Zachary Quinto, who stars as Charlie Manx in AMC’s NOS4A2, talks the showdown between Vic and Manx in the Season Finale and what he’s looking forward to in Season 2.
Q: In the Season Finale, Vic finally gets the best of Manx. How do you think he processes being beaten for the first time?
A: I think he has a lot of complicated feelings about her, and I think that he is deeply enraged on some level. I think when we see him in Season 2, we’ll see how that rage festers and builds over the intervening years. He’s arrogant and cocky in a way that he never really imagines that she’s ever going to be able to take him, or be any kind of real threat, and that’s obviously his downfall. It will be interesting to see where that leads them once he finally gets back on his feet — if he gets back on his feet.
Q: Manx seems to genuinely believe he’s saving the children he brings to Christmasland. But how do you think he reconciles saving them from cruelty with siphoning their life to sustain himself?
A: I don’t think he’s consciously dropped into the consequences of his actions. I think he’s deluded. He is himself a kind of tormented and fractured soul, and I don’t think he really possesses the capacity for empathy or compassion in a way that allows him to see the cost. He only sees what he wants to see. I don’t think he allows himself to think about the sacrifice these kids have to make in order to go to this place that is twisted but fun in his eyes. I don’t think it’s part of his consciousness.
Q: What was it like shooting the showdown scenes in the Gunbarrel gas station in the Season Finale?
A: Freezing f–king cold, I’ll tell you that. It was brutal. We were shooting in January, it was bitter cold. We were as preoccupied with the temperatures as we were with anything else — there was no way not to be. But emotionally and sort of psychologically, it was quite fun. The confrontation between Vic and Charlie allowed me to be working with Ashleigh, which was great, and I really enjoyed that experience. Stefan Schwartz, who directed the last episode, was one of my favorite directors of the season. There’s a great spirit of collaboration on the show, and I feel like it culminated in that episode in a really nice way.
Q: Much has been discussed of your makeup routine this season, but what is it like shooting the hyper-aging sequence when Manx ages a century in a few moments?
A: It’s very technical. We have to do it twice. The details become really important, what with positioning, and camera angle, and my angle, and we have to do it over two days, because we have to do it once with the makeup and once without the makeup. And John Bruno, the incredible effects supervisor on the show, then has to go in and make it transition and look believable. For me, and for the crew, that becomes much more technical. That’s just about capturing what’s necessary for the five seconds it’s on screen, but it takes hours and hours to get that right. It’s just like, “How can we make this as smooth and as simple as it can be?” And there’s very little that’s actually simple about it.
Q: What’s your perspective on Manx’s relationship with the Wraith? Where does one end and the other begin?
A: I think they’re inextricably tied. I think that one can’t exist without the other at this point, so it’s interesting and it’s a real kind of chasm in the relationship at the end of Season 1, when [Vic] destroys the car. It makes both of their futures — meaning Manx and the car — really uncertain.
Q: What was it like working with real 80 year old Wraiths on set?
A: I really enjoyed the car. I’m not a huge car enthusiast, but working on the show made me understand why people are. I really did enjoy the experience. I loved having to get to drive it, and learning, and I really thought it was a good part of the show.
Q: Now that NOS4A2 has been renewed for Season 2, what are you most looking forward to exploring in the next season?
A: The good news is we have a pretty solid road map in the novel, so it’s exciting to think about how Jami [O’Brien] and her incredible team of writers are going to explore that. I was lucky enough to go in to the writers’ room in LA the other day and chat with them about it, so it seems like they’re well down the road. It’s always great when you can get more deeply into a story and you don’t have to worry so much about exposition and setting up the dynamics. Now, we can hit the ground running and everybody knows the score, a little bit, between Charlie and Vic, so I’m excited to dive in and see where it takes us.
Q: If you were a strong creative, what do you think your power would be?
A: I like the idea of being able to go wherever you want to go, not having to fly. Kind of a teleportation moment, like with Vic on the bridge. I don’t know, it’s tough to say. I’d like to get into that inscape and explore my way around and see where I feel the most at home. It certainly wouldn’t be Christmasland, but I can’t say with certainty where it would be instead.
Read an interview with Dalton Harrod, who plays Craig.
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