MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE actors Rufus Sewell and Joel de La Fuente sit down with ComicsVerse’s Jordan Parrish. The interview was conducted at New York Comic Con this 2018.

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MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE takes place in an alternate world where the Axis Powers of World War II saw victory over the Allied Forces of the United States and Europe.

Rufus Sewell portrays the role of conflicted Nazi commander John Smith. He’s an American who ended up on the Nazi side and has to work through that conflict.

Joel de La Fuente portrays Chief Inspector Kido. Chief Inspector Kido hails from the original Japanese motherland. However, he resides in Japanese occupied San Francisco for more than a decade and a half before he gradually becomes more American than he wants to admit.

Season three of this epic television show premiered October 5th! Not only were we lucky enough to see season three early, but we had the pleasure of speaking with both of these actors about their characters and the controversial premise that MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE builds itself on.

In addition, we scored some juicy season three gossip and, finally, some cool insights!

How do you handle playing a friggin’ Nazi on TV?

Rufus Sewell: I said this before but it’s an object lesson in what happens to humans is our ability to normalize. One of the many versions of that is how an actor gets used to the mise en scene and the props, the costumes. When I first tried on the S.S. outfit it was quite a moment and everyone in the room, there was a pall of silence that came over. I remember going out to the corridor and people going, “Whoa! Okay, okay.” You know?

There was a palpable feeling of we’d entered into a kind of zone. I remember a couple of days later walking past someone and them going, “Cool!” And a couple of days later, “Hey Rufus!” It’s just your clothes after a while and you become swastika-blind. Because my office, in our last kitchen, in the Smiths’ last home, I didn’t even know that the linoleum was in a swastika pattern!

After a while this is what happens. It just becomes, that’s what floors look like. And we have to kind of decompress the end of a season because we’ve become anesthetized to it because that is what happens to your environment. What is today’s horror is tomorrow’s accepted reality and this is what happens to people. This is how Nazism can happen. This is how all sorts of shit happens. That’s my experience.

How does the inner conflict in Chief Inspector Kido manifest differently than in other characters?

Joel de la Fuente: For me, for season three, in particular, I think of Kido as sort of the accidental immigrant in a way. He’s been in America for 17 years. He says all of these things about his opinions about America and about westerners and the superiority of the Empire in Japan, but he’s that person who’s becoming the unexpected immigrant.

Suddenly his wife says you speak Japanese with an accent and all of a sudden he doesn’t like the food at home as much as he likes the food in America. Suddenly we realize the way in which he deals with certain problems are in a very American sort of way. In season one, he goes off and he takes it into his own hands. He shoots the killer, the attempted assassin of the crown prince because he thinks it’s going to cause war. That’s in direct contradiction to the way that you’re supposed to do things. To duty and order and the chain of command. It’s a very maverick American thing to do.

For me that’s the paradox that we’ve been thinking about in season three where he still uses it in service of his idea of the Empire but he’s become this strange hybrid of an American, this person who’s serving the Empire with American enthusiasm.

How do Smith’s feelings about the Reich change in season 3?

Rufus Sewell: I think it confirms fears and struggles that he’s had right from the start. He knows he’s made a devil’s bargain. He has tussled with the Smith that he might have been. That still exists somewhere in him, so even when he appears to be a zealot, he has doubts. He’s just dealt with them in a zealot’s way which is sometimes the doubting zealot’s the dangerous ones. So when things start to come calling for the prize there’s an inevitability, a kind of grim irony to him.

When he becomes aware of the existence, the possibility of a different reality in which he was unburdened by these choices. Where there’s a possibility that some of the things that happened didn’t have to happen has a powerful spell on him but it sends him deeper into secrecy. It separates him further from his wife. Ostensibly to protect her from something she can’t handle. He thinks that’s the reason. But it isolates him further.

It’s a way in which something that’s a genre thing. It getting more science fiction actually has a profound emotional effect on you which is unusual. It’s lucky for an actor, you get an advantage in your acting possibilities from something that’s like a science fiction.

Joel de la Fuente: The two men are two characters experiencing a great amount of isolation.

Rufus Sewell: Yes absolutely. It’s very isolated, with a lot of interiority.

What is the most shocking moment of season 3?

Rufus Sewell: For me, it was the dreams that Smith is tortured by. And also the rioting, the Nazi rioting. For whatever reason was just chilling. What was chilling was the fact that by the time we saw the filming of that I was used to seeing it. It wasn’t as shocking to watch that in the script. It was more reminiscent of watching the news in a way that I never would have envisioned when we were doing the pilot.

But in terms of character-wise, exploring Smith’s tortured dream world that you wouldn’t get to know about. For all the signs that he’s managed to push all this stuff down, it’s there. And the imagery of that was really awful.

Joel de la Fuente: The first thing I came across that shocked me was what happens between Joe and his father in the first episode. When that happens I thought, we’re in it deep already in episode one and then in episode two, what happens with Helen and her unexpected run-in and I was like wow, now we’re in even something crazier. Then a lot of it was just we’re living in a much deeper pool. The water is darker and murkier and crazy things can happen so when Hido does the things that he does, they’re still shocking but I think you realize you’re swimming in that part of the ocean now. Monsters live here.

Thank you so much to Rufus and Joel for giving us the inside scoop!

One Comment

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