Mark Ghanime Interview

Mark Ghanime, a.k.a the dreamy Major Sergio Balleseros from Syfy’s Helix, had viewers on the edge of their seats this past season as we wondered whether he was bad or good, and, let’s be honest, if we’d get to see him shirtless again. But after a big explosion at the end of season one, we were left wondering if Sergio survived or not. Thankfully, we chatted with the talented actor about his future roles, Comic Con, and exactly what happened to Sergio. Beware: spoilers ahead!
Cliché: So, what exactly happened to Sergio? Is your character coming back to Helix?
Mark Ghanime: [Laughs] I got asked this question a lot [at first], but I couldn’t really say much about it. When season one ended, there was this big explosion and you weren’t sure, for the most part, who lived and who died. Everyone was pretty much up in the air about if they were coming back or not, aside from Neil Napier, Billy Campbell, and Kyra Zagorsky, who we saw alive towards the end of that episode.
So, I was pulled aside and told not to say anything. I wasn’t allowed to tweet or talk about it. I’m very active with the fans on Twitter and it was so hard not to be able to post pics and talk about the filming alongside the rest of the cast. But I’m excited to be coming back in episode four. I come back a bit darker and little bit more ready to do business. You’re really going to see that in the first couple of episodes that I’m in. He really tightens up his game in season two.
Did you know, or even guess, that your character in Helix would be such a hit?
You know, I had a panic around episode five. I thought to myself, “This guy is doing way too much bad shit for a Sci-Fi show. If he doesn’t redeem himself in someone, he’s going to die soon.” Sci-Fi villains without any redeeming traits are normally the first to go. So, I was a bit nervous at first. I knew that I had to play him with some heart and show he had some regret.
If you recall back to episode four of season one when Doreen dies, you could totally see that he didn’t want to do what he was doing. You could see his emotions and see who he is. He grew up in dire circumstances in Rio. He went through and did a lot of things to survive, but he wasn’t a heartless killer. In the end, I think that is part of the reason why a lot of people like Balleseros. He isn’t just the “villain.” You found yourself rooting for him because he wasn’t just a bad guy. He just had a different agenda.
What do you think it is about the show that makes it stand out?
Well, I think part of the reason is that it was one of the first of the shows to come out that had a virus outbreak. It aired before you had The Strain, Last Ship, and 12 Monkeys. So, we had the fortune of being the first out of the gate, although there have been films that this show is a lot like. Helix reminded people, at least in some ways, of 28 Days Later and The Thing. It kind of combined a lot of the great ideas behind those films into a television show.
What kind of role would you like to do in the future?
I would love to play a Middle Eastern character, or a similar type of role. I want to try and bring some positive light to the Middle East. As I’m half Lebanese, I have visited Lebanon a number of times. It’s a beautiful country and the Middle East has a lot more to offer than what the media has shown us. So, I would enjoy playing a character that would show the good side of that area. That’s on my to-do list.
You recently appeared at Comic Con for the Helix panel. Was that the first time you had ever gone to Comic Con, either as a guest or on a panel?
No, I never had a chance to do a panel before. I didn’t do enough Sci-Fi work to warrant going to Cons. So, when I got to San Diego, I was so excited. It had been something I wanted to do for a long time. I even made sure that Neil Napier and I checked out the floors, after all our press stuff. I mean, we were there for three days, but a good two and a half of it was spent on press and panels. So, I made up my mind that we had to walk the grounds before we left. Walking the grounds of Comic Con was insane!  It’s really all about the fans. They put in so much effort (some, up to a year) to make their costumes for the Con and I really wanted to soak that in and appreciate it. I hope to attend more of that mayhem again in the future!
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Mark Ghanime Interview: Images courtesy of Dennys Ilic Photography

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