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From South Jordan to Hollywood, Matthew Bellows talks ‘extinct’

Nov 03, 2017 11:07AM ● Published by Keyra Kristoffersen

Matthew Bellows plays Jax in new BYUtv original, “Extinct.” (Spotlight Media)

Gallery: Matthew Bellows [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

South Jordan native-turned-Hollywood actor Matthew Bellows is celebrating the release of the new BYUtv original series “Extinct,” which aired its first eight episodes on Oct. 1. 

“I’m luckier than a lot of people,” Bellows said. “To be able to do a show like ‘Extinct’ — a major character in a brand-new show, an original—it’s amazing, a dream come true for any actor.” 

“Extinct” takes place 400 years in the future when the human race has been annihilated, and there’s a handful of humans who have been reborn by a seemingly benevolent alien race to repopulate the Earth to bring back the human race from extinction. Bellows plays the role of Jax, a Skinrider, which is an alien parasite that is hosted in a human body.

“Jax, while human in form detests everything that it means to be human,” Bellows said. “He hates the human race; he hates the species entirely. You don’t know, is this the mind of Jax the human or is this the mind of Jax taken over by the parasite?  All we know is that Jax is immediately trying to kill or assimilate the humans.”

The show was created by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston, a New York Times best-selling author, and co-produced by Ryan Little and Adam Able, who Bellows worked with on the movie “Forever Strong” in 2008. 

“It was cool for me to come back years and years later as a totally different person and actor and be able to dig into heavy material with these guys and more on their level as collaborator. That was exciting for me,” Bellows said.

Bellows said the show is smart science-fiction, based in plausibility and plenty of information. Shooting the pilot began at the end of July 2016 at Snow Canyon State Park near St. George, using the petrified sand dunes to show how the world had burned up. Other locations have included Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and the petrified lava flows just outside of Fillmore, which Bellows said he never had any idea they were there even though they’re right off I-15. 

“I’m a Utah boy at heart, so getting to place outdoors in Southern Utah fills me with joy,” he said. “It was like coming home. Shooting in Utah is perfect because we have every possible landscape imaginable.”

Originally, Card and Johnston pitched “Extinct” as a two-hour TV movie but pitched it to BYUtv as a 10 episode series.

“Card created this story, but Aaron did most of the actual penning of it,” said Bellows. “He was there a lot. Aaron was on hand and generous with his time and conversations and enjoyed collaborations with us and him.”

Bellows said the show was lucky to have the cast that they did because both the cast side and production side really got the chance to get to know each other, be professional and care about the project.

“We had a pretty good synergy, and everyone kind of stepped up to the plate and worked hard and squeezed as much juice as we could out of the lemon,” said Bellows, “It was a real pleasure to work with everybody because they all tried really hard.”

Bellows graduated from Bingham High in 2000, spending his time in theater productions. He went to college at BYU and spent the next few years moving back and forth between New York and Los Angeles. He went to graduate school at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego before settling down in L.A. two years ago. During that time, he spent six months working in a production of “Les Miserables” at a regional theater and doing spots on network television shows like “Grimm,” “Nashville” and “Fuller House.” 

“My parents were very supportive and excited to come see me in productions there,” Bellows said. “They were stoked that I was coming home for a while.”

Bellows has a few upcoming projects such as a guest spot on an episode of “Teachers” on TV Land as well as some short films produced by a collaboration of actors called Real Pros, an actors repertory ensemble.

Episodes 1–8 of “Extinct” can be seen by going to http://www.byutv.org/apps or at www.byutv.org/extinct. The season finale is a two-hour special airing Nov. 19.

“The show gets better and better with every episode,” said Bellows. 

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