I’m drawn to vampire shows like a moth to a flame. Not all
of them pan out (like zombie media!), but the concept of a (typically) unending
being in nearly every possible time period is ripe with potential. Well, NOS4A2
definitely has potential, but I’m not sure it’s going to get to where it needs
to be by the time the first season ends.
Scoot McNairy is a film and television actor currently wrapping up his run as Gordon Clark on the AMC show Halt and Catch Fire, which covers the explosion of the tech industry in the 1980s and 90s. The show enters its final season this Sunday and covers the period in the 1990s when the Internet really took off and humanity entered an entirely new era. CG Magazine was lucky enough to get hold of Scoot and pick his brain about acting, the show, and his opinions on the birth of the Internet.
McNairy also might just be one of the friendliest people we’ve ever interviewed.
CGM: Now that the show is ending, looking back on the whole thing, how was the experience?
Scoot McNairy: It was incredible. I can’t believe how much I learned about TV: what it takes to write a show, producing a show like this, the inner workings. It was probably the most … [educational] experience that I’ve had. I learned so much about television, the process of it, and myself over these last four years that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
CGM: How was Halt and Catch Fire different from other shows or movies you’ve worked on?
Scoot McNairy: When you spend this much time with a group of people, I don’t know that there’s any way it can’t make an imprint on you. The character has been beaten up a lot throughout the seasons and went through a lot of struggles and hurdles that he had to overcome, so that part was always a challenge. What I remember most is the people I worked with and how much I enjoyed working with them, and that’s what I’m going to miss more than anything, as well as the writers and the creators. I always felt that when I got the scripts and read them, … the writing was so fantastic that I was always excited to go to work and do it, and that’s not always the case. I feel blessed and appreciative to have had the opportunity to be a part of this show.
CGM: Are things going to end well for Gordon?
Scoot McNairy: I think that right now we’re seeing Gordon in a wonderful place in his life, he’s sort of acquired his dreams and goals and [done the] things he really wanted to do in his life, and now he’s at a place where can he sit and be content with these things or is he going to continue to look and search for more? That’s what we’re going to see from Gordon over this final season and in regards to where he ends up, I think that’s sort of up in the air as to where all these characters end up because they are wrapping up this show and tying it up, so I think they aren’t going to leave anything open-ended this season. I think everyone is in for a really good ride as to what happens with these characters and where their endeavours lie and where they end up.
CGM: This season deals with the birth of the Internet, which was obviously a pretty big leap for human history. How does Gordon factor into this, and did you have to do much research to ensure an accurate portrayal?
Scoot McNairy: This season in regards to the birth of the Internet is actually around the time I started to take note of the tech industry, I don’t know how old I was, but I must have been 13 or 14-years-old. Everything up until this point, I didn’t have much of a reference for, so this season was the first time I was like, “Okay, I remember this”. In previous seasons, there was a lot of Googling to figure out what we were talking about and what was actually happening. The creators were always so wonderful, you could pick up a phone and call them at any time and they would spend as much time as you needed on the phone with you, explain things to you, and sort of lay it out for you in regards to what was happening and what was taking place. To answer your question though, yes, we always have to do tons of research because you have to keep up with the writers and the creators who were always ten steps ahead of us, and you always felt like you were struggling to catch up to them in regards to where the story was heading or what you were talking about when you were getting the episodes.
CGM: What does that research entail? Do you just start reading Wikipedia entries? How do you go about researching such a vast subject?
Scoot McNairy: Google. But you get certain catch phrases words, like “tokens”. I remember in season 2 in regards to tokens shifting in the tank game, and that didn’t really make sense to me. Because we’re in 2015, 2016, 2017 and all that stuff took place in the 80s and 90s, there’s a plethora of information about it, so you can just about find anything on the web. We read books, we watched documentaries. One of the most beneficial was the Steve Jobs book that Walter Isaacson wrote; it carried you through Steve Jobs’s experience in regards to these times. We obviously had to look deeper into it because we weren’t really necessarily in his story, but it’s all available, anything you wanted to know about computers you could find on a computer.
CGM: What was your first, personal experience with the Internet?
Scoot McNairy: I remember AOL and dial-up. I have a very short attention span, so until they got high-speed Internet, I didn’t really get on the Internet, because I couldn’t sit there and stare at a computer and wait: it reminded me of sitting in an edit-bay while you’re waiting for the computer to render. … [S]omething [I saw] to be a problem, and what I still think has some plusses and negatives, is social media. When social media sort of took off with Myspace, I never really hopped on board and still haven’t to this day. When I saw this could have a negative effect…there are a lot of people out there who don’t have people in their lives so the positive effect is that these people can connect with and reach out to somebody. With that being said, there have been so many negative things in regards to cyber-bullying down to people taking their lives based on something that someone wrote on the Internet. Also the lack of connection that people have with one another in this day and age. I don’t really email anybody: I pick up the phone and call them. I just feel like there has been a certain sense of separation in society …[when it comes to] how we communicate with each other. I looked at social media and thought, “I don’t know how great this is”. We’re moving towards people sitting in a pod 24 hours a day having things delivered to their house and not really associating with anybody. That was the first time I got a scare that this could be a negative thing.
CGM: Upcoming projects and plans now that Halt and Catch Fire is done?
Scoot McNairy: I have a couple jobs that I’m starting, reading some scripts. I’ve always kept my eye on working on films, and now I’m in a position where I don’t really have to squeeze a film or another project in based on the hiatus of the show, so the sky’s the limit at the present time. I’m starting back to work in November but I’m just taking some time off to spend with my family and be with them.
CGM: Thanks for chatting to us Scoot!
Scoot McNairy: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, and thanks for taking interest in the show. The show doesn’t work unless we have fans, so I want to say thank you so much watching the show.
Fans of AMC’s adaption of Garth Ennis’ and Steve Dillon’s award-winning comic series Preacher will be happy to learn the show isn’t stopping at one season. Despite a fairly hushed release, Preacher is pleasing both fans and critics alike, enough to justify it’s continuation.
Orla Brady is an Irish-born actress, well known for her many dramatic roles in such works as American Odyssey, Fringe, and Banished. Comics & Gaming Magazine sat down with her to discuss her desire to be a stage actress and how her most recent role in Into the Badlands made her a believer of martial arts films.
Comics & Gaming Magazine: I’ll begin with my usual question, how did you become an actor? Who, or what, drove you towards it?
Orla Brady: It wasn’t a single person, it was more the idea. For a start, I never wanted to be on film, I wanted to be on stage. Where I grew up, in the center of Dublin, there were two theaters around the corner from me; one was a big old, showy Victorian theater and the other was a small art house, this amazing artsy little place called the Project Art Center. I used to go and watch people rehearsing in both those theaters while I was at school, and was just fascinated by it. I did that for many years not knowing that I would be an actress, I just loved it and wanted to be around it.
But I was very shy at that stage. People are always a bit surprised to hear that because I’m truly not shy now, but I just didn’t think it was for me then. I didn’t think I could have a voice. But I’ve kind of crept up on acting as a grown up, I didn’t start as a teenager. I sort of just snuck up on it from behind while no one was looking.
CGM: Did you go to school for acting?
OB: Yes, I went off to Paris and I did several things there. My favourite thing that I did in Paris was, there’s a man named Philippe Gaulier and he taught a very well known group who have worked in England for many, many years called the Theatre de Complicite. I had seen several of their shows, and I really admired them theatrically. I became really enamored with the idea of physical theater, sort-of expressing it physically. So anyway, Philippe was wonderful influence on me. He encouraged me to be myself and not feel inadequate.
CGM:: Were there any actors or actresses in particular who might have inspired you, or perhaps whose styles you wanted to replicate?
OB: Actually, truthfully not at that point. It was the writers who I found most inspiring. It’s understanding that I couldn’t write to save my life. I would dearly, dearly, dearly love to write, but I can’t. I admire it too much to believe mine could ever be any good. So I kind of thought the next best thing would to be a “writer’s mole” and the closest thing to being a writers mole was to interpret good writing and maybe bringing it to life. You know, dancing, singing and acting are all interpretive arts, but they have to be written first. Without the writing, you have nothing; but then you do need somebody, like a playwright to bring it to life. And that’s what I thought my role was.
The excitement for me was reading a great piece of writing and bringing that to life. Telling the story of that character, adding that little tile to the wall, if you like.
CGM: Now, I’ve noticed in your career, you’ve played a lot of classical roles. Coupled with your desire to be a stage actress, did you feel suited to playing Baroness Lydia?
What is a lovely, lovely thing (it’s a gift), is when someone writes a piece and they’re not trying to make you younger or older. She is a peer of mine, obviously I’m playing her as my age, but there’s something beautiful about having a rounded character- not somebody’s naggy wife- just a character who is autonomous, who is individual, who is strong and also flawed and vulnerable.
And it’s just a gift to be able to play her, and I loved her apparent strength and her imperiousness, but of course, what is very interesting to play is what the vulnerability underneath that is. This is a woman who appears to have it all, but in fact, she’s losing everything. She’s losing her husband, she’s losing her space, the court that would have paid her respect, and she’s losing her son. She’s a woman who is on a very slippery slide, even though appearances are of great security and this is very interesting to play.
CGM: What would you say is your favorite aspect of Lydia to play?
OB: The thing that I come back to that makes me go “Atta girl,” is that she is becoming invisible to her husband. And Marton Csokas plays it rather wonderfully. It’s kind of like his eyes slide around the room when she’s in the room. He doesn’t focus on her, he’s not interested. He’s interested in her council, he’s very much dependent on her input, but as a woman it’s like he doesn’t even see her. It’s that experience that many women have in their marriage, but she is making the decision that she is not going to go away. She’s not going to become invisible, there’s some force that’s gathering within her. It’s a force, I feel, of…entitlement, if you like. Like, “I built this kingdom too. And now I’m being thrown out?” And a sense of “I am not going to go into a corner and wait,” and I love that about her.
CGM: What about Lydia do you think reflects you best as both an actor and a person? What about you did you want to bring to her?
OB: Well, that’s an interesting question to answer isn’t it? She has a reputation as a poisoner obviously (hahaI mean, look, what you want to do with any character, be they good, bad or indifferent, even if you play someone who is monstrous in some people’s eyes (I’ve played an IRA hunger striker before and to some people, these people were terrorists) is to be partisan when you play a part. You have to take the side of the character and not judge them. If you judge them, what you do when you play them is, you’re giving a lecture on the character. You’re giving a rather dry rendering of a character that you’ve pre-judged. What you have to do is absolutely get behind the woman because whatever her actions may be, there is a reason we do all things. Even in our worst moments, there are reasons why we do them.
I suppose what I wanted to bring is that feeling of insecurity, that feeling that the world is falling away from under your feet and that you have to hold onto something and you grasp around for ways to do that. Sometimes, you find good ways.
CGM: It seems like everyone in the Badlands are pretty skilled fighters. Is Lydia going to show us her moves at some point?
OB: Well, in this series by definition we can’t go deeply into all the characters; we have ten main characters and only six episodes, and a sort-of essential kick off story, to happen. Were we to go to season two, we might see something about Lydia’s past, and there might be a skill therein.
CGM: Were you ever a fan of martial arts and Kung-Fu movies?
Orla: Nope. Not at all. Look, there are a few obvious things like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, we all saw Crouching Tiger and thought “Oh my god! How unusual!” But I wouldn’t have watched martial arts movies, because I wouldn’t have been attracted to them. I wouldn’t have thought they were something that interested me because I would’ve been more interested in character, and development and drama that I felt was realistic. However, having accepted this role, because I thought the characters were interesting, I then kind of immersed myself in martial arts films and of course, they’re fascinating! It’s…oh my god! Like, Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster I was actually in tears at the end of that, it was so beautiful. I’ve discovered it’s a whole new dimension to my life that I’m very pleased about.
And aside from the beauty and ballet of martial arts, one of the things I loved was it was always the little guy; the little ordinary guy, not the big, you know, American paradigm like the John Wayne type. But this was to do with a moral center. The kind of guy that you wouldn’t turn around in the street to look at, but the beauty of them was their morality, their sense of rightness it was just something I found very beautiful about the genre.
CGM: And my last question is, have you been enjoying this project and are you excited to do more of it?
OB: Oh my God, are you kidding!? I’d really love to because we’ve set off these characters. I mean, six felt like it was enough time to propose a story and you develop them a little bit, but you don’t get into it; into their further journey. And yeah of course I’d love to know about all the characters, but in my corner, I’d love to tell more of Lydia’s story and I’d love to get into some fights.
Well slap me with a frying pan and call me an omelet with all the egg on my face. Having been thoroughly convinced of Glenn’s demise it appears the slavering fans will finally be satisfied. In the first few minutes of the show we see how sneaky Glenn narrowly avoided becoming zombie chow by sneaking under a dumpster and waiting it out, with a little help from Enid. Together they make the journey back to Alexandria, while Glenn lectures Enid about not running from your fears, and dealing with guilt, and not giving up on the world and all that.
Meanwhile in Alexandria, tensions are rising as Rick and the gang begin to question Morgan’s place in the group as the only member who actively refuses to kill the bad guys. Rick is slowly realizing he has less control over Alexandria than he thought as Spencer risks his life to try and lead the walkers away from the walls. When the plan goes south and Spencer falls into the pile, the combined efforts of the group manage to save his life (though Tara gets a thorough talking to for risking her life to save his.)
Carol continues to be a consistently horrible person as she tries to hone in on Morgan and Denise’s plan to heal the wound of the captured Wolf, not before telling Sam that killing people is the “only thing that keeps you from becoming a monster.” It seems that as the show goes on, Carol is becoming more and more unwound and I’m personally praying for her to be converted to zombie food.
Speaking of unwound characters, after asking Rick to teach him how to shoot, Ron seems poised to point his gun straight at Carl. There’s a ton of tension in the scene where Rick and Carl are trying to train him, and close to the end Ron sneaks into the armory to steal bullets for the gun Rick gave him. One of the ending scenes shows Ron walking behind Carl, hand on his gun, which leads me to speculate that this could be the iconic moment in the comics where Carl gets a chunk of his face blown off.
As the show comes to an end, and Rick and co. look to the horizon at the balloons Glenn and Enid released into the air, a structurally unstable tower collapses on the wall of Alexandria right before the cut to black.
Honestly, vindicated or not about Glenn being alive, and with the next episode being the mid-season finale, it’s now very obvious that his “death” was a very obvious plot hook for an otherwise boring mid-season. I couldn’t help but laugh at all the inspirational speeches Rick and the team were giving amongst each other about how much they’ve been through, and “we’ve made it out through worse” as if to say “we’re the favourite main characters, we’ll make it out of any situation, because the ratings demand it.” I’m interested to see how Morgan will deal with the group who so passionately oppose his views, and what will happen now that some real action is ramping up for the next episode.