Origin creator Mika Watkins: “There are a lot of reasons to flee the earth right now”

The cast and crew behind YouTube’s Origin speak about the themes, characters and filming experience of the show...

What would you do if you were offered a chance to start again, ditching any and all baggage from your previous life? That’s the question new YouTube Premium show Origin asks, as it offers its characters a new life only to see them stranded in space with no answers and a mysterious presence on board.

Following a screening in London, the cast, and creator Mika Watkins answered questions about the show and explained how it gets to the core of many people’s experience with regret.

“It’s really about the question of ‘can you change who you are? Or are you ultimately made of something that will never alter?’,” explained Watkins. “You can go to a completely new place with new people but is there a thing that fundamentally stays the same. That’s what we interrogate in every episode.

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“There are a lot of reasons why, at the moment, we would quite like to flee the earth, but it’s really just about whether you’d want to completely start again. We all have points in our lives when we ask whether we could have done some things differently, or completely start something over. A lot of the characters are quite damaged and want to see whether they could be good people in a different environment.”

Origin consists of ten episodes, all available now on YouTube Premium, and the first two hours are being made available for free so as to perhaps tempt viewers into subscribing.

Each episode follows a different character as their backstory is explained through flashbacks. In present day, soon after waking up and discovering that the rest of the ship has left without them, the group begin to suspect that one of their own is hiding a deadly secret. Meanwhile a mysterious force on board threatens their lives and they all must battle their demons both real and metaphorical.

While the show feels very much like an ensemble, the hope is that Harry Potter alumnus Tom Felton and Natalia Tena will draw in the franchise’s considerable fanbase alongside sci-fi fans and those curious about what the relatively new service has to offer.

“I’m so excited for them to see it,” Felton said of the fans. “We’ve both been flooded with a lot of lovely people over the years who’ve been following Potter, and it’s great to know that they’re excited to watch more of our work. I think this will slot right in there.”

On his character, who appears at first to be an antagonist for the group, the actor added: “Logan is hiding his insecurities and his own fear, and he does quite a good job of floundering and vocalising his concern. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he is a sweetheart.

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“He comes from a good place but he’s never been rewarded for trusting people. As the series goes on, you find that a lot of passengers volunteered because of some previous tragedy or grievance and, while it seems Logan would fit into that category, his reasons are slightly different.”

Sen Mitsuji, Nora Arnezeder, Fraser James, Philipp Christopher, Nina Wadia, Madalyn Horcher, Siobhan Cullen, Adelayo Adedayo and Will Coban also star.

The diversity present on-screen will undoubtedly be a huge draw for audiences, and Watkins was keen to make her world reflect the many identities of people who might be tuning in.

She said: “We wanted to make sure that we were representing different cultures, but also getting people who were actually from those countries and could speak those languages fluently.”

And despite the plethora of British talent, Origin is a truly global enterprise whether it’s the multicultural cast at its centre of the no fewer than seven countries and four languages in which it was filmed. Scenes set in space were filmed in Cape Town, South Africa, and this intensive filming experience meant that cast and crew were forced to develop a close bond with one another.

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Tena said: “It was a bit like shooting the series, not in space, but in Cape Town we were away from our friends and family for a very long time. We got to know each other as the episodes were being written.”

“We were lucky being ten strangers brought together acting as strangers would be,” added Felton. “So we were all getting to know each other as the characters did the same.”

Origin’s first season is available now on YouTube.