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Billy Campbell Talks 'Helix' And What To Expect From Season 1

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HELIX BILLY CAMPBELL
Billy Campbell as Dr. Alan Farragut in 'Helix.' | Showcase

If you're looking for a claustrophobic, panicked feeling when you watch TV, or if this violent, brutal winter isn't enough for you, then sci-fi thriller "Helix" is the right show to watch.

"Helix" follows a group of scientists from the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) as they travel to a remote outpost in the Arctic, sent to investigate a mysterious outbreak. Led by Dr. Alan Farragut (played by former "Rocketeer" and "The Killing" star Billy Campbell), the group is diverse, and each of them carries secrets with them to the outpost.

From the mind of Ron Moore ("Battlestar Galactica"), "Helix" is the sci-fi show we've been waiting for. Its haunting, antiseptic aesthetic is reminiscent of "The Thing," with tinges of "Outbreak" and "The Andromeda Strain" for good measure. HuffPost TV spoke briefly with Billy Campbell about helming this series and his thoughts on infectious disease. We also discovered that Campbell is adept at not revealing any spoilers. Guess we'll have to watch to find out what happens!

HuffPost TV: Wow, so some of this stuff is pretty gross.
Billy Campbell: [Laughs] Oh, yeah. That's what it's all about! It's a sci-fi horror thriller. That's why I signed up! I love this stuff.

You're a sci-fi/horror fan, then.
Absolutely. I've been fortunate to do some sci-fi in my so-called career. "Rocketeer" isn't really sci-fi, is it? He has a rocket pack. He's not a superhero ... but anyway [Laughs], I love sci-fi for the same reasons as other people: anything is possible. It's speculative fiction, so you can entertain any conceivable notion. I love that about the genre.

Coming into this, what were your thoughts regarding contagion, viruses, and that sort of thing?
I'm not overly nervous about that stuff. I'm one who believes that we've become germaphobic. Kids can't even play on the ground or floor anymore! There's a school of thought that that's to our detriment. When you encounter germs, you build up resistance, and when you don't, you're in trouble. I don't think I've ever used hand sanitizer.

Drama picks up right from the start. There's a lot of suspense in "Helix." What can you tell me about your character in Season 1?
He's a CDC doctor, and he goes up to contain this virus with his team. What I can say is ... he and his team quickly discover that not everything is as it seems. The rather mysterious person in charge of the base [Hiroyuki Sanada as Dr. Hiroshi Hatake] has much more going on than anyone expected. Alan probably feels quite soon after arriving that he may not be qualified to deal with what's going on. There's something really wrong about Dr. Hatake -- and Alan knows it. We discover that what we're dealing with might be more than just a virus. It may have implications for the whole of humanity.

Some of the makeup, even in the first episode, is tough to look at. Your brother on the show [Neil Napier as Dr. Peter Farragut] especially.
Oh, let me tell you something. During shooting of the pilot, we all took a break for lunch. Here comes Neil, and he sits across the table from me. He's got blisters, veins, blood vessels and bloodshot eyes ... it put me off my lunch, to say the least. It's one of the most exciting things about the show, I think. These are not zombies. [In zombie movies and on TV], you have these people coming back to life and half of their face is missing, and they try to eat your brains. I think it's scarier to have a living human being, not dead, who's infected and still recognizable. On some level, it makes you think, "That could be me."

Does "Helix" maintain this pace throughout?
Yes. In fact, it's hard to believe that they could maintain this pace. The big question is how widespread could the virus be? When we arrive, only three scientists have been infected, one of whom happens to be my estranged brother. That's part of the timeline. Also, the structure is that one episode is one day. I dig that; it's a pretty tense show.

Did you work with live animals on set?
I did not. There werrrrrrreeee live animals, somewhere around. [Laughs]

How was it wearing the suits?
Ah, yes. The Recal suits were actually kind of comfortable. They had air circulation in the hood, which was like air conditioning. The problem with that is the sound is all f**ked up. Nobody was very happy with them after a while. There were worse things than that - all the extreme cold weather gear! You have to remember that we shot all these scenes in Montreal in June. It's not cold and there isn't a patch of snow within 300 miles. We were in the stage shooting, and it was supposed to be in the Arctic, well below zero temperature weather, in huge, clumpy, thick jackets, toques, scarves, mitts, big boots. There's a grip standing off-camera wearing flip-flops, shorts and a T-shirt. I had to pour sweat out of my boots.

We're introduced to a love triangle in the first episode -- does it grow and take shape as the series moves forward?
I think it would be safe to assume that it evolves. I won't tell you exactly what happens, but exacerbates, it permutates, it conflagrates ... and so forth. [Laughs]

Can we expect the presence of creatures or monsters?
You can expect that this virus will change things, and that perhaps there's more to this virus than just what's evolved before your eyes. There is definitely more. It's like an iceberg, you can only see the little tip right now.

Read HuffPost TV critic Mo Ryan's take on "Helix"

"Helix" premieres on Friday, January 10 at 10 p.m. EST on Showcase in Canada and on SyFy in the U.S.

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