Alien 'Debris' exposes human drama, cast says

Bryan (Jonathan Tucker) and Finola (Riann Steele) team up to investigate "Debris." Photo courtesy of NBC
1 of 2 | Bryan (Jonathan Tucker) and Finola (Riann Steele) team up to investigate "Debris." Photo courtesy of NBC

LOS ANGELES, March 1 (UPI) -- In NBC's new drama, Debris, out Monday, American and British agents investigate the remnants of an alien ship. Stars Jonathan Tucker and Riann Steele said the science-fiction forces the characters to deal with their human issues.

"You're meeting two characters who are very flawed and are very broken," Steele said on a recent Television Critics Association Zoom panel. "We get to also see them understand each other through the debris."


In Debris, the CIA and MI6 join forces to create Orbital, a coalition to investigate the debris left behind by the alien craft. Tucker plays Bryan Beneventi, a former Special Forces officer.

"I've had a lot of actual experience on the ground and am guided by my gut," Tucker said of his character.

Steele plays MI6 agent Finola Jones, whose father formed Orbital. Steele said Finola is working through grief.

"She's just lost her mother and father but, through duty, is taking on this challenge to continue his work," Steele said.

In the first episode, a piece of debris causes a hotel maid to fall through the floors, killing her. Each week, the Orbital agents will discover a new piece of debris with different abilities, including one that allows victims to float above ground.


"The debris allows people to go through walls or manipulates weather or [gives people] ESP or [creates] doppelgangers," Tucker said. "We, as actors and as the characters in the show, are constantly on our toes trying to figure it out."

Debris creator J.H. Wyman also was a writer and executive producer of Fringe. Tucker said the detail Wyman gave to the debris will intrigue the audience.

An example is in a later script. Bryan uses an item for the first time, but Wyman made sure that Tucker had been carrying it since the pilot.

"It keeps your attention, but also gives you that same opportunity to delve a little deeper," Tucker said.

Investigating the debris challenges both characters to deal with their personal issues. Tucker said Bryan is coping with post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in the Special Forces.

"You can have a case of the week, but you can also have meaningful character development," Tucker said.

Each piece of debris also illustrates differences between Finola and Bryan, Steele said. Steele said Finola is similar to herself.

"Finola was probably the child who spent her time looking up at stars," Steele said. "If this really was the situation, I would be making those same decisions.


Tucker added that the debris' extra-terrestrial properties provoke conflicts among people of Earth. Because the debris changes the laws of physics on Earth, characters face a crisis in that the natural laws they knew no longer apply.

"The debris reveals more and more about who we are kind of as Homo sapiens, but also as we are as individuals," Tucker said.

Debris premieres Monday at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.

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