NYCC 2015: LOOKINGLASS ROUNDTABLE INTERVIEW PART 1
Interview conducted by Karin Crighton
Science fiction thriller Lookingglass comes to Fox this fall. Corrupt retired sheriff Jimmy Pritchard meets an untimely end only to be revived by a pair of brilliant and highly eccentric twins who control the social media empire known as Lookingglass. Reincarnated into a thirty-five-year-old with superhuman strength, Jimmy has a chance to right the wrongs of his past, but is the damage he did beyond repair?
Star Robert Kazinsky sat down with reporters at New York Comic Con last week to talk about his new show.
Reporter: How did you can get involved with the show; what's its appeal for you?
Rob Kazinsky: Pilot season is a horrifying time for any actor because you need a job, but you don't want any of these! This show was one of those ones that came in and I dismissed out of hand because I didn't want to do 22 episodes of any one thing, but this show wouldn't let me go. The script is just better. There were two great scripts in pilot season and this is one of them for me. I kept trying to say there must be reasons for me to try not to do this; do I want to work 10 months of the year on one project? Do I want to move away from film? And then I met with these guys and their ideas of what we wanted to do in the season with this character were actually engaging. TV is evolving to the point where you can tell stories that you can't tell in film, which is a beautiful thing. And network TV is learning that you have to take risks. That formulaic procedural is not going to sell anymore; that's been demonstrated by the massive failure of certain shows already this pilot season. [Lookingglass] stands on its own. It's not necessarily formulaic in any sense. Well, I could be wrong. I hope I'm not wrong. You could be writing that “he said this, but turns out the show is shit!” If so, please mock me. But I think it's good. I'm pretty sure it's good...
Reporter: What is it like with this performance being tethered to another actor's performance? [Rob plays the 35-year-old reincarnated version of Jimmy Pritchard; Philip Baker Hall plays the 75-year-old version.]
RK: It's actually very useful because I wasn't tethered to just anybody, I was tethered to Philip Baker Hall. Phillip is an astonishingly brilliant actor and he's got a real sense of gravitas. To be able to base the first couple of episodes on his performance helped me to find mine. But also, this is funny accent for me, so to be able to base it on someone else's voice made a little easier and to have Philip there as well (he is still working with us it). It allows for continuity of character and makes life a little easier for me. You can blame him if I'm bad.
Reporter: This is your first lead role. What's it like having the challenge of carrying the show on your shoulders?
RK: This is my first number one rule and that is a challenge; I can't lie. I've walked onto plenty of sets before that are established and I made the decision a long time ago that any set I was number one on would be a good place to be. And my challenges aren't so much in terms of performance because the performance is easy when you've got Rand Ravitch writing the script. Keeping a set happy and a good place to work is kind of my main job in life. And that's the challenge for me. Just making sure we're all working together toward the same place; that we are being representative of the ideas that we want to be, telling stories we want to tell throughout the entire cast and crew. And that this is a good place to work because we can tell those stories and feel safe doing so. I know we've got a great cast of characters. Tim DeKay (who plays Pritchard's son Duval) is astonishing. I know that he's been there and done that. The ease he has...I found it difficult to work with him at the beginning because I was so intimidated by his ability. I'm just a stuntman. I got lucky; he's an actor. The challenges are not the expectation other people have of me but the expectations I have of myself.
Reporter: How much input do you have at this point on the script?
RK: None. I try to influence is much as I can, but you try to change words and they won't let you do that. These days when you're number one on the show and you say, “This doesn't make sense,” and they say, “Oh no it doesn't,” instead of telling you to shut up. Or they pretend they're listening, “Oh that's a really good idea, Rob. Bye.” The difference [in being a lead versus a stunt actor] is politeness!
Reporter: Has your stunt background influenced the script?
RK: Obviously I do all the stunts, the fight sequences. I do everything I possibly can. They don't let you do any really dangerous stuff like driving. They won't let you drive and they won't let you cross a road, but I am allowed to do fight sequence for 12 hours a day. And that's fun, that's what I love doing. That's what I did in World of Warcraft [in which he played Ogrim the Orc]. My stuntman didn't do a single shot of Pacific Rim [in which he played Chuck Hansen]. It's my thing. I'm not the best actor in the world but I am pretty good at throwing a punch.
Reporter: How do you describe this character as to who he was and who he becomes of the course of the season?
RK: When you meet somebody at the end of their existence, there is a certain sense of resignation. When you're in depression and nearing the end or you're in old age and you're nearing the end, there comes a certain point of acceptance. Jimmy Pritchard was tired and he was ready for it to end. And then it ended and he didn't ask to come back and that's messed up. Playing that is interesting; to understand 'I was happy where I was, I was happy, I didn't ask for this why are you doing this? I have to go through this again?' There's a sadness to this, catharsis to this, that I really enjoy playing and find quite therapeutic for myself.
Reporter: Has this project made you look differently upon aging?
RK: Not really. It was a very interesting perspective in that my father is older than Phillip is, and older than my character is. I understand the depression; you look at this character and the pain of his life and the mistakes he made and how much he hurt himself. That was something I understood and I hope other people might glean something from it.
Karin Crighton: Getting back to Tim Dekay, you two have an amazing rapport on screen and despite him being older than you [Dekay plays the younger Pritchard, in his 40s, while reincarnated Jimmy is in his mid-thirties). How did you work with him (after the intimidation) to get that rhythm down?
RK: It's gotten better now. During the pilot I certainly didn't feel it. I would walk in and feel like the lowest status actor. I would go [to Tim], “Just you do it – you do it – you do it so good!” Rand wrote the script and he wrote those characters into the way they are at the beginning; all I have to do was say his words. That's the only thing I could do. And as the season is progressing, it's evolved into a much better relationship. I think we've gotten better every single day. I think my relationship with Tim on screen, our chemistry, is the biggest selling point at the show. We're doing episode six right now and it's just getting better. And he's making me much, much better.
Reporter: How do you find the contrast between doing big feature films and TV? Besides the scale being smaller?
RK: One thing I like about feature films is that there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. You know where you're going, and it's easier to build a character when you know how he's going to die. And I've died in everything. I'm Sean Bean take two. You know where you're going to go, and where you fit into the storyline and that's the important part of being a supporting actor: where you fit into the number one arc of storyline because number one carries the perspective. Like playing Chuck Hansen, I had to know how I fit into Charlie Hunnam's [who played lead Raleigh Becket] story in Pacific Rim and what I could do to support that. On this, not only do I have no idea where I'm going, I have no idea what I'm doing, no idea what I'm doing next week... Each script comes through and we're all furiously reading, wondering if we're still alive at the end of it. That's terrifying. That's what I like about film. However, what I like about television is that there's never been a good computer game movie because you can't take hundred hours of storyline and compress it into 90 minutes. You can't make Walter White likable in 90 minutes. But you can over five seasons. Films are about the macrocosm; they are about someone's perspective of an event. TV's about the microcosm: if there's a crowd of people, it's about the guy at the back and what he's going through with his family. And that's an interesting story to tell. It's more human and I think that’s what TV is good for.
Reporter: You're saying you don't have any input on the scripts but your performance must be influencing the writing. How would you say that influence the script from the pilot until episode six now?
RK: Well, nowadays I get a fight sequence every episode. I'm trying to inject a little more humor into it, find it where I can. And now they're beginning to write more light-hearted stuff into it. It's hard to influence a character that has to be one way. The thing I forget and shouldn't forget is that he has to be 75 years old – that's what I keep trying to put in. When he picks up a [cell] phone to make a phone call, he wouldn't know how to do that! And now we have all these technological fish out of water moments that are coming in. You can make small influences. They started to write more for my speech patterns than me trying to fit in someone else's which is nice.
An older Reporter: Sometimes I marvel at the fact when I was there we didn't have Xerox. It must be interesting to play a character that can marvel at our everyday technology.
RK: My father is nearly 80, he was born in 1937. He was two years old when the war started. During his life it's gone from horse and cart being the main mode of transport to automobiles. They've gone from tiny little TVs in giant wooden boxes to giant flat screens and cinemas. They gone from silent movies to Casablanca and onwards. To space exploration to the Internet. Advances in science. Planes! It wasn't so long before my father was born that the Wright brothers flew their first flight. And now there's jets flying across the Atlantic and all around the world. My father has lived through and seen the greatest changing century in human existence. So to understand that and remember that this guy has seen the same thing; that's important, that matters. This is not a guy who's grown up with the Internet or technology the way it is, this is not a guy who's grown up with the cure for the flu! It's an important thing to remember.
Reporter: Is your dad in this performance?
RK: There's an awful lot my dad in my performance!
Reporter: Has he seen it?
RK: He hasn't seen anything yet but over he will.
Reporter: Are you excited to show it to him?
RK: Well, terrified. I may get it a clip around the ear! My mum will definitely see him in my performance. It's been nice having that pool of knowledge to draw upon, Phillip Baker Hall and my father, having these two gents. But that's another thing; he's a gent. I've never seen my mum get into a car with my dad opening the door for her. There are certain things that people have forgotten that I haven't that. And those are elements I can bring it to a show. You'll never see a lady walk into a room on the show without Jimmy Pritchard standing up.
Reporter: Back to the differences in film and TV, what's the difference of having a new director each week?
RK: Often times a director knows your character a lot less than you do, so when you're doing TV you were allowed to have more governance over your character and of your own choices. So we have Rand or [fellow executive producers] Richard Hatem or Gwendolyn Parker on set at all times to oversee the general through line. But you get away a lot more when you have a new director every week. I couldn't go up to Guillermo Del Toro and say, oh I have this idea! He would tell me what to do. But in TV I can say, what if I do this? And they'll say does that make sense to you? And I'll say yeah, and then they'll say okay then!
Thank you to Rob Kazinsky!
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