More Than Sci-Fi: Relationships Explored on ‘Almost Human’

Karl Urban, left, and Michael Ealy on "Almost Human" (Photo: FOX)

Fox’s new drama “Almost Human” is set in 2048, where crime is so rampant the embattled Los Angeles police department has paired each police officer with a combat-ready android.

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Sure, the future is bleak, but that doesn’t mean there still can’t be some romance. Will Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) and Detective Valerie Stahl (Minka Kelly) find love amid all the doom and destruction?

Kelly told reporters in a conference call this week that she's not sure. "I think they're sort of flirting with that idea," she said. "I don't know how long that may or may not take to actually act on. Right now, they're just having a little mutual admiration I guess."

For Kelly, who previously starred in "Friday Night Lights" and "Charlie's Angels," it's been an adjustment to acclimate to the show's sci-fi premise. "It's a lot more challenging acting-wise than being in a conversation with someone and reacting to them and having an emotional sort of experience with another actor, which is what I'm used to," she explained. "This is a whole new world for me. It's really exciting to dive into this world and exercise this whole new muscle."

Kelly, who hinted that her character would be held hostage in a future episode, said the first season of the show is really about delving into the relationship between Kennex and his android partner Dorian (Michael Ealy). Her co-star Lili Taylor, who plays Kennex’s boss Capt. Sandra Maldonado, concurs. “The relationship between Kennex and Dorian will become much more poignant,” Taylor said. “They push each other’s buttons and what comes out of it is this friction but also this poignancy and humor.”

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"Almost Human" (Photo: FOX)

Best known for movies including "Mystic Pizza" and "Say Anything," Taylor has also had to adapt to the sci-fi genre. But she appreciates the freedom it allows. "It's great because it really lets the imagination go. Imagination is one of the fuels for an actor," she said. "I just find I'm a lot freer in finding my own meaning with things and no one can say that's not how it is because it hasn't happened yet."

Taylor, who watched a lot of Helen Mirren in "Prime Suspect" to prepare for the role, endeavors to make Maldonado more than a one-dimensional person in charge. "I also try to bring the qualities of a more receptive leader," she said. "More of a listener and a collaborator instead of a boss."

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The series opened with an attack that killed many of Maldonado and Kennex's colleagues, placed Kennex in a coma for 17 months and left him with an artificial leg. Taylor said that tragic shared experience united the two characters. "I think that's something that seals the bond between two people," she said. "Maldonado really appreciates the way Kennex thinks outside the box. It's frustrating but it's also what makes him special because he's sort of a renegade and intuitive and a maverick. Especially these days with the robotic nature of things someone who is a little unpredictable is important."

“Almost Human” airs Mondays at 8/7c on FOX.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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