Yesterday was the premiere of DirecTV’s ‘Full Circle‘. Tom is in the first and last episode of the series. Access Hollywood has published an exclusive sneak peek of the last episode with Tom and Ally Sheedy.
i am ROGUE:
Here is what Tom Felton had to say about Full Circle:
IAR: To begin with, Full Circle is a very unusual TV project. Were you sold on doing it once they told you that Neil LaBute created the series?
Tom Felton: I’m glad someone asked that because that’s pretty much how it was. I had said to people for years that I’d love to do some really high quality TV and my agent brought me this and said, “You’re doing it.” But as soon as I heard that Neil actually wrote it I was pretty keen. In fact, after reading the first few pages I really kind of got to see the quality of it. You don’t want to be going into something like this where the dialogue is not first class and I think this is about as good as it gets, so that really lends itself well when you’re doing something like this.
When you’re working with a script written by Neil LaBute, do you feel a certain responsibility to say every line exactly as it is on the page?
Felton: Yes and no, definitely with the choice of phrases and possibly the specific words. The nice thing about it is that sometimes you can mix it up. You can say the line at the end of the page at the beginning and hopefully it works magically. When it comes to dialogue I’m used to waiting for the other person to finish their line before starting mine and with Neil’s dialogue it definitely lends itself to a completely different performance. You can almost keep rationing off your lines and be completely vacant of what the other person in saying. Then some times saying hardly anything and you’re just kind of looking at each other. It was definitely very unique. I’ve never seen or read anything like it. I still haven’t seen it so I’m very excited for that. There was a uniqueness that was the allure for me.
The series unfolds almost like a play; did it feel like that way to you when you were filming it?
Felton: Yeah, that was exactly how it was sort of pitched. They said, “You are going to do a play with one other person and we’re going to film it.” That was kind of the premise. I’m not used to seeing stage direction and other characters come in, and it’s very much just two people sitting at a table time talking. So it was a unique challenge.
In what way was it a challenge?
Felton: Several. The first one specifically was remembering exactly all the dialogue because I had never done anything like that as far as performing that amount of dialogue in one day. It was pretty much the ultimate contrast from filming on Harry Potter where you might be lucky if you got ten seconds done in a day. So suddenly we’re shooting 25 minutes of footage, and there were no real scenes. We start at the beginning and we ran it all the way to the end and we did that like 50 times with multiple cameras shooting. That was the first challenge I think, which was just the sheer intensity of the surroundings. The other part of it was that I didn’t meet Minka (Kelly) until two days before we started shooting. We hadn’t done any rehearsals, we had only done a couple of Skype reads together to try and familiarize ourselves with each other, but with something like this that is so heavily relied on chemistry we just lucked out. We got on very well, we were both on the same page at the same time, and we had a great director. He managed to get the best performance out of both of us.
Can you talk about working with Minka Kelly and the relationship between Tim and Bridget?
Felton: Bridget and Tim have a unique relationship where they have had an intense relationship for a while. But things have changed and Minka’s character is trying to steady the ship and settle down, much to Tim’s disappointment really. Tim’s this younger guy who’s very loves strong and wears his heart on his sleeve. In one respect very happy that he’s sitting opposite her and in the other respect mortified that he might not be the one to spend his life with her. That’s the first episode and then in the tenth episode he is a slightly more mature and grounded individual I think. But that’s one of the nice things as well, the fact that his character does have a real arc, between episodes one and ten he really grows as a person.
Is it hard to really create a full arc of a character when you are only in two episodes of a series?
Felton: Yeah, again I like the uniqueness of the concept really and it’s kind of cool that Tim’s character is the only one that is in the first and the last episodes. Everyone else is happening episodically one after another. It’s really nice and I think it’s quite a cool thing to be the first face and the last face of the project. Also, to highlight again that he is quite different by the end but I don’t want to reveal what happens. There’s a real shift in his consciousness and I want to say less selfish in some respects, but I’ll let you be the judge.
It must be nice to bookend the series in that way, right?
Felton: Oh yeah, definitely. That’s actually one of the things that attracted me to it. I thought that was very cool being the only one that does that. I thought that was a really nice selling point for my character. As you correctly predicted, it didn’t take much arm-twisting to get me to do this project.
The series is on DIRECTV and obviously the way we watch television is different than it used to be with so many new outlets for programming now. What is your opinion of the way TV is changing?
Felton: I’m very excited for that. I think we are on the cusp of something. I feel like the prestige of film over television is long gone. We actors are now cherishing these great roles that we’ve seen from TV in the last couple of years. The likes of Bryan Cranston and Damian Lewis and various other male leads that you may not have thought about in that respect a few years ago are now incredible. I think it’s very exciting. I think the quality of TV has only gone immensely better over the last few years especially from the United States.
Finally, in your post-Harry Potter career has it been difficult for you to find different roles and choose good projects?
Felton: No, it’s been great. I think people have kind of got the wrong end of the stick there about me having to shake a burden off or anything like that. That’s definitely not the experience I have or I’ve had in the last few years. People almost expect you to be the same character you are in the films. That’s kind of worked to my advantage I think coming into casting directors rooms and expecting me to be a wizard and I’m quite the opposite. So it’s kind of worked in my favor a few times I think. Harry Potter is something that I’m very proud of and I’m always ready to talk about it, but I am willing and hoping to do other stuff. …
We talk to the man behind Draco Malfoy about his new role in the DirecTV original series “Full Circle,” the pilot to TNT’s “Murder in the First” and his legendary film villains.
CraveOnline: Between “Full Circle” and “Murder in the First” have you wanted television after your career in film?
Tom Felton: Yes and no. TV has come leaps and bounds since I started watching television, especially in the last five years. Bryan Cranston, Damian Lewis, these are all actors now that I think are the cream of the crop, the A-listers of their industry. If I could follow in their footsteps, I’d be very lucky and happy to do so. I think just because the quality has gotten so good and so engrossing that any actor would give their left arm for a chance to play some of the roles that are coming out now.
Now that you’ve done “Full Circle” and the “Murder in the First” pilot, how has television met or exceeded your expectations?
To be fair, “Full Circle” being the most unique, it’s hilarious how contrasting it is in regards to the Harry Potter script is 110 pages give or take, and it would take six to seven months to do principal photography. There would be days where you would literally shoot nothing.
Were those scripts really only 110 pages?
Well, give or take. Maybe some of the longer ones were maybe 120, 130. Don’t quote me, but just highlighting the fact that if you have all the time, it just changes the dynamic. The fact that we have such limited time really brought new emotions, hopefully ones that supported the performances of the characters. I’ve never had a day filming like I was completely exhausted and incredibly satisfied at the same time. If you did 10 episodes like this, you’d be on the floor. But we were all very lucky for our little interludes I think.
Tim is really the full circle, right, because you’re at the beginning and the end?
Yeah, that’s kind of the cool part of Tim’s character. He opens it and he closes it. I think he’s the first face you see and the last face you see so that’s kind of nice. I always think it’s quite nice to have the stories that are interlinked, the characters who are in episode two and three, it’s easier to follow their journey because they’re next to each other episodically but there is something special about starting and finishing a cool season like this, especially the way it does end because no one would predict how this does end so it’s kind of cool to be featured in that.
How much has changed when we do come back to Tim?
Quite a bit. That’s a unique thing as well. I don’t think many characters quite have the same arc because there is quite a time gap between episode one and 10. He really is a different character. Though he is Tim, he’s matured a lot in those months away. I think he’s come to terms with the fact that he’s not going to be with the love of his life. I don’t know, there’s definitely a more mature side of him and more accepting side. There’s a more volatile side in the first episode where he’s very indecisive about how he feels I think, whereas in the 10th there’s a lot more certainty and a lot more drive towards his performance.
He gets a text in the second episode, so are there more mentions of Tim peppered throughout the series?
I don’t believe so. I think it’s the second episode, that’s the only one. Don’t quote me but I’m pretty sure it’s just that one.
We know Hollywood tends to put people in a certain box. Is this a way to show them what you’re really made of?
If it does, then brilliant. That wasn’t the reason I did it to be honest with you. The quality of the project, the quality of the people that were involved with it and the concept were the things that lured me in. This idea of stories threading themselves through people’s lives who don’t actually know each other is kind of cool I think. There’s the whole butterfly effect thing where one decision not to do something can radically change someone else’s life, so I think people are going to really enjoy that. Hopefully the quality of the dialogue will really come out and it will make it really gripping television.
Is this your first leading man role?
Well, going back to what you said there, being in the first and last, obviously we were all listed with numbers so we’d know where we are in the characters. So being number one, I was pretty nervous about that but no. I guess so if you want to say that. I’ve never done that much dialogue, in an entire film, let alone in one episode. It definitely stretched me in a whole new way. I haven’t seen it so I’m nervous to be honest with you because it was a blur to me. The whole day was a blur. We were just in a strange place and we had to get through it all. I don’t really remember much of it. I know it got emotional and tempers were up at time and I’m really hoping that that supports the story and the performances.
Have you ever been Tim sitting at that table?
Thank God, no. No, I’ve got a girlfriend of six years so we’ve never had that incredibly awkward scenario that poor Tim has to face.
One thing I always thought about the Harry Potter movies is that Draco works harder at hating Harry than he ever works at being a good wizard. Did you ever think about that?
It’s very true. He has a, what’s the expression, bee in his bonnet. He gets more frustration from seeing someone else do well than he has any desire to do well himself. It’s definitely a negative thing to have as a personality trait, right?
Right, if he just worked at being a good wizard, maybe he would be better than Harry.
Yeah, just literally tunnel vision and got on with his own stuff. It’s definitely a trait that I think maybe Jo [Rowling] was trying to highlight. Anyone that has that mentality is never really going to go that far in life because you spend more time hating on someone else than you do caring about your own life.
Is it only because he was placed in Slytherin? It seems like Slytherin is where all the evil wizards come from.
I don’t know, I’ve heard lots of different fan theories. All the true fans, when I say he’s a villain, he’s a bad guy, they jump to his defense and say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. He’s a sweet guy. He’s misunderstood. He’s a product of his parents. He has the worst parents possible. He didn’t have a choice. He was kind of forced into this world that he doesn’t want to be in.”
The nice thing about his character is you see in the last two films that there’s a real indecision there, whether this is the life for him. He has a nice moment where he kind of saves Harry a little bit. It’s nice to see that actually at the end of it, oddly, excuse the pun, but it does come full circle slightly in his character. He’s quite an immature character in the best of times, but he does really grow up.
How did you like getting to say the classic Planet of the Apes line in new context?
That’s quite funny because although I had seen the films and I knew the reference, I almost didn’t put two and two together that I had this epic line. When we filmed it, I remember every producer, every executive producer came on the set that day so there was way more people than there usually were. They put this load of pressure on this line and luckily I didn’t go online and Google it, because that was the temptation, was to see exactly how Charlton said it and more or less steal the thunder. But it was as if I was saying that line for the first time.
It is the first time in that universe.
Very true, yeah. Very true and actually we did do several alternatives, actually dozens of alternatives in case it didn’t work. They were very precious. They didn’t want to step on the toes of anything previous. I’m glad they kept it there. I’m glad they used it.
Have you shot “Murder in the First” yet?
Yeah, it’s all shot. I actually saw it last week. It’s incredible good, very different from this but I think American audiences will love it. I’m really hoping for good news so that we can come back and shoot the other nine episodes. [Note: TNT announced the pickup in September.]
When would you go back to shoot the series?
Keep your fingers crossed I’ll be back here in January for a few months.
Then I hope we can do this again, thanks.
Yeah, thanks. I appreciate the questions, I really enjoyed that.
TOM FELTON: Pretty much! I was working in Mexico, not far from Tijuana, doing a film down there, and they called up to say, “There’s a 10-episode thing with Neil LaBute. It’s two episodes for each character. And they want you to be in the first and the last one.” I was already pretty signed up, before I’d even read a page. Obviously, when I read Neil’s writing and saw the cast that was being attached to it, it was a no-brainer for me. Even though I was pretty nervous about it and slightly anxious about this kind of project, because it’s worlds away from anything I had done previously, I was excited to give it a go.
Was it intimidating to take on the words of Neil LaBute and have so much dialogue?
FELTON: Unquestionably! In 10 years of Harry Potter, I didn’t say half of what I said in this one day. That’s how different it really was. At best, I’d maybe learned three or four pages for a day, but never 25. That was my first concern. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to not only remember the lines, but deliver them how they should be delivered. In my head, if we’d had a week to film it, it would have been a lot easier. Actually, in truth, it was really a great way of doing it, in one day. It was very intense. There were a lot of emotions flying around without even really trying to bring them to the table. There were multiple cameras, so we didn’t have to keep turning the camera out to go back and forth. There was one camera on me and one camera on [the other person]. So, it was terrifying, but at the same time, it was rewarding. Very quickly, we knew that it was going okay. We did all right. We didn’t embarrass ourselves. And I know that Minka [Kelly] won’t mind me saying that she was pretty anxious about it before, as well. We hadn’t met each other, and we were supposed to be lovers.
This is an unusual project, in that you have half an hour to establish an entire relationship history.
FELTON: Yeah, and I had met her two days before that. There was no ground to really work on. We had done Skype sessions to try to familiarize ourselves with each other, but you know what it’s like on Skype. It’s not easy to get to know someone. I just think we lucked out. We had a great director and a great crew, but Minka is the loveliest girl. She’s so down-to-earth and so easy to talk to, and has no ego, at all. For a project like this to work, with the limited time, you need to be able to take direction from whoever and to feel open enough to ask the other person how the scene felt. I think Minka and I got along really well. I know she certainly helped bring my performance to life, and I hope I did the same for her.
Did the fact that you really had to look each other directly in the eye through pretty much the entire scene really help to stay connected, in the moment?
FELTON: Massively, yeah. It was awkward. When you meet someone, you try to be polite. You don’t try to hold their hand and stare at them lovingly in the eye. I was like, “I don’t know if this is cool or not.” But, Minka was so very friendly. And Nick [Hamm], the director we had, was so very sure about what he wanted and what he didn’t want that it made it quite clear, early on, where we were going to go with it. It was nice. If there were any intimate moments with Minka and I, you felt the ones that were good. It’s hard to cheat those things. If it feels bad, it usually is. But, it can be the other way around on dialogue. For me, some of the things I think sounded great, they were like, “No, that was terrible. The one that you messed up is the one we’re gonna use.” It’s hard to get a gauge on it. But, when it’s one-on-one with a girl, you can quite quickly see if it’s gonna work or not.
And it’s so important to establish that connection in the first episode.
FELTON: Yeah, the whole point was to get the ball rolling. If we didn’t even get it rolling, then the rest of the series doesn’t have the same gravitas. A lot of TV shows, pilot wise, try to cram as many goodies into the pilot as they can, so that people don’t just turn it off. That has a bit more sophistication to it, where the first episode really just opens the window. It’s the second, third and fourth episodes that really start to suck you in. And when we come to the ninth and tenth episodes, hopefully people will be heavily engrossed, as I was. When I went to read it, I thought, “I’ll just flick through the second, third and fourth,” but six hours of my life went to reading the scripts.
It makes me really happy that not only did DirecTV produce it, but they’re the ones distributing it in that new age fashion where it is available online, all at once, for people who want that. I’m definitely from that generation where I can’t sit there for a week and twiddle my thumbs and wait for the next episode. I want to see it, right away. So, I’m glad they’re doing that. They’re also airing two episodes a week on DirecTV, that you can watch over the five weeks that they’re airing it. Some people like to pace themselves. There is that horrible feeling that, if you do watch a whole season in one night, then you’re like, “Oh, my god, I’ve done it!” I remember someone reading the early Harry Potter books was like, “I can only do a chapter a week.” It’s like a drug. You don’t want to take it all at once. You’ve got to pace yourself. It just goes to show how gripping modern TV and modern entertainment is.
You also have a new TNT series, Murder in the First. Had you been actively looking to do television?
FELTON: Oh, yeah, definitely! I feel like the prestige of film over television is long gone. If anything, it’s the other way around now. I’ve been in awe of Damian Lewis, for a long time. Now, look at where his career path is going. It’s fantastic! And I’m a huge fan of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. For a film star, back in the day, it would take three different films or three different characters to show, “Wow, this guy is a great actor!” Now, if you get one good character in one of these TV series – and Aaron Paul is a great example – you’re set and people love you forever. You are a figure of modern pop culture, which is very cool. I think the quality of writing and the production scale has just gone through the roof for TV. I think with Full Circle, especially, it’s going to be the first of many, many more series of this ilk, to come. I feel like this is a very modern way to present entertainment, and I think people are really going to like it.
As an actor, what’s it like to have been a part of something like the Harry Potter franchise, and know that it will always be remembered and loved by people?
FELTON: It’s definitely not even remotely a negative. People have referred to it as a burden or as something you have to shake, and it’s never been that for me. I’ve always been very proud of what we did, as kids, and I feel very lucky because we’ve grown up since then. I look very different from the guy that I played. I’m not always the easiest person to spot, which is nice. And I feel very lucky that the character that I got to play couldn’t have really been further from me. A lot of people expect to meet Draco when they meet me, and they usually are pleasantly surprised when they see that I’m not a complete asshole. It’s been fun to see people’s reactions, over the years. They have these preconceptions of what I’m like, and then I turn that on its head. So, I’m very proud of the past, and also very excited for the future. I feel like, since then, I’ve taken on a whole range of different characters, none that are even remotely similar to young Draco. …
The actor discusses the role on the Neil LaBute series and his career after playing Draco Malfoy
“Harry Potter” actor Tom Felton stars on the premiere episode of playwright Neil LaBute’s DirecTV series, “Full Circle.”
For the role, the 26-year-old and co-star Minka Kelly had to shoot their half-hour episode together in one 14-hour day, which proved challenging for the movie star.
“Contrasting to the days of ‘Harry Potter’ — we’d get 30 seconds done in an entire day — it was new to me and a challenge,” Felton told TheWrap and other reporters at press event for the DirecTV drama.
“I was pretty nervous when we started to see if we’d hit the ground running or if whether it would take a long time to go,” he continued. “Without question, it was the most intense day of my life. Emotions were coming out when I didn’t want them to or need them to but ultimately it helped in the performance. No one really had a chance to stop and get their phones out or go make a cup of coffee. It was just back-to-back and off we go.”
On the series, each episode features a different couple whose stories weave into the other episodes. Felton plays Tim, a British college student having an affair with a married woman played by Kelly. With plans to return home, Tim begs the woman to leave her husband and family for him.
“Minka’s an incredibly talented person,” he said of his co-star. “It was nice, because you never really saw two takes that were the same. She was always switching it up.”
With so little time to build chemistry with each other, the pair read lines together over Skype.
“The chemistry was something that came a day before we shot,” he said, “which is nice.”
While most of the actors had two back-to-back episodes, Felton felt lucky to appear on the premiere episode and then again on its tenth and last episode after a three week hiatus between them.
“I quite like it in the respect that we get to see the longest journey for Tim,” he said. “Who he is in Episode 1 is a world away from where he is in the tenth episode. So, I feel lucky that we get to show, without revealing too much, that he’s slightly more ambitious ever more slightly more juvenile in the first episode. But come the tenth, he has been given more time to grow and mature, really.”
And while many child stars can find that the same role that made them famous can later hamper their career, Felton is still thankful for what the $7.7 billion-grossing “Harry Potter” franchise has done for him.
“It’s definitely not a burden,” he said. “It’s taught me everything I know pretty much for acting and just general set presence. I think it’s been a good thing. The character I played on ‘Harry Potter’ was a very strong, evil wizard, which is quite a bespoke role. I haven’t seen anything too close to that since then. I generally feel most times I walk into a room to meet someone they’re shocked at my appearance and that I’m not evil. That kind of plays to my advantage.”
Felton’s next television project is a pilot for TNT called “Murder in the First,” on which he plays a charismatic Silicon Valley company CEO with a vicious side.
“The goal of the last couple years, I think, is just to do as many contrasting roles to Draco as possible, as much as I love to play an asshole,” he said. “Luckily, the last few ones have been very contrasting from that and I’m looking forward to seeing people’s reactions to that.”