Hollywood Unscripted Ep 38 - Lance Reddick: A Stuck at Home Special

Speaker 1: From  CurtCo  Media. 

 

Speaker 2: There's  no  place  like  Hollywood.

 

Jenny Curtis: Welcome  to  another  special  episode  of  Hollywood  Unscripted:  Stuck  at  Home.  I'm  Jenny  Curtis,  and  I  am  so  delighted  to  have  our  returning  guest  cohost  Dana  Gourrier  back  with  us.  Welcome  back,  Dana.

 

Dana Gourrier: Thank  you,  my  dear.  It  is  always,  always  a  pleasure, and  I  will  come  back  any  time  you  invite  me. I am  always  happy  to  be  here. 

 

Jenny Curtis: Today's  guest  has  done  so  much. It would probably  take  us  the  whole  episode  just  to  list  his  credits,  but  he's  best  known  for  his  acting  work  on  The  Wire,  Amazon's  Bosch,  and  Comedy  Central's  Corporate.  So  we're  going  to  dig  into  all  of  that  and  so  much  more.  I  am  thrilled  to  welcome  Lance  Reddick.  Lance,  thank  you  for  joining  us.  We  are  so  happy  to  have  you  here  today. 

 

Lance Reddick: Thank  you.

Jenny Curtis: I  absolutely  love  talking  about  the  creative  connections  in  the  world.  So  I  really  want  to  start  with  this  because  Dana  and  Lance,  you  both  have  actually  shared  projects  together  even  though  you've  never  met.  Dana  was  in  American  Horror  Story:  Coven,  and  she  was  in  The  Domestics,  as  were  you,  Lance,  and  I  would  love  to  start  with  those projects.

 

Lance Reddick: Wow.  My  experience  was  so  vivid  on  American  Horror  Story  because  it  was  the... I don't  want  to  say  the  only  time,  but  it's  one  of  the  few  times  in  my  career  where  I  feel  like  I  almost  went  back  to  school  because  my  first  day  was a  three- page  scene  with  Jessica  Lange.  And  it  was  really  interesting  because  whenever  you  work  with a  star  like  that,  at  least  for  myself,  I  always  wonder  what  I'm  going  to  get.  I'm  a  little  concerned  about  protecting  my  work.  And  two  things,  first  of  all,  I  realized  very  quickly  that  she's  just  all  about  the  work.  So I didn't  have  to  worry  about  that.  But  the  other  thing  was  that  it  was  the  last  scene  of  the  day,  and  that  particular  season was  her  season more than  any  other  season.  So  she  was  fried.  We  start  the  scene,  and  I  remember  she's  kind  of  doing  this  ritual,  and  she's  kind  of  mumbling  to  herself.  My  character,  Papa  Legba,  he's  a  spirit.  He  appears  halfway  through  her  incantation. 

 

 So  she's  in  the  middle  of  this  incantation,  and  you  hear,  in  the  next  room,  somebody  drops  something.  Cut,  cut,  cut.  She  starts  over  again.  I  swear  to  god,  about  30  seconds  in,  we  hear  clang!  Somebody  drops  something  else, and  the  room  is  quiet.  You  hear  Jessica  almost  in  a  whisper, " Jesus  Christ,  when are we going to learn  how  to  lock  down  a  fucking  set?" And I was like, "Oh, no. I better not mess up. Jessica Lange  is  mad." 

 

Dana Gourrier: Oh,  my  goodness.

 

Lance Reddick: But  then  it  was  great.  I  mean,  it  was  great,  and  the  other  thing  that  was  interesting  because  I'm  such  a  stickler  about  being  prepared  and  knowing  my  lines,  when  you've  got  that  much  to  do,  and  you're  working  hours  that  long,  you  got  a  three- page  scene,  sometimes  you're  going  to  go up on  your  lines.  And  the  thing that  I  don't  remember  ever  seeing  before  was that when  she  went  up  on  her  lines,  she  would  just  keep  going.  What  was  amazing  to  me about  it  was  that  her  going  up  on  her  lines  never  took  her  out of it.  She  still  stayed  in  it  as  the  character. 

 

The  other  thing  was,  being  a  theater  actor,  even  though you're  always  looking  for  something  spontaneous  on  every  take,  once  you  find it, you're  still  pretty  much  trying  to  do  the  same  thing. And I noticed that  she  was  finding  a  little  thing,  because  in  some  ways,  she's  more  quintessentially  a  film  actor  than  anything  else,  and  I  noticed  how  nuanced  and  different  every  single  take  was. It  was  really  fascinating  to  watch.  It  was  really  educational.  Then,  of  course,  Kathy  Bates is one of  my  idols.  So that day was  just  nerve- wracking,  and  the  same  thing  with  Angela  Bassett.

 

Dana Gourrier: I  also  had  a  similar  Jessica  Lange  experience.  She  was  so  wonderful  and  kind  and  humble  to  me, and  she  was  so  sweet.  But  I  saw  her  rip  someone  a  new  one  that  was  just  not  on  point,  and  they  needed  to  be,  and  they  were  after  that.  And  I  just  remember thinking, " That's  a  boss  lady."

 

Lance Reddick: Wow. Wow.  Wow,  wow,  wow.

Dana Gourrier: It  was  like  watching  a  queen  on  her  throne.  Then  there's  also  a  fantastic  grace  and  attitude  that  she  had,  which  was  just  about  the  work.  She  was  just  about  executing  what  needed  to  be  done.  That's  literally  one  of  the  highlights  of  my  career  thus  far,  is  getting  to  work  with  her  and  Angela,  obviously,  also  Gabby  Sidibe.  That's  where  she  and  I  met,  and  that's  where  we  forged  our  friendship.  We're  still  good  friends  to  this  day.

 

Lance Reddick: She's  something  else.  What  an  intellect,  too.

 

Dana Gourrier: People  don't  realize  it,  or  they  realize  it  when  they  meet  her,  within  a  few  minutes.  But  I  told  her  just  the  other  night.  I  said, " Have  you  been  tested,  girl?  You  might  be  a  little  genius."  And  she  was  like, "Hm,  I  don't  know." I  was  like, " Easily,  yeah,  you  are."  So  we  chuckled  about  that.  She's  like, "I'm just me, girl."  I'm  like, " You're  also  a  genius."  So  that's fun.  But  that  time  was  wonderful  on  American  Horror  Story,  and  I  do  remember  your  role  quite  prominently  because  weird  stuff  started  happening.  Your  character  ushered  in  a  sort  of  spirit  realm  that  was  really  freaky.  I'm  from  New  Orleans.  We  don't  play  with  any  of  that  stuff.

 

Lance Reddick: Oh.  Wow. 

 

Dana Gourrier: Also,  the  local  folks  that  they  had  hired  to  come  in  and  do  the  ritual  practices  with  us,  they  made  us  pray  with  them  prior  to,  at  least  in  the  scenes  that  I  was  in and  some of  the  episodes  that  I  had  done.  And  I  really  appreciated  that  they  asked  us  to  humbly  bow  our  heads  and  respect  what  was  being  done  because  it's  not  a  game.  It's  not  just  for  Hollywood  film  and  television.  It's  a  real  thing  to  them.  So  we  had  to  pay  homage  and  reverence,  which  I  really appreciated because  you  don't  want  to  make  nobody  mad.

 

Lance Reddick: Oh,  man.  That  is  so  cool.

 

Dana Gourrier: Yeah, it  was  interesting.  It  was  with  Sarah  Paulson.  There  was  a  goat  that  had  to  be  sacrificed  all  over  her,  and  it  was  very  messy  and  very  grotesque  and  everything.  But  she  was  a  champ  and-

 

Lance Reddick: She  is,  yeah.

 

Dana Gourrier: She's  amazing.  That's  my  girl.  She's so  amazing.  I  love  Sarah. 

 

Lance Reddick: I  didn't  work  with  her  in  that  season,  but  they  had  me  come  back  for  a  cameo  a  couple  seasons  later,  and  I  did  work  with her.

 

Jenny Curtis: I want to go  back  really  quick  to  working  across  Jessica  Lange.  You  guys  both  strike  me  as  you're  about  the  work.  So  being  across  from  someone  at  that  level  of  her  career  who  also  is  all  about  the  work,  does  it  affect  the  way  you  approach  your  own  work?  Or  is  it  kind  of  matching  the  energy  you  already  have?

 

Dana Gourrier: I'm going  to  jump  in  really  quick,  Lance,  because  I'm  not  on  Lance's  level  at  all.  And  that's  not  to  impugn  my  level.  I  consider  myself  a  blue- collar  actor.  So, when  I'm  considered  a  local  hire,  or  at  least  I  was  because  now  I'm  based  in  Los  Angeles.  Before,  when  I  was  working  in  New  Orleans  and  a  local  hire,  people  did  treat  you  a  different  way,  and  you  knew  you  were  a  supporting  character.  So  you  kind  of  understood  the  hierarchy  of  set  life,  if  you  will.  Even  still,  I  always  watched  what  the  greats  were  doing.  I  always  take  cues  from  them,  and  I  let  them  dictate  the  temperature  and  the  culture  of  the  set.  And  if  they're  talkative  and  they're  open,  great.  If  not,  I  just  kind  of  follow  their  lead. 

 

Jenny Curtis: So,  Lance,  does  that  then  affect  you  the  way  you  approach  your  own  work,  or  is  your  method  set  and  some  people  fit  better  than  others  into  your  method  of  acting?

 

Lance Reddick: Fit  better  than  others... Just a little point, I  don't  change my  preparation  based  on  who  I'm  working

 with. It's weird  to  say,  but  in  terms  of  how  I  see  myself  as  an  actor,  pretty  much  from  the  time  I  got out of  drama  school,  I  just  always  thought of myself as a  great  actor.  So,  in  terms  of  the  work,  that  never  bothered  me.  So,  when  I  work  with  people,  I  may  be  nervous  to  meet  the  person,  but  once  the  camera  starts  rolling,  it's  just  about  locking  in  and doing the  work,  do  you  know  what  I  mean?

 

Jenny Curtis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Lance Reddick: Now,  sometimes  I  may  get  (inaudible) .  Perfect  example  is  with  Kathy  Bates  because,  like  I  said,  she's  one of  my  idols.  When  I  got  out  of  drama  school, it was  Meryl  Streep,  Marlon  Brando,  Daniel  Day- Lewis,  and  Kathy  Bates.  So,  when  I  met  her,  and  the  scene  that  I  had  with  her...  I  got  there  on  a  Sunday.  My  first  scene  was  on  a  Monday.  I think it was  the  second  episode that I did.  And  somebody  said  to  me  something  about  the  scene  that  I  had  with  Angela  and  Kathy,  and  I  said, " What  scene  with  Angela  and  Kathy?"  They  said, " Oh,  yeah,  we're  shooting  it  tomorrow.  This is  the  writing."  I said, " What?"  So  it  ended  up  being  this  three- page  scene.  I  don't  know  if  it  was  the  last  scene  or it was  the  penultimate  scene.  It's  hard  to  remember,  but  I  think  Kathy's  dead,  and  she's  in  hell.  And  she  ends  up  having  to  be  tortured  by  Angela's  character. 
 So  I  get  the  scene  in  the  afternoon,  and  I'm  trying  to  look at it  in  between  setups.

 

Dana Gourrier: Oh, my gosh.

 

Lance Reddick: And  they  did  the  scripts  on  red  paper  with  black  ink  so  that  it  would  be  hard  to  copy  because  they  were  so  anal  about  secrecy.

 

Dana Gourrier: Oh,  that's  right.

 

Lance Reddick: Well,  I  was  wearing  red  contacts,  trying  to  read  stuff  on  red  paper  in  the  dark  because it  was  getting  dark  for  a  scene that was  the  next  day  that was a  three- page  scene  with  me  and  Angela  Bassett and  Kathy  Bates.  So  I  wrapped,  went home  to  study,  took  a  nap,  studied,  took  a  nap,  and I  was  up  and  down  all  night  doing  that. 

 

 So,  when  we  got  to  set  that  evening,  we  kind  of  stumbled  through  the  scene  because  we  were  all  learning  the  scene.  But  the  thing  about it is  I  had  to  work  in  the  morning,  and  they  didn't.  So  we  stumbled  through  the  master.  Then  I  remember  the  director  said, " Who  wants  to  go  first with closeups?"  It  was  so funny  because  me  and  Angela  both  did  this.  And  Kathy  looked  at us, and she  said, " Fuck  it,  I'll  go  first." 
 The  thing about  the  scene  was  that  Kathy had  a  two- page  monologue  before  my  character enters.  So  they shot  that  first.  I'm  in  my  chair  trying  to  learn  my  lines,  and  I'm  watching  the  crew  go  by.  And  after  every  one  of  her  takes,  the  crew  were  just  shaking  their  head,  going, " Wow."  So,  then,  I'm  thinking, " Man,  I  can't  afford  to  get  distracted.  I  can't  afford  to  get distracted, but  it's  Kathy  Bates. I've got to see what  she's  doing."  So  I  went  over  to  one  of  the  monitors  in  video  village,  and  I'm  watching  her  do  her  thing.  It's  Kathy  Bates.  She  was  breathtaking.  She  was  stunning.  My  heart  kind  of  dropped  into  my  stomach  because  I'm  thinking, " Oh,  my  god.  Oh,  my  god,  oh,  my  god,  oh,  my  god.  I  am  so  screwed. I am  so  fucking  screwed."  And  then  it  was  like, " No, no, no. Just keep focused. Just keep focused.  Keep  running  lines.  Keep  running  lines. Keep running lines." 
Finally,  they  finished  that  part  of  the  scene,  and  they're  changing  the  setup.  So  the  three  of  us  are  running  the  lines.  The  first  time  we  go  to  run  the  lines, we  get  to  my  lines,  and  I'm  in  my  little  method  thing  trying  to find the character.  And  Kathy  says, " What?  Speak  up. I can't hear you." I'm like...  So  I  raise  my  voice.  Then,  at  one  point,  one  of the PAs  says, " Ms.  Bates,  they're  ready  for  you."  She said, "Well, hold on. We  got  to  learn  these  lines."  So  we  run  it  some  more,  and  then  the  PA  interrupts  again,  and  Kathy  yells,  (foreign language) . I'm  like, " Ooh,"  even  though  she  didn't  even  say  what...  in French.  But,  anyway,  I'm  thinking, " Oh, man. Oh, man. Oh, man."
 So  we  set  up  for  Kathy's  closeup,  and  I  enter.  I  have  a  paragraph,  and  in  the  middle  of  a  sentence,  I  just  went  up.  And  all  I'm  thinking  is, " Oh,  my  god.  I'm  going  up on  Kathy  Bates. I'm  going  up on Kathy Bates'  closeup."  To  this  day,  I  don't  know  how  I  did  it.  I  just  kept  talking  until  I  got  through  it,  and  it  was  fine.  And  the  funny  thing  about  it  is,  when  it  came  to  my  closeup,  we  ran  out  of  time  so  we  had to go  to  another  day.  So I had  to  leave  and  come  back,  and  by  then  it  was  fine. But  that  was  quite  an  experience. 

 

Dana Gourrier: That's  incredible.  Don't  you  love hearing  stuff  like  that,  Jenny,  these  seasoned,  outstanding,  incredible  actors  like, " Oh,  shit,  I  went  up  on  my  lines"?  There's  something  so  magical  for  us,  hearing  that  from  someone  who has  so  many  credits  that  you  have,  who's  such  a  consummate  professional.  It's,  to  me,  it's  inspiring,  and  it  reminds  you we're  all  human  beings.  Calm  down.  You'll  get  the  work  done.  Relax.  Everybody,  in  some  way,  feels  this  way,  even  Kathy  Bates  herself,  probably.

 

Lance Reddick: She's  funny,  too.  This  is  another  funny  story  about  Kathy  because  as  a  personality,  she's  diametrically  opposed.  She's  (inaudible)   from  Jessica.  She's  just  loud  and  forceful.  So  we're  walking  back  to  the  trailers  after  we  finished  the  scene,  and  she  said, " So  how  you like it?  You  having  a  good  time?"  And  I  said, " Yeah,  it's  great."  She  said, " Yeah, because you never know with  fucking  TV,  man." 

 

Dana Gourrier: It's  true,  though.  You  never  know.  Yeah,  everybody's  winging  it  a  little  bit.

 

Jenny Curtis: I  want  to  jump  on  to  the  fact  that  you  said  you  always  knew  you  were  a  great  actor,  which  you  are.  But  I  read  that  you  applied  to  Yale  School  of  Drama  on  a  lark.  Is  there  a  story  there?

 

Lance Reddick: Yeah,  there  is.  I  mean,  my  whole  journey  as  an  actor  is  kind  of  weird  because  I  didn't  grow  up  thinking  I'd  be  doing  this.  If  there  was a  thing  that  was  my  thing growing up, it was music.  I  did  a  play  in  high  school.  My  senior  year,  I  was  in  Fiorello!  I  played  the  dealer  in  a  card game. I think I  had  one  line. It was  the  only  thing I ever did just  for  fun.  So  I  decided  I  was going  to  pursue  it  in  college.  I  did  productions  in  college  for  fun.  I went to  the  Eastman  School  of  Music.  My  first year, I  actually was at  the  University  of  Rochester,  and  I  transferred,  but I'd  go  over to  the  campus  and  do  a  play  once a year. 

 

 I  dropped  out  of  music  school  because  I  realized  that  I  didn't want to  be  a  classical  composer.  I  wanted  to  be  a  rock  star.  I  got  married  straight  out  of  school,  and about  a  year  after  my  daughter  was  born,  I  had  a  back  injury.  At  the  time, I  was  waiting  tables,  and  I  was  delivering  newspapers,  and  I  was  delivering  pizzas.  So I was  always  working  (inaudible) .  So  I  just  started  thinking, " Man,  I  need  to  reevaluate  my  approach.  I need  to  do  something  different  or  I'm going to be doing  this  for  the  rest  of  my  life."  So  my  brilliant  thinking, " I'll  be  an  actor."

 

Jenny Curtis: Because  it's  way  more  stable  of a career.

 

Lance Reddick: Then  I'll  have  my  music  career.  It was  even  about  I wanted  to  be  an actor. It was like, " What  can  I  do to have  my  music  career?  I'll  act."  I  was  living  in  Boston  at  the  time.  So  I  started  going  on  local  theater  auditions and  just  getting  cast and getting cast and getting  cast.  One  of  the  things  that  I  did,  my  go- to  fallback  job  was  working  as  an  artist's  model  because there are  just  so  many  schools  and  so  many  art  schools  in  Boston. One of  the  places  I  modeled  at  was this place  called  the  Museum  School.  And there  was  a  guy  who  liked  me  from  the  beginning,  and  I  modeled  for  a  lot  of  his  drawing  classes. 

 

 His  name  was  Lou  Geppetti,  and  about  a  year  into  that,  he  started  painting  me  privately.  He  had  this  huge  studio  in  this  warehouse  down  by  the  railroad  tracks.  I  would  go  there, and I would  just  sit  for  three  hours.  I  was  wearing  these  green  khaki  pants  and  this  football  jersey  from  high  school that I had.  I  would  sit  in  the  chair.  He  would  paint  me  for  three  hours  at  a  time, and  we would  just  talk.  And  one  day,  we  got on to the subject of  training  as  an  actor.  In  my  infinite  arrogance,  I  said, " Oh,  you  don't  need  to  train.  You  just  learn  as  you  go,"  even  though  I  knew  that  that was  bullshit  because  I  was  starting  to  realize that  the  bigger  the  roles,  the  more  trouble  I  was  having  because  I  didn't  have  any  technique.  If the  script  was  bad  or  the  director  was  bad, I was  lost.  And I didn't want to  go  to  New  York  City,  The  Actors  Studio.  The  only  place  I'd  even  consider  is  Yale,  and  I  couldn't  get  into  Yale  because  I  never  finished  my  bachelor's degree. And the  only  reason  I  said  that  bullshit  was  because  of  Meryl  Streep.  That  the  only  thing I knew.  I  just knew Meryl Streep went  there. 
 Then  he  says  to  me, " Well,  you  might  want  to  consider  it because I have  my  master's  in  painting  from Yale. And  I  don't  have  a  bachelor's  degree  because  I  went  to  a  diploma  school."  So  I  said, " Oh,"  and to  this  day,  I  don't  know  why  that  stuck  in  my  head  or  what  possessed  me.  But  I  ended  up  calling  up  information  for  the  drama  school  and  calling  the  admissions  office  and  asking  them.  They  said, " Oh,  yeah,  you  can  apply  as  a  certificate  student,  and  if  you  get  in,  you  can  just  go  through  this  program  with  everybody  else as  a  certificate  student.  You'll  get  a  certificate  instead  of  a  diploma  at the end. And  if  you  ever  finish  your  bachelor's  degree,  all  you have to  do  is  send  up  proof  that you have your  bachelor's,  and we'll convert it to  a  master's."  So,  really,  it  was  my  fallback  plan.  I  applied,  and  then  I  got in. Then it  was  like, " Oh,  shit. What do  I  do  now?"  My  wife at the time, when  I  applied,  she  thought I  was  crazy.  But  then, when I got in, she was  like, " You  got  to  go."

 

Dana Gourrier: Absolutely.

Lance Reddick: And  every  actor  I  talked  to said  the  same  thing.  The  only  people  who  said  I  shouldn't was  the  casting  director. " Just  go  to  L. A.  and  make  movies."  Yeah, because that's how  that  works.

 

Dana Gourrier: You  can't  turn  Yale  down.

 

Lance Reddick: Yeah. So,  29  years  old,  with  a  three- year- old,  married,  I  went  to  Yale  Drama  School,  and  it  changed  my  life.

 

Jenny Curtis: Do  you  have  a  favorite  speech  warmup?

 

Lance Reddick: A  favorite  speech  warmup?  No.  I  have  a  vocal  warmup  that  I  do.

 

Jenny Curtis: What's  the  vocal  warmup  that  you  do?

 

Lance Reddick: Well, it's not like I can do  it  because  it's  a  gradual  thing.  I  just  start  with  a  tone,  and  I  go  as  long  as  I  can  hold  it. And I'll  keep  going  up  and  up and up,  and then  I'll  do that  for  five  minutes. Then  I'll  pick  a  song,  and  I'll  put  it  on,  that's  usually  maybe  four  minutes.  I'll  make  sure  it's  something  that  makes  me  stretch  my  range,  and  then  I'll  sing  that.  So  I  open  up  my  chest  so  that,  on  one  hand,  it  keeps  my  voice  grounded,  but  on  the  other  hand,  it  forces  me  to  put  it  forward,  as  well,  so  that  it's  in  my  mask,  you  know  what  I  mean?

 

Jenny Curtis: Yeah.

 

Lance Reddick: Because  one  of  the  things  I  discovered...  The  further  on in  my  career  I  got,  I  started  getting  into  the  habit,  and  I  started  realizing  in  on  Fringe,  of  not  being  on  my  voice.  Part  of  the  reason  I  realized  it  is  because  John  Noble's  voice  is  so  deep  and  resonant.  There  would  be  days  when  I would  be  on  my voice, and there  would  be  days  when  I  wouldn't  be  on it.  I  wouldn't  know  why,  and  I  realized  I  needed  to start to  vocalizing again. I needed to go back to basics. So that's something I do.

 

Jenny Curtis: A Moment of  Your  Time,  a  new  podcast  from  CurtCo  Media.

 

Speaker 6: I'm  currently  21  years  old,  and  today  I'm going to read a poem for you.

Speaker 7: It felt  like  magic  extended  from  her  fingertips  down  to the base of my spine.

Speaker 8: You have to take care of yourself because  the  world  needs  you  and your voice.

Speaker 9: Trust me.  Every  do- gooder  that  asked  about  me  was  ready  to  spit  on  my  dream.

Speaker 10: Like her fingers were facing me. 

Speaker 11: It can feel like  your  purpose  and  your  worth  is  really  being questioned.

Speaker 12: Ain't going  to  stop  me  from  playing  the  piano.

Speaker 13: She  buys  walkie- talkies,  wonders  to  whom  she  should  give  the  second  device.

Speaker 14: Pets  don't  love  humans.  We  never  did.  We  never  will.  We  just  find ones that  (crosstalk) .

Speaker 15: The beauty of  rock  climbing  is  that  you  can  only  focus  on  what's  right in front of you.

Speaker 16: And so  our  American  life  begins.

 

Jenny Curtis: We  may  need  to  stay  apart,  but  let's  create  together.  Available  on  all  podcast  platforms.  Submit  your  piece  at  curtco. com/ amomentofyourtime.
 So  your  first  role  in  TV  was  a  Dick  Wolf  show,  right,  New  York  Undercover?  Is  that  correct,  that was your  first  role  in  TV?

 

Lance Reddick: Well,  actually,  no.  That  was  my  first  role  after  I  graduated  from  Yale.  But  believe  it  or  not,  I  had  a  day  player  role  as  a  local  hire  when I was  living  in  Boston  on  one  of  Fox's  first  dramatic  shows  ever.  It  was  called...  Man,  I  hate  saying that because this  is  telling  you how old I am.  This  is  back  in  1990,  and  it  was  called  Against  the  Law.  It  was  starring  Michael  O'Keefe,  and  the  guest  star  was  Keith  David. 
 So  Michael  O'Keefe  is  this  attorney  in  this  big  law  firm.  He  decides  he  wants to  work  for  the  people.  So  he  opens  up  his  own  law firm. It  was  a  flashback  scene  because  Keith  David  was  on  death  row.  A  cop  went  to  arrest  him,  and  he  got  afraid.  So  he  resisted,  and then they  (inaudible)   for  the  gun,  and  I think it was  a  mistaken  identity  thing.  And  he  ended  up  shooting  the  cop  by  accident.  So he  ended  up  being  convicted  for  murder. I  played  Michael  O'Keefe's  co- counsel  in  the  original  trial  and  (inaudible) .  So  that's  actually  my  first  credit.  But  New  York  Undercover  was  my  first  credit  after  Yale.  It's  probably  the  first  one  on  IMDB.

 

Jenny Curtis: Either  way,  I'd  love  to  hear  about  what,  emotionally,  a  first  day  professionally  on  set  is  compared  to  where  you  are  now,  how  things  have  changed. 

 

Lance Reddick: That  happened  two  years  after  I  graduated.  My  first  job  out  of  school,  I  was  understudying  on  Broadway.  I  did  that for  the  first  six  months  after  school.  Then,  almost  immediately,  I  got  cast  in  an  off- Broadway  play  at  Manhattan  Theatre  Club  that  then  later  moved  off  Broadway  to  another  theater  and  ran  for  a  year. I'd  just  been  doing  theater  straight  for  like  five  years.  So I  get  on  set,  immediately  I'm  going  to  go  into  my  theater  thing  and  my  Brando  thing.  And  I  remember  the  first  scene  that  I  shot  was the  first  scene  that  I  had  in  the  show.  It's  when Malik Yoba  and  Lauren...  I  can't  remember  their  characters'  names.  They  come  to  tell  me that  my  son's  been  killed. 

 

 In  rehearsal,  there  were  two  things  that  happened.  Number  one,  we  rehearsed  it  a  couple  times,  and  the  script  supervisor  said, " Oh,  in  the  last  rehearsal,  you  did  such- and- such- and- such. You did  something different.  Which are  you  going  to  do?"  I  said, " Well, I don't know.  It  depends  on...  And  she  said, "Oh,  but  it  has  to  match."  I said, " What  do  you  mean,  it  has  to  match?"  She  said, " For  editing,  once you  do  a  behavior,  you  have  to  do it  the  same  every  time."  I'm  like, " What?  Oh, my  god. That's  ridiculous." 
 The  other  thing  was  I  had  all  the  lines.  Malik  and Lauren  basically  had  two  lines  each.  So we  go  to  read  the

 

 scene,  and  Malik  says...  I  can't  remember  what  my  name  was,  but, " Mr.  So- and- so...  I'm  sorry.  Can  I  see  the...  What's the line? Oh." I was like, " He  doesn't  know  his  lines?  What is going on? He's in  the  show.  He  doesn't  know  his  lines.  What  the hell is going on? What is that?" So I was like, "You have to  do  the  same  thing  every  take,  and the leads in  the  show  don't  know  their  lines.  Man,  what  is  this  TV  thing? This is  ridiculous."  That  my  naïve,  self- important  theater  attitude  my  first  day  on  set.

 

Jenny Curtis: Following  that,  throughout  your  career,  have  you  found  there  are  some  sets  that  are  way  stricter  on  staying  word  perfect  on the  script  and  sets  that  aren't  so  much?

 

Lance Reddick: Well,  coming  from  the  theater  as  opposed  to  sketch  comedy,  I've  always  been  kind  of...  The  words  matter.  As  I've  gotten  older,  and  we  film  in  television,  I'm  a  little  less  strict about  that,  although  by  the  time  I  actually  shoot  something,  I  want  the  words  to  be  set.  I  don't  want  to be editing them  on  shoot.  It's  interesting  because  on  The  Wire,  I  found,  after  doing  that  show  for  five  seasons,  I  didn't  even  realize  that I had  gotten  into  the  habit  of  changing  lines  if  I  found  that it just came  out  better.  It  got  to  where I didn't even  check.  And  I  remember,  I  think  it  was  the  last  season,  David  had  written  that  particular  episode.  There  was  always  a  writer  on  set,  usually  whoever  wrote  the  episode,  but  not  always.  David  Simon  said  to  me, " Oh,  no,  the  line is...  I  said, " Yeah,  but  it  just  doesn't  feel  as  natural."  He  said, " Yeah,  but you have to say it  this way  because... It  had  something  to  do  with  the  nature  of  what  I  was  saying  and  the  legality and  what  it  meant in  cop- speak.  So I  had  to  say it  the  right  way. 

 

 But  the  first  time  that  I  actually  experienced  script  police  being  word  perfect,  which  I  thought  was  kind  of  ridiculous  was  Fringe.  I  went  from  The  Wire  to  Fringe.  So  I'd  go  from  shooting  on  location  with  the  showrunner,  the  creator  of  the  show  or  the  person  who  wrote  the  episode  there  all  the  time.  We're  shooting  the  first  season of  Fringe  in  New  York.  The  writers  room is in  Los  Angeles.  I'd  change  something  in  a scene  so  it  comes  out  better.  I'd  get  a  note, "Oh, that's  not  what  it  says."  I  said, " Yeah,  but  it  comes  out  better  if  I  just  change  the  wording."  It  wasn't  even  like I wanted  to  change  the  meaning. I just wanted  to  change  the  wording  of the sentence, and  it  was  one  sentence.  He  said, " Well,  you've  got  to  call  L. A.  because  these  people,  they know  what  they're  doing."  What?  Come  on,  really?  This  was  my  first  day,  not  the  pilot,  but  the  first  day  shooting  after  it  went into production.  So,  yeah,  that kind  of  sucked.  It  was  also  the  difference  between  cable  and  network  television.

 

 I  remember  there  was  a  scene, and  this  situation  was a  clusterfuck,  anyway,  because it  was  a  re- shoot  of  a  scene  that  Anna  hated  in the first  place.  To  add  insult  to  injury,  I  had  flown  to  Los  Angeles  for  some  kind  of  publicity  thing  for  Fox.  I  was  supposed  to  catch  a  flight  that  morning  to  go  to  set,  and  I set  my  alarm  for  p. m.  instead  of a. m.  by  accident.  So I missed my flight.  I  wake  up  to  my  phone  ringing  and  people  saying, " Lance,  where are you?"  I  said, " I'm  in  bed."  They  went, " What?  You're  supposed  to  be  on  set."  I said, "What?  I'm  in  Los  Angeles."  Also, the lines had  been  changed.  So  I'm  learning  the  new  lines  on  the  plane.  I  don't even  remember  how  many  hours  late  I  am.  Then  we  go  to  set  to  do  this  re- shoot,  to  re- shoot  the  scene.  We  read  through  the  scene.  We  go  to  shoot  the  scene, and after  the  first  take,  and  Anna's  apoplectic  by  now  because  she  just  hates  the  scene,  anyway,  and  the  script  supervisor says, " That's  the  wrong  line.  It's  been  changed."  I  said, " You know what? At this point,  I'm just going  to  say  the  line  that  I've  been  saying.  I'm  just  going  to do that."  So  we  shot  the  scene. 

 

 That  evening,  I  get  a  call  from  Joe  Wyman,  the  showrunner.  I  say, " Hey,  Joe,  what's  up?"  He  said, " I  heard  you  were  in  the  scene  today, and you  didn't  want  to  say  a  line?"  I  said, " Well,  yeah.  The  line  they  wanted  to  change  didn't  make  it  better,  and  it  was  throwing  me.  And  it  was  already  a  mess  because  Anna  was  upset  throughout  the  whole  scene  because  she  didn't want to  do  the scene."  He  said, " Well,  you  need  to  check  if  you  want  to  change  a line from  now  on."  I  said, " Really?"  He  said, " Yeah.  Well,  the  problem  is  the  line  was,  'We've  lost  the  battle,  but  we're  going  to  win  the  war.'"  He  said, " The  network  wants  us  to  try  to  avoid  using  the  word  war  right  now  because  it  has  something  to  do  with  politics."  I'm  like, " The  storyline  is  that  our  universe  is  at  war  with  another  universe.  Are  you  fucking  kidding  me?"  Excuse  me.  I  didn't  say  that,  but  I'm...  And  now,  every  time  I want  to  change  a  word,  I  got to  call and wait  for  an  answer  through  Los  Angeles?  This  is  absurd.  Then,  a  couple  days  later, there  was  a  memo  that  went  out  to  all  the  cast  about  not  changing  lines  without  calling.  I  was  like, " Oh,  boy.  Okay.  We  are  on  network  television.  That's  what it  is."

 

Jenny Curtis: Is there a  different  approach  from  cable  to  network  in  how  you  create  a  character  because  the  format  is  so  different?

 

Lance Reddick: Well,  sometimes  the  work  is  frustrating  because  a  lot  of  times  your  preparation ends up  being  thrown  out  the  window  on set.  That's  hard,  particularly  when  scripts  change  so  much  day  to  day.  That  was  really  frustrating  on  network, but  that  didn't  happen  very  often  with  The  Wire.  Or,  if  it did  happen,  it  started  happening  more toward  the  end  of the  season  but  not  so  much  at  the beginning of the  season. And it was  a  shorter  season. It  was  half  as long.  But  it  turns  out,  the  preparation...  I  mean,  you  prepare,  you  prepare.  Now,  do  you  mean  preparing  for  a  scene,  or do you  mean  creating  a  character?

 

Jenny Curtis: I think I mean creating the character.

 

Lance Reddick: No,  because  it's  all  the  same  work.  You  try  to  figure  out  as  much  as  you  can  about  who  the  person  is.  That  doesn't  change  just  because  you're  doing  network  or...  at  least  not  for  me.

 

Dana Gourrier: You  can  do  all  the  preparation in  the  world,  but  you  can  show  up  to  a  set,  and  then a  (inaudible)  or  a  director  may  say, " That's  not  how  I  envisioned  her."  And  you  have  to,  on  a  dime,  recalibrate  and  reassess.

 

Lance Reddick: Oh,  man.  That's  tough. That's tough.

 

Dana Gourrier: That's  a  real  acting  exercise.  That's  a  real  challenge,  I  think,  as  an  artist,  when  you've  done  months  of  preparation,  and you get there, and it's  like, " No,  that's  not  quite it,"  even  after  you've  had  rehearsals.  It's  like, " We  changed  our  mind.  It's  this  other  thing  now,"  and  you  have  to,  in  three  seconds,  make  a  decision,  find  a  word,  dig  deep,  lean  on  your  training,  and  find  a  way  to  create  a  whole  new  character  in  three  seconds.

 That's  absolutely  happened. 

 

 It's  so  funny,  too.  Lance  may  not  feel  the  way,  but  I  do  feel  like  there  is  a  difference,  at  times,  between  creating  a  character...  Of  course  you  go  at  the  work  the  same  way.  But  the  feel  I  feel  with,  say,  an  HBO  series  versus,  like  Lance  was  talking  about,  network  series,  there  is  a  different  temperature.  There  is  a  different  vibe,  a  whole  different  culture  on  the  set,  a  whole  different  energy.  But  he's  right  in  the  sense  that  you're  bringing  what  you're  bringing  no  matter  what.  They're  going  to  take  it  and  cut  it  and  edit  it  the  way  that  they  do  to  make  it  fit  into  their  mold  of  their  television  show.  The  war  comment  was  also  interesting  to  me  because  everything  is,  for  better  or  worse,  politics  and  who's  going  to  sponsor  and  marketing.  Everything  has  to  be  considered.

 

Lance Reddick: Yeah.  Well,  that  war  comment...  I  don't  remember  what  it  was because it was  17 years ago, but it had something to do with Iraq and Afghanistan. 

 

Jenny Curtis: I  want  to,  really  quick,  jump  back  to  The  Wire,  because,  after  auditioning  for  a  couple  roles,  you  were  auditioning  for  Daniel's,  and you didn't  get  the  third  page  of  your  audition  sides.  So  you  had  to  prep  your  monologue  in  two  minutes  outside  and  then  go  back  in  and  nail  it.  Do  you  think  there's  a  freedom  to  that,  when  you  actually  don't  have  the  time  to  prepare?  Does  it  bring  something  different  to  the  character?

 

Lance Reddick: It  brings  something  different  to  me.  One  thing  that's kind of funny about that is that, and  it's  something  that  I  had  been  discovering  in the  course  of  auditioning  for  television,  that  if  I  had  a  week,  I'd  be  great.  Or  if  I  had it the  day  before,  I'd  be  great  because there  was  something  psychological  about knowing things are an  even  playing  field.  If  I  had  two  days,  it  was  never  enough  time.  I  mean,  I  know  that  sounds  crazy.  So  having to  cold  read  that  monologue,  there's  just  a  part  of you that  just  says, " Fuck  it.  Let  me  just  do  what  I  can  do."  Do  you  know  what I mean? I don't know  how  to  describe  it,  but there's a  part  of  you  that says, "It's not even  worth  being  nervous.  The  only  thing  that matters  is  being  focused."

 

Dana Gourrier: That's  right.

 

Lance Reddick: So  find what  you  can  find.  Figure  out  your marks, and  just  make  sure  you  hit  those  marks.

Jenny Curtis: Obviously  you  booked  the  part,  so  you  did  it  well.  But  do  you  remember  what  the  feeling  was  while  you  were  doing  that  monologue?

 

Lance Reddick: I  felt  transparent.  In  other  words, I was just in it, do you know what  I  mean?  It  was  one  of  those  things  where, because  it  required  so  much  of  my  focus,  I  didn't  let  my brain have any room  to  wonder  about  how  I  was  doing  or  what  the  casting  director  was  thinking. 

 

Jenny Curtis: Then,  speaking  about  not  having  a  ton  of  time,  I  know,  for  John  Wick,  you  had  a  week  to  basically  perfect  your  African  accent.  And  you  had  to  pick  between  South  African  and  Kenyan. 

Lance Reddick: So here's what happened.  When  I  got  the  offer,  which  was  like  the  week  before,  I  read  it,  and for  some  reason,  I  didn't  notice  it  when  I  read  it, that  in  the  stage  directions,  it  said  with  an  African  accent.  Looking  at  the  role  again,  I  said, " Oh,  my god, it  says  African  accent."  So  I  call  my  agent.  I said, " I'm  not  sure.  It  says  African  accent." So  he  checked,  and then he came  back  to  me.  He  says, " You don't have to do an African accent."  I  said, " Whoa, whoa, whoa.  No,  I  think that could be cool. I think I want  to  try  it."  So  I  had  (inaudible)   South  African  accent.  It's  funny  how you  never  know  how  your preparation's going  to  pay  off.  I  did  a  movie  in  1998  called  I  Dreamed  of  Africa  that  was  set  in  Kenya.  And  I  was  cast  without  reading  a  script.  So  part  of  my  preparation,  I  called  up  the  embassy  in  Kenya,  and  I  found  a  guy.  He  had  agreed  to  talk  to me.  So  I  interviewed  him, and  I  taped  his  accent.  Then,  once  I  got  the  script,  I  realized  that  all  my  lines,  the  few  that  I  had,  were  in  Swahili.  So,  being able to do  a  Kenyan  accent,  speaking  English  with a Kenyan accent was not  a  thing.  But  I  had it. 
 So  I  tried  the  South  African  accent,  and  it  just  didn't  seem  to  fit  the  character.  Then  I  just  picked  up  the  Kenyan  accent, and  I  tried  it, and it  was  working.  So  I  just  went  with  it.  Then,  when  I  got  on  set,  I  told  Chad... I remember saying this to Chad  Stahelski, " You  know  I'm  doing  the  African  accent,  right?"  He  said, " Yeah.  Well,  let's  hear  it."  So  I  did it. He's like, " Sounds  great."  We  just  went  with it. Yeah.

 

Dana Gourrier: I love that.

 

Jenny Curtis: Is  there  a  difference,  speaking  of  that  character,  in  living  in  a  character  for  a  franchise  for  film  rather  than  living  in  a  character  for  a  series?

 

Lance Reddick: Wow,  that's  a  good  question.  I  mean,  John  Wick's  the  only  franchise  I've  been  a  part  of.  I  guess  Angel  Has  Fallen,  but  I came in at  the  end.  It's  a  little  similar  in  that  you  pick  a  character  up.  Then  you  put  it  down.  Then  you  come  back  to it  a  year  later  or  two  years  later,  and  you  have  to  find  it  again. You have  to  find  the  accent  again. I had  to  find  his  attitude,  how  he  moved  because  he's  so  taciturn  and  reserved.  But  at  the  same  time,  he  has  so  much  power  as  a  being.  But  part  of  his  job  is  to  pretend  he  doesn't,  which  is  very  different  from  other  characters  that  I've  played  which  are  overt  alpha  males,  from  the  cops  that  I've played.

 

So, in that regard, it's  similar. And  I  remember... Well, Irving  was  interesting  because  when  I  first  started  Bosch,  I  actually  had  a  difficult  time  finding  his  accent,  finding  how  he speaks. But I remember coming back second season and feeling like I  had  to  find  him  all  over  again.  So,  in  that  regard, it's  very  similar.

 

Jenny Curtis: I  wanted  to  jump  backwards  to  Tennessee,  which  was  a  movie  you  did  with  Mariah  Carey.

 

Lance Reddick: Wow.

 

Jenny Curtis: Tennessee  was  also  done  with  Ethan  Peck.  I  was  speaking  with  him  this  week,  and  he  says  you  might  not  remember,  but  I  should  ask  you  about  the  line  replacement, " It  makes  your  tongue  hard  thinking  about  it,  doesn't  it?"  He  said  there  might  be  a  story  there. 

 

Lance Reddick: Oh,  yes.  Wow.  Man,  what  a  memory  he's  got.  He  was  on  the  receiving  end  of  that  monologue.  So  I  played  Mariah  Carey's  husband  in  that.  I  think he's  a  state  trooper  who's  also  a  psychopath,  an  ambitiously  abusive  man.  She  meets  these  boys in  a  bar  and  brings  them  home  because  they  need  a  place  to  stay.  I  don't  even  realize  they're  there,  and  then  she  says  something I don't  like  because  I'm  back  playing  cards,  drinking  with  my  boys.  And  I  threaten  her.  So  I've  got  her  by the throat, and  she's  up against  a  wall.  Then  she's  like, " We're  not  alone.  We've  got  company." I said, "What?" So  I  peek  around  the  corner.  I  see  these  two  white  boys  sitting  on  my  couch.  So I  go  out  there,  and  I  sit  in  between  them  and ask  them  if  they  think  my  wife's  attractive.  And,  at  one  point,  I  say  something  lascivious,  and  I  said, " It  makes your  dick  hard  just  thinking  about  it,  don't it?"  And  we  needed,  for  TV,  a  PG  version. 

 

Dana Gourrier: So  that  was  the  PG  version?

 

Lance Reddick: That  was  the  line they  came  up  with.  I  kid  you  not.  That  was  the  for- TV  version, " It  makes  your

 tongue hard just thinking about it, don't it?" 

 

Dana Gourrier: Wow.

 

Jenny Curtis: Oh,  that's  certainly  something.

 

Lance Reddick: Ethan  was  great  in  that movie. He was great in that.

 

Jenny Curtis: Yeah,  he  said  he  absolutely  loved  working  with  you.  That  was a little bit of  a  deviation.  I  don't  want  to  keep  asking  the  same  question  of  how  do  you  create  different  characters  within  the  same  archetype,  but  I  know  you've  been  cast  a  lot  as  the  authoritative  figure.

 

Lance Reddick: That's  actually  a great  question,  and  it's  not  a  question  that  I  really  get,  at  least  not  asked  that  intelligently  or  nuanced.  One  of  the  interesting  things  for  me about the difference  between  particularly  Daniels  and  Irving  is  just  being  so  much  older  and  looking  so  much  different. I've gained  a  lot  of  weight  since  then.  Daniels  is  essentially...  His  ambition  in  terms  of  rank  was  driven  a  lot  by  his  relationship  with  his  wife.  This  is  a  gross  analogy,  but  it  was  a  bit  of  a  Macbeth/ Lady  Macbeth  type  of  situation,  whereas  Daniels  really  just  loved  the  job.  He  just  wanted  to do  the  police  work.  The  thing  about  Broyles  is  that  Broyles  is  essentially  a  soldier  doing  a  cop's  job.  But  his  mentality  is  that  of  a  soldier.  Irving  is  the  quintessential  politician.  He  loves  power,  and  he  loves  the  structures  of  power.  So,  in  that  regard,  he's  very,  very  different  in  terms  of  his  personality,  from  Daniels.  And  that  was  the  thing that I could find.

 

Robert Ross: Hi,  I'm  Robert  Ross,  host  of  Cars  That  Matter.  You  might  be  wondering  what  makes  a  car  matter,  and  I  have  a  feeling  you  already  know  the  answer.  Some  cars  have  changed  history.  Some  you  can  hear  a  mile  away.  Some  have  lines  that  make  your  heart  skip  a  beat.  If  a  car  has  ever  made  you  look  twice,  then  I  think  you  know  the  ones  that  matter.  Join  me  as  I  speak  with  designers,  collectors,  and  market  experts  about  the  passions  that  drive  us and  the  passions  we  drive.  Cars  That  Matter,  wherever  you  get  your  podcasts.

 

Jenny Curtis: Playing  roles  where  you've  covered  similar  territory,  do  you  find  that  you  still  have  a  fire  in  your  belly  about  it?  Or  does  it  become  a  job  that you  still  love  but  comfortable  in?

 

Lance Reddick: Broyles  to  Irving  were  different  experiences  because  Broyles  came  right  on  the  heels  of  The  Wire. So,  on  the  one  hand,  I  felt  like  I really  didn't  want  to  play  the  same  character  again.  But  on  the  other  hand,  it  was  J. J.  Abrams  first  big  show  after  Lost.  So  we  thought  it was going to be  the  next  Lost, even though it didn't  end  up  being  that.  And  it  was  really  the  only  role that  I  felt  right  for,  and  it  also happened  kind  of  organically  because I'd  just  been  cast in  Lost.  I  was  cast  on  Lost  literally  two  weeks  before I wrapped on  The  Wire.  So I was little bit  in  family,  and  I  was  really  excited  about  that character  because...  It changed at  the  beginning  of  the  second  season,  but at  the  beginning  of  the  series,  there's  a  cold,  calculating  way  that  he  is.  There's  kind  of  a  cold- blooded  killer  in  him  that  Daniels  didn't  have.  I  liked  that,  and  I  also  liked  the  fact  that  there  was  a  mystery  to  his  backstory,  which  the  way  the  show  was  unfolding  for  a  season,  part  of  the  unfolding  of  the  mystery  of  his  backstory  was  tied  to  the  unfolding  of  the  overarching  plot  that  was  set  up at  the  beginning  of  the  series and  was  moving  through the first  season,  which  was  supposed  to move through the  show.  But  unfortunately,  it  just  kind  of  went  away  the second  season.

 

 With  Irving,  quite  frankly,  when  it  first  came  up  to  me,  I  didn't  want  to do it.  I  threw  a  tantrum.  The  offer  came  in,  and  I  blew  my  top.  I  was  ranting and raving at my wife, "Goddammit,  I  told  them  no more cops." So  I  go  to  call  my  agent, and  I  see  that  I  have  a  message.  For  some  reason,  I decided to listen to  the  message  first, and it  was  from  my  agent.  She  said, " Lance,  you're  getting  an  offer.  Don't  freak  out.  I  need  to  talk  to  you about it first."  So  I  call  her.  The  thing  I  didn't  know  about  Irving  when  I got  the  offer  was  I  had  no  idea  who  Michael  Connelly  was.  So  I  didn't  know  that it  was  based  on  a series  of  books  that  were  huge  all  over  the  world.  The  other  thing  I  didn't  know  is  that  the  offer  came  from  Eric  Overmyer,  who was  the  showrunner,  the  co- creator  of  the  series.  But,  in  addition  to  being  a  famous  playwright,  Eric  and  I  know  each  other  from  The  Wire  because  he  came  on as  a  writer/ producer in  the  fourth  season. 

 

 So,  basically,  I  had  a  conversation  with  Eric,  and  he  said, " We  really  need  a  great  actor for  this  role."  I  said, " I'm  hesitant  because I  just  finished  playing  two  cops  in  a  row."  He  says, " Oh,  yeah.  Well,  sorry."  He  said, " We'll  write  it however  you  want  us  to  write  it.  We'll  write  it  as  big  or  as  small  as  you  want.  Michael  Connelly's,  Michael's  happy  to  talk  to  you."  So I called Michael Connelly,  and  we  talked.  Then  I  decided  okay.  And another  part  of  me  saying  okay  was  that  first  season,  Irving  was  only  supposed  to  be  a  recurring  character.  And  at  the  time,  it  was  never  going  to  happen  because  the  writer's  agent  didn't want him to  do  it.  But  I  was  trying  to  get  the  writer  who  wrote...  There's  a  skit  that  went  viral  that  I  did  on  Funny  or  Die  called  Toys  R  Me. 

 

Jenny Curtis: We  watched  it  yesterday.

 

Dana Gourrier: Yeah,  we  watched  it last night. It's great.

 

Lance Reddick: I  was  really  hot  on trying  to  develop  that  as  a  television  series,  preferably  for  Adult  Swim.  So  I  figured, " Well,  I  got  a  year  to  do  that  while  I'm  doing  this,"  because  the  plan  was for me  to  recur  the first  season,  have  a  big  storyline  second  season,  become  a  series  regular  second  season, and then figure  it  out  from  there.  Well,  we  shot  the  pilot  in  the  fall  of  2013. In May of  2014,  it  gets  announced  to  the  trade  that it  got  picked  up  for  series.  And the day that it  was  announced  to  the  trades,  I  get  a  call  from  my  agent. " Lance,  they want to make you a  series  regular  for  the  first  season." And I  was  like, " Fuck.  What  do  I  do  now?"  Because  on  the  one  hand,  it's  not  like  I  got  Big  Bang  Theory  money.  I  still  got  to  pay a mortgage, but on  the  other  hand,  it's  like, " Am  I  doing  something  that's  going  to  be  the  nail  in  the  coffin  for  my  career  artistically  and  professionally?"  You know what I mean,  in  terms  of  doing  the  kinds  of  things  that  I  wanted  to  do? 
 And  it  took  me  long  enough  to  make  up  my  mind  that  the  producers  started  to  get  pissed.  But  I  decided  to  jump  off  the  deep  end  and  just  go  for it. And  it  has  been  great, a great  role,  part  of  a  great  show.  The  other  thing  is,  unbeknownst  to  me,  between  2013, it  was  not  only  when  we  shot  the  pilot  for  Bosch,  it's  also  when  I  shot  John  Wick.  It's  also  when  The  Guest  got  into  Sundance.  It's  also  the  year  that  I  did  American  Horror  Story.  So  all  these  other  things  were  happening  in  my  career  that  were  so  different  from  that. And  they  continued  to  happen.  It  was  really  fortunate.  In  terms  of  people  seeing  me  a  particular  way,  I'm  not  in  danger  of  that  anymore.  It's  been  a  great  ride.

 

Jenny Curtis: Not  only  that,  but  you've  also  been  on  Corporate,  which  is  an  authoritative  character  but  completely  different.  We  wanted  to talk to you about your  approach  to  comedy  because  your  comedy  characters  are  so  dramatic.

 

Lance Reddick: Except  for  Key &  Peele.  That  was...

 

Dana Gourrier: I was going  to  say  we watched  in  Key &  Peele,  and that  was  actually  just hilarious.

 

Jenny Curtis: When  do  we  get  to  sing  Over  the  Rainbow?  Yeah.

 

Lance Reddick: I mean,  I  guess  those  are  the  characters  that  I've  been  cast  as.  I'm  sure  it  has  something to  do with  the  persona  of  my  cop  roles in  the  past.  Corporate  was  one  of  those  things  where  I didn't  get  it.  So  I  have  to take  my  hat  off  to  my  agent.  When  I  read  it, I just didn't  get  it.  I  was  like, " Another  asshole  boss  in  a  suit,  I  don't  need  to do that."  I  said, " I  don't  usually  do  this,  but  what do you think? I  want  your  opinion."  She  said, "I think you  should  do it."  I  said, " Why?"  She  said, " Because  I  promise  you,  Lance,  it's  a  different  asshole  boss  in  a  suit."  And  the  other  thing  is  they  really  captured  the  culture  of  fear  that  pervades  corporate  working  culture,  and  it's  truly  been  one  of  the  highlights  of  my  career.  I  can  honestly  say  I'm  as  proud  of  Corporate  as I am  The  Wire.  What  an  incredible  group  of  people. I'm  so  fortunate.  My  only  regret  about  Corporate  is  that  it's  (inaudible) .

 

Jenny Curtis: Was it  a  set  that  would  break  out  into  laughter  all  the  time?

 

Lance Reddick: People  were cracking up all day.  I'm  not  saying...  People  would  get  through  takes.  Sometimes  not,  but  most  did  get  through  takes,  and then they'd  start  laughing  a lot at  the  end  of  them.  But  one  of  the  things that  was  challenging  for  me  in  Corporate  was  having  to  let  go  a  little  of  thinking  that I can be  better  in  terms  of  my  character  preparation.  I  remember  Pat  Bishop,  when  we  were  shooting...  First  of  all,  Pat  is  about  5'2", and  he  looks  like  he's  12.  So  the  first  scene  we  shot for  the  pilot  was  my  first  entrance,  where  you  see  me  get  out  of  bed  and  working out and making  my  protein  shake.  I  read  this  biography  of  this  black  billionaire  and did  all  this  preparation  about  who  the  guy  is.  They  had  stuck  a  bunch  of  pills  all over  the  counter.  I'm  like, " He  wouldn't  do  that.  This  guy's  really  fastidious.  He  wouldn't  have  this  shit all over the counter like that." Pat's like,

 

"Yeah,  but  it'll  be  funny."  He  said, " It'll  be  fine." 
 I'm  like, " This  kid's  telling  me  what  my  character is, and  he's  walking  away. What  the  fuck,  man?  These  guys  don't know what  the  fuck  they're  doing.  I  just  got  to  get  through  this,  get  my  paycheck,  and  get out." And it was funny.  Also,  the  shot  went  by  so  fast  you  hardly  noticed.  Now  I  know  Pat's  a  fucking  genius, and I  don't  say  that lightly. I mean,  they  all are, but Pat's  really  fucking  smart.  The  other  thing  is  that,  except  for  Anne  Dudek,  who  is  her  own  phenomenon  of  just  amazingly  talented,  everybody  else  is just either  from  sketch  comedy  or  standup  comedians,  particularly  Adam  Lustick.  He  would  improvise  take after  take  after  take  for  days and  do  different  stuff  and  have  you  rolling  in  the  aisles.  I'm  sorry  that  I  keep  using  this  word  for  the  people  in this  show, but he's a  fucking  genius.  It  was  just  amazing.

 

Jenny Curtis: Would  you  improv?

 

Lance Reddick: Did  I,  or  would  I ever?

 

Jenny Curtis: Did  you  in  the  show?

 

Lance Reddick: Not  a  lot.  It's  interesting.  One  of  the  things  that  Jake  Weisman,  who  plays  Jake  on the  show,  he  told  me one of  the  things  that  they  loved  doing  was  figuring  out  how  to  give  me  a  monologue  that  the  language  was  as  convoluted  as  possible  to  see  what I would  do  with  it. 

Jenny Curtis: Recently,  One  Night  in  Miami  premiered  at  Venice  and  Toronto  to  absolutely  rave  reviews.  It  was  the  directorial  debut  of  Regina  King,  which  she's  so  phenomenal  as  an  actress.  I'm  really  curious  to  know  how  that  translates  to  being  a  director  and  what  it's  like  working  with  someone  on  their  directorial  debut.

 

Lance Reddick: It's  one  of  those  rare instances where I didn't do  it...  Similarly  to  Little  Woods,  I  didn't  do  it  for  the  role,  I  did  it  for  the  project  but  also  because  I  wanted  to  work  with  Regina.  There's  something  about  actors  that  direct.  They  just  know  how  to  talk  to  actors  because  a  lot  of  directors,  they  don't  really  understand  acting.  They  don't  understand  how  to  talk  in  terms  of  motivation.  If  you're  giving  an  acting  note,  unless  something is  just  too  fast  or  too  soft  or  too  loud,  unless  it's  purely  technical,  you  need  to  be  able  to  speak  that  way.  Yeah,  and  she's  great at that.

 

Jenny Curtis: In  the  span  of  your  career,  can  you  think  back  to  one  of  your  favorite  directions  you've  ever  received?

 

Lance Reddick: Wow,  nobody's  ever  asked  me  that.  I  got  to  think about that one.  See,  the  problem  is  that,  usually,  it's the  bad  direction  that  sticks  out,  that  you  remember.

 

Dana Gourrier: I  was  going  to  say  that.

 

Lance Reddick: I mean, I could give you a couple  bad  ones.  And  part  of  what  makes  me  angry  is  that  I  took  it.  This  was  a  director  who...  I'm  not going  to  say  his  name.  He  was  French,  and  this  is  a director that  they  loved  on  Fringe.  And  he  disrespected  me from  the  first  day.  He  didn't  even  start  treating  me  with  respect  until  people  started  talking about  The  Wire,  and then he put two and  two  together  because  I  don't  think  that he'd ever seen the  show.  But  there's  a  scene  where  it's  an  alternate  universe,  and  my  character,  he's  been  blackmailed  by  the  archvillian,  which  is  played  by  Jared  Harris.  And  my  son  had  this  rare  disease  that  he  had  a  cure  for,  but  he'd  only  give  it  to  me  if  I  would  betray  my  universe.  So  I  did  something  that  caused  the  death  of  one  of the big  people.  So,  after  the  funeral,  I  come  home,  and  when I return to  my  wife,  she  asks  me...  Karen. I remember her name.  I  can't  remember  the  character's  name. 

 

Anyway,  she  asks  me if I'm  okay.  How  I  played  it  when  I  came  in is  I  came  in,  she  looks  at  me,  and  she  says, " Are  you  okay?"  And  I  say, " I'm  fine,"  and  I  go  and  I  start  looking  at  the  mail.  He  says  to  me, " Lance, what are  you  doing?  It's  not  about  the  mail.  We  need  to  see your  eyes. We  need  to  see  your  eyes.  Look  at  her."  Like, " Dude,  you  fucking  idiot,  I'm  responsible  for  the  murder  of  one  of  my  people.  The  last  thing  I  want  is  for  the  person  who  knows  me  better  than  anyone  in  the  world  to  look  in  my  eyes  right  now.  I'm  sorry.  I'm  not  playing with  mail.  I'm  trying  to  avoid  her  eyes,  you  dipshit."  He  was  looking  for  melodrama  rather  than  what  makes  sense  psychologically  for  the  character  in  the  moment,  which  is  just  stupid.  Sorry,  sorry.
 Yeah, and  also, the other thing was  he  would  love  me  giving  me  this, " He  needs  more  intensity,"  which  really  meant, " I  need  to  see  you  doing  something  because  I  can't  see what you're doing." You know  what  I  mean?

 

Jenny Curtis: Yeah. 

 

Lance Reddick: It's like, "It's because you're a  fucking  idiot.  It'll  be  there  on  the  screen."  That  reminds  me of  a  great  Keanu  Reeves  quote. I  was  talking  to  Chad  Stahelski, and  we  were  in  the  lobby  of  the  Continental.  It  was  in  between  takes  after  a  walk  and  talk  that I had to be in with  Ian  McShane.  And  somehow  we  got  on  the  subject  of  Keanu,  and  he  said  that  when  they  first  started  working together, Keanu said, "When you watch the dailies, you're going to have to watch them on the big screen. You  can't  watch  them  on  the  small  screen  because  if  you  watch  it  on  the  small  screen,  it's  going  to  look  like  I'm  not  doing  anything.  But  I'm  actually  doing  a  lot."

 

Dana Gourrier: I  love  that guy. He's  so  great.

 

Lance Reddick: Wow.  Isn't  he  magical?  I  mean,  his  energy.

 

Dana Gourrier: And  it's  not  just  his  skills  and  artistry.  It's  also  his  humanity.

 

Lance Reddick: Yeah,  he's  like  a  different  being.  Yeah,  he's  extraordinary.

 

Jenny Curtis: I  want  to quickly ask, because I'm just personally  really  curious  because  I'm  a  podcaster,  you're  in  a  series,  a  podcast  called  DUST:  CHRYSALIS?

 

Lance Reddick: Yes.

 

Jenny Curtis: I'd  love  to  hear  about  the  process  of  acting  in  a  podcast.  I  know  you've  done  voice  acting  for  video  games  and  all of that. But  is  it  different  doing  something  for  a  podcast?

 

Lance Reddick: So,  for  me,  voice  acting  is  different.  It  tends  to  be  different from acting  on  camera  because you don't have  your  face.  You  can't  use  your  face  and  your  body  to  communicate  anything.  The  other  thing  is you  don't  tend  to  memorize  the  lines,  and  often  you  don't  act  with  the  other  people.  So  you  have  to  rely  a  lot  on  the  director.  With  film  and  television,  usually  my  rule  of  thumb  is  unless  you  see  something  egregious,  just  stay  out of  my  way  because  I know what  I'm  doing,  with  directors.  But  with  voice  acting,  it's  like, " What do  you  got?  What  do  you  want me to do?" Do  you  know  what  I  mean?

 

Jenny Curtis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

 

Lance Reddick: I  really  found  that  because  I've  done  so  much voiceover  work for the  video  game  Destiny.  I  definitely  found  that  out  with Destiny  because  often  I'd  have  lines  I  wouldn't  have  any  context  for. But  even  with  dramatic  things,  you  don't  always  know  when  something  is  communicating,  or when  you  think  something's  communicating  and  it's  not.

 

Jenny Curtis: I  can't  wait  to listen. I'm very excited  to  hear  that  show.

 

Dana Gourrier: Did  you  enjoy  working on  The  Domestics?  Because  it  was a lot  of  fun  for  me.

 

Lance Reddick: It  was  so  much  fun,  once  again, to be able  to  play  the  kind  of character that I don't get to  play.  I  had  a  great  time.  There  was  one  argument  I  had  with  the director that I lost that  I  shouldn't  have.

 

Dana Gourrier: With  Mike?  Mike  was  so  sweet and docile.

 

Lance Reddick: Docile is  definitely  not  a  word  I  would  use  for  Mike. But by the same token,  I  loved  working  with Mike. Like I said, there  was  only  one  scene  where  we disagreed, and  I  lost  that  argument,  and  I  shouldn't have.

 

Dana Gourrier: When  Jenny  asked  you  about  the  question  of, " What's  a  direction  that  you have  gotten  that  you  loved?"  And  it's  definitely  been  from  Mike,  which  was  just, " Go  further,  and  literally  fuck  them  up."  It  was  a  blast  to  work with him  on The  Domestics.

 

Jenny Curtis: I like that you  say  he  was  a  character  you don't  get  to  play  much.  You  mean  the  sweet,  kind,  generous  family  man  who's  a  cannibal?  Yeah,  I'd  assume.

 

Lance Reddick: Both  of  those  things,  a  guy  who's  sweet  and  just  laughs  and dances with his wife and  makes  goofy  jokes  with  his  son,  and  also  who  says, "You  know  what? If  you  say  anything  right  now,  I  will  fucking  gut you and feed  you to  my  wife  and  children,"  which  is  pretty  close to the line I said. Yeah, I don't get to play characters who do that, either. 

 

Jenny Curtis: I want  to  wrap  up  with  my  favorite  closing  question.  What  does  it  mean  to  you  to  have  a  life  in  storytelling?

 

Lance Reddick: Wow,  what  a  question  to  ask  when  we don't have  a  lot  of  time.  Yeah,  that's  deep.  When  I  feel  like  I  get  it  right,  both  in  my  performance  and  with  the  material  that  I'm  working  on,  I  feel  that  I'm  doing  something  important.  I  feel like  it's  important  to  feel  that way  for  two  reasons.  Number  one,  I  just  feel  like  it's a  fundamental  human  need  to  feel  that  what  you  do  matters.  But the  other  thing  is  that  one  of  the  things  that  makes  human  beings  unique  as  beings  is  language.  So  everything  about  how  we  relate  to  our  reality  is  a  story.  So  the  kinds  of  stories  matter.  I can give you a  perfect  example.  There's  a  woman  very  close  to  my  wife  who  told  her  the  story  of  when  her  son  was  about  six  years  old.  He  was  the  younger  of her two boys,  and  they  were  in  a  McDonald's.  And  he  never  really  met  any  Black  people  before.  There  was  a  Black  guy  in  the  McDonald's.  And  she  said she  was  mortified  because  he  walked  up  to  the  guy, he  said, " Hey,  are  you  a  bad  guy?"  because  his  only  orientation  with  Black  people  is  what  he'd  seen  on  television.

 

Jenny Curtis: Oh,  god.

 

Lance Reddick: So,  to  me,  there's  no  such  thing as  just  entertainment.  All  the  stories  we  tell  matter  because  they  shape  our  values  and  they  shape  our  standards  of  beauty.  They  shape  how  we  relate  to  each  other.

 

Jenny Curtis: Lance  Reddick,  thank  you  so  much  for  joining  us  today.  I  really  appreciate  you  taking  the  time  to  chat  with  us.  And  Dana,  as  always,  thank  you  for  joining,  as  well.

 

Dana Gourrier: My  pleasure.

 

Jenny Curtis: I  really  appreciate  it.  So  thank  you, Lance.

 

Lance Reddick: Thank you.

 

Jenny Curtis: Hollywood  Unscripted  was  created  by  CurtCo  Media.  This  special  episode  of  the  Stuck  at  Home  series  was  hosted  and  produced  by  me,  Jenny  Curtis,  with  guest  co- host  Dana  Gourrier  and  guest  Lance  Reddick,  co- produced  and  edited  by  J  Whiting.  The  executive  producer  of  Hollywood  Unscripted  is  Stuart  Halperin.  The  Hollywood  Unscripted  theme  song  is  by  Celleste  and  Erik  Dick.  Make  sure  to  subscribe  so  you  don't  miss  any  special  episodes  of  Hollywood  Unscripted:  Stuck  at  Home.  Stay  safe  and  healthy,  and  thanks  for  listening.  CurtCo  Media,  media  for  your  mind.

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