This is a pinch-me moment, I have spent the last year or so binge-watching LOST, and now here I am, typing up an interview with one of the actors who happens to play one of my favorite characters! Getting to talk with Michael Emerson was nothing short of an absolute delight, he was thoughtful with his answers and has me absolutely pumped for EVIL season three! If you are as big of a fan as I am, you're going to love this interview! Before I ramble on any more, let's get into it!
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We've Got the 'EVIL' season three premiere on June 12th, so what can fans expect from the new season?
Well, for one thing, they can expect it to pick up exactly where season two left off, the very next moment after that kiss between Kristen and David. A lot of season three will be about how they learn to cope with what they obviously feel for one another, but they aren't allowed to feel, so that's going to get complicated because they're going to be struggling with their darker natures, and their lighter natures. It's going to make for some situations, as you might imagine! Leland, he's just very busy, some of his projects he's given up on, but he has new ones! He still intends to infiltrate the church I think, and sort of corrupt it from the inside. He wants to give Sheryl some kind of a position of power that will make her happy. He needs to discredit or destroy Sister Andrea and create corrupt relationships with Kristen's kids, if possible. All well he holds down a full-time job!
When it comes to Dr. Leland, what is the biggest change in the character from when we first meet him, to where he is now going into season three?
Well, I don't know if the change is so much in him, I think the change is in the viewership! I think the viewers have gotten kind of used to him and despite him being a terrible person they kind of like him a little bit, because he is occasionally funny, and he has a way with words. He's a good game player, and when you know what he's up to, it's kind of fun to watch him do it!
When it comes to playing the villain, something you've done a few times is there a specific routine that you have to put yourself in and out of the mindset of playing someone that is obviously so different from yourself?
No, you know just saying the words puts me in the right place. I would have to say that has always been true for me as an actor, I am not really what I would call a method kind of person. Everything I need is kind of on the page, and then my job is to flesh it out play with it, make it interesting, make it slightly more funny or menacing, if I can. And to me, that's a fun day's work. And it's not particularly taxing, it's nothing I have to clock out of at the end of the day.
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Speaking of playing the villain, Variety magazine named your character on LOST, Benjamin Linus, as one of the greatest villains in television history! What do you think it is that people really loved to hate, in a way, about the character?
Oh, Benjamin Linus, well, that was a broken man! He is so different from Leland, who I play now, but Benjamin was a broken guy, behaving badly but having some anguish about it, and he was wonderfully sneaky! And like Leland, he was a good game player, he had many interesting angles and strategies that he could go to work on people with. He had a great understanding of human psychology and he knew how to get under people's skin and corrupt them. But it's fun, those are the fun roles to play because they have layers! It's hard to find all those layers in a really nice guy, but if you're a villain, oh my god! The lying, the faces, the play-acting, the theatrics of it, it's too good.
I am somebody who over this pandemic decided to sit down and watch LOST, so I wanted to ask what it's been like seeing this almost new life being breathed in the show, years after its finale aired?
Well, I certainly notice that more people, and younger people, are stopping me on the street to talk about LOST. And you know, it's been twelve years now, but that's a big chunk of a generation! Kids that were too young to see it while it was airing are now enjoying it, and I am really happy about it! Everybody has the advantage on me though, because I haven't looked at it in twelve years, everybody else has. You know, people will quote to me the number of an episode or a title or a particular scene, and it's really hard for me to cast my mind back and really remember all the details. I am afraid at some point I am going to have to watch it again and refresh my memory, and I am sure it will be a treat! It was so much fun to work on that show, and I am sure I've forgotten most of the wonderful scenes that we did. I would watch it if for nothing else than the locations, all the jungles at night and the beaches at sunset, volcanoes., water spouts, secret caves, secret temples, it was fantastic.
Speaking of location shoots for LOST, was there a favorite location from anything you've shot so far for EVIL?
Wow, well, I have to say one of the things I think about most when it comes to EVIL is Leland's apartment that they built. Like stuff on the show, it keeps changing in ways. In season one, there wasn't much of an apartment, just kinda a living room, a bedroom, and a desk, then it got much more elaborate over time. We have a big modern kitchen, ceremonial chambers, secret doors, and torture rooms. So I really do like it, it's like "oh here we are at home again, let the madness begin."
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In my research, for this interview, I found that you have a background in theater. So I was wondering if there's maybe a specific skill that you learned on stage that you've found helps you on screen as well?
Oh, all the skills I learned on the stage have helped me as a tv actor! I couldn't do the work I do now if I hadn't been trained in the theater. There are some basics, one is control over my voice, clear diction, speaking plainly at pace, that's important be it tv or broadway. So is control over your posture, control over your physical being, and ways of moving or walking. Like on Person of Intrest, for five years I had to play that guy who had a terrible attack and had one leg that didn't work, and an infused vertebrae so he couldn't turn his head. All of that was a challenge. I found that after I did Person of Intrest, I had to do some physical therapy! People think that it's just make-believe but if you play crippled every day for years, your body begins to believe you. Your body starts compensating for your bad leg or your stiff neck, I should have been doing more stretching all along! But, I don't think I could have done it, or even imagined it, had it not been for some of the work I have done on stage. On stage you get to play a little wider range of character types, you can be pirates and villains, priests, and every different kind of thing. All of them with different bodies, different voices, and different brains. But all of them have to be presented clearly, and so that's my takeaway from the stage.
So, looking at the other characters on EVIL, if you had to play a different character is there a certain one that comes to mind?
Jeepers, I'll just say the character I am most interested in right now, which is Sister Andrea, played by Andrea Martin! I love her because she is spooky and a little bit possessed, and has special powers that no one knows about. Plus, she lives at all times, in a place that is a battleground between demons and angels! If you would have asked me who I would have wanted to be on LOST, I would have said Mr. Echo. Because again, I guess there are similarities between Mr. Echo and Sister Andrea, and that is they both live in a landscape where there is a battle between demons and angels.
So when you look back at the two seasons of EVIL that we've already seen, is there a particular episode that you've noticed is a reoccurring favorite among everyone?
I'm going to say, I think a lot of people agree with me when I say what my favorite episode is! My favorite episode is 2:07 which is the silent episode.
Yeah, I have seen that episode mentioned a lot online!
I am not even in it, but I love it! It's got that cool setting of a mysterious old monastery that harbors centuries' worth of secrets, you know possibly bad things have gone on there. I am a sucker for that stuff! In fact, I did a mini-series in Italy called The Name of the Rose a few years ago and it had many of those same qualities. People sneaking around stone stairwells and hallways late at night, deadly secrets going on.
As I said at the beginning, we're just days away from the premiere of season three of EVIL, so what's next for you? What is the rest of 2022 looking like?
I am going to take it easy! I have some little bits and pieces of work that I have to do, I do some voice-over work for animation projects, super-hero things, stuff like that, that's a couple of days a month. And then just lots of home improvement projects at my country house! I am going to enjoy a little bit of country life!!
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