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 The Scholar is withdrawn and lost in society and struggles with all people in general.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.