When we last left our “Polyam Belter Fam” in Season Five of The Expanse, everyone was going their separate ways. And if you thought the chemistry between our favorite Belter crew seemed natural, that’s because it was. Ask Samer Salem, who plays Josep on the series. 

Last season, Camina Drummer (Cara Gee) formed a polyamorous marriage with fellow Belters Josep, Oksana (Sandrine Holt), Michio (Vanessa Smythe), Bertold (Stephen Tracey) and Serge Kylo (Wilex Ly). Josep stayed with Camina and Michio after taking a stand against Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander).

Recently, I had the chance to chat with Samer about his role on The Expanse, his favorite Belter phrase, what fans can expect for the final season of the show, his upcoming flick My Fake Boyfriend and more. 

RELATED: Read our recaps of The Expanse!

This interview is condensed for clarity.

Melody McCune: We at GGA love a good origin story. What’s Samer Salem’s origin story?

Samer Salem: I went to school for science and nursing. I became a nurse, actually, and the plan was originally to go to med school. That was my parents’ big dream for me. Then, I did a semester abroad in Sweden, and while I was studying in Sweden, I had had a few glasses of wine and told my friends I wanted to be an actor. They said they thought I’d be good, so I just ran with it, and I moved to Vancouver and started taking classes.

MM: Let’s talk about The Expanse. How did you get involved with the show?

SS: I auditioned for it in October of 2019. Then, I didn’t hear back for three weeks, and later I got the call saying I got the part.

MM: How does your character Josep fit into the overall narrative?

SS: Josep’s part of this polyamorous family of Camina Drummer’s that we get introduced to in Season Five. He’s a confidant and lover and eventually becomes a fighter alongside Camina in the conflict we see pan out in Season Six. He’s a Belter caught in the crosshairs of the battle going on between Marco Inaros and Earth.

I mean, you’ve seen Season Five and what he (Marco) does to our family. Josep decides to stick it out with Camina, played by Cara Gee. 

MM: How did you prepare for this role? Did you read the books, and did you learn Belter Creole?

SS: As soon as I got the part, I ordered the books and read them all. I’d never really read sci-fi before, and I loved them a lot. You don’t see Josep until book five or book six.

MM: Babylon’s Ashes, I believe.

SS: It was lovely to see it written on the page. A couple of beautiful exchanges Josep has with Michio Pa in the book; Camina on the show. It was lovely to pull from the book to get the backstory to flesh Josep out more and his relationship with the other members of the polyamorous family, the “polycule.”

With the Belter Creole, the producers and the show’s creators set us up with a dialect coach, and it was nice because the group of us actors in the “Polyam Belter Fam” got to learn the dialect together, which was lovely. It made it all fun, to be honest. It’s much easier to make mistakes when you’re doing it with other people trying to figure out the same thing.

Photo of Samer Salem The Expanse

Pictured: Samer Salem. Photo credit: Kristina Ruddick.

MM: Do you have a favorite Belter phrase?

SS: “Pashang Fong Tumang.” (F*** off, Earther!) I try to sneak it in every once in a while. The writers are probably like, “Okay, we’ve got to keep it a little PG.”

MM: At the end of Season Five, we see Josep decide to stay with Drummer and Michio while Oksana and Bertold go their separate ways. Do you think there comes a time when he regrets taking a stand against Marco?

SS: I think you’ll have to wait and see in Season Six!

RELATED: Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week: Camina Drummer

MM: Do you have a favorite scene from your time on the show?

SS: There are a lot of extraordinary moments in Season Six, but from Season Five, it’s the bubble scene, for sure.

MM: Oh, that’s such a good one.

SS: It was so beautiful. We had great chemistry and so many laughs on set — the love was real, and I think it encapsulated our relationship.

MM: Describe Season Six in three words.

SS: Action, resolution and love.

MM: I like that! What can fans expect for the upcoming season?

SS: I think this upcoming season is going to be the best one yet. I mean, as everybody knows, it’s only six episodes long, so it’s nonstop. It’s dense in the best kind of way. The story clips along, and I think, as you know, there’s a jump in book seven.

Book six is a resolution to many things we’ve been dealing with in the previous five seasons. I think the writers did a beautiful job of making it all make sense. We find some resolution in Season Six. But some things are left open-ended. If you read the books, you know what happens later, and I’m excited to see those parts. I think fans are going to love that, too. You saw the trailer, right?

MM: I did.

SS: If you know the books, then you know what’s what from the trailer. I think if you don’t know the books, you got to pick them up now and figure out what’s going on.

MM: Let’s switch gears. You’re also starring opposite Dylan Sprouse, Sarah Hyland and Keiynan Lonsdale in the comedy My Fake Boyfriend. Can you talk about how you got involved with this feature and how your character fits into the story?

SS: I auditioned for the part. In terms of the story, I can’t say much about it yet, but I can tell you that the movie’s going to be fun. It’s a super fun movie, and I think it’s got a lot of heart, and it’s going to touch a lot of people. It’s going to be entertaining.

MM: Do you have any advice for aspiring creatives looking to get their foot in the door of the industry?

SS: Train. I think if you go to the UK or even Australia, acting is a craft. You know, you go to school, and you study it. Whereas, sometimes I think what’s peddled to us here in North America is that you can wake up one day and be an actor. I was ignorant, too, and I didn’t understand how much work went into it. My advice would be to get into a class and study. Then, diversify your training, study with multiple people, see what works best for you.

Photo of Samer Salem The Expanse

Pictured: Samer Salem. Photo credit: Kristina Ruddick.

MM: What else is on the horizon for you, career-wise?

SS: There’s another show I’ve got coming out called Two Sentence Horror Stories, and I think that’ll come out at the end of January. Then, I’m going where the wind takes me.

MM: Have you binge-watched anything interesting lately?

SS: I binge-watched Squid Game. Have you seen it?

MM: I have. It’s so good.

SS: You know, sometimes when so many people recommend the same thing, you’re like, “Oh, it’s not going to be that great.” I watched an episode; I was like, “S**t, it’s damn good.” So, I binge-watched that with a friend of mine, and we both loved it. Then, I started watching, believe it or not — also late to the party — Breaking Bad. I’m on Season Three. I like it.

What turned me on to it was reading Bryan Cranston‘s autobiography. I feel it’s part of the cultural conversation now. 

MM: Name your top five favorite films.

SS: I Am Sam, The Lion King, Braveheart, Armageddon. I don’t want to say something artsy to be cool; I have to be honest—I loved Man on Fire with Denzel Washington

MM: Samer, thank you so much for chatting with me!

SS: Thank you, Melody. I appreciate it.

RELATED: Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week: Chrisjen Avasarala

You can follow Samer on Twitter (@SamerSalem8) and Instagram (@mr.samersalem). Be sure to catch the Season Six premiere of The Expanse on Friday, December 10, only on Amazon Prime. 

This interview was originally published on 11/30/21.

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Melody McCune
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