If there is one show, well, aside from LIFE ON MARS that has lived up to its namesake this season, it is THE UNUSUALS. Thanks to its oddball mix of quirky characters and murder mystery THE UNUSUALS is well, unusual and here to talk about his most unusual career is actor Harold Perrineau who plays Detective Leo Banks on the new ABC series.
You’ve had such a varied career, yet millions of fans, myself included only discovered you thanks to LOST. Do you take it as a compliment to become so synonymous with one character, or as an actor who has played literally hundreds of different roles, does it bother you?
Harold Perrineau: It’s the kind of career I wanted to have. I fully wanted to be an actor who explored a lot of different things and had a varied career. Now the tricky part about that is because people either associate really well with one character or they don’t remember it was you on something, I’m always having to prove myself and in a really strange way. I’m always having to say [to casting directors], “No I can do this, I really can!” That said, if you remember me as Michael from LOST it means I did my job.
Well, I definitely remember you as Michael. Which is why you’ll have to forgive me one LOST related question. Is Michael really dead?
As far as I know, he’s dead dead. They [LOST] released me from my contract, which is how I find myself on THE UNUSUALS. If Michael is just LOST dead and they needed me to come back, I would be more than willing to go back and do whatever they needed, but as far as I know, he is dead dead.
One of the must unusual things [yes, I went there] about your new show is that fans finally got to see you smile! Was the show’s off-beat humor part of what attracted you to the role?
Exactly! Almost everything I’ve done has been dramatic. My characters are always in desperate situations. In The Matrix the world is going to end and in OZ, well you know we’re in prison and on LOST we’re on an island an no one can find you. It’s been really nice to be able to explore this comedy and get a chance to laugh on the set, which we do a lot. My character being paired with Adam Goldberg’s character is crazy-fun and the two of us make an interesting pairing.
As an actor, do you pay attention to ratings?i
I don’t follow ratings closely. I follow them at the beginning to see what I’ll be working on, like with LOST I was like, “Are we going to be in Hawaii for a while, is that going to be the deal?” And when the ratings came in we were sure we’d be there fora while. So that’s what I’ll do. With this show, I’ll be checking in to see if I’ll have a job in New York for a while.
What is your stance on reality TV? Do you enjoy it, or secretly resent it because it’s taking away jobs from hard working actors?
I don’t watch reality TV and I would have to say that the reason why is that I feel it’s so clearly staged. We’ve almost gotten to the point where reality TV is just scripted TV again. How many people’s lives are that interesting? Eventually producers just start putting these ‘real’ people in wacky situations which is exactly what scripted TV does.
Do you have a preference between television, movies and or theater?
Each of them offers something very different. I love to do live theatre, but it’s hard to make a living doing it. I love going to work, get something on stage, perform it beginning to end for an ausience where that moment is all there is. There is no repeating it, or TiVo’ing it, you just ahve to own it. I like movies because they take a little more time to explore and in two hours you have the opportunity to go a little deeper. And television, if you’re on a great show, you get a chance to feel like you’re doing a book. Taking this ride with the audience over a long time and page by page revealing more and more.
You can catch brand new episodes of THE UNUSUALS every Wednesday night at 10PM on ABC