Q: First off, after hearing the title of the show, most people assume that your character Charles Barker is "The Beast"... but that's not the case. Can you tell us who or what "The Beast" really is?
A: I think "The Beast" is up for interpretation. Actually, the title is what initially attracted me to this show. For me, "the Beast" is about the wildness inside of us... those demons or whatever you want to call it. I call it "the beast" or "the wild man." I have lived a life wondering how do you toy with that beast and play with those demons. You find in life that part of yourself, that dark, unpredictable side can be a powerful tool for positive things if you can keep it positive. But in the blink of an eye it can just chop you off at the knees and take you down. It can be a dangerous game to play, because if you lie about the wild man, he'll kill ya. You can try to manipulate him, he'll kill ya. You try to play games with him, he'll kill ya. You try to deny it, he'll kill ya. But if you can embrace him and use the positive, it can be a powerful tool.
But also, as you watch the show and all the different episodes, you'll find that the beast can be something outside of us. There's a machine that exists out there that can be crazy; in our systems, the make-up of our society, in our righteous perceptions of what's right and what's wrong, and our interpretations of what's good and what's evil. But even so, trace all that back to its source...and you'll find they are born out of, or just a reflection of all the demons that live within us. And Charles Barker has a lot of them, and he's found a way to make them work for him. It makes him a loner, and makes him a damaged individual because he lives in a very difficult world.
Q: Who exactly is Charles Barker?
A: Charles Barker's a rogue, unorthodox, wild man of an FBI agent, and he's been doing it a very long time. He goes all the way back to Afghanistan and Russia, and 'Nam. He's very experienced and dealt with many, many different situations.
It's interesting for me how Charles Barker deals with his "wild man" side. It's that Bodhi side from Point Break. It's that wildness, yet a methodical and intelligent wildness. This man has learned how to harness it, and learns how difficult it is. He lives a life of yin and yang, of understanding that at the same moment, opposites can exist. He's come to terms with it for himself and learned how to turn it into an asset. But it's where his wildness comes from. And you never know what this guy's gonna do.
Barker's philosophy for me is born out Sun Tzu's book, The Art of War, patterning every technique, everything that Barker does off of that thousands of years old concept of warfare. The concept is to win the war without fighting the battle. That you lose when weapons come out, you lose when it turns to a battle situation.
Q: Who is this new partner Barker takes on?
A: In the show, Barker's bringing on this young, new partner Travis Fimmel aka Ellis Dove. He doesn't want a new partner. And this guy is young and he's really cocky. Barker is very clear that cocky will get you killed, but you have to have it to stay alive, in the same way that caution will get you killed, but you have to have it to stay alive. So it's that yin and yang place that one has to find to exist in order to stay alive in this world. You never know what's gonna happen.
Q: Does Barker take on a somewhat of a mentoring role with Dove?
A: From a mentor point-of-view, I've sort of been the big brother all my life. Even on my ranch, I've had people's lives and well being in my hands when we've taken pack trips or cattle drives, that kind of thing. You have to anticipate every stupid thing anybody could think about getting into and fix it before they get a chance to do it. So your awareness has to be alive and awake at all times.
Barker thinks this young kid Ellis has potential, but he's in that place of the invincibility of youth, and that will get him killed. Barker comes from a very selfish point-of-view. He has no intention of allowing anyone to get him killed. We've got these moments between his character and mine where Barker finally comes down on him...Why do you think I do not have a partner? They're all either dead or I made them go away. It's very simple. I don't intend on letting you get me killed. He's very intense, but there's a lot of experience and a practical approach and point-of-view behind it.
Q: What are some of the characters that Barker takes on when he's undercover and how do you portray them?
A: In taking on an undercover character, as an actor I take them on completely, just as Barker would. To be a good actor, one has to draw on their personal experiences. Barker does the same when he takes on one of his undercover roles. He is seriously world-traveled, speaks many languages and can take on many covers, from a homeless vet to a Romanian flesh peddler...
...He's also ex-Special Forces, so he's got the ability to kill you when he's looked like he's scared of his own shadow the moment before. Barker carries some darkness with him about things that have happened in his past, things he feels responsible for, whether it's children dying, or groups of children dying, whether it's his partners dying. Whatever it is, he has a hard time coming to terms with these things.
Q: What do you hope that the audiences get from The Beast?
A: I think what's cool about this show is it has the ability to go from an international, political and world issue point-of-view to more personal, but just as dangerous, human stories.
Something I do not want to do is condone vigilantism. You could call Barker a man who takes the law into his own hands. But he's been doing this so long, he can see nothing but the truth. He can't operate or tolerate political correctness. Barker has no intention of being a victim. He plans on being the master of his fate. And the only way you do that is when, when things go crazy, make them crazier.
The point of The Art of War is from out of chaos and confusion comes order. In the first episode, in the first few minutes, I break my partner's nose in order to get us out of a situation before weapons are drawn. I blow up my Suburban with a rocket launcher. If things are getting ready to get outta hand, I take them further outta hand, because out of that chaos Barker rules. Barker can outthink everybody, he comes up with resolutions in an instant.
The appeal of this show is it treads the line of looking at the concept of good and evil, or right and wrong, but does not dare to try to ever answer those questions.
Q: How did you and Travis get along on set?
A: Travis and I have a great time. Nothing is sacred between us; we're totally irreverent with each other. We both work off our instincts, so you never know in a moment as Patrick or Travis, much less Barker or Ellis, what we're going to do. He's got that kind of energy in his eyes. He's a great guy, he's a lotta fun, he's an easy energy. But you also wouldn't wanna mess with him, you know? He's just got that edge. I think we work well together.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the producers of the show and how this series stands out from other dramas on television?
A: The creators are Bill Rotko and, and Vincent Angell. Young writers, young producers. They came up with a fabulous concept that just rocks. I haven't seen a show like this. To me it, it blows away every other show, definitely every other procedural show out there.
We're not trying to compete with the CSIs, etc., etc., we're looking to be a cutting edge show that knows no bounds, that can go wherever we wanna go. We've now got a team of great writers, along with our showrunner John Romano and the shows are coming in deep, dark, and interesting.
That's the thing I want to protect about this show... I'm praying they don't get safe with this. Or start nicing Barker up. No, let me stay dark.
Q: Dark or not, are you still having fun?
A: It's a blast. It's like playing cowboys and Indians. I'm having a helluva good time doing this show. [LAUGHS]