First gaining well deserved attention teaming up with Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead, Nick Frost has taken his brand of comedic talent and spread it throughout the world of both movies and television. Recently we had a chance to talk to Nick about his life as actor and his work on the second season of AMC’s Into the Badlands.
So was acting something you always wanted to do or did you kind of fall into it, like a happy accident?
Nick: Yeah absolutely, I’d say it was an unhappy accident. I think the point in my life where I got to be an actor, I think acting for me equals showing off or being a show off. Even though, if I’m being honest with you and myself, I was a massive show off so to be a professional show off it’s so like a real curse but I also recognized it as a really big opportunity for me because I was twenty nine, I didn’t have any exams in school and I was a waiter, happy to be working in restaurants. I kind of hated it at first until we did Shaun of the Dead and it was at that point I realized OK, you can do this. People are saying you’re all right, you’re pretty good at it, so why don’t I pursue this?
Do you have a preference when it comes to working in movies or television or do you simply go where the work is?
Nick: I would have to say to me there’s no difference in the process, in terms of cameras, lights, sound, it’s all the same to me and I don’t mind if they show the work in a cinema or on television. I guess that question ten years ago would have been I love film and I want to do film but now it’s proving difficult to get films off the ground right now. Television is where it’s at, at this moment and any actor who says I just want to do films would be cutting off a massive part of his or her potential revenue stream. TV is just so good right now, all the best things are television based, so that’s great to see as a fan and as a working actor.
How did your role on Into the Badlands come about?
Nick: I went and had very early breakfast and coffee with Miles, the producer, and he told me what the show was about, had I seen the show and then there was doing American TV. Once you sign up for that monster you’re kind of tied in for six years and I’ve got a son, a young child and the thought of being away from him potentially for eight or nine months for the next six years was not appealing at all. When I found out you only shoot ten episodes and it’s on an island and creatively I can do what I want, comedically I can do what I want, your ability to say no becomes less and less. It got to the point where I was OK, right, I’m kind of flattered by the level of commitment you’re going to show to me and what I can bring so yeah, absolutely I’ll do it.
Your character seems to be the combination of a pain in the ass and opportunist but there is something very enduring about him. How much input did you have in the overall development of the character?
Nick: Quite a bit, actually. I really enjoyed the writing, I liked the way it was written and so once you start trusting the writing and then also saying well, I’d like to do this, or I’s love to see him do this and I’ve got such a say in what I do comedically that it makes my job so much easier. I like the fact that he’s a bit of a dick, he’s just like Lando, more of a dick than less cool.
What is it about the addition of your character that Into the Badlands fans will enjoy the most?
Nick: Well, I hope they buy him as a product of that world, I think that’s my first concern. They’re weren’t that many criticisms that I saw on the Internet but all of the criticisms I had read said the show was maybe a bit too serious, so I’m hoping that within the realms of that world that they’ll accept me. I want him to be very rounded character, he’s flawed as a person but also passionate and fiery, he likes woman and kind of a bit of a drug dealer and a bit of a heel but potentially he has a good heart and a big secret.
Can you walk me through what a typical day was like for you on the set of Into the Badlands?
Nick: Yeah, sure. We’d shoot pretty early, we were about an hour outside of Dublin and you know what, we don’t have lunch. We call it French hours here, you just eat on the hoof and keep shooting and the great part about that is you finish work at six in the evening which is fantastic and for actors that’s like working half a day, it’s amazing, we love it. Also, it depends what you do you know, the shoot is shot in two halves so you have a drama unit and a fight unit. The drama unit is like any movie or TV show, you go, you learn your lines and you do a dramatic scene. The fight unit is a lot different because it’s those days that you know you’re going to sweat. Towards the end of the season there’s a massive fight that I do where it’s just me and ten guys and on those days, you start fighting at eight am and stop at six am and by one o’clock it’s like, I can’t fucking do it, I’m not going to get through this fucking day but you do and those days are very exciting.
You and Daniel Wu seem to have some great chemistry together. Did you have to work on that or did it come naturally between the two of you?
Nick: Don’t tell Simon Pegg this but no, not at all, the chemistry just happened. I think in him I found an ally and I thought we were very similar. We’re both around the same age and our trajectories have been similar, he has a passion for making movies and TV and he’s a producer too. I love watching him work and he’s a serious person, but serious because he wants to make something great and I like that, I get that.
Did you ever have a backup plan in terms of your career choices, if acting didn’t work out for you?
Nick: No, I still don’t. I never knew what I wanted to do, really. I was just happy taking it day by day and fumbling along, thinking whatever happens, I’ll be all right. I think now it’s slightly easier for me in terms of, I know I’ll be all right in this business for the rest of my life but back then no, I had no plan b. Actually had no plan a, either.
What is the best thing, or more than one thing, that you will take away from working on Into the Badlands?
Nick: I don’t know, I made a lot of friends there for sure and I loved working with the Hong Kong action guys, Master DeeDee, Andy Chang, and there was such passion in what they did. They came to work each day and busted it out week after week and I love it, I love being part of that, just to see how they did it, loved it. There’s so many good and decent people making films over there in Ireland, probably one of the hardest things I’ve done, but it’s probably one of the best things I’ve done in terms of taking away a good feeling.
I want to thank Nick for taking the time to talk with us.
Into the Badlands Season Two begins March 19th on AMC