9 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Dark Angel’

  

Dark Angel aired on Fox for two seasons from 2000 to 2002. It starred Jessica Alba as Max, a genetically enhanced super soldier living in a post-apocalyptic Seattle, and was created by David Cameron, who skyrocketed to fame with the Terminator movies and Titanic. Although the show received positive reviews and even earned Alba a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Television Series, it suffered from low ratings and was abruptly cancelled. It’s been over a decade since it went off the air, so let’s a take a look back at it with these 9 things you probably didn’t know about Dark Angel:

9. Coming Up with the Concept

Following his success with the movie Titanic, director James Cameron teamed up with Charles H. Eglee to form a production company called Cameron/Eglee Productions and they began working on ideas for a television series. While they considered several ideas, including a family drama, they ultimately settled on the concept for Dark Angel, which was the first and only work that their production company did.

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8. Casting Max

More than a thousand actresses were considered for the part of Max before Cameron whittled it down to twenty or thirty actresses. He was not initially that impressed with Jessica Alba’s audition tape. She directly read from the script without looking at the camera, but she read with some attitude, which Cameron liked. As he reviewed the audition tapes, he kept coming back to hers, so he decided to meet her and she was hired before the script was even finished.

7. High Cost Show

The two-hour premiere episode cost $10 million to produce which, according to Cameron, was on budget. Fox also put a lot of money into promoting the show and paid for theatrical trailers, billboards, and guerrilla marketing. The show was routinely over budget during season one and during season two its budget per episode was set at $1.3 million.

6. Jessica Alba’s Preparation

To train for the role of Max, Jessica Alba spent a year doing martial arts and gymnastics and riding motorcycles, which helped her when filming. She did a lot of her own stunts, including using her martial art techniques to fight with the stuntmen.

5. Renewed for a Third Season

Dark Angel was “just barely” renewed for a second season on Fox and, two days after producers were told that the show had been renewed for a third season, Fox informed them that it was cancelled. “They called us on Saturday and told us we were on schedule and we’d been picked up. We got together Saturday night and celebrated. Sunday goes by, and Monday morning we get a call saying, ‘No, you’re not on the schedule! It’s been changed.’ I’ve never heard of that happening. But then, I’d never been around television. … We were supposed to be on a plane on Monday to go to the [network] upfront in New York on Tuesday. They called us that day and told us not to go! I was pissed!” James Cameron said.

4. Casting Jensen Ackles

Writers immediately chose to hire Jensen Ackles to play Alec, who was introduced during season two. Ackles had played a rogue serial killing X5 during a season one episode, so they explained the actor’s return in a different role by saying that Alec was his deceased character’s twin. Although Ackles previous roles were more dramatic, the production crew was happy to see that he was also funny.

3. Broken Neck

During the season two finale, guest star Amy Dumas broke her neck when a stuntwoman dropped her while she was doing a move called the hurricanrana, which caused her to land on her neck and shoulders. She had to undergo neck surgery to fuse her C5 and C6 vertebrae together.

2. Michael Weatherly’s Audition

Michael Weatherly nailed his audition for Logan Cale. “Michael came in and he nailed it. As written, we were asking a character to be idealistic, romantic, a dreamer and kind of angry. Michael just had it all. The second or third time we brought him back in to read with Jessica, and the chemistry was palpable…they were completely watch-able,” Charles H. Eglee said.

1. The Doomed Timeslot

The show originally aired on Tuesday nights on Fox after That ‘70s Show and Titus and was initially a hit with viewers. For its second season, Fox moved the show to Friday nights to a timeslot that was an hour earlier than when it aired on Tuesdays. Viewers dropped and it was eventually cancelled because Joss Whedon’s Firefly had been ordered to series and Fox didn’t want to pay for two big budget shows. Firefly didn’t last long, however. It was cancelled before all of its season one episodes had aired.