Interviews

Aldis Hodge Interview: The Invisible Man Home Media Release

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After a successful run as one of the last movies in theaters in 2020, The Invisible Man is coming to home release on May 26. The tense thriller received rave reviews for how it combined H.G. Wells’ classic tale with an exploration of modern-day domestic violence.

Aldis Hodge, who starred in the film as Cecilia’s (Elisabeth Moss) stalwart friend James, sat down with Screen Rant to share his thoughts on the story. From James’ personal mindset before the movie began to his own stunt machinations when fighting against a literally invisible man, Hodge shared all sorts of secrets from the set.

The Invisible Man is now available on Blu-ray and Digital.

I want to talk about your character, James. James is a stand up guy. Can you tell me about the backstory either you or Leigh created for James?

Aldis Hodge: Yeah. In terms of his friendship and relationship to Cecilia, they grew up knowing each other as kids. It's just one of those good, healthy friendships. People grow, their lives go in different places, but their friendship remains - which keeps them close.

 

We talked about the priorities for James; James being a good father, because he is a single father. That for him was paramount; making sure that he's setting a good example for his daughter. That has to be that, and it was sort of built off of my relationship with my little sister. Because Leigh would talk to me about where my points of inspiration came from.

 

As far as Cecilia, figuring out how to be a safe space and sort of a real protector outside of the logistics of everything else. Outside of him just being a cop and having to figure that out; outside of what else is going on with the mania of the Invisible Man, he just still had to be a safe space for her. So, it was built on the principles of really just trying to be a good, upstanding brother.

Where was James at before the movie began, mindset-wise?

Aldis Hodge: Mindset? For him, life was regular; average. He's going to work, doing his thing. He's got his daughter. Nothing is really out of the ordinary for him. I mean, he's a cop, so you can only imagine what that reality is like - but he's got a handle on that.

 

Things really kind of hit when Cecilia drops the bomb on him about what she's been going through. And he didn't know. You realize this was how serious [it was], and then you start seeing all these crazy things happening; now his whole world does a complete [180]. But for him, before that, life was a good life; an average life. Decent.

Let's talk about Storm Reid, because she's such a talented performer as well. What were some of the toughest scenes that you guys shared together?

Aldis Hodge: Some of the toughest scenes were... I wouldn't say that we had tough scenes, because we had such a great rapport and great camaraderie on set, and we had a great crew. If anything, I would say the stunt scenes where - I'm giving spoilers - I have particular stunt and action-y scene with the Invisible Man, as does she. Those were probably the most physically taxing; shooting that throughout the day. But they were fun, though. They were just a lot of fun.

 

But other than that, I honestly can't remember one tough day. This whole job seemed like one big vacation, honestly.

It's interesting that you talked about those stunt scenes, especially with the Invisible Man. It seemed like that could have been, as an actor, like, "Wow, how are we going to do this with all this technology and green screen and blocking?" Can you walk me through some of that stuff?

Aldis Hodge: Yeah. The first week I got down there - actually, my first day on the lot on set was with the stunt team. We worked at it a couple weeks, and right before we shot the scene, we refreshed again. But they choreographed something, and they were basing it off of my comfort with a bit of my athletic ability and how I move my body or throw my body.

 

And then once they got comfortable with me, and they knew what I could do, they were like, "Alright, let's push the limit a little bit." Because I'm fighting myself and throwing myself around. There are points where I'm taking hits and swinging and kicking, and all that kind of stuff. You know, trying to really sell it. So, we worked on that, and worked on the timing and the reactions to make it honest.

 

But it was really a cool experience. It was just really trying to figure out how to really create this reality for my character and for the audience.

Have you heard any rumblings about any possible Invisible Woman sequel?

Aldis Hodge: I haven't heard any rumblings from up on high. I have heard interest from fans, and if there's a sequel, I think it would be cool. I have no idea what we're going to do if there was a sequel, but I have heard people wanting a sequel. Do you want a sequel?

Of course. This is one of the best films I've seen this whole year. I absolutely want a sequel.

Aldis Hodge: If we hit a sequel, I'm with it. I'm all the way with it.

Let's pretend that you were in charge of Universal and you had all these classic monster movies. Which one would you want to see be remade?

Aldis Hodge: Outside of Invisible Man, I think my next top choice would be Dracula. I've always had an affinity for vampires growing up, and I think there's a much more interesting way to tell the story that we haven't really delved into. So, I think Dracula might be the spot.

More: Screen Rant's The Invisible Man Review

The Invisible Man is now available on Blu-ray and Digital.

Malik Vitthal Interview: Body Cam | Screen Rant

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Malik Vitthal's sophomore feature, Body Cam, reimagines the current police violence crisis - only this time, it is police officers of color who are the victims. The film is part-supernatural thriller and part-current affairs commentary, but wholly elevated by its capable cast – including Mary J. Blige and relative newcomer Nat Wolff.

The young director, who previously wowed the Netflix world with Imperial Dreams (starring John Boyega), had a chat with Screen Rant about the process of filming Body Cam. He explained why his stars were perfect for their roles, how he combined the supernatural with the all-too-realistic, and what film he’d like to reimagine in his own style.

With all the cop on black crime that we see tragically reported on, Body Cam makes an interesting statement with officers of color being seemingly picked off. Can you talk to me about how your story gets its message and themes across?

Malik Vitthal: Well, a friend of mine said something about giving an audience something in a different form. We click on things, and we just want to be entertained. But sometimes it's nice to be to have a little bit of both. So, we call it a complete meal. People can go and be entertained, and also kind of remember some of the other stuff that's happening in our world that is still a conversation.

 

There are things that we still kind of need to be aware of and work on. There's all these different communities that we have out there that still need to kind of bond together. This is just a reflection of one of those communities in our society.

Did you guys shoot this in New Orleans?

Malik Vitthal: Yes, we shot in New Orleans. It was ultra hot out there while we were shooting it, all night pretty much. A fun production.

Can you tell me how the local vibe and flair of that city contributed to the film?

Malik Vitthal: I wanted to go to New Orleans because my father was from New Orleans. He's still living there, so it was just a chance to hang out with him. I've been there a lot.

 

I made this film originally because of my mother, and I hadn't seen many characters like her on screen that just basically did everything. My mom worked full-time; she raised me. She was a disciplinarian; she was also my best friend. I wanted to see some strong characters like her, but shooting in New Orleans allowed me to hang out my father and all of his friends. My dad's kind of well known there, so it was like all the doors opened up for us there, for everything we wanted to do. It was a perfect storm.

I want to talk a little bit about Mary J. Blige. She's an Oscar-nominated actress, but she's still relatively new to acting. What was it about her that got her cast is as Renee?

Malik Vitthal: Yeah, Mary was the perfect person for this. The execution is kind of a fine line. You want to have a person that is loved by the culture, and so for me Mary was always the top choice. There's something really mysterious about her - no one really knows that much about her right, and we've never really gotten to get our claws into her. And I was curious. I was like, "What's behind that?"

 

She was also so giving and allowed us into her emotionally. I think that was one of the things that we really haven't seen from her before, because she's just such a mysterious icon. I've been a fan of her since I was younger, and it was like a dream to actually work with her. And then to see that she's such a sweet, giving, loyal, honest person that just wanted to hang out.

 

She loves films. When I met her, she was just talking about all these different horror films. And it was embarrassing; I didn't really like know any of the films, because I don't watch horror films. I hate horror films. It was pretty funny to talk to her about all these things and know that she really knew the genre, which was really exciting to me. She just likes to go to the theater and get scared, so it's fun.

What surprised you the most about her performance? Was it the mystique she brought to the role?

Malik Vitthal: Oh, yeah, definitely. It's also been allowing the audience into herself more, because no one really knows Mary too much. It's a new side of Mary that we don't normally get to see, so I think it's pretty exciting.

I really want to talk about Nat Wolff also, because he's a young up-and-comer. Talk to me about what he brought to the role.

Malik Vitthal: Nat was perfect for the role, because he came in was the one that really got Mary to open up. In terms of getting her to bullshit around, and almost creating that brotherhood and sisterhood within the police force. He's gonna keep it light; he's keeping everyone in the present moment. That's the thing that was so special about Nat. He's just such a gifted storyteller, like Mary. So, between the two of them, they were a good counterbalance. It's a little entertaining; it's a little thought-provoking. They know how to kind of do everything, and they felt like family right away when we put them in a police car together.

There's an element of a thriller in Body Cam as well. Can you talk to me about that aspect of the story?

Malik Vitthal: Mary's character is actively searching for something the whole movie. She's actually working out her own personal stuff, but she's also searching for something, and I think that kind of creates the suspense in the film between her inner struggle and the actual struggle that she's going through at work trying to figure something out.

 

So, you're not sure the whole time if she's actually creating this in her head or if there's something that is really out there. And I think that helps create the tension of what the audience gets to experience during the film, and hopefully in a couple moments makes it a little spooky for them.

Can you talk to me the most challenging scenes you shot, especially since you were on location and mostly filming at night?

Malik Vitthal: Yeah, I mean, that finale was in a water plant in New Orleans. I think it was around 110 degrees during the day and super humid. What ended up happening was we were shooting inside that that water plant, and it was just ultra humid and hot at night. I think it was just hard on the crew, and some people were getting dehydrated. It kind of affected us that next week too, where some people would almost pass out. It was just a lot to take; you were sweating through clothes every 10 minutes. I remember this one night I changed shirts, like, six times.

What do you think the scariest element of body cams are? Because they can be used for good or ill.

Malik Vitthal: It's a reflection of mankind. There's so many different ways that we can go about using this life; for good things or bad things. It's a tool. If we don't get to see the lead up or the aftermath, you can cut it any way you want. It's like this interview - you can choose to use whatever you want and add things, or who knows?

 

It's complicated. Imagine at other people's regular jobs; if someone gave them this body cam. Police officers have a lot of responsibility with their jobs, but I think what's going on there is also a larger reflection of what's going on with our culture.

You filmed a movie with John Boyega before he became a big Star Wars icon. Which supporting actor in Body Cam should we look out for in the future?

Malik Vitthal: I'm still in touch with all the supporting actors; I love them. So, I would say all of them, if I can answer that way.

 

I mean, my friend Naima Ramos-Chapman - I put her in the role as one of the officers just because I wanted to be with her in New Orleans. She's one of my close friends, and she's also a director and writer. She directed some of the episodes of Random Acts of Flyness on HBO. She's another storyteller that could be with me on set that I just want to be around. That's typically the type of performers I like to work with. You're going to be on set with them all day, so you might as well make best friends.

I'm a big fan of your directing style. Has there any big franchises that you feel you want to revitalize or reimagine under your eye?

Malik Vitthal: I used to always watch James Cameron films. Last night, I watched Cast Away. Did you ever see Maximum Overdrive? Maximum Overdrive with Emilio Estevez.

 

Yeah, I think it would probably be Maximum Overdrive, because I think we're in a perfect time for it, knowing that technology has moved ahead so much further. Probably, I'll say that and you'll print it, and someone else will make it. Or maybe someone will find me and say, "Yes, we want to remake that." But it seems like a fun movie to make. I remember watching it over and over and over as a kid, going like, "Wow, this is the worst that could happen," but it probably could happen now.

I'm starting the campaign for you to direct that film. With all that's been going on this year, have you given much thought on your next project or started writing it yet? 

Malik Vitthal: Yeah, I'm writing now on a couple of different things. I think with the reality of what's happening in the world right now, you want to be mindful of still making things that you're really passionate about. But also being realistic and knowing that you should probably have a couple of that you can make with a more compact crew and team of people around you, just so you can actually shoot in the next 6 or 12 months.

More: Anya Taylor-Joy Interview For Emma Home Media Release

Body Cam is now available on-demand

Anya Taylor-Joy Interview: Emma Home Release | Screen Rant

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Emma may not be as instantly recognizable as Pride and Prejudice, but it's been adapted nearly as many times. From modern updates like Clueless to painstaking recreations like the 2009 BBC miniseries, various filmmakers and actresses have taken a stab at the haughty but loving heroine in Jane Austen's classic.

Anya Taylor-Joy, who many fans are excited to see take on the role of Magik in the upcoming New Mutants film, brought the character to life in Autumn de Wilde's version of Emma this year. Not only was her performance captivating, but the nuances in both script and direction helped turn a familiar tale into an altogether new one.

Related: How Emma 2020 Compares To Jane Austen's Book: Biggest Differences

With Emma now available through digital and Blu-ray, Screen Rant had the chance to chat with Taylor-Joy about the cosmic bond she feels with director de Wilde, as well as the various ways both women worked with screenwriter Eleanor Catton to let Austen's wit and Emma flaws shine through as they deserved.

I thought this Emma was really fascinating in several of its choices, which made it felt really different from most Jane Austen adaptations. Was there any moment that stood out to you, either when reading the script or when filming, as being in stark contrast to other period pieces?

Anya Taylor-Joy: I think it was the first time I met Autumn. I've been lucky to have this happen, and it really is the most magical thing, when you and the filmmakers get together and somehow have had the same vision. And then you start talking about it, and it just gets more and more fleshed out. I think the second that I met Autumn, I fell in love with her as a person. And then as she opened her mouth and told me more and more, I said, "Yes, absolutely."

 

It didn't even occur to me that we were remaking something, because it felt so fresh and warm and different. I think the fact that it was a decision that we came to within five minutes of meeting each other, where I was like, "Will I be allowed to play her as unlikable at she is in the books at times?" And she said, "Absolutely. I wouldn't do it any other way." I was like, "Okay, good."

 

It almost sounds cliché to say it now, but especially for the time period, we have so many lovable male rogues, or unlikeable male characters that get very easily forgiven. It's like, "He has his faults, but he's really great in other things." And I think Emma is probably, for the time period, one of the only characters we have like that. Where it's like, "Oh, she's a brat at times,"  but you love her anyway.

 

And she definitely grows up and is humbled by everything that she goes through. I don't think you get the payoff if, when you first meet her, she's the sweetest thing you've ever seen and couldn't hurt a fly. I think you only really get the payoff of Emma humbling herself and growing up in that way if you get to enjoy her naughtiness too.

It sounds like you and Autumn had a really great synergy throughout the film, which is very evident on screen. How did you find each other in the first place? I heard that she wanted you from the start. Can you describe the process of getting cast?

Anya Taylor-Joy: Yeah, it was really wild. I had been doing a photoshoot or something like that, and then as I landed, I got a phone call from the production company. They just said, "Hey, we know that you were wanting to do other movies. Can you just not say yes to anything else yet? For two seconds?" And then they called me back a couple of hours later, and they're like, "We want you to do Emma, and we're flying this woman in who wants to meet for lunch tomorrow." And I was like, "Okay."

 

Which is crazy. I mean, I think I said yes to a bunch of things and didn't overthink it too much, because it was just too wild. I met her, and we joke about it all the time - but I do not remember say yes to making this film. It was just happening. I think that fated-ness was really wonderful, because we fell in love and  Autumn had this incredible box.

 

She had her pictures for the movie in this gorgeous handmade box that had all these images, from the people that she wanted to play to the color palettes and everything. The first person she pulled out of the box is Mia Goth, who she didn't know had been my best friend for a couple of years. And she's like, "You guys just look like you'd be best friends." I'd been talking to Mia maybe like an hour before I met Autumn, and I was like, "This is really exciting, I'm going to go meet about Emma. It might go really well, hopefully." And then she pulled Mia out of the box. So, it felt really fated.

Speaking of Mia, I loved how genuine the friendship between Emma and Harriet was in this version. How did you guys approach that dynamic? The scene where you said, "I'm doing this because I want to keep Harriet for myself" was the most I've ever believed any Emma ever.

Anya Taylor-Joy: Oh, thank you. I think it was that we talked about multiple love stories and layers. I think a more simplistic way of looking at it - and I'm not saying that it's wrong, it's just not the way that we wanted to do it - is "boy and girl fight all the time, and are in love but don't realize it until the end."

 

I think the reality is, there's deep love within multiple relationships. There's the love that Emma has for her father, which dictates that she does not want to get married because she does not want to leave him. She wants to stay there. And then there's the relationship with Harriet. Emma's been around adults her whole life, and the closest thing she's had to a mother or friend is Mrs. Weston, who has now moved away.

 

Harriet - and this is really lovely to be able to talk about with a female director as well, because she knew exactly what I was talking about. I think there's something very specific in female friendships when you're maybe 12 or 13 or even older, and you're falling in love with your best friend, but you're not in love with them. You just want to be around them all the time. They're everything that you think you've ever had, and you almost feel like they are an extension of you. And I think that's the relationship that Harriet and Emma have. It gets too controlling, but you're right, it's the most honest thing that she says.

 

Something that was really helpful to me in getting into character for Emma actually had a lot to do with Harriet. Again, at some point you can say, "Emma doesn't want Harriet to get married to Robert Martin because he's not wealthy enough." But it goes so far beyond that; it comes from a deep place of loneliness. Harriet is of a lower social standing than I am, so if she marries someone who's wealthier and lives close by, I get to keep Harriet forever because it's acceptable for her to be my friend. It's even more twisted in a way, but Mia and I had so much fun doing it.

 

Honestly, I think it would have been very different if it had been somebody I didn't know as well, because we had such a shorthand of how to communicate with each other and how to take care of each other. It was great to do it with her.

On the other hand, you and Johnny Flynn also made sparks fly as Emma and Knightley. What do you think draws Emma to him, and what makes him the perfect candidate for a woman who doesn't need marriage?

Anya Taylor-Joy: It's a beautiful relationship, because they truly are each other's equals. That kind of fuels everything else, because Knightley might be the only person who can stand up to her and also take it from her and dole it out in equal measure. Johnny and I had so much fun doing all the argument scenes, because they're kind of the courtship scenes. You can tell that they both admire each other's brains so much.

 

I think Knightley even says at some point, "Better to be without sense than to misapply it as you do." That's a perfect representation of what's going on. He admires her intelligence so much, but because she's using it incorrectly, it absolutely infuriates him. [Mr. Knightley is] a bit of a mansplainer, but he's doing it because he just wants Emma to grow. And I think the reason that they suit each other so much is because they will literally never be bored. They will argue and debate about everything until kingdom come, and just spar consistently. It was fun to do that performance.

One particularly fun scene was the nosebleed. I read that you literally bled, which is mind-blowing to me. What was the inspiration behind that moment?

Anya Taylor-Joy: It was in the script from the beginning, and that was one of the things that I really loved. Because it's so human; we all have that moment. Maybe it wasn't a nosebleed, but we all have that moment where it's the most romantic thing that has ever happened, and then all of a sudden you get something caught in your eye. And you're just like, "Damnit, body, do not betray me. I've got to keep it together!"

 

Yeah, it was already in the script. And if I could explain it, I would, but my body does something weird when I belong to characters and other people. I had a proclivity for nosebleeds when I was a kid, I haven't had a nosebleed in years - absolute years. And then the morning that we were doing the scene, I woke up and had a nosebleed. I was like, "Okay, that's weird." Autumn and I joked about being possessed by Emma and then moved on with our day.

 

We weren't going to do the blood until it was my coverage. Then, obviously, it was my coverage over Johnny's shoulder and we [were prepping] for it. And then my nose just started bleeding; it just happened. The spookiest thing about it is was that Autumn had traced on my face where she wanted the blood to go, and completely seriously, the blood followed it and stayed there.

 

It was the weirdest situation; it was so magical. It definitely gave a different kind of energy to to the day. It was quite pungent.

What aspect of Emma is easiest for you to play, and which part is most difficult for you to understand?

Anya Taylor-Joy: It's a combination, actually, because I think the thing that we share the most is probably one of my sorest and most private parts. I'm very close to my father, like, I really love my dad. I could really connect with that, and Bill and I very quickly formed a very strong relationship.

 

That's one of my favorite things about her relationship with Knightley - the fact that he is so accepting of this very important relationship in the woman that he love's life, and he's not threatened by it and actually want to be a part of it. Which is really wonderful. That's something I really connect with.

 

Something more difficult is, and Autumn and I discussed it a lot after filming ended, that I was very bullied as a kid. I have never been the bully, and it doesn't feel good even when you're playing a role. It's funny actually, because I've played a psychopath before - a proper psychopath. And the whole time I was playing, I defended her completely, because you have to be in their headspace if you want to justify their choice. You just do. And at the end of filming, that's when you realize what a terrible person she was.

 

But with Emma, I was very hyper-aware that she was a good person who was acting like a bully. And that made those moments much harder to do. I would go up to Autumn and be like, "I don't like Emma right now." I've not had that with a character before, and I think it's because she's a good human; she's just not treating people with the respect that they deserve.

Aside from Emma, which is your favorite Jane Austen novel or character?

Anya Taylor-Joy: Aside from Emma? Not necessarily a book that she published, but a book that I really thoroughly enjoy is Jane Austen's Letters to Her Sister Cassandra [and Others]. Which is real letters that Jane Austen wrote to her sister.

 

I find them fascinating. They're truly fascinating, because it's talking about her life and what she's experiencing, and her wanting to be a writer. And the world not being built, really, for women to succeed at all. It's wonderful to have a very intimate insight into the mind of such a brilliant human.

More: Read Screen Rant's Interview with Director Autumn de Wilde

Emma is now available on digital as well as on Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand.

Chris Cooper & Hong Chau Interview: Homecoming Season 2

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Homecoming, from the mind of Mr. Robot’s Sam Esmail, is now in its second season. The psychological thriller series got viewers talking and critics applauding when it dropped in 2018, but this new run of episodes will focus on a different set of characters for the most part.

Among the newcomers is veteran actor Chris Cooper, who plays the mysterious Mr. Geist and is deeply entangled in the Homecoming Initiative. But there are also some holdovers from season one, such as Hong Chau’s Audrey. Weaving previous continuity into the new mysteries that arise helps maintain the show’s pace and tension, which both cast members praised when chatting with Screen Rant about what to expect.

Chris, you're known for choosing projects that are gripping and with great content. What was it about the second season of Homecoming that piqued your curiosity? 

Chris Cooper: The first season. Having seen that first season, it was it was everything I could hope for. I loved the psychological thriller aspect. The scripts were really wonderful. I liked the pacing. What really caught me was, and I will say this time and time again, it allowed for the actors - within the scene work, it really allowed the actors to breathe. These scenes weren't rushed, and I adored that. And I love the soundtracks on the first season. I recognized a lot of old soundtrack music being played behind. I loved that; I thought that was brilliant.

 

And then to come along and find that in the second season they were looking for the Geist character, and having read the scripts, I really wanted to go after this role.

Hong, you're one of the rare returning characters from the first season. Can you talk to me about the shift in tone from that season to this one?

Hong Chau: I knew before signing up for the first season that Audrey Temple was going to come back in a major way in the second season. They just weren't sure what that storyline would be exactly, but they told me that they wanted the character to start off seeming pretty insignificant. So, we really only saw her as this lowly assistant working at the front reception desk. And it wasn't until that final scene at the end of season one, where she just makes this really extraordinary power move over her supervisor, Colin Belfast, who's played by Bobby Cannavale.

 

In season two, we find out how she came to be in that position to do that to Colin Belfast. We also learned that she's not entirely comfortable with what she did. And that was really interesting for me to find out, because I assumed that we were just going to see Audrey go on this trajectory of chopping heads off. And that would have been really fun too, but I think that this was a much more interesting direction to take the character.

I don't know if this is true or not, but is the second season not based on the podcast?

Hong Chau: No, it's not based on the podcast. I guess I was still a little bit hung up on my character, the version from the podcast, because she was so bossy and demeaning to Colin Belfast. So, I thought that maybe that would carry into the second season, but it wasn't the case at all.

 

I think that they were challenging themselves to move away from that podcast, because that really was what this first season was. And I think because it was so well received, they wanted the audience not to miss that first season and really create something that would be really fulfilling and satisfying to the audience. So, that's why they raised the stakes; they blew up the world, and we got to see what really was going on at this mysterious Geist Corporation.

More: Stephan James Interview: Homecoming Season 2

Homecoming season 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime

Stephan James Interview: Homecoming Season 2 | Screen Rant

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Amazon's critically acclaimed thriller series, Homecoming, is returning next week after first debuting in 2018. While the first season was based on a podcast from Gimlet Media, the second veers away from its origins and trades Julia Roberts for Janelle Monae. But Stephan James remains to anchor the show as Walter Cruz, the veteran who was discharged from the Homecoming facility.

James sat down with Screen Rant to discuss the differences in the second season and how the new focus of the show affects his performance as Walter, as well as how it feels to work with actors like Janelle Monae and Chris Cooper.

Talk to me about what Walter experiences in the first season and how his journey may differ in the new season.

Stephan James: Yeah. I think in that first season, I think people saw maybe a naivete and innocence in Walter. Rightfully so. I mean, you were dealing with a veteran who was losing his memory by the day. And for me, there's a vulnerability that comes with that, and maybe that's why people really, really tapped into to Walter storyline so much.

 

For me, what was really rewarding was that I was able to really switch it up this season and do something that feels like I was completing his story. It feels like I was tying up the loose ends and so many unanswered questions from that first season. I think Walter wanted answers, you know what I mean? He wanted to right some of those wrongs. And he's on a mission this season, to say the least.

Your character is one that stands out, because he's one of the only characters that returns from the first season. How does that experience benefit him, and in what ways does that also set him back in this journey?

Stephan James: Yeah, I think that the way that it sets him back is that I think Walter is plagued with this enormous paranoia. And it's hard to trust anybody; it's hard to believe anything he's been told. Obviously, that comes with some of the nasty things that happened to him in season one.

 

But for me, what was so cool with this season is he's kind of in the driver's seat this time. You know, I think there's a level of intellect; a level of drive and motivation and purpose that he has this season, that didn't exist in that first season.

This season isn't based on the podcast, and it really creates its own world. Can you talk to me about the world-building that we see in the second season?

Stephan James: I mean, that's a big credit to Kyle Patrick Alvarez, our director this season. He really did a great job of just taking on the world; seeing that first season and taking it for what it was, but being able to maintain and elevate and expand it in a really cool way. I feel like the show was a lot less contained this season. You know, a lot more exteriors. So it was really, really cool for me to just switch up the feel a little bit.

As an actor, since this is a new thing in the second season, does that change your performance as Walter?

Stephan James: I don't think it changes it, because I think he's still the same person. I think I was just able to add elements to him; colors to him that were missing. There's a depth and a level of humanity that I felt like he really, really deserved. And I was able to give that to him this season.

Can you talk to me about Janelle? What kind of energy does she bring to set? Talk to me about her creative spirit, and what she brought to the character that might not necessarily been on the page.

Stephan James: Yeah, Janelle has been incredible. Honestly, I've been so just amazed by her focus, her attention and detail. She's really got this this drive, as far as her work habits, to want to do her best in every given moment. And it's something that's admirable for me. It makes it easy for me to work with her. And it helps us she's a cool person too - really, really sweet. We just had a lot of side conversations and things of that nature while on set as well. Not a bad scene partner.

Chris Cooper is also an addition to this second season. Can you talk to me about what he brings to set and a little bit about his character?

Stephan James: I mean, the great Chris Cooper. What more can I say? I think that casting was perfect. When they told me that Chris was gonna play Mr. Geist, I just thought it was perfect. He really steps into it; he owns it. He's got these really cool, bushy eyebrows.

More: Janelle Monae Interview: Homecoming Season 2

Homecoming season 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

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