FREDDIE: Richard Armitage is an amazing actor and he’s definitely a very, very anticipated part of the season: What brought you to his casting choice?
BRYAN: I’d been a fan of Richard’s for a while and have many mutual friends, but I’d never met him, but I knew his representatives very closely and had talked to them the year before about how it would be great to get him on the show because I think he’s so wonderful and would understand the heightened, bizarre tone of the stories that we’re telling and be able to access them emotionally, which any great, trained actor is able to do. It kinda reminded me of working on Star Trek because we always tried to cast experienced, trained actors for the aliens because they were able to have that broad declaration of a style with the language because it was always in some heightened form because it was alien – Klingons have a very specific kind of grandiosity – so to have somebody who can provide authenticity to the extremes is a vital component when we cast.
I’d been talking to Lee Pace, actually, about playing the role of the Red Dragon, because Lee and I go way back, and he was very interested in doing so, so I was always thinking Lee was going to do it, and I was poking pins in the “Halt and Catch Fire” voodoo doll hoping that he would be available, but that show came back – which I’m very happy ultimately that it did for everyone involved in it – but I was also shaking my fist at the same time because I wanted to work with Lee again on the show, but once Lee was unavailable I knew exactly who I was going to go to. I’d been talking to Richard’s reps about him doing the show and if he would be interested and they were always very encouraging, so I got on the phone with Richard. He’s such a thoughtful actor and an interesting man, he has so much respect for all facets of storytelling and really honors and respects his craft, so the conversations were fantastic about his interpretation of Francis, and he actually sent me several of his journals which detailed how he was approaching the character, he was so well read and articulate in terms of his approach of Francis Dolarhyde that I felt safe with the role in his hands, so he came aboard and won everyone over. He was such a wonderful breath of fresh air for the series, because he’s essentially a regular in the last six episodes of this season, he’s in every episode and has as much to do as Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, so it’s very much the thrumble of these three crazy guys in the last six episodes.
I can’t speak enough on the subject about how adored this man was on the crew, and he’s playing a scary guy, the crew was always really amused at how dedicated and intense he was and then how approachable he was after scenes were completed. He’s somebody who takes his work very seriously and it was just a joy to work with him, I really loved it, it was a wonderful collaboration.
FREDDIE: Dolarhyde’s tattoo looks incredible – can you tell us a bit about the process of designing it and applying it?
BRYAN: We had this wonderful tattoo artist in Los Angeles design the tattoo based on the painting, and it’s pretty cool. It looks great on him, and Richard is a fine physical specimen, so it was a beautiful canvas for that piece. It’s interesting because you print it out and we have to digitally remove seams and do a little bit of cleanup in post on it because with a tattoo that massive you can’t help but see how it’s connected together.
FREDDIE: I noticed that Dolarhyde’s kimono seems to be Blake inspired as well.
BRYAN: Yes, we wanted it to look like he was shedding insect layers, there’s almost this Alexander McQueen inspired dragonfly scaling around the kimono, and it’s a gorgeous fabric that we printed the design on, it lights up when it’s backlit, it’s gorgeous. I actually called wardrobe and said “I need to keep Dolarhyde’s kimono.”
FREDDIE: Do you think people will find Dolarhyde repellant and horrifying or do you think they’ll find sympathy for him given his upbringing and the other challenges he’s faced?
BRYAN: I think it is fascinating because he is a killer of families, yet we don’t meet him that way, we meet him as a man who is clearly struggling with his sanity and his isolation who then finds some sort of connection to humanity, and you want it to take hold, you want him to reform and redeem himself. His is a tragic story.
One of the things that I was really excited about this arc was just telling that tragic romance between Francis and Reba, both of them are just so wonderful. Rutina Wesley is a completely different character than on True Blood and you really get to see what a wonderful actress she is and how broad her talent is. There were times that we were sitting in the editing room going over a scene and both the editor and I had to wipe a tear out of the corner of our eyes because you’re rooting for this man to find some peace because he is so tortured, and yes, he is a terrible killer of families but Richard imbues him with great power and also tremendous vulnerability and it’s incredibly appealing.
FREDDIE: I’m really excited for Rutina, excited for her as an actress and excited for another woman of color to join the cast, which is absolutely fantastic.
FREDDIE: I’ve always viewed Reba as the “Woman Clothed in the Sun” to Francis’ “Great Red Dragon”, I’ve always seen them as having this beautiful kind of balance, that she definitely affects his “Becoming” because I feel like, and maybe you can confirm this, that there’s this torturous agony for Francis, this struggle between his human side and the Dragon, and Reba really cements that human side of him.
BRYAN: Oh yes, absolutely, she represents humanity, and there’s something about the mythology of that particular painting because the Woman Clothed in the Sun is the bearer of new life and the bearer of opportunity, so the Red Dragon in the mythology of Revelations is there to destroy her because she could change everything, and there he is standing over her and there’s hesitation because he sees what she could be bearing and how she could change the world and himself by just allowing her to give birth to that light and that new hope, and that is absolutely the struggle of their relationship, he sees her as something that threatens the Dragon but could liberate himself.
FREDDIE: What kind of challenges did Reba, as a blind character, present in casting regarding authenticity and representation?
BRYAN: You want to be able to be authentic in the role and in the casting, but you also have to make sure that whoever you cast is going to interpret the character as you see them, so we did do an initial search for blind actresses but there wasn’t anyone who was leaping out at us. So I called up Grace Wu, who’s the head of casting at NBC, and asked her “Who are you excited about? I’m open to whoever, I’m open to a great actress.” and she said “What do you think about Rutina Wesley?” and I was like “Done. I love her. Let’s cast her.” We called Rutina to see if she was interested, and I got on the phone with Rutina and talked with her about the role, and she’s yet another favorite person who came in and was such a delight and brought a different energy to the show which is what we look at with all of the guest cast, we want them to bring in a different flavor. Reba is such a huge emotional tent pole for the story we’re telling, and Rutina came in knowing this person had to have some inner light that drew Dolarhyde to her and you really see that in her performance.
FREDDIE: […]. How important IS the romantic aspect of the show?
There’s been an influx of romantic story lines in this season , particularly with Francis Dolarhyde and Reba McClane, which we get to see sexually and sensually and psychologically, and what these two people mean to each other, and their sex scene is beautiful and healthy (given the circumstances) and celebratory of two people divided coming together in a unique connection that makes you feel for both of those people, it is a celebration of what sex is supposed to be, which is a merging of two into one, or however many, if you’re a three, but it’s about connection and it’s about intimacy and the visual side of the storytelling really enhances that.
Source and complete interview: (Tattle Crime)