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The Expanse Character That Was Unexpectedly Difficult To Cast - Exclusive

As anyone who's watched the series knows, The Expanse is destined to join the ranks of the all-time classic sci-fi shows, but it's about more than spaceships, unstable and mysterious protomolecules, and foreign alien worlds. It is, at its core, about people. Without Earth-based politician Chrisjen Avasarala, Belter revolutionary-turned-pirate Camina Drummer, the crew of the Rocinante, and so many more, none of The Expanse's space operatics would matter. Viewers may first tune in for the space battles and the explosions, but it's the characters who keep them coming back for more.

Nobody knows the various personalities that populate The Expanse's sprawling, sci-fi world better than Daniel Abraham, who, along with co-author Ty Franck, co-wrote the original Expanse novels under the pen name James S. A. Corey. Abraham's contribution goes beyond the books, too: Both he and Franck work in The Expanse's writers' room, and are credited as executive producers on the show. As a result, Abraham was one of the people in charge adapting his own novels for the small screen, meaning he got to help cast the characters who, up until that point, had existed only in his and Franck's imagination. 

For the most part, it sounds like a smooth process, although Abraham tells Looper in an exclusive interview that it was hard to find just the right people to play a couple of The Expanse's most beloved characters.

"One of them was Amos, because Amos is a really easy character to misunderstand," Abraham says. "He, especially in the first season, looks like the generic tough guy. And we had a bunch of people who auditioned for it who were playing generic tough guys."

But, as Abraham implies, the Rocinante's resident isn't just about throwing punches. Amos is violent, but he's casually violent. He's also incredibly self-aware, and worries both about lacking any kind of inner moral compass and his problems empathizing with others. Amos can be fiercely protective, too, which could be chalked up to his rough upbringing, a focal point of The Expanse's fifth season.

Wes Chatham, who ultimately landed the part of Amos in The Expanse, knew all of that, Abraham says. And that made all of the difference. "Wes had actually read the novella that has Amos' backstory, and loved the character, and understood the character coming in," Abraham tells Looper. "Everybody else was coming in and looking gruff and mean and looking for a fight. Wes was just coming in and going, 'Yep. Ejecting you too.' It was perfect."

Still, as hard as it was to find the right Amos, Abraham says there was another character who was even harder to cast — for completely different reasons.

Why Bobbie Draper was the hardest character to cast on The Expanse

According to Abraham, the most difficult Expanse character to cast was Bobbie Draper, the member of the Martian Marine Corps introduced in season 2. In the novels, Bobbie is described as having Polynesian heritage. "It was really important to us not to blink on keeping the ethnicity and background of the character true to the books," Abraham says.

But Hollywood has a well-documented diversity problem, and it's hard to find actresses with that kind of background. "There's just not a lot of folks like her in people's Rolodexes," Abrahams says. "We had to set up places in a bunch of places."

That meant looking beyond the typical casting agencies and locations, and, in true Expanse fashion, checking out lesser-explored areas of the show-business world. "It wasn't just LA, New York, [to] see who you get," Abraham says. "We had to go to Hawaii, and we had to go to New Zealand, we had to really push to get the right people to read for it."

Of course, things changed once Frankie Adams, a veteran of the New Zealand prime-time soap opera Shortland Street, came in and auditioned. "She came and read for it, and then it was easy," Abraham shares. That said, finding Adams in the first place definitely took a lot of work — although it seems like it was worth it. Since her debut, Bobbie has become one of the most beloved characters on the show, and her popularity shows no signs of slowing down during The Expanse's next, final season.

Season 5 of The Expanse is currently airing on Amazon Prime Video. New episodes arrive every Wednesday.