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Mark Pellegrino

Wingman Wednesday

Alex Barima

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Photo By: Malcom Tweedy

As the demon Drexel, Alex Barima has brought a uniquely expressive comedic delivery to Hell in the long-running series “Supernatural.” When not serving as the lapdog to Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino), the Montreal native is facing off with a different kind of demonic evil in FOX’s “The Exorcist,” playing the in-story role of the canary in a coal mine who senses that something very wrong is happening beneath the surface.

We recently sat down with Barima to discuss how “The Exorcist” has already become a game changer for his career, why he had a hard time sleeping for a week, and where he’s most comfortable when it comes to performance.

TrunkSpace: There was such great buzz and word-of-mouth surrounding season 1 of “The Exorcist.” Was it exciting coming into a series that had that energy already swirling around it?
Barima: 100 percent. When I got the part, I then went and watched the whole first season, and that really solidified my excitement for the show. I was like, “I get to be a part of something pretty cool.” We’re definitely really happy with the way everything’s gone so far, and we’re excited to show everybody.

TrunkSpace: For a long time, horror never really seemed to work in television. It was always better suited for film, but tonally, “The Exorcist” is bringing that cinematic feel to the TV side of genre with its telling of the story.
Barima: Yeah. The stories really unfold kind of like a film in a way where off the top, there’s not so much action going on. It’s more of a lot of leading up, a lot of introducing characters, and then slowly but surely things go south. By the end, when you’re in the heart of the plot, stuff hits the fan pretty hard.

TrunkSpace: As they should always do in horror!
Barima: (Laughter) Exactly.

TrunkSpace: Can you set the stage in terms of where your character Shelby falls into things?
Barima: So the leads from the first season had to leave Chicago, which was the setting of the first season. Now they join us, and we’re in Seattle. My character Shelby, he lives with his foster family on this island that’s just off the coast. There’s just a few kids in the house, and we’re all from these pretty rough backgrounds. Shelby himself, he’s from a broken family – a family broken up by drugs and crime and things like that. Growing up he had a very hard time, so he found religion. That’s what saved his life. Getting into the foster system is probably the best thing that ever happened. He found a family; he found a purpose. Now with all this stuff going on, he has very good perception. He’s a pretty smart kid, so he sees a lot of stuff. When something’s out of place, he notices almost immediately. He starts to kind of freak out before anyone else in the show.

I kind of like that. It’s always the character that I look to when I’m watching horror and stuff like that – the first character to really feel that something’s not right. I’m like, “Listen to that guy! Listen to him!”

TrunkSpace: It’s a rough turn for your character. Here he is, finding this silver lining, and then it all gets taken away.
Barima: Absolutely. It’s a living hell.

TrunkSpace: Does the creepy factor of the show ever spill out of the work? Do you have to remind yourself that none of it is real every now and then?
Barima: I definitely have had to shoot a few things where I’m freaking out. Shelby, he takes a few risks during the show because obviously he’s the red herring and trying to let everybody know that something’s not right. But of course, it’s hard to believe. He’ll take a few chances himself. I haven’t been too frightened shooting the actual show, but sometimes when we’re on location, and you’ve got a moment to yourself and you’re upstairs in the greenroom by yourself or anything like that, things kind of quiet down a little bit and then you maybe have a little too much time to think about things.

TrunkSpace: The imagination is a powerful force. It’s like when you’re driving at night and you know there is nobody in your backseat, but you convince yourself that if you look in the rear-view mirror you’ll see somebody there.
Barima: Yeah, exactly. After watching the first season, I had a very hard time sleeping for at least a week. This time around, I think watching it will be a bit easier because I was a part of it.

TrunkSpace: As an actor, how do you tap into fear within a scene?
Barima: It’s not easy because I’m quite technical when it comes to performance. I can’t count on my emotions because they’re not reliable. Typically, I’ll just try to understand what’s written on the page and then do my best to emulate that.

With this type of stuff, with fear, you need to realize that when you’re afraid, you don’t care about how you look. You’re just scared. Whatever happens to your body and your face and all that, it all comes immediately and you don’t have much control. I think a lot of it is about letting go. It’s not worrying about how you’re gonna look and just really, really, trying to convince yourself that you’re scared – channel that energy into your body and then your body will kind of drive itself. Hopefully people will believe that you’re terrified.

The music and the lighting helps, as well. I think in the end, it’s a little tricky, but it’s fun. I’ve never gotten to play scared before, like truly scared for my life. I’m excited to see how that turns out.

THE EXORCIST: L-R: Brianna Hildebrand, guest star Hunter Dillon, guest star Cyrus Arnold and guest star Alex Barima in the “Janus” season premiere episode of THE EXORCIST. ©Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Sergei Bachlakov/FOX

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular moment where you felt you got to really stretch yourself as an actor?
Barima: We’re only halfway through shooting the season, so I’m sure all of the toughest stuff is yet to come. But so far, I think the fear stuff has been very new for me. It’s been very new for me to be out there and act like my life is in danger and stuff like that.

In Vancouver, we do a lot of science fiction, so it’s usually either very action-oriented or very light. But with this stuff it’s like, “Okay, damn, you gotta dig deep, and really gotta be on point!” I think that’s been the newest thing for me. It’s the constant tension that’s in almost every moment.

TrunkSpace: Do you feel like your role in “The Exorcist” has the potential to be a game changer in your career?
Barima: It already has been a game changer, to be honest. Yeah, I think that me and my team, we kind of knew that once we got this, we were like, “Okay, this is a big deal.”

It’s been a pretty good year so far, but I’ve never really worked on anything of this scale. I’ve never had so many days on a project. We definitely know that this is gonna be something pretty big for me. I’m from a comedy background myself. That’s more my focus, but in this town we don’t have a lot of comedy. So, I haven’t gotten to do very much until, actually, this year. I did one film last December that just premiered in Toronto at the International Film Fest called “Public School” with Judy Greer.

After that I got on “Supernatural” where I got to do a little comedy, as well. So I was like, “Okay, I’m finally falling into my element here.” And then with “The Exorcist” it was like this super dramatic audition. I was like, “Okay, well I don’t know how this is gonna go” and they were like, “Oh, you got it. You’re in.” I was like, “Really?” (Laughter)

So this is amazing because I get to do this super heavy stuff on Fox with this project, and then I’ve got these other comedy things going at the same time. Whichever picks up is fine with me, but ultimately, I always feel more comfortable doing comedy.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned a magic word around here, “Supernatural.” We’re big fans of the show. You have had some great scenes opposite Mark Pellegrino, who has some amazingly unique delivery in everything that he does with the character of Lucifer. What has that experience been like?
Barima: Mark has been my favorite person to work with in a long time. I obviously joined the show very late, season 12. Mark is just so fun. We talked a lot between scenes, and we get along quite well. And then whenever it came to shooting, it was just so fun. It was just so fun to see him drop into this character so quickly – this character he knows so well, and he’s just doing this dialogue, and I’m trying to keep a straight face. It was quite hilarious.

But I’ve gotta say that “Supernatural,” that crew, it’s probably one of the best sets in the whole city. The way they run the show, the way everyone is so comfortable at work, you can really tell that they’ve been doing it for a long time, and you can tell why they’ve been so successful. It’s such a well-oiled machine, that show. Really fun to work on.

“Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

“The Exorcist” airs Fridays on FOX.

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Wingman Wednesday

Mark Pellegrino

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Supernatural — “The Rising Son” — Image Number: SN1302a_0086.jpg — Pictured: Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved.

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

According to the current “Supernatural” universe, that’s technically true, at least as it concerns this particular plane of fictional reality. And although it wasn’t a trick that he himself pulled, trickery was involved.

Playing out in the finale of season 12, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles), along with the help of angel Castiel (Misha Collins), demon-turned-devil Crowley (Mark Sheppard), and their mother Mary (Samantha Smith), trapped Lucifer, played brilliantly by Mark Pellegrino, in an alternative universe where Hell on earth is an actual thing. Never one to go down without a fight, the fallen archangel did some serious damage to the Winchester crew before popping out of existence, serving as the catalyst for Crowley’s sacrifice (permanent), murdering Castiel (semi-permanent), and pulling Mary into the alt-dimension with him.

Lucifer is the bastard of big bads, that much has been made clear since he first appeared on the series back in season 5, but we just may be seeing a different side of him moving forward, one that replaces his devil may care attitude with an all new Prince of Not-So-Darkness. Stuck in the alternative universe with Mary and no longer the most powerful being within finger snapping distance, a vulnerable and reliant Lucifer is emerging and it’s a character journey that Pellegrino is excited to see play out.

We recently sat down with the Los Angeles native to discuss how his relationship with Mary will be forced to change in the alternative universe, why he feels fans may start rooting for Lucifer to do the right thing each week, and what makes the SPN Family the best fandom in the business.

TrunkSpace: Heading into season 13, Lucifer is stuck in a strange land with a sworn enemy, but from what we’ve seen teased out, it looks like you may have to rely a bit on each other. Is that accurate?
Pellegrino: Yeah. And I think that makes for good drama and good comedy, because we are the odd couple, for sure, and sort of chained together at the hip, and definitely need each other to either escape this place called the “alternate universe,” or get out of it.

Yeah, and I feel like in doing the scenes, we were sort of like an old married couple, to be honest with you.

TrunkSpace: Because of that, are viewers going to see a side of Lucifer that they haven’t seen before?
Pellegrino: I think so. I think we haven’t seen Lucifer really vulnerable. And I think in this new universe, even though he tries not to show it, there’s quite a bit of vulnerability revealed because he, as powerful as he is, and he proves it while he’s there a couple of times, he’s also out of his depths in a lot of ways. And so I think it’s going to be kind of a cool thing for the fans to see someone so powerful struggling with realities.

TrunkSpace: With the death of Crowley last season, fans are without a lovable bad guy to root for. Is Lucifer going to step up and be that guy that fans hope will do the right thing week to week?
Pellegrino: I hope so. I mean, that’s what I like to think. I like to think Lucifer has some redeeming qualities to him, and they’ve so far written a Lucifer that really goes against the archetype that we’re used to. And I like that. I like that a lot.

You know, they say parenthood changes you. And I’m hoping that there’s something to that with Lucifer. He seems to be yearning to have a connection, and I think that is sort of the opening, the door opening, to spaces that he’s had to keep closed since being alienated from the universe. So yeah, I’d like to think there’s doors opening in Lucifer’s character, and that it’s going to bring out that latent good thing that I sort of hope everyone has.

TrunkSpace: Lucifer is yearning for a connection, but at the same time, the writers did such a great job setting up that same yearning in Samantha Smith’s character Mary last season. Are the two characters, stuck as they are, going to find a kinship in each other?
Pellegrino: I hope so. I mean, I really see… it’s just good writing. I see those dynamics playing all the way through with all of the characters. They’ve got very similar issues to resolve, just on sort of different levels. And I think that’s great. I think that’s what makes them, even as enemies, familiar.

TrunkSpace: Lucifer wants out of the “alternative universe,” but at the same time, isn’t this exactly what he wanted? Wasn’t he looking for a world with this kind of end result, especially one that is free of Winchester brothers? What’s keeping him from wanting to stay there?
Pellegrino: I think I sort of played that when he originally came into the world. He was like, “Whoa. Cool. This is interesting…” But I think Lucifer reveals a respect for creation. I think he reveals a sense that, “Hey, we could do this better than has been done.” He actually has an ideal that isn’t about destruction, and pain, and death, but something else, something noble, believe it or not. And so at first, he might have enjoyed the chaos, but I think he has something that stretches further than just that. I think that’s sort of superficial.

Supernatural — “The Rising Son” — Image Number: SN1302a_0507.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Samantha Smith as Mary Winchester and Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved.

TrunkSpace: It also kind of feels a bit like Lucifer, as powerful as he is, needs the Winchesters in his life because, if for no other reason, they’re the only ones who aren’t afraid to stand up to him and that seems to excite him a little.
Pellegrino: Oh, I think Lucifer loves people who are smart, loves people who are courageous, who have the chutzpah to go against, I mean, even God. The Winchesters are ballsy, and he can respect that. If you remember when Crowley shows up in the alternate universe, Lucifer sort of hops around on the ground like he loves that Crowley had the chutzpah and the intelligence to beat the odds.

And there is that element to Lucifer’s character, that respect for defiance, and that respect for courage, that he has in spades. He’s always sort of pushing the limit as far as he can go. And he’s that guy that likes no-limit men and no-limit women. And when he sees it in them, he can’t help but smile at that quality. So I think there’s a lot of layers that are going to come out with Lucifer, and you’ll see that perhaps he’s not as desirous of chaos and destruction as one would think. He just has a better idea.

And the revolutionary is one that thinks that it has to be burned down before you rebuild it again. I want to rebuild it, and make it better than it was before. That’s kind of noble.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that Lucifer respects ballsy people. How would Lucifer get along with himself if he came across a version in an alternative world like the one he’s stuck in now?
Pellegrino: (Laughter) Well, in this world, luckily or unluckily for him, Lucifer doesn’t exist. Lucifer lost the battle in a big way. So he’s going to be that guy in that world. And the question is, will he measure up to the alternative universe Michael, who’s a very, very different cat than the one in the world that we knew?

TrunkSpace: Who we’re actually going to meet in tonight’s episode, correct?
Pellegrino: Yes.

TrunkSpace: Sounds like complicated roads are ahead! Finally, Mark, in terms of your ride on this journey so far… in your experience, is there anything that compares, fandom-wise, to the SPN Family and their commitment and loyalty they have to the show?
Pellegrino: Oh, no. Not at all. And I think that’s in part due to the unique relationship we have with them. It’s reciprocal. We help each other out. And unlike most fandoms, they don’t see that barrier between us and them. And it’s kind of cool, you know? And it’s great being part of that sort of passionate group of people.

Watch Lucifer come face-to-face with alt-Michael tonight when “Supernatural” airs on the CW.

Featured Image By: Manfred Baumann

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