While at San Diego Comic Con this year I had the chance to participate in some Round Table interviews of the some of the cast and crew behind National Geographic’s ‘Mars’ series, a chance I jumped at as it included Leland Melvin, a real-life astronaut who contributes to the show. Below are the highlights of those interviews:


ROUND 1 – Leland Melvin (MARS Big Thinker; former NASA Astronaut and author )

Leland was a truly fascinating guy, who presence could almost have been intimidating because of all he has accomplished in this life, but luckily for us, he is also a very nice man. He is a passionate believer in arts and education, which is part of why he is working on ‘Mars,’ as he believes it is a nice fusion of the two, as the show can help get kids (and all people) thinking, about the possibilities out there, the future, and what we could do one day with the right resources and drive. He told one story that really nailed his point on the head, which included musician Quincy Jones, who called him while on one of his missions in space, and they spoke on the fact that, in Leland’s words there are “Two true absolutes, math, and music.” He also spoke on how the show celebrates diversity and how more of that is needed in the world, talking about how, as an astronaut, you get a whole new perspective once you have seen it all from above:

“When you come back from space, you feel like you’re connected to everything, cause you’ve been traveling around the world every 90 minutes.”


ROUND 2 – Dee Johnson (Season 2 Showrunner and EP) and Dr. Stephen Petranek (MARS scientific advisor, co-executive producer, and Big Thinker; author of the sourcebook ‘How We’ll Live on Mars’)

Dee and Stephen were a hilarious pairing for this interview, as they both seemed very excited for ‘Mars’ Season 2 and could not wait to talk about what they had in store for viewers. Dee said for her, coming to Season 2 the big question was, “You’re there, now what?” and they spoke on how the big conflict this season is another mining colony being formed on the planet by a company whose primary goal is not research and science the way the initial team was. They spoke on how the new colony has a lot more money and their desires might not always coincide with the Colony under Commander Seung, both of whom have different ideas especially about how to terraform the planet. As for spoilers, Dee hinted that one character (who she accidentally said “her” when referencing, hinting it will be a female) might be close to the end of their rope when it comes to staying on Mars and may consider going home if the opportunity presents itself.


ROUND 3 – JiHae (Hana Seung -Mission Commander of International Mars Science Foundation’s (IMSF) Olympus Town) and Jeff Hephner (Kurt Hurrelle -Commander of the Lukrum Industries’ Mining Colony)

Lastly, we spoke to JiHae and Jeff, who play opposing commanders in Season 2, who had a lot to say about the show and their characters. JiHae spoke on how her character has a lot of pressure to make scientific breakthroughs in order to get more funding and keep the people back home happy, and she is not too pleased with having to deal with the mining colony. In real life, she seems to enjoy the role, especially since it has made her a bit of a role model to many young female fans who are also Asian.

Jeff spoke more on how he thinks a lot about the fact that the events of the show might be closer to coming true than most people think, saying:

“People in 20 years who go to Mars are gonna watch this show – I think about that all the time.”

From the two of them on screen, we can expect a lot of tension, as they both said that Jeff’s character really “pisses her character off,” with JiHae claiming that Jeff is only actually charming “off-set.”

The interviews were a lot of fun and definitely made me excited for ‘Mars’ to come back for Season 2 this fall. Will you be watching? Share your thoughts in the comments below!