Alex was recently interviewed by the Gold Derby (May 21, 2017) about his career, growing up in a family of actors and playing Perry in Big Little Lies.
Watch his interview below or on YouTube (x):
Excerpts from Alex’s interview:
On what drew him to play Perry:
Alex: "What I was drawn to was the fact that he felt like a very conflicted character and it felt like that friction was very interesting to me. It didn’t feel like the stereotypical abusive husband. You know? The wife beater. It felt very layered and I was very intrigued by the relationship between Perry and Celeste and the kind of volatility of that and the intensity of it. It was just something that I thought David E. Kelley, who wrote the script, had the way it was mapped out was very interesting. I love the idea that you first meet this family in this, you know, affluent neighborhood, with these cute kids and everything is perfect and it’s almost like you watch it and you think like that’s the dream life. They’ve been together for ten years and they’re still super passionate. I thought it was just fascinating the way it was structured and that fact that it doesn’t get super violent early on. It’s just like he grabs her at the end of the first episode and hopefully you’ll get this reaction from the audience like, ‘Whoa, I thought this was the dream couple. Something’s wrong.’
The fact that it escalates is quite interesting because in the beginning you don’t really know what goes on…what is that? Is that some weird game or is something sexual going on? The fact that it takes a while to realize that it’s really, really dark and very bad between the two.”
On doing True Blood:
Alex: “It was such a profound experience. It was seven years of my life and it kind of changed my career and changed my life. I miss it because it became like a family. When you freelance as an actor you form these bonds and these intense relationships but it’s usually for a few months and then you move on.
That was the only time that I had like a family I would return to. We would shoot seven months of the year and then we’d go off and do a movie or two and take some time off and see our families and then you come back and it’s kind of like that back-to-school feeling of being reunited. Not only the cast but we had the same crew for seven years.
That’s something that I miss as an actor. You don’t have colleagues that you grow up with in that sense. It’s usually for just a few months. So, it meant so much to me on many levels - obviously career-wise but personally as well.”
On his Big Little Lies character, Perry, being killed off:
Alex: "I thought it was great. It’s so physical. It’s so intense, so primal the way it goes down. I love that. I love that all the ladies gang up on him and together like smaller predators taking on a larger predator, their combined strength will take him down. I love that it’s so physical and so intense. I thought it was a great way to end the show.“
On working with Nicole Kidman:
Alex: "I think she’s okay. (laughter)
She’s extraordinary. She was already attached when I was sent the script.
I’ve been a fan for twenty years. My father worked with her on a Lars von Trier film, Dogville, about ten, twelve years ago and he had an amazing time and loved her. I worked with Lars on a movie and he spoke very highly of Nicole as well so I was very excited.
I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. It was a very, very tough shoot - it’s obviously very emotionally and physically tough to portray these characters and go through this story but Nicole is such a sweet and generous human being and obviously an extraordinary actress. I think it was very important that we got along because it’s very difficult to shoot those scenes and I’m incredibly happy that I had her [as a scene partner] at the end of the day. To shoot those fight scenes for ten, twelve hours was emotionally draining and it’s very, very tough. Those were some of the toughest days on set that I’ve ever experienced.”
On whether he cares about playing likable or redeemable characters:
Alex: "I don’t really care if he’s likable or redeemable, no. (laughter)
I want him to at least be conflicted. No matter how dark he is, you want to feel that there is some sort of inner struggle going on because that’s what makes it three-dimensional to me and what makes it feel real and interesting. If you’re going to play just like the traditional bad guy, it’s rarely interesting to me.“
On what he’s learned from coming from a family of artists and actors:
Alex: "Well, my father…he’s always been very kinds of hands off when it comes to all the kids. He obviously loves being an actor but he never tried to kind of push us into it or convince us, you know, ‘You should really do this. This is a great job.’
I was a child actor and then I quit when I was thirteen because I didn’t think this was for me. And he was just…it was a three second conversation…Dad was like, 'If that doesn’t make you happy then do something else.’
That’s kind of been the core…He just wants all his kids to be happy…if that’s being a barista in Stockholm or working as an actor in Hollywood, he’s equally happy and it’s always been great to feel that…to feel like there’s zero pressure coming from Dad or Mom. They don’t care if we’re financially successful as long as we’re happy and that we’re doing things that we’re excited about…they’re happy.
I think that was important to me. When I left acting, I didn’t act for eight years because that gave me an opportunity to do other things and then find my own way back into it. It wasn’t like Dad steered me in that direction. It was my own choice and that was very important for me to feel.”
*Random facts from the interview:
~Alex read the Big Little Lies script first and then read the book a month before they started principle photography.
~He loves the format of doing a limited TV series (Big Little Lies, Generation Kill) over a long period of a time (“it’s a dream” for an actor…and “an opportunity to go a lot deeper and get to know [the character] a bit better”).
~His scene in the car with Nicole at the end of Big Little Lies was also shot toward the end of filming.
~He said he wasn’t invited to Comic-Con during the first year True Blood aired.