I love being one of the senior writers on Biff Bam Pop!, I get to interview such interesting people. I left off on Part One of my interview with Drew Nelson, who played Matt Sayles on FX’s hit vampire show, asking him what it was like to live and die on “The Strain.” We’ll pick up from there.
Marie Gilbert: I feel bad for the actors. So this was another job for you and you did a great job and I really did hate to see you go especially since you had to put up with an ex-husband (Dr. Ephraim Goodweather) and then you’re in your office planning something nice for Kelly Goodweather and you get attacked.
Drew Nelson: “I know. It would have been nice to live longer in the series, but the show’s about Eph not Matt, ha. My character was specifically there to give Eph another obstacle to overcome, and the story line ran its course. I knew that going in and it was really the opportunity to work with Guillermo (del Toro), Carlton (Cuse), and Corey Stoll that intrigued me.
Marie Gilbert: “Well, how does that affect an actor knowing that you’ll die?”
Drew Nelson: “You can’t take it personally. Because it was already in the books, I just had to take it with a grain of salt. It’s the reality of the situation. I just wanted to do the best work I could possibly do while I was on the show, and trust that I made a strong enough impact that it will lead to the next gig. It was all about soaking up the experience as much as I could, and learning from it.
“And to be quite honest, hopefully have the trajectory of someone like Corey Stoll. SPOILER ALERT He died in “House of Cards” where he was a supporting character and now he’s a lead on his own show. You just have to keep looking to the future and you can’t dwell on the one gig because as an actor it’s always what am I doing next. I’m excited that doors have been opened for me from landing this job and I heard through the grapevine that there were a great deal of guys who auditioned for the part in LA and all over North America, so I’m grateful that Guillermo chose me for the role.
“Being a part of the first season of this show and part of this phenomenon has been incredible, because the fan base is so loyal and dedicated.”
Marie Gilbert: Well, we already had the fan base for the books and those fans couldn’t wait to see the show. Is Guillermo the type of director that is very hands on?
Drew Nelson: “Yes, I’d say he’s very hands on. It’s his baby and he’s the executive producer and has all the hands in the decision making with all the departments, so he gets the final say on everything. When we were filming the pilot, Guillermo was on set every day, however, Guillermo is a workaholic and was prepping his feature film Crimson Peak at the same time he was shooting the pilot for “The Strain!”
“As far as being open to collaboration, there was one particular moment in a scene where we were having trouble starting it, so I threw out a couple of ideas, we tried them, and he said, ‘Let’s stick with that.’
“Technically, he’s so specific and knows exactly how the camera is going to move and how the dialogue is going to flow based on his shot design. The way his mind works is incredible because everything is so expertly planned ”
Marie Gilbert: And that helps you as an actor.
Drew Nelson: “Absolutely, and the crew too. He’s so meticulous on how our shot is going to look that the crew just have to set it up for him and boom! This goes for the performance, too, when we know where the cameras are going to be at the exact moment in the scene, it just makes our job so much easier. Besides the fact of him being such a brilliant director, he’s such a great guy. He’s cracking jokes all the time and has such a youthful energy. He had a bunch of inside jokes with the crew members that were ongoing throughout shooting. Yeah, I’d be back in a heartbeat. Guillermo’s a really great person all around.”
Marie Gilbert: I’m looking at your IMDb and you were in a lot of shows that I like or my husband likes. You were in “Lost Girl.” I love that show and, you were in “Supernatural” and my husband loves that shows and you were in a movie with Bruce Willis Live Free and Die Hard as a terrorist.
Drew Nelson: “No, you know what, Marie. There was a time when my IMDb got hacked as well as my Wikipedia and people put me in a bunch of things that I had never been in like “Friends” and Live Free and Die Hard.”
Marie Gilbert: I’m checking the IMDb now and you were on “Fringe,” “Smallville,” and “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” and you did a voice on “Total Drama.” So, which part in either film or television was your favorite?
Drew Nelson: “Let me see. I had the opportunity to work with a lot of great American directors, Gregory Hines being one of them and Guillermo of course, although he’s Mexican, he’s essentially American so aside from The Strain which has been my best experience so far, but role wise as an actor when I was in my twenties, I did a film called Two Against Time which was a M.O.W. for CBS and was directed by David Anspaugh who did Rudy, Hoosiers and a bunch of other great films. That was a great experience where I played a cancer patient and I played opposite this great actress, Ellen Muth, it was just the two of us for most of my scenes and it was a great experience on set working with David, a great director, an actor’s director.
“That role was challenging to play as a cancer patient. Every day I came in and they’d shave my head with a BIC razor. They didn’t do a bald cap and just the act of shaving your head completely bald, multiple times was… it just stirs things in you from that action alone. It starred Marlo Thomas.”
Marie Gilbert: Wow, I love her. Now I really have to check this film out.
Drew Nelson: “Yeah, check it out. It’s a great film about a mother and daughter and they are both going through chemo therapy together. It’s a light comedy.”
Marie Gilbert: Huh?
Drew Nelson: “No, it’s not. (Marie and Drew laugh) No, you’re going to be crying. It’s a tear jerker for sure, but it’s a beautiful story and I was proud of my work in that.
Marie Gilbert: Marlo Thomas was “That Girl” and we all tried to fix our hair like hers and dress like her.”
Drew Nelson: “When I got the part, I was living at home and my mom freaked out because she loved Marlo Thomas, too.”
Marie Gilbert: If you could be in any movie, past, present or movie that is coming out, what would you like to star in?
Drew Nelson: “Let me go off the top of my head and when I saw Half Nelson with Ryan Gosling where he played a drug addicted school teacher, I saw myself playing that part. The same way with Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, I definitely feel that it’s the type of role that I could nail as well. Same with Good Will Hunting, I love that film, too and would have loved to have played Ben Affleck’s part.”
Marie Gilbert: If you could star with any female actress, who would you choose as your love interest in a movie?
Drew Nelson: “Hmmm, I would like to work with Rachael McAdams because back in the day, I did a show called “Earth Final Conflict,” which was a sci-fi show that was shot here and we were cast in the same episode and we hung out for five days. This was before she was ‘Rachael McAdams!’ She was a beautiful blonde, talented actress at that time, so yeah; I would love to work with Rachael for sure. There is also Olivia Wilde. I really like her too. She’s a great actress and not bad to look at.” (laughing)
Marie Gilbert: What are you working on now?
Drew Nelson: “A film that’s going to be coming out I think in the new year. It’s called Man Vs. and it stars Chris Diamantopoulos, who played one of the Three Stooges and he’s also in 24, and I play his younger brother. I’m looking forward to that film. I think it will do well and it’s about a reality TV show crew that goes out into the wilderness and some crazy things end up happening. It’s a found footage/sci fi/thriller film.
“I’ll also be on “Saving Hope” in the coming weeks. I did a guest part on that. I’m also writing a lot. I have two screenplays in development at the moment – two very different ideas. I’m making good headway with both of those.”
Marie Gilbert: That is so exciting. It was a true pleasure talking with you, Drew, and I wish you the best of luck in your acting and writing.
Drew Nelson: “Same here, a real pleasure talking to you too Marie. Thanks”
The season finale of “The Strain” aired on Sunday and you can read all my recaps of the show here. “The Strain” offers us a new type of vampire; one that doesn’t sparkle or crave sex, and I can’t wait until season two, but in the meantime, I’ll be doing the recaps for “Sleepy Hollow,” “American Horror Story: Freaks” and, my all-time favorite series, “The Walking Dead.”