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Thomas Dominique

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…

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Wingman Wednesday

Andrew Hall

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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!”

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Wingman Wednesday

Thomas Dominique

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Photo By: Khris Modeste

In a world filled with maniacs, lunatics, and sex-starved zombies, Thomas Dominique’s Christopher is the straight man of SyFy’s “Blood Drive.” Often seen buck naked, strapped to a table, and systematically tortured by the terrifyingly mesmerizing AKI (played by Marama Corlett), the West London-native is a pensive and patient actor. On screen he and Corlett are the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of psychosexual suffering, a dance they perform that is equal parts spellbinding and cringe-worthy.

We recently sat down with Dominique to discuss how the series was even more brutal on the page, what it’s like working with a wardrobe that is added in post production, and how he would navigate the fictional “Blood Drive” world if it were our reality.

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?
Dominique: (Laughter) Of course! There were more than a few times after a take where I’d think to myself, “They might not show this part. Is this too much for cable TV?” But 99 percent of the stuff we shot made it in. After that I knew the execs were going all out on this one.

TrunkSpace: How did “Blood Drive” come into your life and where has it changed your life most since you landed the part?
Dominique: My agent sent me the script and casting brief. I remember reading the first episode and thinking, “This is a TV show? How is this ever going to get made?” And then feeling nervous about the role because this was totally new ground and out of my comfort zone. The stuff that happens to Christopher is insane! Also the script was a lot more brutal. They actually toned it down when they shot it. But, I knew to grow as an actor you have to throw yourself into roles, so I just went for it.

I’d forgotten about the audition because I was recalled for something else, so three weeks later my agent said they wanted to see me again for the role of Christopher. I went in for the recall and two days later my agent came to me with an offer.

At this point, it hasn’t really changed my life, apart from a lot more people interviewing me and wanting to talk about the project. But my lifestyle and everything else is exactly the same.

TrunkSpace: To many of us here in the States, “Blood Drive” is our first introduction to you and your acting abilities. Do you feel pressure taking the reigns of the series as a lead in the US when most of your previous work was shot and seen in the UK?
Dominique: Oh yeah! At first it was daunting. I’m playing a lead in one of the craziest shows on TV! For most actors coming up in the UK that want to do screen work, the US is like the gold standard of TV and film, so I felt overwhelming pressure to deliver. But I had a Skype conversation with James Roland before I flew out to South Africa where we discussed the character and project in depth and all the pressure and reservations just went away.

TrunkSpace: With what we have seen of the series thus far, much of your wardrobe is added in post because much of your wardrobe has been little more than a censor bar. How does one find his comfort zone while strapped naked to a table? Was there a lot anxious scene shooting in the early going?
Dominique: (Laughter) Just before the first take, when your lying there naked and they’re doing the final checks around you, you feel really exposed. Then you do the first take and you totally forget that you’re naked. Sometimes I would get so in the moment, I’d only remember I was naked when I’d see someone from costume running in with a dressing gown after each take. So you find your comfort zone, over time.

TrunkSpace: We see Christopher go through a lot of different emotions throughout the course of his capture and porn-like torture (pornture?) but what scene stretched you most as an actor? Where did you go that you didn’t think you could?
Dominique: (Laughter) “Pornture!” I like that. I mean the word, not the act. Errrrm…

I think I would have to say the hand insertion scene and tear collection scene. I didn’t know if I could go there, but Marama was giving me so much to work with, and we had the amazing James Roday directing us, so I managed to go to places I didn’t think I could.

TrunkSpace: Most of your scenes thus far have been opposite Marama’s AKI. How long did it take for you two to establish that great chemistry together?
Dominique: The chemistry grew quite naturally. The second day after we arrived in Cape Town, Marama called me and asked if I wanted to get a drink and talk about the show and our scenes. We met and clicked straight away. After that we were together most of the time along with some of the other cast.

TrunkSpace: We read in a previous interview where you stated that Marama was the best actress you have ever worked with. What was it about Marama that brought you to that conclusion and would your performance as Christopher have been as strong if they were shot with a different scene partner?
Dominique: She’s amazing! She brought so much to her character that was not in the script. I was blown away. Marama has no ego, she listens to ideas, and has amazing instincts and input. She wants to make the scene and the overall project the best it possibly can be. To work with an actress like that is an unbelievable blessing, and I honestly don’t think I would’ve had the same outcome with a different scene partner.

TrunkSpace: Christopher is one of a small handful of characters in “Blood Drive” who isn’t a psychopath, moral-free maniac, and yet, he’s not a goody-goody either. Is it easier or more difficult playing the straight man in a world where so many of the characters are on the completely opposite end of the spectrum?
Dominique: I had a meeting with David Straiton, one of the show’s executive producers and overall series director, before we started shooting. He said, “Just play it straight.” And I agreed with him. At times it was difficult. I would find myself trying to heighten my performance to fit in with the insanity of the show. But there’s so much going on, playing it straight adds to the insanity because you relate with the character more and you’re as confused as he is.

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?
Dominique: It’s funny, I was having this very same conversation recently, and even spoke about it in another interview. You guys at TrunkSpace are the first to actually speak on that directly! (Laughter) I’ve even used it when previously promoting a show, because there were aspects of that show that the UK public hadn’t seen before. But this!?!? 1000 percent there is no show like this, or has there been. We are definitely not crying wolf on this one. The wolf is here and it’s eating people, ferociously!

TrunkSpace: The series takes place in an alternative version of 1999. What were you doing in 1999? Anything interesting?
Dominique: 1999? I had a job at a Go-Karting track. (Laughter) It was rubbish. You had to stand around an indoor track waiting to pull people out of barriers if they crashed, breathing in exhaust fumes for 8 to 10 hours a shift. Nice!

When I wasn’t there, I was with my boys running around the streets of West London, causing mischief and waiting for the Y2K bug to end the world.

TrunkSpace: If Thomas Dominique was living in the alternate timeline that “Blood Drive” takes place in, how would he navigate that world. Would you be a racer? Would he be a viewer?
Dominique: I think Thomas Dominique would be dead quite quickly in this world, to be honest with you. I like to think I would be as strong as Christopher, but he’s super human to survive the stuff he has.

Okay, I love driving, so I definitely think I would be a racer. But I would probably get killed by one of the many jacked up creatures around the country, or over some gasoline or water dispute before I even got to the “Blood Drive.” There are six million and one ways to die in this world.

TrunkSpace: When you look at your career moving forward, what would you like to accomplish? Do you have bucket list items you want to check off in your career?
Dominique: There are so many things I would like to accomplish in my career. There are lots of different characters and projects I’d like to work on, so many people I want to work with, and so many people I’d like to work with again. My bucket list is endless. Fortunately I’ve been able to tick off a few items from some of the shows I’ve worked on, but I have a hell of a lot more to do.

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