close

The Gentleman

Blood Drive

Blood Drive

BloodDrive_Feature

TrunkSpace is looking to rev the engines of “Blood Drive” fans. We’ve made it our mission to feature every actor and actress who has appeared on the series, and in doing so, has left a mark on the grindhouse gorefest.

Let the race begin…

.

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Darren Kent

DarrenKent_Wingman_wednesday
Photo By: Samantha Dodd

The SyFy series “Blood Drive” takes place in a fictional universe where social commentary is disguised beneath a layer of gore and sexual debauchery. Show creator James Roland has designed a post-apocalyptic painting with our own non-fictional world serving as his model. Each character is a different hyper color crafted by his brushstroke and they pop from the canvass as if they exist on a black and white landscape. One of the more dynamic characters born from the series is The Scholar, a lonely genius who wants nothing more than to be loved and accepted, played brilliantly by UK-born actor Darren Kent.

We recently sat down with Kent to discuss The Scholar’s backstory, his complicated relationship with The Gentleman, and whether or not the “Blood Drive” cars could survive a dragon onslaught.

TrunkSpace: We have been asking this of every “Blood Drive” cast member we speak with because, well, it just seems like an obvious first question. (Laughter) Did you ever wonder if the material you were working on in “Blood Drive” would ever make it to air?
Kent: My hobbies are reading and editing scripts and over the years I have read some pretty cool stuff, however, from the first few pages of episode 1 of “Blood Drive,” I knew that this was going to be right up my street! It’s beyond madness but so descriptive and gruesome I just have to turn the page and read on. It’s full of excitement and in a weird way, the characters are all relatable. Okay, most of them are killers. (Laughter) But this shows how brilliantly written “Blood Drive” is! I would always back a script and TV show like this to air. It’s a no brainer for me.

TrunkSpace: What is so great about the show is that there are so many layers beneath the surface of the insanity. Your character The Scholar seems to be particularly layered and complicated. How did you view him when you first read for him and how has that view changed since inhabiting him throughout the course of season 1?
Kent: “Blood Drive” gives you people being fed into engines, unconventional relationships, and a story so crazy you are mesmerized into knowing how it’s going to pan out. The Scholar is withdrawn and lost in society and struggles with all people in general. For an actor, many would see this as a nightmare because eye contact rarely exists with The Scholar, unless he feels comfortable with the character he talks to. So you have no one to bounce off of and most of the time you have to go into a deep thought (your own world) and concentrate on your problem alone! When I first read him, he was insecure, a social wreck, and weak as a person. As the show develops, he becomes braver and gains a few friends, which is a turning point for him and his self-belief.

TrunkSpace: In the show The Scholar is a mechanical mastermind, but to date, we haven’t really learned much of who he was before the race. Will we get to see that as the series plays out, and if not, how did (or how do you think) The Scholar became so knowledgeable about these particular blood-hungry cars?
Kent: This series doesn’t really delve into the Scholar’s past, but you certainly learn more about him and watch him blossom. At the moment, the audience has seen a delicate, soft man who is very sensitive, but do not be fooled, The Scholar is extremely clever and always has a plan B. He may appear soft, but if he needs to, he will do whatever it takes to keep himself safe! All racers have an agenda, but you may have to wait until the final episode to find out what they all are. The Scholar is incredibly detailed with his engines, which I would say was handed down by other family members in the past. I imagine him to be an only child who would channel all of his attention into his first love…CARS! He loves gadgets and computers and with his knowledge and with barely any effort, he could build almost anything.

TrunkSpace: We get the impression that there’s more humanity to The Scholar than there is in lot of the characters who inhabit the fictional world. Does The Scholar feel remorse for the act of feeding humans into the cars? In a lot of ways, it feels like he’s participating only to win the heart of The Gentleman.
Kent: The Scholar in my opinion has had a hard life… more than likely abused mentally and physically. This would explain the sensitive side to him and the want to be liked and accepted. He would much rather the race be a race and not a suicide mission! He would also prefer the cars to run on fuel as blood doesn’t increase power or speed. He hates it when The Gentleman hurts or even kills a human, but he doesn’t dare question it. He loves The Gentleman and can’t seem to see what he is doing wrong to win him over. One moment it is love, the next it is hatred.

TrunkSpace: We have seen The Scholar help Grace and Arthur. Is that in direct defiance of The Gentleman or is he doing it because he genuinely is a good person?
Kent: The Scholar will never forget Arthur Bailey sitting with him in the diner, nor will he forget Grace untying him from the cling film in the meat truck! So in The Scholar’s head, they are now “Besties.” (Laughter) He doesn’t want to upset his partner (The Gentleman), but at the same time, feels he owes Arthur and Grace for the help. He is a simple person who just wants to be loved, liked, and acknowledged. It’s always the little things that count for The Scholar. This isn’t why he is with The Gentleman. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You had this great, emotionally-driven moment in episode 2, “Welcome to Pixie Swallow,” where you spilled your guts (figuratively, which we feel like we have to say because a lot of literal guts get spilled in this series) to Arthur. It was one of the few moments where we have seen a “Blood Drive” character let his emotional guard down. Do you think that makes The Scholar a unique character to the series?
Kent: Most of the characters are crazy, psychotic killers, but The Scholar joined the race because The Gentleman insisted. The Gentleman needs a mechanic who can outsmart anyone in the race and The Scholar is happy for the attention and loves feeling needed. In his head, it’s a win/win situation!

TrunkSpace: The show has yet to screen in the UK. Do you feel like you’ve been a bit removed from things because of that or has social media and the internet allowed you to enjoy the US release in the same way that you would back at home?
Kent: I’m all over social media and even during filming, I would do daily video blogs and share them online. When I first started out as an actor, I remember seeing a post of another actor’s blog and it made me want to be that guy and inspired me to work my butt off and make it happen. I have made myself fully involved by plugging the show and keeping in contact with everyone. I’m off to New York this week to meet Colin Cunningham (Slink) as episode 7 will be screened on the big screen and I’ll be joining him for a mid series party! I’m super excited about that and seeing my wingman again will be awesome!

TrunkSpace: The passionate fanbase of the series continues to grow. Has the arrival of The Bleeders, as they have come to be called, been a surprise to you or did you expect the show to find a loyal group of viewers?
Kent: There was always going to be a cult for “Blood Drive” because this show has bags of potential and brilliant writers and crew behind it all! The same happened with “Game of Thrones” and I believe soon, it will have a huge following. Grindhouse isn’t my cup of tea, but “Blood Drive” is different and I’m hooked! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What has been the most challenging aspect of playing The Scholar from a performance standpoint?
Kent: I know this will sound ridiculous but, talking to my car in episode 1 was my most feared scene. (Laughter) We started on my close-up and after two takes they were happy, but I wasn’t! I asked for another take because some scenes take actors a few takes to settle into the scene and this was certainly one of them scenes. Unfortunately cars don’t react, so I spoke to it like a little baby and the extra take made a difference. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: In a show with so much craziness, butchery, and a sexual humor… how did you present the series and your involvement in it to your family and friends? (Laughter)
Kent: I always phone my parents straight away when I land a role and they love to hear all about my characters’ antics! “Blood Drive” is by far the hardest character I’ve had to explain to them about, especially when explaining some scenes from episode 2. (Laughter) All I was thinking was, my mum and nan are going to watch me in a sex scene! (Laughter) Also, my uncle helps me learn the script and when he read this episode he said, “We won’t get this scene up on its feet.” (Laughter) But this comes with the job and I’m an actor, so whatever is needed of me I’ll do. Long as I make everything believable and with the correct emotion, I’ve done my job!

TrunkSpace: “Blood Drive” is so very unlike anything else on television. That statement is said a lot about a great number of shows, but usually it’s just said for the sake of saying it. It truly is the case with your show. Does that make being involved with it feel all the more special?
Kent: When you are given a new script it’s always exciting and occasionally you are blessed with an outstanding script and then you’re ecstatic. (Laughter) So absolutely, it feels super special to be involved and a part of the “Blood Drive” family. I really hope there will be many more seasons in the future because I believe the world is ready to take it to the next level and this show does just that!

TrunkSpace: You worked on “Game of Thrones” in the past. Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen versus Christina Ochoa’s Grace? Who wins?
Kent: (Laughter) Love this! Okay… Grace d’Argento would completely smash Daenerys. Grace is feisty and ballsy, so my money would be on her.

TrunkSpace: And to follow up on that… Daenerys’ dragons versus the “Blood Drive” cars? As someone with such intimate knowledge of how the cars work, we figured you might know if they could go toe-to-toe with dragons.
Kent: I would love to say The Scholar would be able to make engines completely dragon proof, but even The Scholar wouldn’t be able to compete with dragons! We would all be a burnt carcass just like my daughter in my “Game of Thrones” episode! (Laughter)

“Blood Drive” airs Wednesdays on SyFy.

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Andrew Hall

AndrewHall_Wingman_wednesday

In the world that “Blood Drive” inhabits, Andrew Hall’s character, The Gentleman, is about as chivalrous and honorable as you will find, which is to say, he’s not very. When not feeding innocent people into his car, he is toying with the fragile emotions of his racing companion The Scholar, played brilliantly by Darren Kent. And while on the surface The Gentleman seems pretty cut and dry in his self-centered importance, there is a hidden layer to the sophisticated egomaniac that Hall teases within the shadows of the character’s psyche that plays masterfully like a comic book villain’s secret identity performing on Broadway.

We recently sat down with Hall to discuss the visual treat that is “Blood Drive,” why the series’ unique POV makes it so special, and how he achieved every actors’ dream upon learning of The Gentleman’s wardrobe accessories.

TrunkSpace: We remember seeing the “Blood Drive” trailer for the first time and going, “How can they get away with this stuff?” And then we saw the series itself and realized that you guys get away with SO much more than we initially thought you would. (Laughter)
Hall: It is extraordinary. I think what’s so brilliant from the point of view of James Roland, the creator, and all the writers on it, is the way in which they’ve managed to combine both the completely out there stuff with grindhouse, but at the same time, the referencing back to some other movies… some great movies. And then at the same time to have the kind of subtleties and intricacies of the plot running underneath and the comment on how the world works and so on… I think they’ve pulled something pretty special off. I have to say, it’s quite an achievement. To get it on air in the first place, but also to get it on air with that kind of complexity.

TrunkSpace: Which is a great way to transition into the question we’ve been asking all of your costars. (Laughter) As you looked at the scripts and got an idea of what you were about to shoot, was there ever any point where you went, “There’s no way this is ever going to see the light of day?”
Hall: (Laughter) Yeah, that was pretty much it when I read the script the first time, but certainly with episode two, which already aired. Some of the scenes between The Gentleman and The Scholar? You kind of read those and go, “What?” (Laughter) And those also changed. The first draft I saw of them there was a bit of pecking. We’ve certainly moved on a long way from there. (Laughter)

And I know for a lot of people it was very much a question of, “Really? If we do this is it going to get on air? And if it does get on air, is it a good idea?” (Laughter) I think it’s just paid off for people because I think apart from anything else, it’s the sheer quality of the end product. Yaron Levy, the cinematographer, the work he’s done on it has been absolutely outstanding.

TrunkSpace: It really is incredible what he’s been able to do and how each episode has its own feel and visual tone. It’s become part of the fun, tuning in each week to see how each new episode looks.
Hall: Yeah. I think that’s it! And yet there’s a consistent luminosity to it, if that’s the right word. And the set pieces… that beautiful setting when Slink is in the waiting room about to beat the guy to death with a briefcase. The sparsity of that setup, in terms of the kind of visuals of it and the framing of it, it’s just gorgeous. And then also to have the luxury of some really, really good stunt people. I’d say the process of filming in South Africa was a joy from start to finish. It is a really lovely team out there. Lovely people.

TrunkSpace: Keeping with the visuals, we are reminded of that great scene in episode 2, “Welcome to Pixie Swallow,” where the cook is carving the Elvis character and the door keeps opening and closing and revealing different aspects of the butchery. It felt like you were watching a really great visual indie as opposed to a TV series.
Hall: I think that sums it up, absolutely, because another way would have been that you’re in close on a knife doing all of the dismemberment and all of those things, and it’s a kind of a gorefest from that point of view. And now, you’ve got somebody who’s got the imagination to go, “And you know what? Let’s shoot this where every time the door swings, there’s a different bit of the body missing.”

In that same episode as well there’s the beautiful tracking shot following the waitress through the bar, necking her lover, out into the kitchen, past the chef, and then it’s only at the end of that where you see the human leg being fed into the mincer. And what a great performance from Roxy in that. I mean, it’s just terrific.

TrunkSpace: Had the show went in that direction, with an in-tight, straightforward look at the gore, it would have completely changed the tone of the show. And in a lot of ways, the characters are handled in the very same way. They could have been very one-dimensional, but they are not that way at all.
Hall: I think that is a tribute to the writing, and also to the casting, Nancy Bishop CSA… just watching everybody else work and watching the way in which everybody else brought an added dimension to their character and watching everybody give the script the respect it demanded. If the script wasn’t good in the first place then what tends to happen is, it’s quite easy to go into a sort of autopilot mode or to feel that you’ve got to make up for a deficiency or whatever it might be. But I think what people got very quickly was on the one hand, the script itself and the situation demands a heightened style when you’re approaching it as an actor, but that heightened style only works if it’s anchored on something complex going on underneath. I guess some of the, in theatrical terms, the farce… if you’re doing farce as a genre, you are putting ordinary people in extraordinary situations and they keep making the wrong choices and that’s what makes farce funny. But if people go into a farce going, “I’m going to be funny… I’m going to be in a farce,” it dies on its knees. It’s the very fact that the characters themselves take the situation seriously that feeds it.

And I think right from the beginning people just got that, that you needed to just put the amp up to 11 a little bit, but then have it rooted in something… a kind of true inner life story. And for me, what’s also going to be a joy is just watching the way in which the scenes between Thomas Dominique (Christopher) and Marama Corlett (AKI) unfold, because the journey through that story, I think, is a very surprising one as well.

TrunkSpace: Your character The Gentleman seems like a pretty complicated guy. On the surface it seems like he is what he is, especially when we see by way of what Grace and Arthur see, but then there’s that side that The Scholar sees. And that’s a point of view that, as a viewer, hasn’t been revealed yet.
Hall: Yeah, I think that you’ve got it. I think approaching The Gentleman… he’s a pretty vile character, it has to be said, but the vileness in everybody comes out of something that’s happening underneath. So the cruelty to The Scholar, there’s something happening inside The Gentleman that generates that. Whatever it might be. Ultimately that front has to be hiding something damaged, insecure, desperate… all of those things.

But again, it’s part of the journey, I guess, with the characters, in that you have to find the engine running underneath that provides that desperation. So obviously in the Grace character then the desperation is about her sister, which then leads her to do things, which amazingly, Christina pulls off. She’s happily feeding people into engines and you’re kind of feeling sympathetic. (Laughter) How does that work really? And that first scene where you’ve got two pretty nasty people who are intent on molestation, you’re kind of rooting for her, but if you step back and say, “Hang on a sec, she cuts peoples’ arms off and puts them into her engine? Really?” (Laughter)

I have to say, the other thing about that as well was Danielle Knox, the costumer designer from the South African end of things. Such high quality. I walked in and there was this array of stuff laid out for me to try on, virtually the day I landed. Already it’s starting to build the anchor for the character, somebody for whom appearance is so important. And I have to say, to get the sword stick, it’s every actors’ dream, for God’s sake. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: When you hear about a project built around man-eating cars, normally it’s the kind of project where there is no costume designer and they say, “Can you bring a couple of outfit options to wear?” (Laughter)
Hall: (Laughter) “Do you happen to have a camcorder we could borrow?”

Obviously we knew that NBC/Universal were involved, but it’s the quality of the end product. Certainly I remember when I landed in Cape Town not being absolutely sure of what was waiting and then to find this fantastic operation and the whole building of the studio in the city center building in Cape Town and everything that went into that as well.

TrunkSpace: We’ve been speaking to many of the “Blood Drive” cast members and everyone genuinely seems like they had a wonderful experience shooting the series and that they were all-in on it from the start, which seems rare?
Hall: Yeah, it is rare. And again, collectively everybody took a deep breath and went into the deep end. I think everybody kind of got that. Because it is something so genuinely different from anything else that you see out there. It’s one of those those things where everybody on board just takes a deep breath, closes their eyes and goes, “Geronimo!”

read more