Wyatt Russell, who plays Dud on AMC’s Lodge 49, discusses why he wishes he could be more like his character, why Dud holds onto the past, and his ying-and-yang relationship with his sister.
Q: What was it about the script or the character of Dud that made you want to be a part of Lodge 49?
A: You don’t often get to read things that match up with your sense of storytelling. [Executive producer/creator] Jim [Gavin]’s sense of storytelling matched up with what I felt like I wanted to do at the time. He has a unique voice in that he isn’t afraid to take his time with explaining a character. The way he describes characters and the way they reveal themselves to you are through a lot of what you see. He finds ways for exposition without having the characters constantly tell you what’s going on. It’s relatively rare in television. Whenever I’m going to commit to something for a longer period of time, I need to be able to look at the characters and see they can go many different places and I’ll never be stuck playing the same thing. This had all the elements. I could never see myself getting bored or the character getting stale. There are many different outlets and ways for the character to move. That was the initial thing that grabbed me. Also, it’s that pure untouchable feeling and that visceral feeling that’s impossible to explain that you get from a script that you love.
Q: How would you describe who Dud is as the series begins? What’s the challenge of making Dud charming despite all his faults?
A: There’s always a sense of hope infused into the storytelling. That is the evident aspect of Dud’s personality. Hope for the future is a big part of him. What I liked about him is that on the surface you see him as a deadbeat who’s given up, but really, he’s searching for an answer. A lot of the times when you hit rock bottom, you have two choices: Let rock bottom be your new normal or fight to find positivity and an answer to move forward. That’s an essential part of Dud’s personality. Everything he does has a sense of positivity and optimism to it even though it’s difficult to find it in Dud’s circumstances. Instead of wallowing in his own misery, he finds this stupid little ring that could seemingly mean nothing, but he takes it as meaning to move forward. If you look hard enough in your life whenever you feel those moments, you’ll be able to find moments of positivity that you can choose to latch onto. For me, that’s the driving factor for Dud and sometimes that can be contagious in a setting like the lodge where other people can view that as something to hold onto. That aspect of Dud’s personality is something I aspire to be more like. I think a lot of people do. It’s very hard to sometimes.
Q: Do you think Dud is a spiritual person or does he just believe the coincidences that lead him to the lodge are too much to ignore?
A: I don’t think Dud is an innately spiritual person. I think in the way that the universe presents itself to him, by his own doing, he could become a spiritual person. There’s a universality to the things he’s choosing to do and hold onto, but they are choices that he’s making and of his own doing. He lets the universe talk to him and he usually answers with a yes. [Laughs] Blaise is much more conscious of spiritual realms. He’s sort of a wizard in that spiritual realm. He understands. Dud just feels that there’s more to it but has nowhere to place those feelings. The lodge starts to give him a place to put those pegs into place.
Q: What does Dud think of his relationship with Liz? How are they alike and how are they different?
A: It’s very yin and yang. They don’t quite see yet that the other has what the other needs. They are living in the surface sibling issues, which are the money and the debt that the dad has left. They’re both somewhat selfish and self-involved. In those moments when you’re hitting rock bottom, it’s very difficult to look outside of yourself. Dud doesn’t like to deal with the issues. He’s not big on confrontation. Liz, on the other hand, is very confrontational and deals with issues in a very stiff manner. If each had some of what the other has, they’d probably live a much more balanced and happy life. For the time being, they’re not really helping each other. They’re living separate lives inside of what used to be a perfect life with their father. Now they have to find their own way for the first time and it’s a painful process. I think it’s an interesting relationship because you love your sibling very much, but it can be difficult getting along with them –especially when you infuse the amount of troubles that their father has left them. That’s a big rift.
Q: Even though there’s a part of him that wants to look to the future, why does Dud refuse to let go of his past ?
A: Part of the magic of the story is the simplicity of life that Dud wants to have. His dream is simplicity. We all want to live a simple existence, but the world doesn’t allow us to because we don’t live in a simple world. You have a person who only wants to have a couple of beers by the pool after he’s surfed and worked on pools all day. I have a pool and I skim it every day. There’s a very zen quality to skimming your pool. I can see why that’s an attractive existence. For him, he didn’t have any aspirations other than to be a good person like his dad and just have his little slice of life. When his father died, there was no closure. When you don’t have closure, you’re constantly going to go look for it. When he’s going back to the apartment and the house, he’s looking for some answers from the past. It doesn’t help him move forward, but there are things he does find as the show moves forward that connect to the future. You can’t move on unless you know your past and resolve those questions you have about it. It doesn’t just take a funeral. It’s a lot more than that. He’s going on a journey to find that.
Q: What is it about the lodge that makes Dud so sure that this is the answer he’s been searching for?
A: I think one of the themes of the show is about things you’ve driven by and things you’ve lived next door to and you never had the awareness to see the magic in the invisible. The idea that he’s driven by this place a million times and all of a sudden, this ring matches an emblem on the building that he never noticed and connects something in his mind that this must be a sign. Over the past year, there have been no signs of the world working for him or with him. At least it’s something to hold onto. What are the odds of finding this ring and your car breaks down right in front of that lodge? When he’s knocking on the door, there’s a sense of “If this doesn’t f–ing work, then nothing’s going to work.” It’s a door in the middle of nowhere. It’s like Narnia. You walk in and it’s exactly what he wants. It’s this nondescript place, but there’s magic in it. They have their own tavern and there’s a throne room. It feels like he discovered it. It’s all of these strings of hope that attach to this moment. The universe got him at the right second. Because he’s so rock bottom, he’s going to see the magic in everything.
Q: What goes through his head when Larry punches him?
A: I don’t think he makes too much of it, honestly. He’s having a great time, everyone’s very welcoming and he’s around a group of people who care to listen to what he says for more than 30 seconds. Larry’s older and it’s clear that something’s wrong. Dud says, “Hey, it happens” and it’s funny because that doesn’t just happen, but it kind of does to Dud. Who knows? Dud knows there was no wrongdoing. It was a momentary lapse of reason and a moment of insanity. It’s life.
Q: When he makes his big speech, is that the first time he’s able to get some closure to the hard times he’s faced?
A: It’s the first time he’s ever really been able to tell anyone other than his sister what he went through. It was the first time anyone had been all ears. He’s the center of attention… and just throws caution to the wind and lets it off his chest. He’s afraid of being rejected, like we all are. He tells his whole story and it’s just painful and hard to listen to. This kid has been through hell for a year and it’s sort of awkward because they don’t know him. There’s a million ways they can react, but they greet him with a very warm welcome, which affirms Dud’s feelings of what the lodge can mean. I think it’s the beginning of his journey to find out who he is.
Q: What was it like shooting in Long Beach? What unique flavor does being in that place add to the show?
A: Shooting in Long Beach was great. Just being at home and driving to work was really cool. There’s a whole middle section to Long Beach that’s passed over. People who live there do the jobs that make our world go ‘round. … If you don’t look at plumbing as magic, then something’s wrong with you in my opinion. [Laughs] I go to the bathroom every day and my pee gets flushed down into a sewer system that I never have to think about. It’s like magic. There are a lot of those areas in Long Beach and what I love about the show is that it portrays these people as normal people. There are no stereotypes like some Joe Plumber guy being used as a prop. They’re portrayed as people who live life and do the best they can with what they have. Hopefully our show can bring some of that normalcy to light that you don’t often see.
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