Canadian actor Dylan Bruce is perhaps best known for his role as Paul Dierden on BBC America’s sci-fi hit Orphan Black.
In his career so far Bruce has starred in shows such as As the World Turns, Arrow and Heroes Reborn, and the Lifetime movies Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind. For his latest role, Bruce is playing against type in new supernatural series Midnight, Texas based on the books by Charlaine Harris who also penned the Sookie Stackhouse series that True Blood was based on.
I caught up with Dylan to find out more about playing fan-favourite character Bobo Winthrop, discussed the scene-setting first episode, and found out what viewers can expect over the course of the series.
This interview does contain some spoilers about the first episode of Midnight, Texas.
I watched the first episode of Midnight, Texas this week and I loved it…
Oh great. Awesome! I’m glad to hear that. What did you think? Fun show? Did it have the supernatural elements you like?
I’ve read the books so I was already familiar with the source material. I was really excited to see how it brought to life as a TV show and I think you guys have done a really great job!
Awesome. Thank you so much. When I first received the part it that was nice having that wealth of knowledge with the books and a history that you could draw on. I read them as fast as I could (laughs) and I really liked them. They were a fun quick read. The overarching theme of our first season is basically the first three books combined. TV is a little faster pace, it’s a different animal. The books that Charlaine wrote just created such a great world for us all play in. It was awesome.
Your character Bobo started off in the Lily Bard books and went on to become a fan favourite. Were you nervous about playing such a loved character and did you feel any pressure?
I did my due diligence and I went back to the Lily Bard series. I read the book Bobo was in because there’s an event that takes place that basically propels Bobo into the lifestyle he’s in now. It has a huge effect on him mentally and creating the person he is. Of course I feel pressure when I start a new role but the pressure was quickly alleviated by our wonderful executive producers Monica Owusu-Breen and David Janollari who had faith in me and let me have fun with the character. It’s just a really fun show. I wanted to do the character right but I just wanted to have fun at the same time and I hope that comes across on screen. He’s a really rich character, which is really cool. Different than I’ve ever played before because I usually get like the waspy type guys, the lawyers, the doctors or maybe a military man of sorts. To play a good old boy from Arkansas was a lot of fun for me.
Bobo and the show are definitely a departure from the characters and shows you’ve been involved with before such as Orphan Black. Did you just want to do something completely different than what people know you for?
Yeah absolutely! You don’t want to get bored playing the same parts all the time. To get something that was completely different and that was out of my ‘wheel house’ from what I’ve done before, really allowed me to sink my teeth into this character. It really motivated and excited me that I had something new and completely different to play. In Orphan Black, it was a very fun character to play as well but was stunted emotionally and very close to the vest.
Bobo pretty much wears his heart on his sleeve so that was interesting for me to react the other characters and he’s also kind of new to the supernatural world. It was fun for me throughout the series to be discovering supernatural events with the audience (laughs). Bobo accepts it but at the same time he doesn’t know there’s angels on earth (laughs). He doesn’t know there are demonic entities under the stop lights of the town that he lives. It was really fun for me to be surprised with the elements that are introduced in the series as well.
The first episode establishes a lot of characters and there’s a lot going on. Bobo is right at the heart of all of it. What can you tease about his storyline as the series progresses?
Midnight sits on the thinnest veil between the living and the dead; it’s a hell mouth so there’s this pull that’s bringing demonic entities, vampires, biker gangs and people with bad intentions to the town. Bobo is running from a past that he wants to keep quiet, he hasn’t told any of his fellow Midnighters about it. This past finally catches up with him in episode 5 and a whole bunch of craziness ensues.
It’s clear from the first episode, and I remember from the books, that Fiji has got quite a crush on Bobo. What can we expect from their relationship?
Their relationship is really sweet. They’re best friends. She’s probably the person he turns to more than anyone in town when he needs help or vice versa. She’s always a shoulder that he can lean on. It was really fun playing with Parisa. She’s just wonderful in the part of Fiji. There’s a very sweet dynamic and he’s oblivious to the fact that she has a yearning for him and a crush on him. It just goes right over his head.
In the pilot episode with the death of his fiancé, that makes him even more oblivious to that fact (laughs). As the series progresses he starts to realise ‘wow this friendship…this is what I want’ but he just thinks that she’s out of his league. That’s another reason why he never really pursued it. He gets the gall to go for it and she’s kind of accepting of it but obviously no good relationship is without it’s issues. There’s a crazy wedge that’s driving the two apart through the series so it’s fun to see them work together as friends, and possibly lovers, and overcome that.
One of my favourite scenes from the first episode is when Manford walks into the Pawn Shop for the first time and he can hear the spirits from all of items on sale there. What’s your favourite moment from the episode?
I really like that moment as well. That was really cool just to see all the spirits that are inhabiting all the different objects in the pawnshop. The props department did an amazing job making that pawnshop as creepy as they possibly could. As you remember from the books, I think it’s been there since the late 1800s or something like that so the amount of stuff that they’ve amassed over the years is pretty crazy (laughs). I think it’s described as crazy in the the books! That was a very cool scene.
I really like the scene where Aubrey haunts Manfred in the house that I’m renting him. The room was filled with water and the poor gal playing Aubrey had water tubes that were attached to almost right below her mouth shooting out of a prosthetic mouth. She was swallowing a bunch of water before the takes and spitting it out. I thought that was very eerie because who doesn’t fear being woken up by a ghost in the middle of the night and also having your room flooded at the same time? (laughs) That was probably my favourite. I thought the makeup department did great and François really plays Manford to a tee there. He’s fantastic in his role.
The relationship between Bobo and Lemuel is very interesting. You couldn’t get two more different people running the Pawn Shop together could you?
You couldn’t but it works out quite well with Lemuel working the night shift and Bobo doing the day shift!
What kind of development will we see between those two characters as the series goes on?
In the first episode when the bikers enter the pawnshop and Lem comes to Bobo’s defence, obviously he didn’t want Lem to help out there. There’s always this fun dichotomy between the two where there’s a lot of pushback from Bobo in certain situations with Lem but at the end of the day he’s got to tread lightly (laughs). Lem is one of the most powerful creatures on earth but at the same time they have a nice friendly relationship. Lem’s always there for everybody in town and BoBo really acknowledges and appreciates that Lem will always have his back. Len will come in handy in Bobo’s world as the series progresses to lend his special skill set which is going to be a lot of fun.
I love working with Peter (Mensah). He was such a trooper putting those eyes in, I mean how stunning are those sparkly eyes? That’s all the make-up that guy needs to look like the most crazy beautiful awesome badass creature. Lem and Bobo have an interesting friendship. All the Midnighters interact differently with each other but they all come together when times call for their special skills. I like their friendship.
Does it make your job harder when you’re part of a show that features a lot of special effects and make-up? Does it make your job harder?
What’s great about Midnight, Texas is we use practical props for a lot of things. A lot of our big bads are actually an actor in a costume, then maybe they’ll enhance it with some CG just to give it that extra pizzaz. Working with it, it’s there and you can react to it. It’s not like you’re acting with a tennis ball or something like that or pretending something’s flying overhead because a lot of it was the actual creature or the actual prop there.
I can’t complain about trying to visualise having a fake entity being there when I’ve worked with Tatiana Maslany (on Orphan Black). She was working acting opposite herself so there was a tennis ball because she was playing all these different characters. For me to try to stretch my imagination I always think back to her. She never complained and she did it masterfully. It wasn’t that difficult for me to tell you the truth. If I ever thought it was difficult, I would just kick myself in the butt and say ‘take it easy, you’ve worked with people who have done much harder!’ (laughs)
We’re getting the show only a few days after it airs in the US. Why should people in the UK tune in to watch Midnight, Texas?
That’s great! I’m glad that it’s airing there quickly so we can all shout about it. My biggest fear is of spoiling stuff on Twitter for fans in the UK that follow me. I always have to be cognisant of not trying to say too much. I think they should tune in because it’s a fun supernatural show. It’s a show about togetherness. It’s a show about welcoming and accepting people that are different from you. We have a talking cat! I mean not a lot of shows can do a talking cat and make it not cheesy. That cat is one of the best characters in the show. Tune in, you’ll have fun! It’s a great summer show and I think people will enjoy it. That supernatural element – it’s got every bit of supernatural sci-fi stuff that the fans appreciate and love. If you’re a fan of that world, you’ll definitely be a fan of Midnight, Texas!
Midnight, Texas debuts on Syfy at 9pm on Thursday 27th July 2017. Watch the trailer for the show below: