Nick Helm, who plays Watto on AMC’s Loaded, talks about his character’s bad luck, his favorite episode to film and working with a TV idol of his.
Q: How did you make the character of Watto your own?
A: I’d just finished working on another comedy show called Uncle. When I got the part of Watto on Loaded, I saw some similarities, but I tried to make it as different from the last thing as possible. I always try to do the opposite of what I’ve just done to keep from pigeonholing myself. Also, we had a few weeks where it was just me and the guys hanging out with each other… really getting to know each other and getting into our roles. Jim [Howick] is neurotic, Jonny [Sweet] is sort of uptight, Sam [Anderson] is cool and I’m a bit weird. We all thought we were acting but as we hung out, we found out we were quite similar to our parts. It made it quite easy. We have such different personalities from each other, but we got on really well.
Q: It seems Watto is really looking for friends, even in strangers. Is he a lonely guy?
A: He’s very troubled and he’s probably a little lonely. His friends are really important to him. They have arguments, but they all care about each other. Watto’s probably the most sensitive one out of all of them and probably least interested in the money. The money changes their relationship and friendship, and Watto finds that isolating. He can relate to the money a lot less than the rest.
Q: Is it just his luck that he’d find a dog that ends up dead soon after?
A: [Laughs] The more misery and sadness you can put onto this character, the better. That’s his nature. He’s got a really tragic life and it could be really sad, but it’s funny. The money changes his friendship, his mom comes along and tries to use him and just when you think he’s met this dog and found a friend for life, that gets taken away. Every week, something new and awful happens to him. That was really fun to play.
Q: How would you describe his growing friendship with Naomi? What does she represent for him?
A: I think he’s pretty oblivious. She fancies him and he’s mainly unaware. He includes her in the coffee run because he doesn’t like to see anybody left out. That validates her and it means she’s part of the gang. She’s not just working for the corporation. I think that’s a really nice moment. It wouldn’t occur to him not to include her. She’s an outsider, he’s an outsider and they’re both pretty weird and end up finding each other. I think she has feelings towards him that he doesn’t realize, but by Episode 7, there’s a little bit of mutual admiration between them.
Q: How fun was it to shoot that scene in Episode 7 where Watto is shooting cash into the crowd at the game expo?
A: A lot of fun! It was a dream come true. We did a few angles, so we got to shoot it a few times. All of the extras went crazy and it was almost like a zombie apocalypse that was happening for real. Imagine if it was real money?!
Q: Watto really has this “stick it to the man/rise up against the system” type of attitude. Did that develop once he became rich?
A: I think that was always in him. He was always anti-establishment… He was in a band and when he got the money, he couldn’t be punk because he’s part of the problem. That was a big issue for him. He doesn’t feel like the money’s changed him in any way. When he does have the money, he spends it on Toby jugs and not on anything that changes his life. He goes with the flow, while the other guys want to live in the big house. He’s happy on his narrowboat, but he wants to be with his mates. He sees the money as a positive thing because it brings them close together and they get to hang out and do cool things, but when the money changes everyone else, he gets frustrated.
Q: We see a softer side of Watto when his mom stops by. Did those scenes uncover anything new about the character for you?
A: It was really interesting when she comes in during Episode 4. We’d been filming for a couple of months by the time we got that script and it was like, “Oh I have a mom!” Pippa Haywood is a big sitcom actress in England and I grew up watching her on TV. When I knew she was my mom, I was so excited to work with her and I think that came through during the performance. Watto likes to think he’s got a bit of edge to him, but as soon as he sees his mom, he reverts back to being a child before the time that she abandoned him. It was nice to see an innocent and hopeful side to him.
Q: Watto has been at the center of some memorable scenes. Which has been your favorite?
A: The whole of Episode 5 where I got to be on the yacht with my vaping pipe was my favorite. It was really cold and no one else liked the yacht at all. It was in January and we had to keep the windows open. It was miserable, but it was almost my favorite thing I’ve ever done. It was brilliant.
Q: We’ve asked your cast-mates and now it’s your turn: what kind of app would you personally love to create?
A: What did the others say? [Laughs] I’ll do an app that steals other people’s ideas for an app!
Read an interview with Mary McCormack, who plays Casey.
Watch full episodes of Loaded on amc.com and AMC apps for mobile, Fire TV, Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast.
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