Creator Dean Devlin and executive producer Jonathan Glassner at Wondercon 2023 for Season 1 of the Syfy series | ©2023 Syfy/David Yeh

Creator Dean Devlin and executive producer Jonathan Glassner at Wondercon 2023 for Season 1 of the Syfy series | ©2023 Syfy/David Yeh

THE ARK concludes its first season on Syfy on Wednesday, April 19. All episodes are available on Syfy on Demand and streaming on,, Peacock,, eonlinecom, and The series has already been renewed for a second season.

Created by Dean Devlin, THE ARK is set one hundred years from now, when groups of humanity are fleeing the Earth in “Ark” spaceships, seeking more habitable planets. The inhabitants of Ark 1 are awakened from their cryogenic sleep over a year before they reach their intended destination.

The catastrophe that caused this unexpected development has badly damaged the ship, and killed all of the senior crew. People who thought they’d just be learning the ropes in their designated fields are abruptly tasked with keeping their fellow crew and passengers alive.

Devlin has plenty of experience creating stories involving outer space, having co-written and executive-produced (among other credits) the films INDEPENDENCE DAY and STARGATE and co-created the television series THE VISITOR, as well as more Earthbound shows like the still-running ALMOST PARADISE, and executive-producing LEVERAGE: REDEMPTION.

Devlin’s co-showrunner and fellow executive producer on THE ARK, Jonathan Glassner, also has a lot of off-world creative credits, having developed STARGATE SG-1 for television, as well as being a producer and writer on series the 1995-1998 iteration of THE OUTER LIMITS, ODYSSEY 5, and FALLING SKIES.

Devlin and Glassner previously collaborated on the fantasy action series THE OUTPOST. They sit together in a production office for an exclusive interview on Zoom.

ASSIGNMENT X: Can you talk about creating THE ARK? It seems like it brings together your fondness for science fiction, disaster, and sort of whodunit …

DEAN DEVLIN: Well, any time you do any show, as you are building it up, there’s all these problems you have to deal with, whether it’s the budget, or the schedule, or you’re getting your crew together. So, you’re all involved in this kind of, “How am I going to make this thing work?” But then, on a show like this, the first day you actually walk on the set, you’re suddenly twelve years old again, and it’s, “I’m on a spaceship.” So, yeah, this tickled every creative bone I have. It’s all the things that I love about making fiction. And the best part of all of it was getting to work with some incredible people.

AX: Can you talk about the two of you working together?

DEVLIN: Listen, I kicked this sucker off, but this guy [indicates Glassner] is doing all the hard work. To some degree, I’m just like a giant fan, because he’ll come up with amazing stuff with the writers’ room, and he’ll come and pitch it to me, and it’s like I’m watching the show in my office. Occasionally, I’ll have an opinion, or give a note here or there, but all the credit’s got to go to Jonathan.

JONATHAN GLASSNER: The other way goes, too. He’ll come to me and say, “What if you did this?” And we’ll spin off on a whole story tangent with something he came up with.

THE ARK - Season 1 Key Art | ©2023 Syfy/Electric Entertainment

THE ARK – Season 1 Key Art | ©2023 Syfy/Electric Entertainment

AX: Especially given that both of you have such extensive history with writing for and about extraterrestrials, how did you decide that, at least for Season 1, you weren’t going to have any aliens in THE ARK, and that the antagonists were all going to be human?

GLASSNER: Well, the show is set only a hundred years from now. It’s not two thousand years or more in the future, and we just felt like we wanted to differentiate ourselves from all the other spaceships on a five-year mission out there [laughs]. So, we instead said, “No aliens.” We may run into them eventually, because I believe there probably are some way out there somewhere, but they’re not everywhere. There aren’t fifty different cultures of aliens out there that we’ll run into.

DEVLIN: Yeah. Our show takes place in outer space, and on a spaceship, but what our show is really about is this group of characters who are thrown into a situation that they’re not prepared for. So, we really wanted the focus to all be about them and their journey to try to become the best versions of themselves, in order to save not only themselves, but mankind in general.

AX: You could have theoretically set a series with a very similar plot about two hundred years ago, either in the wilderness or the open seas. There’s something in the publicity for THE ARK that says, “Drama in space is inherently more exciting than drama on Earth.” Do you believe that, or is science fiction just your natural creative habitat?

DEVLIN: Well, I think the thing is, unlike a hundred years ago in a forest, [although] there are dangers in a forest, a forest is not constantly trying to kill you. Space has no use for you [laughs]. So, in our show, the villain of the show is space. And at any turn, any wrong move, and space will destroy you.

GLASSNER: On a show set in the woods or out at sea, you always know there’s an escape from where you are. You can get out of the woods. But on a spaceship, there’s nowhere to go.

AX: So, it was more a matter of upping the jeopardy?


AX: You don’t have aliens, but you do have experiments with spiders. Is there a chance of a character mutating into a spider?


LEVERAGE - REDEMPTION key art | ©2021 Electric Entertainment

LEVERAGE – REDEMPTION key art | ©2021 Electric Entertainment

DEVLIN: That was so interesting. Years ago, I made a movie called EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS, which was a movie about giant spiders. And I remember, at the time, a lot of my fans were posting, saying, “Love all your movies – not going to go see this one. Spiders freak me out.” And I’d kind of forgotten about it, until our episode aired, and I started seeing online that same kind of thing, like, “I don’t know if I can watch the rest of this episode, the spiders are freaking me out …” [laughs] You forget how much power there is in a spider.

GLASSNER: [laughs] That’s why they’re spiders. It was spiders or snakes.

AX: In terms of THE ARK’s technology, were there any things that had to be made more high-tech or more low-tech to service the story, or where you went, “Oh, we can actually make one of those, so let’s do that”?

GLASSNER: Again, the show is only set a hundred years from now. So, we didn’t want any really advanced technology. We don’t have shields or tricorders, or any of the things that they might have in two thousand, five thousand, ten thousand years. And the world was falling apart. So, technology was only advancing towards getting these arks out of there. And so, as a result, it’s fairly good old technology. Most of it still looks like today’s technology, which helps us with our props.

DEVLIN: Yeah. The world that THE ARK exists in is very different than other spaceship shows, in that these ships were not built by a government with regulations and boards that are cross-checking safety, and making sure that things are built smartly. This is a world where the entire space community is owned by billionaires, and the ships are built at their discretion, to their priorities, which may not have been priorities that the rest of us would have thought were the correct priorities [laughs].

GLASSNER: And they’re built in a hurry.

DEVLIN: So, whenever we were making decisions, it wasn’t, “Well, would NASA allow this?” or “Wouldn’t a regulatory board insist that they had X, Y, or Z?” It was, “What if you had a megalomaniac, who had all the money in the world, who just built this ship the way he wanted it to be built? What would those priorities be?” [laughs]

AX: Were you looking at real billionaires and the wacky things they do, and thinking, “What’s the analogy for this on THE ARK?”

GLASSNER: A little bit [laughs].

DEVLIN: But I think this is, for us, we’re extrapolating, “If we’re here now, what does seventy years from now look like, when the children of billionaires, or new billionaires show up? If this becomes the norm, what does that evolve into?” And that’s kind of the world that THE ARK exists in.

[Glassner nods.]

AX: Have any of the characters surprised you in their evolution? Did any of the actors do something with the characters that you weren’t expecting, and you started writing towards that?

GLASSNER: All the time. We’ve got an amazing cast on this show, and they’re constantly surprising us, doing things where Dean and I look at it in dailies and say, “Did you see what she just did? That look, that could mean something. Maybe we play with that.”

DEVLIN: Yeah. You have to plan out your season, and plan out where you want to go, but if you don’t stay open to what’s happening on set, to the performances, you really miss out on a great part of filmmaking. We’ve had so much fun just having discussions, going, “When she looked at him, it felt like there was a backstory to that. What could that backstory be?” And things like that. I think there’s a great process that happens in the writing room, but there’s another process that’s happening on set, and you don’t want to ignore it.

GLASSNER: And the other thing that it affects is, you see what the actors are good at, what they may not be as good at, and you play to their strengths.

AX: Were there any characters who became more heroic or more villainous as you went, or did they pretty much go in the direction you had planned?

GLASSNER: Kelly [played by Samantha Glassner] is probably the one who went more villainous. If she had died when we intended for her to die originally, when we were working on the stories, she wouldn’t have been so bad, but she gets worse and worse [laughs].

DEVLIN: But I think maybe we were surprised in how Reece Ritchie [who plays Spencer Lane] is such an interesting and good actor that he added so many more layers to that character that it allowed us to really walk this line of, is he a villain, is he a hero. We had in our heads where we wanted to go, but I think the layers of complexity really came out of watching his performance, and realizing what he was capable of doing.

AX: The character of Kelly is played by Samantha Glassner. Are you related?

GLASSNER: Yes, that’s my daughter.

[Glassner and Devlin both laugh.]

AX: How did that casting come about?

GLASSNER: She’s been acting for a while, mostly on stage, and it’s always been my policy, and she knows it, that I won’t cast her, because I just think it puts a lot of other people in awkward positions. But in this case, as I was writing the character, and as the writers kept pitching things, I kept saying, “Damn, that’s my daughter.” [laughs] “If I don’t give her a shot at it, she’s never going to talk to me again.” She had to read for the part, and audition, and the network had to approve her, and I said, “Samantha, this is probably only a two-episode part, she’s going to die after two episodes, so don’t get too excited about this.”

DEVLIN: Originally, it was going to be a much shorter role. And again, this was one of those situations where we started watching what was happening in front of the camera, and we were like, “Okay, wait a minute, there’s a lot to get out of this.” Jon was feeling uncomfortable, but it was like, “There’s nothing we can do. The character is coming alive on camera. We have to service it.” And it just became a bigger and bigger part.

GLASSNER: And then I’d call her and say, “Well, guess what? You’re staying in Serbia [where THE ARK shoots] a little while longer, because the character keeps going” [laughs].

AX: How is working in Serbia? Because that was a war zone for a while.

GLASSNER: I think those days are gone; hopefully, they’ll stay gone. It’s a wonderful place. The people we work with, I want to hang out with the rest of my life, not just on work. They’re great people.

DEVLIN: Some of the kindest, most talented people, unbelievably grateful and supportive. Jonathan and I first went there on a TV series called THE OUTPOST, and we were shocked. I think just growing up in the United States, I had this image of Eastern Europeans as all having facial hair and giant muscles. And you go there, and they’re incredibly good-looking, and incredibly sweet, and caring, and generous. So, it was really kind of surprising, and we fell in love with it. So, as soon as we were able to put THE ARK up, we were like, “We’ve got to see if we can do this back in Serbia again.”

GLASSNER: What a lot of people don’t realize is that the former Yugoslavia was a film hub. It was probably the third-largest film community, after India and the U.S. And so, they have all the infrastructure and all the people and all the talent, and the university that teaches them all is an amazing place that people come from all over Europe to study film. And so, they were great.

AX: To ask another character question, how long would THE ARK need to keep going for Evelyn Maddox, played by Jelena Stupljanin, to get a redemption arc?

[Devlin and Glassner both laugh.]

GLASSNER: A really long time.

DEVLIN: We would need nine seasons for that.

GLASSNER: She’s kind of got a redemption at the end of Episode 12, in a way.

DEVLIN: [nods agreement] To some degree. [But] it’s tough. She’s responsible for half the deaths on Ark One, and all of the deaths on Ark Three. That’s a pretty tough character to redeem.


AX: THE ARK has a very diverse cast. Did that happen pretty organically, or how did that work?

GLASSNER: It was completely organically. On our casting breakdowns, when we first started casting, we intentionally did not say Black, white, Latino, anything. We just said –

DEVLIN: “Here are the characters.”

GLASSNER: We just told the casting director, “Bring us everybody.” And we picked the best actors.

Dean Devlin at the World Premiere of GEOSTORM

Dean Devlin at the World Premiere of GEOSTORM, at the TCL Chinese Theater, October 16, 2017. Photo Credit Sue Schneider_MGP Agency

DEVLIN: I think one of the advantages of doing a show that shoots in Serbia is that you have a pool of actors all across Europe. So, we had actors from Germany, from Spain, from Africa, from the U.K. So, it tends to become diverse just naturally, because that’s the talent pool you’re drawing from.

AX: Well, the U.S. is fairly diverse, but we don’t always see that even on shows made in Los Angeles …

DEVLIN: That’s true.

AX: When in the life of THE ARK did you know that you were renewed for Season 2?

GLASSNER: We didn’t know until [looks to Devlin] two days ago?


GLASSNER: So, not at all during the season.

AX: So, did you construct the Season 1 finale as something that had a conclusion in case you didn’t get picked up, or were the fans going to descend on Syfy with pitchforks and torches if you didn’t get a second season?

DEVLIN: We were fairly confident we’d get another season. We believed in the show, and we wanted the finale to be a complete meal for the season, but to really show a door for [more seasons].

GLASSNER: Exactly. So, it resolves a lot, and then opens five more doors.


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Article: THE ARK: Creator Dean Devlin and fellow executive producer Jonathan Glassner on the Season 1 finale of the hit Syfy series


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