Dr. Leslie Richardson (Cosima Shaw) asserts her authority as the new IMSF Secretary General. In present day, Greenpeace activists take to the seas to protest Arctic oil drilling in the Barents Sea, and the effectiveness of such tactics are examined.

JiHae and Jeff Hephner with JBN Journalist Kristin Cercado

When a solar flare strikes the planet and knocks out communications between and within colonies, the Olympus Town team races against the clock to locate exobiologist/geologist Marta Kamen (Anamaria Marinca), who becomes stranded on the surface during a rogue research expedition. Meanwhile, the colony is bracing for its first-ever pregnancy on the Red Planet; tragedy strikes Hana (JiHae); and Amelie’s (ClĂ©mentine Poidatz) plans to return to Earth are thwarted. In present day, a scientist and his team on Earth brave harsh and dangerous conditions in the pursuit of data that will help predict the effects of glacial melt on global sea levels.


Marta (Anamaria Marinca) convalesces as a mysterious illness sweeps through Olympus Town and Lukrum Colony. When IMSF realizes one of its own has died as a result, it races to determine the cause, origin and mode of transmission before time runs out—and more lives are claimed. Back in present day, Vladimir Chuprov, a Greenpeace activist, sheds light on an indigenous health crisis being kept quiet by the Russian state to benefit their Arctic oil endeavors.

Andy Weir and Susan Wise Bauer with JBN Journalist Rachel Litfin

Lukrum strikes a deal with Russia for exclusive mining rights. Uneasiness spreads over Olympus Town as LT. Commander Mike Glenn (Gunnar Cauthery) undermines Hana and endangers the members of Lukrum Colony as a result. And, a new baby – the first-generation Martian – arrives two months early! In the Arctic Circle in present day, nations attempt to work together to reign in corporate interests, protect fragile ecosystems and preserve indigenous lifestyles while fossil-fuel companies prioritize their own profit over the public good.

Lukrum pushes its corporate interest too far and unintentionally jeopardizes the safety of both colonies. IMSF springs into action to stabilize the situation, but for some, it will be too late. In the current climate on Earth, human activity has destabilized the natural world. NASA’s Operation Icebridge studies Arctic sea ice in an attempt to bring awareness to global warming and the dramatically changing state of our planet, the only home we have… for now!

Stephen Petranek and Dee Johnson with JBN Journalist Rachel Litfin

National Geographic’s San Diego Comic-Con Panel: “When Earthlings Become Martians: ‘Mars’ Season 2”
The prospect of colonizing Mars and becoming an interplanetary species has never been more palpable. The second season of NationalGeographic’s “Mars,” the hybrid event series, returns this November to explore this reality and whether humanity is doomed to repeat the same mistakes once we get there. Join the show’s foremost experts on terraforming the Red Planet along with new and returning cast as they give an exclusive sneak peek at what’s to come. The panel will discuss the major conflicts ahead and get real about the repercussions of every singular action and decision Earthlings will make when they become Martians – from having babies, to catching colds … even to experiencing love and sex on Mars.


Video/Audio/Edit: James Vallesteros (@jamesvallesteros)

Season two of National Geographic’s critically acclaimed series MARS returns November 2018 with a six-episode arc consistent with last season’s unique hybrid format: alternating scripted and documentary sequences to predict what life will be like on the Red Planet, forecasted by what’s happening today on Earth.
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