ComicsVerse’s veteran writer, Tim Stevens, interviewed Dominic Monaghan. You may know Dominic Monaghan from LORD OF THE RINGS, LOST, or even Monaghan’s newest endeavor, 100 CODE on WGN America. Tim Stevens talks with Monaghan about his latest gritty cop TV series, 100 CODE.

This transcript has been edited for quality.

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ComicsVerse: Hello there, this is Tim Stevens.

Today we speak with Dominic Monaghan. Many may know him from his role as Mary in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, or LOST, as Charlie. He has built an eclectic and interesting career over the past several years. Monaghan has appeared in roles within children’s movies like MOLLY MOON and the INCREDIBLE BOOK OF HYPNOTISM, and darker, horrific fare, like PET.

We spoke to him specifically about 100 CODE, his new TV series on WGN America. A gritty look at two cops investigating a series of murders in New York and Sweden. It turns out to be very much more than they initially appear. Enjoy. To begin with — I was just wondering — you know as somebody who was born in Germany, but predominantly grew up in England, and knowing that English television is different than American television, did you encounter anything like this growing up, this kind of show?

Dominic Monaghan: Well I watched a lot of TV from different places obviously. I was aware of things like The Bridge, and the Killing, and you know obviously The Fall, and Broadchurch, from England. So you know I’ve watched really a lot of TV from different countries, and quite a lot of Scandinavian drama. So yeah, I think I was aware of it. But obviously knowing that it was coming to America, it being one of three shows like that to come America, was one of the reasons I wanted to do it.

Dominic Monaghan
Courtesy of WGN America, 100 CODE.

ComicsVerse: Excellent, and you know from being younger, as I understand the acting was sort of something you were always pursuing. When you imagined your career as a child, were you imagining yourself in roles like this? Where did you see your career going? TV, theater, movies, all of it?

Dominic Monaghan: Yeah I’d say it’s what I’ve been up to. You know, so being an actor you want to work in critically acclaimed work, whether that’s theater or TV or film. I moved away from England to Los Angeles when I was 23 or 24, just to see what that city was like.

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Obviously, I identified with being English and did a lot of English theater work. I would love to explore again, and I don’t really close any potential doors in terms of what I like doing and what I don’t like doing. If it’s a good project I don’t mind if it’s TV, theater, or film, or geographically where it puts me. It’s just sort of about the script really.

ComicsVerse: Absolutely, so and you know looking through your career. a lot of these sort of breakout moments for yourself, be it Lord of the Rings or Lost, came as part of ensemble casts, but this show is very much you know a two-person, a two co-lead situation. In terms of preparation and stepping into that kind of role, is that different for you? Does it feel different on set? Or is the procedure the same?

Dominic Monaghan: I mean it’s not especially different. As an actor, you have to approach every role as it being the primary importance for you as a character. You can’t think well I’m a supporting character, so I’ll only support in terms of the work that I’m doing. You have to approach the character as an important one. And, you know Stanislavski said that “there are no small parts, just small actors,” and I kind of feel that way. You know if you’ve got two or three lines in a film — you the actor and you the character — still think that those things that you have to say are important and significant.

From a practical point of view, there is probably more time spent on set when you’re playing the lead in something.  I think I worked every single day on 100 Code, apart from maybe one or two. I’m in like every scene. And on Lost, and the span on Wild Things, there were you know days that would go by where you wouldn’t work. I always wanted to work as much as possible.

ComicsVerse: Okay, and as part of being at the top of the call sheet, I know part of your duties is sort of to set the tone for the rest of the show. You know, how do you see, in a situation like this, where its a fairly dark and gritty show. What do you see your responsibility in sort of setting the tone around the set?

Dominic Monaghan
Courtesy of WGN America, 100 CODE.

Dominic Monaghan: Well first and foremost I think your responsibility if you’re number one on the call sheet, is to show up on time. You also want to be prepared, know what you’re doing, have the correct attitude and the correct mood. You know, I think a lot of actors use their job as a reason to misbehave or think that they need to kind of have some sort of rock n’ roll lifestyle, y’know?

I have no issue with what people do outside of work. But I think if you’re a professional, in any walk of life, you need to show up and present in the right way. So you know in terms of preparation, I was always prepared, I always had no complaints about being there first and leaving last. And, try to make the set as much of a good, friendly, environment as possible.

ComicsVerse: Okay, and as I touch down with the last question, you know this is darker material. You’ve done darker materials in movies like Pet — where you had to do it for a sustained period of time — but only for say 30 or 45 days, depending on how long the shoot goes. This was 12 episodes long, so in terms of how that affects you as an actor, is that something that’s more difficult to leave behind? Did you find it easy to slip into the sort of darker places? What was that like for you?

Dominic Monaghan: It is a little more challenging, like with Pet as you said, Pet’s shot over the course of just under a month. But with 100 CODE, I was in Sweden for 9 months, it is dark and ethereal. It is a cold country, and we were doing a lot of night shoots. So I think mostly that stuff can get on top of you a little bit and I didn’t shy away from that, cause I thought it was helpful to my experience as a character to feel a little darker.

So I definitely isolated myself, definitely got myself into a headspace of you know kind of being on my own, and reading a lot of kind of dark subject matter. But outside of that, I tried to be as light and friendly and happy as I could be, under the circumstances.

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ComicsVerse: Sure, absolutely. This show also required some unusual stunts for you. Obviously, you’ve done action in the past. But, in particular, I know there was an underwater scene, that seemed particularly harrowing, or an under the ice scene rather, that seemed particularly harrowing. In terms of your preparation for that in terms of fears even, does doing more of that kind of work excite you? Is it something that makes you anxious? How do you feel going into that?

Dominic Monaghan: No I don’t feel anxious about stuff, it’s just part of the job. I mean if you work as a prepared and professional person, there always going to do their job correctly. So that you feel as if you’re being taken care of responsibly. I really like water, I’ve been doing a lot of work with water over the years. I am a relatively competent swimmer, and surfer, and scuba diver. The water has always been a place of play and fun for me.

I really enjoyed that day. I didn’t even spend a lot of time in the water, it was cold. It was a bit technical in terms of hitting your mark in the water, and obviously not hearing anyone. But for me, it’s just an extra challenge, can I hit my marks when I’m under the water. And I couldn’t see them as well under the water. That’s kind of a fun thing for me. It’s like a game, trying to see if I can hit that point as much as possible.

ComicsVerse: Great. And as part of your role here, you got to work with Michael Nyqvist. In what was one of his final roles. What was the experience like working with him? Someone who is so well known, from Scandinavian roles? And you have him starting to take on some roles in America as well, things like John Wick?

Dominic Monaghan: Nyqvist was lovely, a lovely guy. And, obviously, it was very sad to hear that he had obviously got sick and passed away. But he was very friendly, very welcoming, very cool. We spent a lot of time together, I went out to dinner with him on the weekend.

I got to know his family and went to his country house for mid-summer. He was very welcoming and generous with his time. Great fun to work with, very playful, very silly. I made him laugh a lot, he made me laugh a lot. So yeah it’s really sad to hear that he had died. He was a great actor and a great person, and it’s unfortunate, obviously, that that happened.

Dominic Monaghan
Courtesy of WGN America, 100 CODE.

ComicsVerse: You know as we’re talking right now, we’re about three years after the time that this film had first aired on Sky. Looking back on the material now, with the benefit of hindsight, and not being so in the thick of it, has the show taken on a difference relevance? Does it seem different than you did at the moment you were done shooting?

Dominic Monaghan: I think I actually warned quite a few people of the darkness of the material. I said to my mom and dad,

“Just be careful of the fact that it is quite dark, the subject matter is quite dark, it might be a bit hard for you to deal with.”

But on the contrary, my mom and dad really like those types of crime shows, crime thrillers. So I think I probably babied people a little bit and told my family and my friends like

“Oh it’s a bit dark, it might be a bit too dark for you.”

But I think grown adults remain used to dark material on TV. And a lot of people will be pleasantly entertained by it all.

ComicsVerse: Excellent. And with it coming to America, is there anything, I don’t know, unique about making it on American television versus something like Sky? Do you anticipate the material being viewed differently because it is being viewed by a different country than it is currently? Or that it was in places like Germany and England?

Dominic Monaghan: Well, sure. Really — I think that now and days — with all of these online ways of watching entertainment: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and all these digital channels; I think people remain exposed to shows that film in different countries, that have different languages, that include subtitles. I think the American audience is ready for that, obviously educated and experienced enough to watch those type of things.

And, I think people want to watch crime shows nowadays that don’t pull any punches, a lot of this is adult content and it’s going to get quite dark. Up to now, people seem to be receiving the show quite well, and it’s gaining a nice following. Because obviously you have to watch it week in and week out, ’cause you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

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ComicsVerse: Absolutely, great. Obviously, you’ve been working very closely with WGN America to make sure this reaches the maximum audience. You’ve gotten some feedback no doubt from that, how has that experience been? How has the feedback from the episodes that have aired so far been received?

Dominic Monaghan: I think people are invested in the story, and invested in the slightly unconventional cop characters. Neither one of them is the kind of cop that is going to save the day. They’ve both got their own issues, they’ve both got their own struggles in life. It is quite a unique serial killing case. Its a unique serial killer. It’s in a city that a lot of people might not have seen before, Stockholm, very beautiful, a lot of it’s shot at night time.

And in terms of working with WGN, I mean obviously, WGN has been very impassioned over the last few years. Trying to bring a new format to their network, and tell dynamic stories and it’s been great working with them. Hopefully, at some point in the future, we can find something else for us to do. There has been a great experience that they have kind of had their confidence in the show. And put their money behind it, and promoting it in a way that means that as many people as possible can see it.

ComicsVerse: Great, and I know we’re running tight on time here. So I just want to give you sort of an opportunity. To go over my head directly to the audience, and pitch it directly to them. If you didn’t have me as the middleman, if you’re talking directly to a random person, what would you say to sell them on 100 Code?

Dominic Monaghan: I think it’s a really tight, self-contained, unique, crime-drama. In which you are telling an extremely brutal, frank story, through the eyes of very believable characters. And, it is in a very dynamic, modern European city. Anyone who is a fan of shows like The Bridge or The Killing, or The Fall or Broadchurch, you should tune in an watch a couple episodes. See if you get into it.

ComicsVerse: Excellent.

Dominic Monaghan: Thanks, have a great rest of your day.

ComicsVerse: Alright you too. Thank you all for tuning in, this is Tim Stevens, signing off for ComicsVerse. If you’d like more of Dominic Monaghan, please do watch 100 Code. It comes on every Tuesday at 10PM on WGN America or 9PM Central Time. If you are interested in seeing more of him than just that, turn to Netflix where he is available in the movie MUTE, now streaming. For more interviews like this, look at ComicsVerse every day. We deliver quality content, day in and day out. Thank you very much, have a wonderful day.

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