‘The Passage’ combines vampires and medical thrillers


Vampire stories might go in and out of vogue — but the final nail never really goes in the genre’s coffin.

Five years after the most recent vampire hit, HBO’s “True Blood,” comes “The Passage,” premiering 9 p.m. Monday on Fox.

“It has the heart of ‘This is Us’ and the suspense of ‘Game of Thrones,’’’ says the show’s star, Caroline Chikezie, 44. “It’s a show where you could believe what’s actually occurring. It’s not too far-fetched.

“The mix makes it a delicious combination.”

Based on a bestselling 2010 novel of the same name, the story follows a top-secret team of scientists (led by Chikezie’s character, Dr. Major Nichole Sykes) who are experimenting with a cure to a deadly pandemic. Unfortunately, the dangerous cure might be worse than the illness, causing vampire-like side effects.

“The Passage” is a mix of genres, combining a medical thriller with a “The Walking Dead”-style supernatural survival story. Chikezie’s co-stars include Saniyya Sidney (“American Horror Story”) as a young girl the scientists try to experiment on, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (“NYPD Blue”) as a federal agent who defects from their project in order to keep the girl safe from the scientists’ clutches.

“I was aware of the book; one of my sisters was obsessed with ‘The Passage,’ ” says Chikezie, who’s British Nigerian. “But when I got the role, the writers said it wasn’t required reading, and I just felt like maybe it would complicate things if I went ahead and read it.”

Ironically, in taking this role, Chikezie was fulfilling her parents’ dreams — sort of.

“I always wanted to be an actress but my parents wanted me to be a doctor like my dad,” she says. “I was heading in that direction but I got off that train. I grew up with medical journals, medical jargon — so it’s familiar to me. I love medical roles and I think I gravitate towards them because of my background.”

And that’s not her only personal connection to the show. Although she grew up in London, Chikezie now splits her time between LA and Vancouver, where her partner, actor Adrian Holmes, lives. Coincidentally, he also has a vampire connection.

“He’s actually on a vampire show too, for Netflix. ‘V-Wars’ with Ian Sommerhalder. We’re both on vampire shows, I don’t know how that happened!”

The pair didn’t have a lot of vampire viewing nights at home, however.

“We didn’t really discuss it,” she says. “We felt like maybe we’d better keep the information private [in case they’re similar].

“We’ve been very secretive.”