FLESH AND BONE is not for the faint of heart. It is a superb drama and it is heavy. In fact, one could say that it shows both the beauty and the ugliness of humanity. Living among the beautiful — but tortured — dancers of the American Ballet Company is Romeo, a mentally ill homeless man who is kind, but prone to flights of fancy. When Claire, ABC’s newest ingenue, moves in to the building that he keeps watch over, Romeo befriends her and tries to keep her safe.
Actor Damon Herriman portrays Romeo in a superb performance, making our hearts ache for this him. But what drew him to the show? He told us that “initially, the fact that it was written by Moira Walley-Beckett. She’d worked on BREAKING BAD for years and written some of its best episodes, so that made it exciting before I’d read a word. But then when I read the first couple of scripts, that’s when I really got excited. Especially about the role I was auditioning for. Romeo was such an incredibly layered character. And so different from anything I’d done before.”
But what is it about Romeo that drew Herriman to the role? Likely the same things that make him such an interesting character to the fans. “I like how sweet he is. How much he wants to serve others and do the right thing.” Did anything frustrate him about the character? “He didn’t frustrate me. Maybe because I was playing him so it makes it harder to have an external perspective like that. But I can imagine his obsessiveness could be frustrating to others.”
Fans have seen the rather special “friendship” that has developed between Romeo and Claire on FLESH AND BONE. While a lot of the building’s tenants may be quick to dismiss the homeless man in their midst, Claire seems to enjoy speaking with him. And he seems particularly drawn to her. Why is that? “I think Romeo’s main connection with Claire is that she reminds him of a character in the book he’s been writing. The book is part story inspired by past events; part prophecy about the future. And Romeo is convinced that Claire is the human incarnation of one of the main characters in his book. Plus she’s nice to him. Not everyone would bother to connect with someone like Romeo. But Claire does.”
Claire’s damage is also obvious to the viewers who are privy to her secrets, but Romeo seems particularly insightful. Just before she went on a dinner date with a company donor that was basically forced prostitution, Romeo handed her a pill “for the pain”. “It’s hard to know [how much about her life that he truly understands]. He certainly seems very perceptive. And in that moment when he gives her the pills, there’s no doubt he’s reading her reticence to head out. I think he’s also quite perceptive about the stuff going on between Claire and Bryan. He doesn’t know the specifics, but he does know something isn’t right.”
Herriman also has a new project coming up soon: “I shot a new HBO/Cinemax series this year called Quarry. It’s an amazing story set in 1972 Memphis, about a guy who comes back from Vietnam broke and broken. He gets involved with an underground group of contract killers, and I play one of those. It’s an awesome role and I got to work with an incredible group of people. I’m really excited about that one. Should be out sometime next year.”
FLESH AND BONE airs on Sundays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.