Having become a familiar fixture across a host of TV shows and movies in a supporting role, it’s nice to see Kevin Durand finally take centre stage as Vassily Fett in Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire-horror The Strain, now entering its third season. We spoke to the actor about his career so far…
- Getting Lost
Kevin Durand is no stranger to genre work, having appeared in everything from The Butterfly Effect to Scooby Doo 2, but playing Vassily Fett, exterminator-turned-vampire killer in The Strain, is the first time he’s been there from the beginning. “I was in Lost,” he remembers, “which was like boarding the Enterprise: it was this ginormous thing that was already there, and when I joined, it was only supposed to be for an episode. They liked me and I liked them, so we kept playing together for a while, but I always felt like a guest. With this series, it’s really exciting to be there from the ground floor and feel the vibrations of the show slowly spreading. The Strain is becoming a global thing, so it’s cool to have been there from the beginning and see how it evolves.”
- Less is more
Durand has played a number of make-up-intensive roles, including the genetically engineered Joshua in Dark Angel; and Blob the 600-pound mutant in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Playing a relatively makeup-free character in The Strain comes as a big relief. “It’s a beautiful thing,” he claims. “When I did Dark Angel, it was a year of Jessica Alba getting called in, and if her call was 7 am, I knew my call was going to be 3am. I had a five-hour makeup to put on every day, and an hour and a half to clean me up, so my days were 18-19 hours at the shortest. At the end of that season, part of me really wanted it to come back, but a bigger part of me was like, ‘I never want to do a prosthetic series again!’ I’m glad I don’t have to do it for Fett!”
- Big Thoughts
It might sound like a cliché, but Durand says that every episode of The Strain is like a mini-movie. “It really does feel like a blockbuster every day. There’s no real different from working on I Am Number Four, Real Steel or any of the other big films I’ve done; it feels that big all the time. It’s like being a little kid going to a playground, where there’s a bunch of the world’s greatest professionals helping you make that imaginary world happen, just like on any of those blockbuster films I’ve done.
- Outrageous accents
Coming up with Fett’s unusual accent took a bit of doing. “I originally thought, ‘Okay, he’s just straight-up Brooklyn!’ but Guillermo [del Toro] said, ‘No, I want you to sound Ukrainian!’ We talked about it and I said, ‘Most people in America and Canada come by way of somewhere else, so we all have a mélange of sounds.’ It also developed from not wanting to play something obvious, because people aren’t always obvious. Actually, Jack Kesey, who plays Bolivar, when I started doing it, he kind of tripped out, because he’s got a lot of friends who came over from Russia, and he said, ‘You sound like my homies!’ which was cool.”
- The glamour of showbusiness
It’s probably not surprising to have an accident or two when shooting a TV series about killing vampires, but Durand recalls one second season incident in particular when things almost got out of hand. “There’s a scene where I’m hearing something, so I hit the wall with my rebar to try and stab whatever it is. On the other side of the wall, Bucky the second AD was supposed to grab it and make it look like it got stuck in the wall, but he didn’t know I was going to try and pull it back out. I’m a fairly robust, strong fellow, so when I pulled it back, he apparently flew back towards the wall and hurt his hands. I guess it’s not that funny now that I think about it; maybe it’s just funny to me, because I’m a little sick!”
The Strain will air on 9pm on Watch in the UK from 9 September 2016. For all the latest TV news, pick up the new issue of SciFiNow.