EMERSON BROOKS INTERVIEW 2016

emerson_int_header_new

FOLLOW EMERSON BROOKS:
icon_02 icon_85


www.emersonbrooks.com

www.emersonbrooks.com

You’d be forgiven if you didn’t know Emerson Brooks’ face before he took on the role of Captain Meylan in “The Last Ship”. You might have been familiar with his voice, though, especially if you’re a gamer, as he has worked extensively in the video game industry. However, he is also an award winning actor, having appeared in “All My Children”, and won an NAACP Image Award for that role.

Emerson recently took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down and talk to us about Meylan, his video game work, and what’s coming up for him.

We asked Emerson for his take on Meylan, as the character appears to have polarised opinions among fans.

“My take on the character is very different from everyone else’s take on the character for some reason,” he stated, his voice firm. “I guess a lot of people didn’t like Meylan, thought I was a bad guy until he started doing things that were seen as Team Chandler.”

“But if you really break it down, what you have is this guy who you know fighting with everyone for the cause, and lost his ship. He felt he lost his ship due to either bad orders from the CNO, bad information from the CNO, or maybe there’s something going on that he doesn’t know about. He lost his ship, he lost almost a hundred of his crew, and then when he goes over to the Nathan James he’s not given a lot of information, and he’s dealing with the captain,who has so much on his plate that he doesn’t really take the time to explain to him what’s going or give him the trust he needs.”

“So when the order’s delivered to him, from the Office of the President , giving him a direct order to arrest the CNO, then he’s just doing his job.There’s no way for him to know that that the government’s been hijacked, or plots and conspiracies going on. This is a man who, ultimately, was doing his job, and if the government wasn’t hijacked, he’d be the good guy. So since it was, he’s the bad guy, but he didn’t know this. He didn’t know anything. He was being a good citizen of the world, and a really good military man. He was following his orders to the T, no matter how conflicted he was about it.

The Last Ship

3×10 – Scuttle

“Due to the the editing process, there was a scene that was cut out that showed some of his conflict in which he resolved one: he’s not the one to judge necessarily. And two: he was given a second chance, so maybe does Chandler need one, but that’s a longer story. I’m glad that in the end it bore out. There was another scene at the beginning of episode eleven that didn’t make it in, where Chandler and Danny Green come into the room that Meylan is being held in, and open up to him and explain to him what’s going on. And then we get to that scene in the CIC where they’re planning the attack, and I think there might have been a little confusion for fans about how the transition came from being at odds with Chandler, and then all of a sudden, being willing to work with the Nathan James and the crew. Behind the scenes, Chandler did explain to Meylan what was going on, and did let him know that there were so many pieces in play. He explained what was a logical conspiracy to bring down Chandler. Meylan got behind him on that.”

For a character with a relatively small arc, but such a huge impact, there was a short time to develop Meylan. We asked what it was like to have to work so quickly to create a believable character. “There’s a lot of pressure to get it right. There’s a lot of pressure to make sure that you have the right tone of the show. There’s a lot of pressure to make sure that you make the right choices in the very beginning because you have to stick with those from a character perspective going through. It was a pretty quick and strong start, but one of the things that made it easy was the cast members on the show, the production crew, the producers.

“They answered any questions I had, and gave me any information I needed – and there was a lot of information I didn’t want! I didn’t want to know the future of my character. I didn’t want to know too much about the conspiracy, because that, in a way, informs some of your choices. I wanted to be as much in the dark as possible, but when it came to tone and communicating to them where I thought it should go, based on what I knew and what I didn’t want to know, they were extremely helpful in that. It’s it’s one of the most warm and welcoming places that I’ve ever worked in my career.

“It’s such a good group of people from top to bottom. It’s such a good group of people, and when you have that, it just makes the work so much easier, and so much more fluid.”

It’s clear that Emerson has a strong affection for “The Last Ship”, and we asked him what drew him to the role: was it because it was a military role, or was he a fan of the show? “I’d actually never seen the show prior to auditioning for it. You always look for an opportunity to work on characters that are interesting. When the notice for the role came out, I had seen one or two episodes several months before, because I actually read for the role of Carlton Burk’s older brother. The role that LaMonica Garrett ultimately got, I read for that role as well. So when reading for that, I did watch a few episodes of it, and when that didn’t work out – and I think they made an excellent casting choice with casting LaMonica for that, he did an amazing job and in that capacity, as you know he’s gone on to do amazing things on ‘Designated Survivor’.

“After we found out that the role was going to go to him, I told them to keep an eye out for additional opportunities on the show.”

Emerson Brooks

www.emersonbrooks.com

“I’m ex-army, I’m a military veteran, and I just thought, the way I saw it, they represented the military very well.”

I like playing characters that have like some gravitas, some depth, and it seemed like there was opportunity to have stuff like that or characters like that on that show so I told them to keep an eye out. And when this came along, I jumped at it. It didn’t land in my lap. It was a pretty rigorous auditioning process, and there were a few people that they liked. We did a second round of auditions, which isn’t completely normal in a television show environment mid-season. I guess whatever I did was what they were exactly looking for. I was impressed with what I saw when I originally read for Carlton Burk’s older brother, and when the second opportunity came around I jumped right at it.”

It’s not the first show that Emerson’s worked on with Steven Kane, either. He appeared on “The Closer” a few years ago. “I didn’t think about that. I never talked to Steven about that either. Next time I see him, I’m going to bring that up! That was a lot of fun too! I died in that, sadly. I played a paramedic, and I rescued this guy I thought was going crazy, but he just had it out for for paramedics.” Emerson’s voice became teasing. “So who knows if Meylan’s dead now, maybe Steven Kane has killed me again!”

Meylan’s biggest scene, and possibly the most intense had to be the court martial scene, which was extremely intense. While some would argue that this was Meylan’s defining scene, Emerson disagrees. “I would say that that was his lowest moment. I would hate to define the character by his lowest moment. One of the things about Meylan that you don’t know is that he was about to lose command of his ship, prior to the outbreak. He told a story to his XO, Cobb, that he was fighting with pirates. I don’t know if you remember, but he had a really serious dislike for the pirates, a personal dislike for the pirates. He was tracking some pirates, they were raiding towns and stuff like that, they took some hostages, and he got the opportunity and rammed his ship into a pirate vessel, ultimately rescuing the hostages.

The Last Ship

3×10 – Scuttle

“While he accomplished the mission, he did it in such a way that his commanding officer – this was when he was an XO in charge of the ship at the time – the commanding officer was going to have him go for either a court martial or some type of loss of rank or something like that. Then the outbreak happened, and clearly that was no longer a priority because the world was falling apart. You have to understand that Meylan had a very tough time convening the panel that judges Chandler. The best way to describe it is that he would say ‘who am I to judge him?’ If we flashback however long ago, I would not even have a command. I might not even still be in the navy if it wasn’t for the outbreak. So by luck and by chance, I am still where I’m at. I feel like I did the right thing. I feel like I saved lives, but because of rules and regulations, I did it in such a way that violated those things and I was going to get punished, and I escape punishment. So who am I to sit in judgment of this man?

“For him, it was actually a very difficult process, because you gotta remember he feels like he’s doing the right thing.”

“He feels like he’s been given orders by the President of the United States, and so when people bust in with guns, and it was all a big sham, and Chandler gives this great speech, and then says ‘who are you to judge me’, it kind of hits a nerve with him. It’s like when you’re doing something wrong, and you know you’re doing something wrong, and someone calls you out on it. You get mad at them. You’re not really mad at them, you’re mad at yourself. Then he changes course, and he’s going to go right back into the fight. Meylan honestly thinks that’s the wrong thing to do. He’s putting people in danger. He’s trying to escape his own fate in St. Louis, because he’s supposed to be arrested. I think the defining moment for me is when he’s shown the truth, that he’s given trust by Chandler, and Chandler tells him what’s going on, and then he’s given command of the CIC, and he plays an integral part in keeping the different teams alive when they’re dealing with Peng and the other Chinese ships. I think that’s the defining moment.

“That’s the character moment, where he was able to see what’s most important and get on the right side when given a choice. Everybody’s like ‘oh, Meylan’s on the wrong side, he’s a bad guy’. You have to understand he didn’t have a choice. He had one side of the information, and once he saw the whole story, he made the right choice. So not only is he a good guy, but his moral compass points the right way, and always had, even doing the thing that was about to get him kicked out of the navy. He was about to sacrifice his career so that he could save the lives of the hostages. I think that’s a defining moment.”

Hearing about the cut scene, Meylan’s transition from perceived villain to willing ally makes more sense. However, some scenes just can’t make the cut due to time pressures. “TV is a tough thing. You only have about forty five minutes. That episode was so big from a Peng perspective, so to to get all that in, and to get all the action scenes in, there’s stuff in there that’s going to be lost in order to see that excellent scene between Peng and Takehaya. That’s where the screen time needed to go. Those executive decisions need to be made, and I would never second guess or judge any of those production choices.

“We try to make fully fleshed out, real people on that screen, but you’re not going to be able to see everything, every decision they make, every choice they make, every dilemma they have, every happy moment, every sad moment.”

“Sometimes, you have to infer based on what happens next. In between scenes, clearly there was some type of reconciliation or something like that. But yes, behind the scenes, now you know that there was that moment and it was explained to him. I think the line was something like ‘the only problem I have with this mission is that we’re standing by doing nothing’, and he offered his help with Chandler’s mission at that point. I thought that was a defining moment.”

The Last Ship

3×13 – Don’t Look Back

It’s clear that Emerson enjoyed his time on the show, and we asked him what his favourite moment was. “The opportunity I got on this show is very unique. What you have is a core group of characters on the show, and occasionally a protagonist or an antagonist comes in, and has a very highly concentrated storyline that becomes the story for the show for three or four episodes. For someone coming in from a guest star perspective, that’s a huge thing because you usually only get that capacity on a single episode. Where you have a non-serialized television show, you come in and you’re the bad guy for the episode, or you’re the love affair for the episode, or something like that. In the next episode a whole different storyline. You have the antagonists on this show that stay for the majority of the season, like Peng or Takehaya, that are there through nine or ten episodes.

From Emerson Brooks Twitter

From Emerson Brooks Twitter

“So all of that’s going on, and you have the White House stuff going on, and you have that pirate stuff going on,and you have the Chinese stuff going on. With all of that, they allow me to come in there and shake it up even a little more. It’s a tremendous opportunity, and that was my favorite part: that I’m able to come in and do these five episodes, and actually do something that matters, that actually makes a difference to the season. That meant a lot to me, and to put that much faith and trust in me to be able to pull that off means a lot as well. My most favorite part professionally is that it’s an excellent work environment. It is a wonderful place to go to work. Yeah. I’m very fortunate, even within the sphere of Hollywood and television shows , it’s unique for such a big complicated show. We do a lot with a little, and that really comes down to the people who are involved, and, if it was a different group of people who didn’t work well together, or had particular attitudes that you find in some places in this business, that would not be possible. What they’re able to accomplish is very impressive.”

www.emersonbrooks.com

www.emersonbrooks.com

Despite being a newcomer to the show, Emerson has certainly made something of a splash with the ladies, and we asked how it felt to have made it onto the “hubba hubba” list of many, many women. Emerson laughed in disbelief before answering. “Oh man! I mean, that’s ridiculous,” he laughed. “I shouldn’t be on anyone’s hubba-hubba list! Have you seen Travis? Have you seen Bren? For the more mature ladies, have you seen Adam and Eric and Charles? I mean you know. Jocko and Kevin… I shouldn’t be on any list! I should be on the list of who gives the best frown, but that’s about it! I appreciate it, though. What about Cameron Fuller? Have y’all seen LaMonica? He’s 6’ 2”! He doesn’t have a six pack, he has a forty-six pack! Have you seen his abs in those pictures? I mean come on. I don’t even compare, so I can’t even respond to that!

A former member of the Army, Emerson has played a high concentration of military roles, and we wondered how it had shaped the portrayals of the characters he’s played. “You’re able to inform the character and inform the choices with which real experience,” he explained. “One, it makes it easier in a way because I’m not trying to figure out how does this guy walk.”

“If you’re going to really do your work as an actor, you need to know all of these details about this person. You need to know this person to inform things, all the way down to how do they walk.”

“A military man is going to walk very differently from someone who maybe has tremendous self-esteem issues and walks around in alleys, and stalks people’s kittens and pets, and puts them in cages and store them for years. It’s the choices about the character and how they got to where they’re at at that point in their life informs all of that stuff.

“So when I get the opportunity to play military roles, I’m able to do it one from a sense of understanding the baseline mentality for this person from a professional perspective. It’s very different when it comes to the personal perspective of the character, but from a professional perspective, ten percent of the work is done. That gives me more energy to focus on the other parts and stuff like that and make hopefully a more textured and complex character than maybe someone who had to just figure out how to put one foot in front the other while wearing a uniform. I believe that gives me a slight advantage in that regard. I really enjoyed my my time in the military. It gives me the opportunity to play characters that I have a lot of pride in playing.

Emerson Brooks

www.emersonbrooks.com

Not many people know that Emerson won an NAACP Image Award in 2012, for his work on “All My Children”, a US daytime soap. We asked him what it means to him to have won what, both personally and professionally. “That award is one that’s voted on by the membership of that organization and by the fans. The greatest honor of that is that it wasn’t some select committee of industry professionals that voted on it, but people who really watch, people who are invested in the show, who see all these characters and have some type of emotional investment in the different characters, in their own different ways. So that was the greatest honor of it all. Insofar far as awards go, they’re great benchmarks, but they’re benchmarks for the past. It was a tremendous honor, particularly because it was an honor from the fans and from the people, but once that’s past, it’s time to honor that distinction that they gave you by continually improving, and getting better, and looking for the opportunity to do something in the in the future that creates the same or greater emotional effect that was created in such a capacity for someone to vote for you for an award like that. It’s not something that I think about ever. It’s I’m just looking forward to doing good work because that’s what’s most important to me. If, along the way, someone wants to hand me a trophy for something, I appreciate it. It is in no way my motivation for being in this business.”

www.emersonbrooks.com

www.emersonbrooks.com

Emerson’s voice is well known in video game circles, and we asked him what drew him to voiceover and motion capture work. The answer was simple. “I like video games. I play video games. I do a lot of voiceover work for video games, and through the voiceover work, you do the motion capture as well. I know that on my IMDb, there’s some motion capture that is listed on there individually, but I also did voice work for those games. A lot of the video games that I have on my IMDb are voice roles and motion capture. I am a gamer. When everybody else is going out to the club to 5AM, I’ll be at home eating pizza and playing video games! I do lots of voices, and it’s something that I just got into early on in the career as just another means of creative expression. When you first start out, ninety nine point nine nine nine percent of the time, they’re not throwing a role at you. Well, they never really throw roles at you, but they’re not giving you the opportunity to come in and get the role thrown at you. You’re looking for any type of effective creative outlet, especially one that pays.

“So I found that path when I found that I had a knack for doing voices. I’m definitely athletic, and have an athletic past, so I was able to do a lot of the motion capture stuff that was physically rigorous. That’s what got me into that, and I love it. I wish I could do more of it. It takes takes up a lot of time if you’re working as a lead on a game that’s dialogue heavy. And it has a lot of cinematic sequences, you’re spending as much time working on that as you are on a relatively decent role in a TV show. You’ve got to make a decision: what I want to do? Do I want to do another instalment of a game, or do I want to work on ‘The Last Ship’ or something like that? So right now, I’m working on on-camera roles and, if given the opportunity here and there to do some vocal work, I would, but right now it’s definitely on-camera roles.”

Emerson’s website explains that he can do various voices, from “hero, to Nordic god, to a squeaky little troll”. We asked him to give us a sample of his troll voice, and he duly obliged.

Recently, Emerson has appeared in an episode of “MacGyver”, and all the pictures we saw running up to it showed him in a bomb disposal suit. “The role has a military background, which was just by chance,” he said. “The lead character, Angus MacGyver, played by Lucas Till, was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. I play a guy who was also deployed there with him. We were bomb engineers: think of the movie ‘Hurt Locker’. That’s what we did. I currently work for the FBI, and I have come across this situation with this series of bombs that we found, that are throwing me for a loop and reminding me something of my past, They’re reminding me of this really prolific bomber that we chased around Iraq. So I call in Mac to give me a hand in figuring this all out, and that’s the basis for the episode. Then we go on a hunt for this very prolific bomber terrorist named The Ghost. It wasn’t a military role, and in that particular case we were disarming a bomb that we had found in a parking garage next to an FBI building.

MacGyver, CBS

MacGyver, CBS

With Emerson being ex-Army, we wondered whether he ever got any ribbing from his old buddies for wearing the wrong uniform on the show! “Not at all,” he said, assertively. “They have absolutely nothing but great things to say, and are amazing support. Maybe one or two Army buddies have said ‘it’s sad that your life has come to the point where you’re wearing a Navy uniform’, or something like that, like what wrong turn in life did you take, like, what bet did you lose?’ Maybe a few people, but I know for the most part, everybody is very, very supportive, and they just get a great laugh out of it.”

Well, despite having only had a short arc in season three, Emerson – and Meylan – certainly appears to have become a fan favorite. Here’s hoping Mr Kane didn’t kill him off, and we might just get to find out what happened in season four!

EMERSON BROOKS OFFICIAL WEBSITE


FOLLOW EMERSON BROOKS:
icon_02 icon_85