‘The Expanse’: How Bobbie Draper’s Height Influenced Casting Frankie Adams

The Expanse fans love Bobbie Draper. And why wouldn’t they — she’s tough as nails, impossible to crack, and she doesn’t take any nonsense from anybody. At the same time, she’s willing to be vulnerable and show how much she cares for her friends. And the character could never have come to life so well without Frankie Adams behind the wheel. However, The Expanse originally struggled to find someone to fill Draper’s shoes — in part to her description in the book.

Frankie Adams says Bobbie Draper made some tough calls

Frankie Adams as Bobbie Draper in The Expanse
Frankie Adams as Bobbie Draper in The Expanse | Rafy/Syfy/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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Season 4 of The Expanse saw Bobbie Draper taking part in some very shady business to protect her family, while eventually sussing out a black market ring on Mars. Draper typically walked a very ethical, straight and narrow line, so it was unusual to see this behavior. 

“I think we’ve all probably said there’s things we’re never going to do, and have [laughs], so I found that quite human of her,” Frankie Adams told Comics Beat.

“I think initially it was to protect her nephew, and her core value has always been that way…but you start to see that she’s kind of enjoying that she has purpose again and camaraderie with this very unlikely group,” she explained.

Adams added that she enjoyed seeing Bobbie Draper make her own way for once, and seeing her struggle with what she felt was right and wrong. 

“I think that has always been a challenge for her…she’s still searching for her identity [in Season 4], even more so I think than ever. That sort of stuff really challenges her integrity, and I think that’s why for so long she was struggling with it.” 

“But also I find it really a human thing about her, and I like that she’s making her own decisions as she goes along, as opposed to being in command from someone else,” she added.

How Bobbie Draper’s appearance affected casting

Frankie Adams of The Expanse
Frankie Adams of The Expanse | Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

So far, The Expanse has worked closely with authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck to ensure plot and casting integrity. To that end, they wanted to make sure Bobbie Draper fit her characters’ appearance per Caliban’s War.

“Bobbie was not the right shape to fit into one of the standard suits, and the Marines made her jump through a series of flaming hoops every time she requisitioned a new custom one. At a bit over two meters tall, she was only slightly above average height for a Martian male, but thanks in part to her Polynesian ancestry, she weighed in at over a hundred kilos at one g. None of it was fat, but her muscles seemed to get bigger every time she even walked through a weight room. As a marine, she trained all the time.”

“We were prepared to scour the earth to find the right Bobbie,” explained executive producer Mark Fergus per IndieWire.

Eventually they discovered Frankie Adams, a New Zealander of Samoan heritage without any genre roles under her belt — but years of boxing training. Fergus says author Ty Franck knew she was the right choice as soon as he saw her tape. 

“It was a huge thrill for us that one of the guys who invented her character just saw right into her eyes and knew it was her almost immediately,” he said.

Showrunner Naren Shankar explained that looking outside the pool of traditionally spotlighted actors for someone who fits the role precisely is always worth the effort.

“It requires you to work harder and to go to places that haven’t traditionally been on the radar. But when you do, you’re always getting rewarded for it,” he said.

Frankie Adams was thrilled to get ‘The Expanse’ role

Frankie Adams, Cas Anvar, Dominique Tipper, Tim Kash, Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Wes Chatham of The Expanse
Frankie Adams, Cas Anvar, Dominique Tipper, Tim Kash, Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Wes Chatham of The Expanse | Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for IMDb

Frankie Adams “screamed in excitement” when she discovered she landed the role of Bobbie Draper on The Expanse. Draper apparently met specific critera.

“Do I agree with the things she does, yes or no? Would I get a crush on this woman, yes or no?” explained Adams. Apparently, Draper ticked all the boxes. 

Adams’ talent truly brought Draper to life on-screen. Her ability to maintain a tough exterior but show moments of pure vulnerability has made Draper into the fan-favorite character she is today.