Interview with Aquarius’ Grey Damon
It’s time to get back to the 60’s with Grey Damon. We had the opportunity to speak with the actor at the Monte-Carlo TV festival where he spoke about his new show, Aquarius, and his character: the undercover narcotics officer Brian Shafe as well as Charles Manson’s nightmares.
What attracted you to the show?
I loved the concept. I loved that it wasn’t only about Charles Manson but more about the 60’s and the United States of that period. It’s funny because, before joining Aquarius, I didn’t think I would play a cop so early on my career, and to be honest I didn’t want to; I thought it would arrive later. But the thing about Shafe is that he isn’t really a cop. He is undercover so he has to pretend to be whatever the situation calls for.
That’s what made you want to be Brian Shafe?
Yes. I get to be a lot of different people so I’m not really a cop. If he needs to be a hippie he is going to be a hippie, if he needs to be a drug dealer or a college student he has to pretend to be this way. So he really just becomes whatever the situation calls for or tries to depending on the circumstances. He is not just a cop so immediately this character was so appealing to me.
How would you describe the relationship between your character and Hodiak played by David Duchovny?
Our relationship is sort of representation of the 60’s because the show is really about this period, about how America was at that time. Our characters represent an aspect of this decade. My guy represents the hippies, the changing generation while Hodiak represents the old generation, who is flabbergasted by what’s happening in his country. They’re different but at the same are so alike. They came back from wars to discover that the country they knew had changed. Hodiak came back from WWII and his country was completely different than when he left. When my character came back from the Vietnam, his country was completely different. So they really need each other and not just to solve crimes.
What do you think of Shafe and Hodiak’s relation with Charmain? What does she represent?
Shafe develops a lot of respect for her because she represents women in the work force during a decade when they were considered as inferior. Charmain is trying to be a real cop and not just a secretary, and the character is actually based on the first female cop. Shafe needs her as much as he needs Hodiak. They both have a big respect for her, because they know what’s she is going through on a daily basis and they appreciate her, what she can do for the force that not one does.
How is it to work alongside with David Duchovny? Were you a fan?
It is great. My mum is a big fan of David, she loves the X-files. She watched it when I was a kid so I grew up watching the show and then I watched Californication so I knew him on my TV. And working with him is fantastic. He is a complete pro. He never skipped a line, never missed a mark, he is really helpful. He is the perfect co-star.
How much did you know about the 60’s when you joined the show?
I wish I knew more. I just basically knew what I had studied when I was at school and what I studied to prepare for the show: the music, Vietnam, some of the political stories back them, the civil rights. , people who were really taking a stand and trying to get noticed in a time of madness.
How did you immerse yourself into this period?
Not easily, because I was born in 1987 so two decades later and I needed to study a few things. As my character is a Vietnam veteran, I was studying a lot about this war and the people. As for Manson, I came across a little bit of this stuff but our show is a sort of prequel to his story so Shafe doesn’t need to know a lot about him. And I didn’t want him to know a lot of him so I stop reading stuff about him quite quickly. To be honest, I started to have nightmares of him and the war. So it was not easy but very fun and very interesting.
Have you met Charles Manson or even think of it?
We talked a lot about it and decided it was better if we didn’t. It’s an historical fiction and even if it’s based on true events we kinda go on our own directions. It’s doesn’t have to be exactly like the true events. It’s our vision about the 60’s and I don’t know if we really want to meet him.
Have you met or talked to a cop of that decade because it’s completely different from what the cops are doing today?
We had a real cop from the 60’s. He wasn’t from Los Angeles but from New York. He told us really incredibly stories sometimes they were painful sometimes amazing. But he told me a lot of things that I was able to use for Shafe. It was capital.
You also prepared for your role with music.
Yes, Otis Redding in particular.
The music is quite present in the show…
Our creator John McNamara initially imagined Aquarius as books not a TV show. And he went to Marty Adelstein our other executive producer, and Marty told him “well it’s about the 60’s, this decade was all about the music”. So John thought of it and it ended up being a TV show not books and it was impossible not to use the music of that time. It’s quite a pivotal element, it helps to settle the moods and atmosphere, the special feelings of this period.
You talked about the different people your character needs to be. If you could travel back to the 60’s what kind of person would you like to be?
I wouldn’t be a cop. I would probably be a hippy because I’m love arts. If I could choose one famous character, maybe JFK, or Malcolm X… but just for one day and if possible, not during their last day.