Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A visit from a TV Bad Guy

RHYS BOWEN: Not all crime stories end up as books. Some find their way to the screen and today we have a first for Jungle Red--a cute hunky guy who is an actor on the new US series Prime Suspect.

You remember Helen Mirren and the iconic British TV cop show. Well, now there is a US version with a female New York cop, and our guest today, Blake Berris will be appearing on next week's episode.

Here's what he has to say:

Hey I'm Blake Berris. I played Nick Fallon on Days of Our Lives for three years and have since been working independent film and other primetime TV such as The Mentalist, The Big Bang Theory, and Breaking Bad. Next week I have an episode of Prime Suspect airing on NBC. .

RHYS BOWEN: Welcome to Jungle Red, Blake. We are delighted to have you here. So first question. This show is about the NYPD. Was it shot in NY? Tell us a bit about your character.

BLAKE: NBC's version is reimagining of Prime Suspect in a NY setting--although the show is shot entirely in LA. My character, Gary Tibbits, is taken in by Maria Bello's character and her team for questioning. Let's just say he's not a good guy on the show. But it's a fun character for me and one I haven't played yet. He's a blue-collar new york dude who doesn't take Jane and the other police seriously.
I had fun chase sequence which I hadn't done before either. Great experience on set. Definitely a show where they weren't afraid to deviate from the script a little in order to make all the moments believable. Bryan F. O'Byrne (Detective Reg Duffy) is an actor I have always looked up to and he could not have been greater onset. Maria Bello is as cool as it gets. Almost intimidatingly cool. Smart, sexy, and unbelievably self-possessed.

RHYS BOWEN: Have you played in a cop show before? What's it like playing a bad guy?

BLAKE: This was my first cop-show experience.As far as playing a "villain" you can never think of it that way as an actor. No matter what your character does or where he comes from, you've got understand him. If you don't, you are not honoring a human beings experience. This is why being an actor I think gives you great compassion for others. If you can't directly relate to something a character does, you need to find an analogy from own experience. I was in a Shakespeare class in England and Alan Rickman was speaking to us, someone asked him "You've played a lot of villains.. how do you not judge them?" And he said (very dryly), "Well it sounds like you just answered you're own question. You do exactly that... As far as I'm concerned I haven't played a lot of villains

RHYS: Did you watch the UK version of the show?

BLAKE: don't have a strong connection to the British show, but I am a big Helen Mirren fan.
RHYS: Blake, thanks so much for stopping by. We'll all be watching the next episode!


  1. First of many guests I hope. Nice Mug Shot! Thanks for the insight to the show.

    I can't wait to watch the show. I remember catching the other on PBS with my parents.

    Thanks Blake and Rhys for the great post,
    Terry Kate

  2. Caught the show and enjoyed. Great post, wonderful to have a peek behind the scenes.

  3. Such interesting insights into playing a villain--which I'm sure can help us write flawed characters as well.

    Could you say more about how YOU as an actor get inside someone's head?

    thanks so much for stopping by JRW!

  4. I'm a big fan of the new show and even bigger now that we've "met"Blake. So many of my favorite standard crime shows are going through growing pains or disappearing completely, it's nice to have a new one with a compelling and nuanced villain.

  5. Oh,I love this! SO instructive! And it'll make me watch the show in a different way.

    And write villains--I mean, characters who do things for certain reasons--in a more thoughtful way.

    See you on TV...

  6. Hey guys! Thanks for the comments. To Lucy Burdette--I don't know that I have a systematic approach every time. Every character is different. But in the end I need to know how to justify everything I say and everything I do.
    As I'm preparing I can tell if there's a line or an action that feels underdeveloped. When I do, I know I need to think harder. Ultimately it all needs to come together in a seamless effortless way.

  7. It's good to have an actor openly say that about being a "villain" on a show. You can't really judge outright whether the character you're playing is a good guy or a bad guy, and the same goes into writing.

    Whenever I get into the supposed antagonist in a story, I don't approach my writing style as justifying them in narration as being so black and white.

    There's a reason why people act the way they do and it's a matter of finding a connecting thread between yourself and that character. Otherwise you're purposefully writing your way out of an opportunity for character development and risking the doldrums of yet another one-dimensional character.

  8. thanks Blake, this sounds like exactly the crime fiction writer's dilemma! I'm trying to wrap up loose ends in a book now and keep asking myself: Really? They'd do that now? Why????

    If things are underdeveloped, they won't feel real! And then the fans stop watching...or reading...

  9. What a treat! I remember you from DAYS, Blake, and thought you were great back then. I've been watching the US version of Prime Suspect since the premiere. It's one of my favorite new shows so next week will be a treat! Thanks for your insight on villains. Reminds me of the axiom "villains are heroes in their own stories."