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Interview with Frank Hart of "Prodigal
Here is the
audio verson of our interview!
Suzanne: Congratulations on the show
getting picked up for more episodes.
Frank: Oh, thank
you so much. It's a very exciting time. I know everybody in
the Prodigal Son family's very happy, especially me. It's
always cool to be appreciated, right?
Yeah, I enjoy the show. I watched the first episode a while
back and reviewed it for my site, and then I watched the
rest of them last night to prepare for this. It's really
good. It gets even better as it goes along.
really does. It really does. And that's the thing that makes
it exciting about going to work every day is that it's hard
to beat the previous episode and really there is no beating
it. Everybody is just sort of keeping the bar set high each
episode as we go along, and so it makes our lives as actors
a lot easier. I looked at your site as well. It's a pretty
cool site. It's been around a long time.
Thanks. Yes, it has. For the Internet, it's been a long
Frank: Oh, okay.
Suzanne: Yeah. So tell
us about your audition for the show.
Well first of all, I'd worked with Chris and Sam before on
another show and really enjoyed working with them. And so
when I heard about this, I was excited when Meg Simon called
me in here in New York and had the audition for JT. So I
read with her in the room, we had a good audition. I'd known
Meg for a long time, so it was just like being with family.
Frank: I had a great audition and then, next thing you
know, I'm on a plane to LA to meet with the team out there,
and did the same thing again. We seemed to click, so here we
Suzanne: How long did the whole process take?
Frank: I'd say about maybe a week or so, week and a
half, from what I remember.
Suzanne: Wow. That's
Frank: And really it was just a matter of ...
From the time that I went in here in New York to the time
that I got the job. ... Yeah, yeah, I think it was about a
week, from what I remember. It's been a while now. It seems
like so long ago, because you go through so many hurdles
just to get a show on the air and then to have it be such a
success. I mean, you almost have to block out some of the
things in the past just to make it to the next hurdle.
Frank: Yeah. And to [inaudible
Suzanne: That's good. And had you worked
with any of the cast before?
Frank: No, I had not at
that time. We all met for the first time on the show, and
the chemistry was instant, which was another lucky thing. I
know people always say, "We all get along so well. We're
such a family."
Frank: I say
that because it's true. There's nothing to lose by saying
that and everything to gain. I think we click.
Suzanne: That's good. It's a pretty big cast. Did you all
get to know each other at all before you began filming or
just right away?
Frank: Let's see here. No. I think
there were a few ... The great Lou Diamond Phillips sent out
an email to everyone just saying ... No, I think it was a
Twitter post or something, sort of welcoming us into the
fold before we all met the first table read. So that sort of
broke the ice and made us all feel real warm inside. And so
the first day we had the table read everybody was feeling
pretty good. So no, we didn't meet for lunch or do anything
like that before. Just the first day at work.
Suzanne: Okay, well that's good. Yeah. He's very active on
Twitter. I've followed him for a long time.
Frank: He makes it
seem so easy.
Frank: It's a lot
Suzanne: It is. Yeah. And takes time too,
but he probably just takes it with him all the time, I guess
on his phone or something.
Frank: He's at it. He's at
it. Makes it seem so smooth and easy. I learn a lot from
Suzanne: You have some great talent on that show
with some veteran actors. Have you been learning much from
Lou and from Bellamy Young and Michael Sheen?
Well, I haven't had the good fortune of working with Michael
yet. We're in separate camps on the show at this point. But
I'm hoping that at some point those worlds will merge. But
yeah, I mean, always learning.
Frank: I went to
Julliard here in New York City and got to begin the learning
journey from greats early on in my career. It taught me the
main thing is to keeping an open mind, open ears, open heart
when you go onto a set and never prejudge anyone or a script
or character and sort of start with a blank slate, tabula
Frank: So what that allowed me to do is be in
the [inaudible 00:05:27] of a great person like Lou Diamond
Phillips and be open to learning through osmosis and making
myself better, as opposed to just thinking that I know
done pretty good. We're all sort of in the NBA of acting, so
to speak right now. But just because you're on the court,
doesn't mean you can't learn from your fellow players and
make your game better each time, for lack of a better
Frank: So that's where I'm at right now.
And Lou's so funny too. I'm a jokester. I like to crack
jokes. I think I'm pretty funny. But my God. I love to be on
a set with somebody who also has a great sense of humor. And
really everybody does. Tom Payne, Aurora, everybody.
Suzanne: Well, that's good. Yeah. That makes it more fun and
relaxed, when you're ...
Frank: Yeah, it is. It makes
it more fun and relaxed. And now that we're in sort of a
rhythm, about 10 episodes in. We're on episode 10 now with
filming and we're in a nice rhythm now with some great
directors and writers headed up by Chris and Sam. And yeah,
we're feeling good, feeling pretty good about things.
Suzanne: Good. Now, we've been slowly learning about
each character in each episode. Your character is former
military from Brooklyn. Did they say which branch of the
Frank: You know what, actually, JT is from
Suzanne: Oh Harlem, sorry. Sorry. I
wrote the wrong thing down.
Frank: Yeah, he's from
Harlem. No, that's no big deal. We really haven't gotten to
talk much about that on the show yet. Just got to be
patient, but you'll find out more about that soon enough.
Frank: But yeah, he's from Harlem, well, around 139th
and Lenox he grew up. He didn't have a lot growing up, but
he did have a loving family, loving mother and grandmother.
And decided after high school that it was time to, shortly
after September 11, to go and in 2004 actually, and join up
with the Marines and fight for his country.
few things you learn about over there in Afghanistan and in
particular to begin with was what it meant to take a life as
well as save one. I think that is the fading last part is
what he's excited about doing back here with the NYPD.
Frank: I went through a whole character diary, which I
won't spill onto you now, but essentially after the
military, he came back and studied criminal justice for two
years at John Jay and in the Police Academy. He signed up
and he's been on the force for about 10 years, second grade
detective. And his military training is still come into in
handy. I think every now and then we'll see more of that as
the show goes on.
Frank: We haven't really gotten
into the military background much yet.
Frank: But it's coming. So ...
Did this diary, the writers give you that?
no. I do that for myself.
Suzanne: Oh, okay. Your
Frank: That's one thing I started back at
school, just sort of learning. It's part of my process just
to figure out, even if we never hear about it or think about
it, just for me as an actor, it's helps me so I don't feel
like I'm just saying lines. We obviously have more three
dimensional characters. Just like any human being, we're a
certain age, we have certain experiences, we know what kind
of clothes we like, kind of food we like. We've had years
put into our own lives.
Frank: So I tried to do a
sort of a shorthand version of that, a character I know
nothing about early on. Just spill as much of a lifetime
onto a page as possible before we get that first take on
set. And anyway, not to get off my pants. That's sort of
where my brain is at.
Suzanne: Oh, that's interesting
to learn about it. What any actor, what the process is. In
one of the episodes, Malcolm tries to guess what JT stands
for. Do you know what JT stands for or are they leaving you
in the dark?
Frank: Well, I'm going to plead the
fifth on that one.
Because yeah, I mean, I'll say that ... I mean, yes, I do
know. I do know.
Suzanne: You do know.
But what they also know and we'll see if we both know the
same thing. I have an idea about what it-
Oh, they have told you or they haven't told you? If I can
Frank: Well, it's up in the
air right now. So it's pretty good.
Frank: There's a couple of options, but I have a pretty
good idea of what it is.
I'll put it that way to you.
Suzanne: Okay. And will
we learn more about JT in the future episodes?
I hope so. Yeah. I mean, well, I guess I should say yes. I
mean, I guess we're there now. It's still on, I guess we're
going to have six on the air this Monday and we're going to
learn. And like you said, there's so many characters on the
show and the writers are just so wonderful about introducing
the back story in dribs and drabs as we go along. There's so
many characters and I think, yeah, JT has a lot more to
explore and I think we're going to be seeing some of that
Suzanne: Good, good. Now, I read that Michael
Raymond James joined the cast as a new serial killer. Have
you gotten to work with him at all?
Frank: We haven't
had a chance to work together yet, but I'm hoping that it'll
Suzanne: Oh, yeah, he's great. Did you ever
see him in Trueblood when he played the killer there?
Frank: You know, I didn't get a chance to see True Blood
at that time, so, no, I guess, but [crosstalk 00:11:30]
Suzanne: That's fine. Yeah, it was, it
was great because he seemed like a really nice guy and then
the shock of finding out that he was a serial killer was, Oh
no, not him. You know? So ...
Frank: Yeah. I mean,
I'm such a huge fan of everything that HBO does. I worked
with Damon Lindelof on The Leftover for HBO and just excited
about his new show, watched it as well. You have your own
great thing going, doesn't mean you can't love others too.
Suzanne: Sure. Right. Yeah, no, I have a friend who
really loved The Leftover, so he's going to be really
jealous that I talked to you I think.
Suzanne: And do you have any other projects
that you're working on or that haven't come out yet?
Frank: Basically right now I'm just focusing on this and I
had a few things that I was going to be doing that I had to
say no to, unfortunately, because of the scheduling. But
that's fine with me because I'm just happy to be right where
I am right now.
during the hiatus I'll go back to maybe do a little
Shakespeare in the Park again. I always enjoyed going and
doing that. Maybe a little movie or something next summer. I
don't know. Things are pretty open right now and we're just
focusing on Prodigal Son and we'll see what happens during
the time off. I'm sure there's something fun and exciting,
whatever it is. I always seem to end up in the middle of
something pretty wild and crazy.
Suzanne: Yeah, I
read that you're a writer. Are you still writing?
Frank: Yes, I am. Absolutely. In the downtime that we really
don't have, I'm trying to keep up with myself. But I have
some things already finished. A few pilots that I finished
before we started shooting. And now, during my days off
trying to, in between raising my 14-month-old son with my
lovely wife Shelly, trying to do rewrites on those shows, as
well as a play that I wrote about the great jazz legend,
Suzanne: Oh, okay.
yeah, you know. Just always have something brewing. But
right now just focusing on the show and trying to keep ...
It takes most of your time and attention.
Frank: And then I'll get to get
back to that stuff when the time is right.
Right. And thank you for telling me about your family, beaus
I never, I never liked to ask about that because you never
know. People are weird about things like that sometimes. So
Frank: Oh, I love them. I love them. My little
boy, Hendricks Harts is the light of my life. And again, my
wife Shelley's amazing. We were happy to shout it from the
Suzanne: Sure. Yeah. And is there
anything else that you'd like to tell fans of the show or of
Frank: Oh, I mean, I just appreciate the loyal
fans that are out there already that are supporting us every
week. And expect a lot more from character development and
history from JT. And always expect me on my part as an actor
to bring my full self to the screen.
Frank: I don't
go into this thing to play games. I mean, we could be doing
anything. I could be an accountant. Actually, I'm not that
good with numbers, so I couldn't do that. But if I'm going
to do this acting thing, I might as well live this
character's life to the fullest.
Frank: So I'll have
to say I promise I'll always bring my best to the work and
to the writing. I think together we'll all continue to make
a really good show, because I think everybody's on that same
page where they're all pros and they all come to play and
Suzanne: Great. Yeah, yeah.
I'm happy to be a part of it.
Suzanne: You use spoke
before about the chemistry and I really love when you have
those moments where you guys are joking around and they have
the humor scenes, like between you and Bright and that kind
of thing. It really makes the show a little extra special.
Frank: Well, I'm so glad that you said you mentioned
that, because it really does. Those moments have a special
place in my heart, especially with a few episodes ago we had
a ... it was a short, but a really lovely scene in a car
with me and Bright talking about respect and the way he
views police officers and law enforcement.
love those quiet moments on screen between two people where
you can really just connect and bring an audience on that
journey with you. As well as the big fun explosions and
ensemble stuff as well. But those quieter moments can be so
Suzanne: Yeah, they are. And they
have so much humor and they lighten up the rest of it.
Frank: Yeah. That's important too.
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Page updated 10/26/19