Published: Friday, 26 October 2018 | Written by SciFi Vision
The last round table interview during the second day of SciFi Vision's visit to the set of Midnight, Texas, on 9/13, was with Dylan Bruce, who plays Bobo Winthrop, and Parisa Fitz-Henley, who plays Fiji Cavanaugh, the witch in Midnight, who joined in later.
At the end of last season, the two characters became romantically involved.
Bruce and Fitz-Henley talked to journalists about their characters' relationship, working with each other and their chemistry, and more of what's to come in season two.
**Includes slight spoilers.**
Now you’ve got a chance to reveal to us the real inner secrets of the experience of doing the show. What was the thing that the show revealed to you about yourself?
DYLAN BRUCE: That I could have fun on a television show. I’ve played a lot of dark characters before, or like a lot of, you know, guys that were very conflicted morally. I feel like the guy I’m playing right now is really good, and I think the show is written in a fun way, even though it’s a supernatural show, and we go really dark. Like just last year we kind of tackled some sociopolitical issues as well, so it’s nice to be in a show where we feel like we can be light in certain areas and have a lot of fun. And I’ve had a lot of fun on the show. And just the fact that it’s a huge ensemble and everybody gets their piece of cake, their equal piece of cake, is really cool too.
Have you ever thought about being a proprietor of any kind of a business or your own pawn shop?
DYLAN BRUCE: I am terrified of pawn shops. I don’t want to barter with those guys! Those guys will take me to the cleaners.
Yeah, I don’t know, and I feel like there’s weird spiritual stuff tethered to certain items too, almost like in Midnight Pawn. Where I don’t know if I’d be a big pawn connoisseur, but I do own a bar now in Midnight. It’s not in Midnight; it’s actually in Davey, but Bobo beat the crap out of the Nazis, kicked them out, bought the bar, and redid it. Now it's like Cheers.
Cheers for vampires and -
Lem (Peter Mensah) comes to me for marital advice -
Who’s the Norm?
DYLAN BRUCE: The Norm? That's a great question. Lem’s the bouncers and Joe (Jason Lewis)'s a bartender, so we don't we don't have a Norm. But that would be great if we had a Norm. I probably would be the Norm, but I'm working, and I’m the owner. Bobo doesn’t drink that much this season, he's in a happy place with Fiji, so he doesn't need to hit the whiskey too hard like he did the season before.
So, you've done several series where you’ve seen your character evolve. How is it doing this one, how is it alike or different from other experiences? Not the darkness, but just the nature of the character evolving?
DYLAN BRUCE: I felt like Bobo's always been a good soul and a good guy, but kind of like a damaged pit bull, if you will. He wants to be good, wants to be nice, but at the same time, he's got that bite in him where he can flip a switch on and just go into crazy land.
And this year I feel like that's all behind him. Pretty much he’s just with the love of his life; he’s so happy. But then, you know, happy couples can’t stay happy for too long in television, can they? There needs to be conflict, and the conflict is not between them, it's an external conflict, because of the fact that they love each other. So, the fact that Bobo and Fiji are happy and in love, there's some weird supernatural thing happening where Bobo keeps almost dying. Bobo is oblivious to the fact; he's in this honeymoon stage, but Fiji is just kind of in tune to what's going on. Weird stuff happens, like I almost die I think four different times in the first two episodes. Like really weird. We joke; we call it Final Destination Bobo. The most random weird things almost kill me, and Fiji kind of figures it out and she starts distancing herself from him, which is really sad, because but she's not telling him why. But then she goes to all these great extremes and great lengths to kind of cure it, and then she goes to the ultimate extreme and makes this really bad sacrifice of herself to save Bobo, but [it] ends up putting her in a really, really crazy place that has repercussions to the very end of the season.
SCIFI VISION: Going back to the pawn shop, are there any new creepy things that we'll see? Or do they not focus on that this season?
DYLAN BRUCE: You know what? We haven't played - at least Bobo hasn’t played in the pawn shop that much this year, but it does still come in handy. Like if we need certain weapons, we go to the pawn shop. We still go to meet in the pawn shop as a place of safety. We come together, and you know, have a powwow when we have to defeat whoever. The pawn shop is still a staple, but it's not as important as it was in season one, unfortunately.
It's all about the hotel this year.
When it comes to trying to portray a relationship on a small screen, what skills are needed between the two actors to make that buyable and make it believable? How do you two work together to make that feel authentic?
DYLAN BRUCE: Parisa and I have actually had conversations about this too on our off time. Sometimes, you know, we'll get into character discussion together when we’re not working, but we both feel that we could have chemistry with anyone. I’ve worked with actresses that I didn’t necessarily think that chemistry was reciprocal, but then I saw it on screen, and I was like, “okay.” I really feel like I can have chemistry with anyone, and she feels the same way, so when you put two people that would kind of have that in their arsenal together, I think the chemistry just naturally forms.
We actually really like each other as friends; we really respect each other. She's a great scene partner. She's so insightful; she'll bring so much to a scene, and I'm so receptive of that. Like, I'm not set in my ways. I like to explore with the other person; I like to hear their ideas, and she is the same with me. So, I think it's just a mutual understanding that we respect each other. We really like each other and really enjoy working together, and I think that really translates to the screen. And people really love them as a couple, and I think in the books they really loved them as a couple too, so that was important for us, but it was really easy.
So, I don't know what that is. I just feel like I like people, and she likes people. Neither of has an ego, and we don’t come in with chips on our shoulders. And we're both very thankful to be working in this industry, because, you know, a lot of actors that make it aren't. I've been on those sets where they treat people poorly or aren’t really nice to the crew, and I just don’t get it. Just be thankful to be here. But it was always really easy with her. It was easy with Tatiana on Orphan Black. It’s been easy with some of my other costars, and yeah, I just feel really lucky to have her. I really do.
SCIFI VISION: You mentioned the hotel this season. Can you talk about Bobo’s interactions with the new characters, Kai (Nestor Carbonell) and Patience (Jaime Ray Newman), and also working with them as actors?
DYLAN BRUCE: I feel like I was almost on an island with Fiji for the first part of the season, until stuff really went crazy with her trying to help me. So, I haven't had too much interaction with the other characters. Bobo was so oblivious to the fact that there could be, I don’t know, bad intentions of these new people coming to town, because he was in la la land. It was like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dancing around with Fiji in his head constantly. [laughs] So, yeah. But now as things have progressed to where they are, he's ready to do anything for the woman he loves.
So when you heard that the series was being renewed, it sounds like there was a level of elation that isn't always the case.
DYLAN BRUCE: Yeah. Oh, we were so excited to do the show again and play these characters that we all love. We all feel a strong connection to these characters, so it was really nice - it's always nice to play a character where it's really easy. I don't want to say easy, because I've worked really hard at him, and I've done a lot of character study on to who this guy is. I've read all of Charlaine [Harris]'s books multiple times. But really, it just feels easy to jump into this guy. I feel like I know him, you know what I mean? As opposed to picking up a script for a new show, it's kind of hard. I'm still navigating who this person is. I know who this guy is, so the words on the page just kind of come to me, and then I can just focus on this beautiful young lady here and try to make the best of the scenes.
[[Parisa Fitz-Henley joins the interview]]
So how does it inform you as both an actor and as a person?
DYLAN BRUCE: Um, that's a great question.
You come around it, but it sounds like it's really more profound than some other experiences.
Yeah. Well you know what? I think having her, obviously, having a co-star that you really love working with and respect and -
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: Who’s your favorite ever.
DYLAN BRUCE: Who’s my favorite ever. But also, just having like the groundwork laid for us before too, like the backstory where you didn't have to guess too much. You kind of knew where this character should go, and he's in even another set of books of Charlaine's, so I mean, just to have all that beautiful, beautiful map work to draw on just is such a blessing. So, I mean, I don't want to necessarily say it makes it easier, because you're still doing the research, but it just, I don't know, it just made it more fun for me.
It sounds like you made a good scene partner here.
DYLAN BRUCE: Yes, she’s great.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: He’s the yummiest. It’s true; it’s true.
DYLAN BRUCE: The yummiest.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: The yummiest. No, he really is. This is the thing: I feel like, to me, as an artist, it's important not just how someone is in front of the camera, but how they are behind the camera. Because there’re tons of talented people, but if you're talented, and you don't have good character, then it’s not fun to create with you. And he has such wonderful character. This is such a wonderful like yummy hubby and dad and just all-around great guy that it makes it a joy to work with him.
DYLAN BRUCE: Yeah, I was telling them the same thing about you.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: Awe, I’m a good hubby and dad?
One of the things he said that I thought we could ask the same of you, is he talked about how you guys have been allowed or had an opportunity to really evolve the characters beyond what a director tells you or beyond what is necessarily there, that there's some kind of special gestalt. Can you talk about that from your point of view?
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: Yes. I mean, my intuition has always been very connected with Fiji from the from the moment that I got the phone call about whether I'd want to do this audition or not. I just knew; I knew that something special was going on. And we have been fortunate enough to have showrunners and directors that really respect our intuition about these characters. So, you know, of course you have your research and there are logical next steps, but then there's also things that just come to us, that we just know in our guts are right for the characters, and the people on the show really have been receptive to that, the creators have been very receptive to that.
DYLAN BRUCE: Where a lot of creators aren’t. It’s my way or the highway. And like I was telling you guys before, she's so insightful, and she brings so much new greatness to a scene that maybe is, you know, not as great as it could be, even though it's good, but she brings like a whole new element, and you’re like “Oh my God, that is so interesting and such a fun way to play it.”
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: Awe.
DYLAN BRUCE: Like just the littlest things, too, and always everybody, all the directors and producers, are like, “Yes, yes, yes, let's do that.”
With that in mind, what were the surprises that you both, you in particular, had to adjust to for this year that charge the character even further? What you can tell us?
DYLAN BRUCE: This is a spoiler-free zone.
But you can at least sort of hint at wow, something happens that I get to challenge myself.
DYLAN BRUCE: Oh my gosh, yes, she's got a lot of challenges on her plate.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: There’s a lot. I was surprised at I feel like everything this season, and I mean, even the intimacy between these two is like, oh my God. So, Fiji basically was like, I think, you know, post-trauma of losing her boyfriend, of killing her boyfriend. She was like, “I'm going to become my aunt, and I'm going to live like a spinster, and dress like her, and do the things she would do. And I got used to that, as an actor, and then all of a sudden, I'm seeing like these are Fiji’s clothes now that she's free. I'm just like, “Oh my gosh, that’s a lot of skin.” There’s a lot of freedom, physical freedom that is new. SCIFI VISION: Are we going to see you perform some more magic this season?
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: Oh yeah.
DYLAN BRUCE: Oh my gosh, yeah, she does so much. She does a lot of magic.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: Yeah, she's just much more comfortable with being herself and using her powers in the smallest ways, and then some massively huge ways. And we get to see her dabbling in riskier magic, and that may take her and others down some pretty dark pathways.
DYLAN BRUCE: That was kind of provoked by Trace Lysette.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: Trace Lysette!
DYLAN BRUCE: One of our new guest stars from Transparent, yes.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: She's amazing, and her character really comes in and educates me.
DYLAN BRUCE: She did a great job.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: I want Trace Lysette to be in everything I ever do for the rest of my life.
DYLAN BRUCE: Yeah, our guest stars are unbelievable.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: We do, like we always say that we have the best guest stars.
DYLAN BRUCE: The best guest stars this year; it’s crazy.
SCIFI VISION: Any other ones you can mention?
DYLAN BRUCE: Did I mention Jasmine Cephas Jones from Hamilton?
DYLAN BRUCE: Yep. Ron Cephas Jones’ daughter, she was so amazing. Adam Langdon who's on Broadway right now in some famous show, I can’t remember the name of the show. Who else do we have? Michael Ealy from Orange is the New Black and is it Deadwood?
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: He’s amazing. Oh my God.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: And forgive me. I have I forgotten her name, she was in August Osage County, and she won a Tony.
DYLAN BRUCE: Oh, was she from Dexter? Jaime [Murray]?
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: ...No this was earlier, who played Grace.
How does this character, how does this experience change you as an actor? Listening to the both of you interact, there's something going on here that I don't think happens everywhere. There seems to be some kind of transformative quality to this experience. Not just because you're in an ensemble, not just because you're in a TV series, something very special.
DYLAN BRUCE: We really trust each other, and we’re just comfortable working with each other. I'm very receptive to whatever she wants to do, and she’s very receptive to what I want to do.
He listens to what you tell him; he knows his role.
DYLAN BRUCE: I do. At home and at work, I know my role. [laughs]
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: He’s a full-on gentleman and a collaborator.
DYLAN BRUCE: And a collaborator.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: He’s not just listening but sharing.
DYLAN BRUCE: Yes, I try.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: I feel like this has been, you know, having an experience where you work with people that you admire and respect and create well with, is freeing. It's nourishing, you know, it's inspiring, and I know before I ever entered this industry people would be like, “Oh, actors are the worst, and you know they'll be such cattiness and Hollywood is terrible.” Mind you, there are terrible aspects of Hollywood. There are terrible aspects of everything. My mom's a teacher - wholesome profession! Terrible parts of that too, you know? What I found is that the more I get a taste for positive, encouraging, sweet relationships in this industry and in my life in general, the easier it is to spot them, and then the faster I latch on to them. So, it feels like this this series has really been a part of that, like a part of educating me and calibrating me to experiences that are nourishing and nurturing and positive in a creative sense.
DYLAN BRUCE: It feels weird when we’re not in scenes together. I’m like “I miss you!” [laughs]
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: Oh no. That's true. Because he’s so dreamy. It's embarrassing, like if I'm not focused in when we're rehearsing, and then I'm like Parisa when we’re rehearsing and not Fiji when we’re rehearsing, then he makes me giggle, because he’s doing all those cute Bobo things.
DYLAN BRUCE: [laughs]
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: And I am a fan of the show, like legit -
DYLAN BRUCE: We both are. PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: I've watched the show so many times.
DYLAN BRUCE: I’ve watched it way too many times too. [laughs]
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: I’ve watched it like seven times straight through, with friends. A little on my own too. I don’t know; I like it. Did you get in touch with your inner witch? Inner Wiccan?
DYLAN BRUCE:[laughs] Oh yes. PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: I mean, I didn't realize I was a witch until I got to know Fiji and I was like “Oh, I’m such a witch already.” My mom's a witch, in all the ways. No, I’m just kidding. [laughs]
DYLAN BRUCE: [laughs] I was like, “What, she is? She was lovely when I met her.”
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: My mom has always called herself a witch; like she had a thing that said, “my other car is a broom.”
DYLAN BRUCE: [laughs] That’s hilarious.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: It's actually in a very sincere way, being a part of this, playing Fiji and connecting with the fandom around it, which contains a lot of people who identify as Wiccan or with pagan practices. It's been really heartwarming to learn more about the ways that people understand the world through nature, through energies, through things that are not necessarily physically tangible. It just makes me feel accompanied and encouraged, and I love it.
I remember last year you two had such energy, but I remember her energy in particular. So, when the camera’s gone, is it hard to get out of the character?
DYLAN BRUCE: I usually try to stay there. I get goofy when the camera’s not on. Bobo’s kind of goofy. No, we just have a lot of fun. It’s kind of easy.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: Yeah.
SCIFI VISION: Do you have any good Mr. Snuggly scenes?
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: We have some. I mean any scene with Mr. Snuggly is good.
DYLAN BRUCE: There’s a really good one in our very first scene, our introductory scene, the first episode of the second season is really good, and I think fans will enjoy it.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: I feel like we need more episodes next season. I’m calling it.
DYLAN BRUCE: These night shoots are killing me. I don't know how many more I can do.
This must be a really physically taxing thing to do given some of the environments. Can you talk about how you manage it?
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: Yeah. Actually, I go to a lot of healers here. I really watch what I eat, what I drink.
DYLAN BRUCE: Got to be healthy, yeah.
PARISA FITZ-HENLEY: But there's a dual kind of benefit to interacting with the kind of people that Fiji does here in Albuquerque. There's a ton of people who are really connected to the healing arts and connected to looking at the healing arts from a very holistic perspective. So, I can go to them for tune-ups, but also for research. It’s great.
DYLAN BRUCE: I mean, I work out until I almost throw up and have a glass of wine at night. [laughs]