Interview with Tom Stevens of "Deadly Class" on Syfy - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite
 

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By Suzanne

Tom Stevens

Interview with Tom Stevens of "Deadly Class" on Syfy 3/15/19

It was a lot of fun to chat with Tom. He has a very dynamic personality. I think you'd have to, in order to play someone like Chester. I enjoyed this interview. He's great at telling stories.

Don't miss the season finale of "Deadly Class" Wednesday, March 20 on Syfy!

Here's the audio version of the interview, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tom: How's it going?

Suzanne: Hi, Tom. Great. How are you?

Tom: I'm doing good. I'm doing good.

Suzanne: Good. So, let's go back to the beginning. Tell us how the audition went for the show.

Tom: Yeah. So, the audition process for this was ... My wife is actually on the show, as well. My wife works as the BG casting director for "Deadly Class"....

Suzanne: Oh, okay.

Tom: ... and so, she did the pilot, and she knew the show, and she was talking to me about the show while she was shooting this pilot going, like, "This show is amazing. Oh, my God. I hope you can get a part on it because it's really, really incredible." Then, my first audition came in, and I was working on ... I think I was just working one of my Joe jobs, and I got this audition, and I was busy, and I couldn't go in to the room for it, so I just taped it at home. It was Chester "Fuckface" Wilson fucking a goat, and that was the first scene. I was laughing. I text my wife and I was like, "Baby, this is hilarious. I just got my first audition for Deadly Class, and it's for Chester 'Fuckface' Wilson and I'm fucking a goat. That's hilarious."

Tom: So, that weekend, I was with a couple acting friends of mine, and we were just having some drinks, and I went, "Oh, shoot. I have to self-tape this thing," and so I self-taped the first scene with a beer in my hand. It was the goat-fucking scene, and so I just totally went for it, with no holds barred, and just having a good time. Then I ended up getting a message that they wanted me to tape another scene for it, and it was the elevator scene in Vegas. I went, "Okay, well, I've gone that far, so I guess I have to just keeping going with the character in that direction." Ended up doing that. They liked it. They brought me in. I met with Adam Kane and I met with Mick in a callback session, like a producer session. I just had to go for it. I played my self-tapes without a shirt on. I just had my jacket on. Normally you're not really doing nude or partially nude in audition...

Suzanne: Right.

Tom: ... but I was like, well, I did it for my self-tapes. I guess I gotta do it for this, so I just popped my shirt off and put my jacket on, and I was walking around. It was just like this freedom with the guy. He was just able to just go further than I'd really gone in the room for other characters, and Adam encouraged me to step off the little piece of tape. Have you ever done any auditioning?

Suzanne: No, but I know what the piece of tape is for, so...

Tom: Yeah, that little piece where your mark, where you don't leave your mark, and you stand there, so that's where all the lighting's good and the camera picks you up.

Suzanne: Sure.

Tom: So, Adam was like, "I want you to walk right up to the reader." And it's like 10 feet, so I got to do this slow amble up, and get right in her face, and start playing with the script in her hand, and I was right inches away from her face doing this, and we probably did like five takes of the scene, and Adam put me through the wringer. He was giving me all this direction, like crazy amounts of direction, and it was like, "Okay, say this line. Have a pause here, and don't forget that your dad is here. It's like when you're talking about this, you're talking about your dad, and then you talk about this." He was giving me all this direction that my head was ... I was just so ready for it. I had prepped pretty good for this audition, and I was like, all right, man. If this is how you direct, I'm going to do it. I'm going to nail this audition. Funnily enough, Adam doesn't direct that way at all. On the day, he just lets you do everything that you want, and will come in with a single word, and that'll adjust your entire performance.

Suzanne: Yeah.

Tom: So he was just literally testing me. He was like, can this guy take it, and this guy deal with it? Ended up, yup, being a really good thing. So, I ended up booking the part, and yeah.

Suzanne: Wow. That's great.

Tom: Few weeks later I was playing Fuckface with a goat in front of me, mooning an entire crew of people going, "Hey, guys. I'm Fuckface." And mooning the crew, because I start with my bare ass out.

Suzanne: Right. That's--

Tom: Yeah, it was fun.

Suzanne: That's quite a story. That's probably the best audition story I've ever heard. So, had you read the comic book before the show?

Tom: Yeah, well, I knew of it. When I was reading for Fuckface, and when the process started to get further and further along, it was a possibility that I could book this job, I started looking into it, and I started looking at the pictures. There's that one great shot of Fuckface in the comics holding the picture of Marcus going like, "And just wait til you see what I do to him." My wife was like, "Holy shit. That looks like you." I'm like, "Oh, thanks." She's like, "No, no, no. The hair. The shape of him, that looks like you. You could totally play this guy." Then when we closed the deal, the offer came in, we closed the deal, and I was going to play this guy.  I didn't know it, but I had four weeks until I actually shot, and so I just started doing all this research. Obviously, I read the comics back to front several times.

Suzanne: Great.

Tom: Yeah. It's been incredible to have that kind of source material to review or to research before you even get into the character. It was really fun.

Suzanne: Oh, I'm sure. You definitely seem to be having a lot of fun and a good time in the role.

Tom: Yeah. It was fun. It was like I couldn't push the guy far enough, like I couldn't push the character far enough. I tried to find a place where in my performance I'd have Rick walk up to me, hands on his side, and just go, "Okay, Tom. Maybe roll it back a little bit." But that never happened. I tried so hard to get them to go, "Okay, that's the edge. Let's never go there again." But no, that never fucking happened.

Suzanne: So, do you get fans coming up to you and saying, "Hey, Fuckface!"

Tom: I get that on Instagram. Nobody recognizes me.

Suzanne: Oh, because you're wearing the makeup, right?

Tom: Yeah, exactly.

Suzanne: That's funny.

Tom: So far. I'm waiting til we start doing Comic Cons and stuff, and I have to wear a shirt that says "I play Fuckface," because nobody will know.

Suzanne: That's good.

Tom: That was actually amazing.  No, a funny thing, though, is I had a guy, a transport guy, who I had been friends with, like hanging out with for the four months of shooting the show, and on my last day there, I wasn't in makeup, because they had brought me in early to meet this dog, and I had to look at the set and stuff, and then I ended up hanging out with this guy, he's a transpo, and he just ... like we're just chatting, and then he goes, "So, who do you play on this show?" I was like, "Dude, Casey. It's me, Tom. I play Fuckface." And he's like, "You play Fuckface?" I'm like, "Yeah, dude. It's me." He's like, "You look so different." I'm like, "Yeah, makeup." But his point was is that I carried myself different when I play Fuckface. He said I became a different person. He said I looked like the guy that used to steal money from him in high school.

Suzanne: That's funny!

Tom: And the way I walk, the way I carried myself, and so yeah, I think that that's probably one of the funniest things is that if I just ... I mean, we get this all the time. We're doing a lot of promo on Instagram and stuff like that, and people will see me in group shots of the cast, and they'll go, "Who's that guy?" Then somebody'll be like, "That's Fuckface." And they go, "That's Fuckface?" It's just great.

Suzanne: That is funny.

Tom: It's been so much fun, because I mean, my guy, his jaw is different, his nose is different, the prosthetics change the shape of my face, the hair. Everything is a part of the look of the character, and I like to say that playing Fuckface is doing mask work.

Suzanne: Yeah, it is.

Tom: And as an actor being able to do mask work is so freeing, because you don't look like you.

Suzanne: Yeah.

Tom: You can do whatever the hell you want.

Suzanne: Right, yeah. And you do.

Tom: And I do. I literally do.

Suzanne: Well, that'd be good if you go to Comic Con, because they have huge crowds there. You'll be able to just blend in with the crowd, be whoever you want. They won't know it's you at all.

Tom: Yeah.

Suzanne: That'd be funny.

Tom: Do you know Trey Parker from Trey Parker and Matt Stone South Park?

Suzanne: Sure.

Tom: Trey Parker just walks the floor.

Suzanne: Well, of course, yeah.

Tom: Nobody bothers him. He just like goes, "Yeah, I just put my hood up, and I just walk, and nobody comes up to me. Either they don't recognize me or they're too intimidated to approach me, but nobody asks me for autographs, nobody asks me for pictures. I think I just look like one of everybody else."

Suzanne: Sure, yeah. I'm sure that's true. Most of the comic book artists and that kind of thing, too, yeah. So-

Tom: Oh, there's a ... Sorry. Just anquick story.

Suzanne: Go ahead.

Tom: Coming out of a party at Comic Con a couple years ago just when Wayward Pines was there, and I was waiting for my Uber with my wife. Somebody came up to me and was like, "Hey, are you famous?" I went, "No." And then he's like, "Don't you play Jason on Wayward Pines?" I was like, "Oh, yeah I do. Hey, man, how's it going?" He's like, "Good. My friend, he recognized you. He's across the street, but he's too scared to come up to you." I gave him a big wave, and I took a picture with that guy, but it was funny, because you don't get ... I would not get that as Fuckface.

Suzanne: Right, of course.

Tom: Like I had people running at me at Comic Con, which is really fun, but as Fuckface, I'm going to have to wear a shirt or something.

Suzanne: Yeah, that's right. Or the makeup. They'd be fine with that.

Tom: Yeah, bring my makeup team down there to glue the thing in the San Diego heat. Oh, that'd be fun.

Suzanne: Yeah, actually I have three older brothers, and they were on the original Comic Con committee. I'm from San Diego.

Tom: Oh, wow.

Suzanne: I know a lot of people who run it, like the guy who runs the masquerade and stuff used to go to college with my husband, so, I know all those people.

Tom: That's great. That's great.

Suzanne: It's fun. Every time someone brings up Comic Con, I'm like, "Oh, yeah, yeah." So, how long did it actually take you to put the makeup on?

Tom: Two and a half hours.

Suzanne: Oh, okay. Does that-

Tom: Yeah, everybody kind of ... I get the same response. It's always, oh, okay.

Suzanne: Yeah, because--

Tom: Two and a half hours is like, it's not like 16 hours or six hours, or something crazy. Oh, yeah, we get there as we were wrapping the day before to be ready for the morning, we weren't there all night.

Suzanne: Yeah, because you hear all these stories of actors who play creatures or whatever on TV, and they're always like, "Oh, it was eight hours every time."

Tom: Yeah, yeah. And my whole team for amazing production just did "[The Chilling Adventures of] Sabrina," and so, like, they had full body prosthetics on people, and what was her name? The dream witch monster lady.

Suzanne: I don't know...

Tom: Bam Bam, or Damn Damn, or Man Man, but she had like seven hours of prosthetic, and the team had to be there ... her set call time was like 4:00 in the afternoon, and they had to show up at like 6:00 in the morning and prep. Then the actress would come in, and then they'd start the process. I love my team. My team is absolutely incredible. It's Felix, Harlow, and [Sam], and all we would do for two and a half hours is crack jokes and listen to serial killer podcasts.

Suzanne: That's funny.

Tom: Yeah, it was awesome.

Suzanne: I'm behind in watching the episodes. I'm just on episode seven, so is your character still alive in the episodes we're watching now? I never know what to ask about that, since you're the villain....

Tom: What was the last one you saw? The sixth episode, was that-

Suzanne: I'm in the middle of watching the one where they're worried about Chester coming after them, and we see the cartoon about what really happened, the place burning down.

Tom: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Suzanne: Just started watching that one.

Tom: That's a fun one. That's a fun episode for Fuckface. There's a lot of...

Suzanne: Yeah, I heard that.

Tom: ... weird shit that goes on in that.

Suzanne: I heard that.

Tom: Yeah. Actually, you're right at the beginning, then, because you haven't even seen it-

Suzanne: Well, no.

Tom: Have you seen my mansion yet?

Suzanne: Yeah, I think this was the episode. I think that ... wait a minute. Let me just look here. Yeah, seven, so I've just got three more left after this one.

Tom: Yeah, yeah, there was the toilet scene in that episode.

Suzanne: Yeah, yeah. That was hard for me to watch, but yeah.

Tom: That was hard for me to shoot.

Suzanne: I'm sure.

Tom: So Ben Rogers, who plays Jimmy John, is a friend of mine, and I've known him for years. I was off doing something, like getting my contact in or something, and I came in, and prior to shooting, they had taken out the counter and Ben was on his knees with, like, a furni pad to keep his knees safe and everything, and his hands are on the toilet bowl, and he's looking into the toilet that we've just been shooting with for the last three hours, and it's got all these big plastic turds in it, and like, ugh. It's full of Gatorade and apple juice just to look disgusting, and he's just ... and the camera guy's going, "Okay, so we'll do a three count, and then you're going to go in." And he's like, "Yeah." And he kind of mimes it, and he half sticks his face in the toilet bowl, so in my head, that's as far as he's going to go. I'm like, okay, he's just going to slightly put his face in, and I've got my hand on the back of his neck, and it's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, and Ben's going to do all the work and everything.

Tom: "And okay, and action." And he just goes ... like, face in the water of the mess, and I'm holding the back of his head, and I'm out of frame, and I'm like ... then he flings his hair back and something wet hits me in the mouth, and I'm like ... Then they call cut, and I had to walk away. I was like, this is the most fucking ... I just didn't know his face was going to go in poo water. But it really messed me up.

Then we ended up shooting another scene, and then we ended up shooting at the end of the day, the shot from underneath the bowl.

Suzanne: Oh, right.

Tom: So we had to do that, and that was ... There's a great picture from Anthony Leonardi's social media where you just see me on my knees with Ben Rogers on his knees looking down at the toilet bowl, and I've just got my thumbs up in, like, the worst sickened look on my face.

Suzanne: Well, that's sounds like fun, though, like you're having fun.

Tom: Oh, yeah. I was having way too much fun.

Suzanne: It sounds like he had fun with it, too, though, if he all went for it and everything. If it was me, I'd be like, oh, maybe I need to find another job.

Tom: He was like, "This is definitely a highlight."

Ben's actually, like, he's an incredible musician, too, so he's, like... outside of acting, he's this really talented musician, and then he comes and he does these crazy parts, whatever. I love him.

Suzanne: Oh, that's great. So is there anything that you're allowed to tell us about the season finale coming up?

Tom: Yeah. What I've kind of been saying has been, if you've read the comics, this is what was told to me by Rick Remender, is that the comic ... the thing about writing a graphic novel or a comic is you're restricted by the number of pages, and the thing about doing a series with not being restricted like that is you get to fully expand and go where you wanted to go originally in the comic. That is exactly what he does in the finale, with Fuckface specifically. It gets so crazy.

Suzanne: That's interesting.

Tom: Yeah.

Suzanne: Yeah, because I used to read comics. I had no idea that they had ... I guess it makes sense. I don't know they had a limit on the number of pages they could do. That's interesting.

Tom: Yeah, and when you have like nine characters in a book, or in a graphic, it's like they go, okay, great. How do we tie this up? We got four pages.

Suzanne: Yeah, that--

Tom: That's like 24 panels, or 30 panels, or something like that. How do we do this? We're not doing a two-page spread. We're keeping it to quadrants, so how do we tell this story, and how do we tie up these stories?

Suzanne: Wow.

Tom: Yeah, it's amazing, especially because you have to learn how to keep it in the box and still tell a compelling story.

Suzanne: Yeah, so he's basically saying that the ending is like the comics, but expanded, more like what he wanted to do begin with? So, well, it's the end of the season...

Tom: The place he always wanted to go.

Suzanne: Cool.

Tom: -- to go, because yeah, he's got his own TV show now.

Suzanne: Did you have to learn, to train with fighting with the knife or anything else, or did you already know how to do that?

Tom: I've done some fight choreography stuff before, actually on a bunch of shows that I've done. I just did, you could see me in fight sequence for "The Order" on Netflix, I did a bunch for "Wayward Pines." I've always wanted to be a part of that, but in the last two years I've been training a lot of kickboxing and jiu-jitsu full-time, so I like fighting, because I find it really fun, and it's a great form of exercise. So, every chance I got to do stuff, there was some stuff that was actually cut out just because of just the way that the editing had to go, where I did a little bit more fighting, but there's some in this last episode. It's pretty cool.

Suzanne: Okay, great. I was going to say something about that, now I forgot what it was....  Okay. Is there anything special that you do to prepare in your head? I mean, I know you said you go for it, but you have to play a pretty disgusting, horrible person. Is there anything you have to do to get to that place?

Tom: Yeah. It's a complicated answer. I'll say it kind of in pieces. One, I was given permission to do whatever I wanted, just an amazing thing for an actor to get. Two, there was a vast world of information on serial killers, and mass murderers, and violence, which I really delved into. Three, there was the comic book which informed the level of ferocity that this guy had to be, and how violent and horrible he had to be. My last thing was when I was actually working on the character, a friend of mine was saying to me, "Have you listened to this thing on YouTube? It's what schizophrenics hear." And it's this audio file that you put headphones on, you listen to, and it's the mind of a sociopath. So, it's voices. This guy recorded this thing, because I think he's a schizophrenic, but ... Oh, no. Sorry, not sociopath. Sorry. I should specify. It's what schizophrenics hear.

Suzanne: Right.

Tom: So, it's just voices over, and over, and over again. It's all their insecurities, all their anger, all their fears. It's like that little piece of happiness that's in there, and then it gets smothered by another voice. So my friend was just like, "What do you think Fuckface's head sounds like?" So, I, in the weeks leading up to playing Fuckface for the first time, I started recording this song ... Sorry. I use a song as the baseline for it. It was "Southern Man" by Neil Young played half time, doubled up on the track, and then just off-set by a hair for every down beat of the kick would go ... [he makes sound as example] and it was "Southern Man..."  like super droney, creepy, and then I just started doing monologues, and I started reading quotes from, like, Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson. Then I started improv-ing as Fuckface, and improv-ing as Fuckface's dad, and improv-ing his little boy, Chester, and yeah, that would be in my ear before I play it.

Suzanne: Oh, wow.

Tom: So before I played Fuckface ... and my friend [Kristine], who's the costumer on set, she comes up to me one day, and I have the ear piece in, and I'm just walking around, kind of getting in the headspace, and she goes, "Oh, what does Fuckface listen to? Is it hair metal?" I just hand her my earbud, and I just watch her put it in, and then her face dropped, and she stares at the ground. She really starts listening, and just hands me the earbud back. She's like, "Okay. Okay."

Suzanne: That's funny!

Tom: That was my little in. I mean, obviously there's a lot that let me go there, or there's a lot of ways into the character. When I got my face on, my wig on, boom. I have the look, and then I put on the costume, and it would change my posture, and I'd put on those big ass boots with the knife on the leg. Just put on the rings, and then I just start walking like he was made of a million dollars, and then the song would start playing, and I could only ... with the prosthetic on, we made a choice where we would glue down half my face with a piece of lace, so I could only talk out one side of my mouth. I couldn't move the other side, so once I was there, I just started to let the accent kind of lilt out, and I'd speak out the one side of my face. You know, the ... sound of the T's and everything. It was all ... there was so much that got me in it, and then I was given permission to play.

Suzanne: That's really cool. Did they tell you that you should put on the Southern accent, or was that your idea?

Tom: It said he was the "king of the hillbillies" in the original description.

Suzanne: Oh, okay.

Tom: And so in my audition, I did kind of a general thing, because I was actually working on a scene from a Sam Shepard play, "Fool for Love," where Eddie is this like ... he's this stunt cowboy womanizer from an indiscriminate place in the south, and so he had this kind of rancher-, hard sounding Southern accent, and when I saw that, I kind of did that thing, but then ultimately, and I never got adjusted. I never had anybody come up to me going, "Okay, maybe tone back the accent." And I never got anybody coming up to me going, "Don't do an accent." What I got was the original description that said "king of the hillbillies." Then I got approval by being brought back in and doing the accent in the audition, and nobody went "Stop with the accent." Everybody was like, "This is great. You sound perfect."

Tom: Then when I had time to actually do research on the role, I based Fuckface's accent off of Juliette Lewis's accent in "Natural Born Killers."

Suzanne: Oh, right. Yeah.

Tom: Yeah.

Suzanne: That's cool. I don't suppose you can tell us whether your character will be around for a second season or not?

Tom: I guess, yeah, this isn't a post mortem interview, so I can't really say anything.

Suzanne: Yeah, it's a preview. Okay, that's fine. So, is there anything else you're working on, or that you have coming out that you can tell us about?

Tom: Yeah, you can check me out. I'm in a couple episodes of "The Order" that just came out on Netflix. I just shot something at the end of the ... no, it was actually, it was just in January, just at the beginning of the year, a single episode, but kind of setting up my character for the next season for a Netflix show that's been around for years that's a sci-fi show, and I can't really say which one.

Suzanne: Okay.

Tom: Yeah.

Suzanne: Okay, cool.

Tom: So there's definitely stuff going on, and like I said-

Suzanne: All right. Well, we'll-

Tom: ... having a good time.

Suzanne: Well, we'll watch for you, and, anything else that you'd like to tell your fans, one last thing?

Tom: Yeah, we are ... well, I mean, if you guys saw Instagram shut down on Wednesday, but we're doing a bunch of promo for live tweeting this last episode, and last week's episode, so we did a big live tweet, and yeah, we all watched the episode together. We did live tweet. We did a big Instagram Live video in the middle for our fans, and got a bunch of people asking questions, and we want to do that again this Wednesday. We're going to be doing a live event before, answer questions for the fans, then we're going to be live tweeting for the 7:00 o'clock showing of the finale. Then we're going to do a big live event in the middle, and then we're going to do a live tweet for the last episode, so tune in with us, because we're all going to be there.

Suzanne: All right. Great. Well, I really appreciate you talking to me.

Tom: Yeah. Thank you so much.

Suzanne: I look forward to watching the rest of the show. I'm almost done!

Tom: Almost. All right. Enjoy.

Suzanne: All right. Thank you.

MORE INFORMATION:

Set in a dark, heightened world against the backdrop of late ‘80s counterculture, “Deadly Class” follows the story of Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth), a teen living on the streets who is recruited into Kings Dominion, an elite private academy where the world’s top crime families send their next generations. Maintaining his moral code while surviving a ruthless curriculum, vicious social cliques and his own adolescent uncertainties soon proves to be vital. Based on the best-selling 2014 Image Comics graphic novel by Rick Remender and Wes Craig, DEADLY CLASS is a coming-of-age journey full of ancient mystery and teen angst.
 
“Deadly Class” stars Wadsworth, Benedict Wong, Lana Condor, María Gabriela de Faría, Luke Tennie, Liam James and Michel Duval.
 
From Sony Pictures Television and Universal Cable Productions, “Deadly Class” was adapted for television by Remender and Miles Orion Feldsott, who will serve as executive producers alongside Joe Russo (“Avengers: Infinity War,” “Captain America: Civil War”), Anthony Russo (“Avengers: Infinity War,” “Captain America: Civil War”), Mike Larocca (“Spy”) and Mick Betancourt (USA Network’s “The Purge,” “Shots Fired”). Remender, Feldsott and Betancourt will also share showrunner duties on the series.

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