The second season of the brilliant The Man In The High Castle will be exclusively available on Amazon Prime Video on Friday 16th December, and to mark the occasion we recently spoke to one of the show’s stars, Rupert Evans.
The series features a fantastic returning cast including: Rufus Sewell (Dark City) as John Smith, Alexa Davalos (Mob City) as Juliana Crain, Luke Kleintank (Pretty Little Liars) as Joe Blake and Rupert Evans (The Village) as Frank Frink. This season also sees the addition of rising star Bella Heathcote (50 Shades Darker), who will be taking on the role of Nicole Becker.
Based on the award-winning book by Philip K. Dick, the series sees both Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) and David W. Zucker (The Good Wife) serving as executive producers.
We spoke to Rupert about what Season Two has in store for fans and his character, his recent work with Ewan McGregor on American Pastoral, his “horror face”, Poirot, and whether or not he will return to Hellboy.
How did you get involved in The Man in the High Castle, and what was it that attracted you to the show?
Originally, the pilot was a two hour special, and then they cut it in half – so I only read the first two scripts initially – and it kind of went from there really. I had read the book before, and thought it was an extraordinary idea and was keen to get involved.
As someone who had already read the book, what did you think of the changes and differences between it and the show?
The major difference is that in the book the alternate reality is dealt with in another book – not a film reel. Initially I was like: “Oh, God, that is a bold move!” I’m always going back to the source material, so I was a little unsure of that, but actually having done Season One it really works. I was a little sceptical of that at first but it turned out to be a genius idea – that’s the major change.
That’s the big one, but like you said, when you’re adapting something to a visual medium it makes complete sense, and from what I saw in the first episode of season two last night, it blows the whole thing wide open.
Absolutely! And in Season Two we explore all of that in a lot greater depth.
You mentioned the pilot before and I’ve always been curious – is it a long wait to find out a show’s fate? And is it exciting or infuriating?
Ha! It was so long ago I can’t bloody remember now! We did the pilot in Seattle in the September, October, and then found out in January, so it was… The way that American television works is that the majority of shows you do a pilot and go from there, but with Amazon they make a lot of pilots and people can vote for the ones they like – so it’s kind of X-Factor-ish! You’re not sure how many people have watched it, or voted, but you’re hoping that yours’ll go. So it was a different experience,and I hadn’t done that before, so it was odd, it was odd, but here we are!
From what’s been reported, The Man in the High Castle’s numbers were enormous.
Yeah, they don’t give out the numbers, but I think our drama is watched three or four times more than any other drama so… Amazon seem to be doing alright with us and The Grand Tour, so I think this streaming is becoming more and more common now. They’re dominating and investing in good drama, and the difference is that they don’t have to adhere to commercials and that kind of thing, and they take risks. I think television audiences have changed in what they want and they are willing to put hours in to stories that unfold slowly over time.
Definitely. And what can fans look forward to seeing unfold in Season Two?
Well… This season, when we all arrived, we were all quite taken aback by what the creators had done. They’ve really been quite bold in their ideas and I think audiences will be surprised by what happens and that the characters go on journeys in ways that I never thought that they would. I think we expand geographically, and emotionally, and in different realities as well. It’s a lot more ambitious a show – season two is bigger, and it’s more expansive, so it moves it on massively. It’s a big step and it’ll surprise people. I was surprised!
You mentioned ‘journeys’ - what is Frank’s journey going to be this season?
Well, Frank changes… utterly. That was one of the exciting things for me. I think Season One he is someone who is trying to survive in this tyrannical state, but in Season Two he decides that he needs to take control of his life and affect change in some way, so he becomes radicalised in a way and he finds himself surrounded by a set of people who are resistance types who really want to get rid of the regime. So he finds himself in a very different set up to anything he ever thought he would.
What is your preparation for playing Frank?
This year I had to get in the gym a bit, if I’m honest! Get fitter and stuff, so we certainly did that. I read a lot about insurgents, and I think it has a lot of parallels with what’s happening in the real world – so I tried to watch other shows that have parallels to ours, and similar situations, and that kind of stuff. Yeah.
With all of the alt-right stuff going on, does it sometimes feel worryingly prescient
Well it’s only a TV show – it’s not going to change the world, but I’ve just come back from America and I think they particularly have latched onto the show as a way of processing what happened with the election over there – as we are processing what happened in Brexit here. I think there are certain themes that resonate with certain people, and maybe it’ll make them think, maybe certain aspects of the show will get people to reflect stronger.
And what kind of a set is it to work on?
I tend to find that the darker the subject matter – and this is dark at times – the more fun you have on set. I don’t know why, but it was a hard year, we were pushing the boundaries and I think that galvanised us and made us really close, so this year’s been a real laugh. That’s been a good experience and shooting and being in Vancouver is always nice.
And you have had your film American Pastoral come out this year too – how did you find working for and with Ewan McGregor?
It was fantastic! I play his younger brother in that and it was not just Ewan’s first directorial job but he starred in every single scene. I’ve never met a man who’s so relaxed and so kind of welcoming and kind and open to ideas. For me, it was one of the most joyful experiences I’ve had in years working on a film. It was very creative, we played around with scenes too, so that was great. I also play a character who is 60 at one point – so I had seven hours of prosthetics and seeing myself aged 60 was weird. I looked like my dad – bit odd!
We enjoyed The Boy earlier this year. Was that a fun project, and do you enjoy working on horror? With that and The Canal and Tank 432 you did three in a row?Yeah, I don’t know what it is… I must have “horror face”! I dunno… Do you know what? It was great, and it’s actually one of the few jobs where I’m playing English, not American, so it was lovely. I was with Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead and that was great – we had a good time doing that. It was really fun. It’s kind of a psychological thriller really and I find it fascinating how the director creates intensity and jumps and that sort of thing, I think it really worked.
Cool. We are MASSIVE Poirot fans too…
…what was that experience like for you?
Well, as you know, for any British actor, Poirot is the zenith, the apex, of one’s career! I was very lucky because I was in one of the last ones before David Suchet finished playing Poirot, so it was an extraordinary time to be a part of one because it was the end of this amazing journey that he had been on, and they always get amazing actors – like Simon Callow – and watching David work, and seeing him turn up, go into the make-up trailer, and come out as Poirot was kind of extraordinary. His approach and preparation is extraordinary, so for me it was a real milestone and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
We’re sure you probably get asked this a lot, but will there be a Hellboy 3? And if there is will you return?
Blimey, that was a long time ago! Well firstly actors are always the last to know. Um… I have heard rumours from all sorts of sources, but I have no real idea to be honest. A lot of time has passed now, and I couldn’t do Hellboy 2, so the person to ask is Guillermo – and if not Guillermo, maybe Ron (Perlman). I have no idea, but I still see Ron when I go to L.A., he’s doing his Amazon Prime show, Hand of God, and he’s very busy, but who’s to know? They may well resurrect it, but fingers crossed, I think there’s more to tell in that story.
Season Two of The Man in the High Castle is available on Amazon Prime Video now.