Out of all the characters in Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle, it is undoubtedly the unfortunate Frank Frink (Rupert Evans) who went through the most drastic transformation as the show progressed. Not only was he imprisoned and tortured by the Kempeitai – he was forced to sit by helplessly as his entire family was murdered.
As Season 2 commences, his attempts to give himself up for the attack on the Japanese Crown Prince – only to discover that his friend Ed (DJ Qualls) is being blamed for the crime.
We caught up with Evans to find out whether things will get any better for the luckless Frank in Season 2…
Where is Frank when we first see him at the start of Season 2?
Rupert Evans: He’s kind of weirdly back where he was at the beginning of Season 1. He finds himself in the hands of Inspector Kido (Joel de la Fuente) and the Kempeitai, having given himself up in the hope that he will be able to save his friend Ed, so having tried to hide from the Kempeitai throughout the whole season, he has to then make a huge life decision towards the end of Season 1, and walks into a police station and gives himself up.
So at the beginning of Season 2, we see the repurcussions of that, and there’s a big meeting with him and Kido.
Frank goes from someone from someone who basically wants to keep his head down to effectively becoming radicalised. How has that been to play?
It’s been great, because it’s so lovely to see a change in a person, do you know what I mean, genuinely a change. In Season 2 he becomes very different – it’s like a completely different show for him really. He joins a group of people who really want to effect change in a very different way to how he thought he would himself, and he does, he becomes radicalised and joins a resistance cell, as it were, and that’s really the arc for Season 2 for Frank: his journey with them.
It all comes from a place of anger and rage, having lost Juliana, and it all stems for that as well.
Would you say Frank has always had this side to him, or has he been transformed by his experiences?
It’s a good question – I think that’s the nature/nurture question, isn’t it? I think for Frank, he is reacting to his environment, I don’t think he would have ever gone down this path had it been for the way the world is in The Man In The High Castle. I don’t think it’s him actually, but he has been pushed to this in a way – he is reacting to having lost his family, and the murder of his sister and her kids, having lost Juliana, and there is nothing left for him.
He’s willing to risk his life, it doesn’t mean much anyway, so for him I think he’s sort of living on the edge really. He can risk his life, and it doesn’t mean a great deal to him.
Did Ed taking the fall for the shooting affect him in a big way?
It absolutely does. When he gives himself up, he assumes that he’s going to be put to death, like many others. But what actually happens is he finds himself released, and so that’s a bizarre turn of events for him. His life takes a different turn because of that. So it’s all part of that.
There’s also the guilt aspect…
Yes, there’s absolutely that, the sense of guilt. But I think suddenly it is as though he’s realised that he’s got to take control of his life, and he wants to effect change. He realises that by towing the line and conforming, it actually does nothing. He adopts a completely radical approach and somehow wants to take control, even if it means killing innocent people. He finds refuge in a line of thinking within this terrorist cell that there’s a greater purpose – we have to fight, we have to stand up, even if the risks are high.
Especially in the current political climate, do you feel the themes of The Man In The High Castle become more relevant as a consequence?
I’ve been in LA for the last week, and they’re reeling. I think they’re decoding and deciphering what this all means for them with a new president coming in in January and stuff.
If anything, the show might for some allow them to reflect on their own lives and perhaps it will give a greater sense of meaning about their own life and the characters in the show. I think it will resonate more strongly.
With The Man In The High Castle being one of Amazon’s success stories, how have you found the experience of working on this kind of show, as opposed to your standard cable show?
To be honest with you, Amazon is willing to take risks on subject matter. They’re also willing to allow the shows to be driven by character – not plot – and they’re in it for the long term, so they’re not really interested in… I don’t know, not sure what the ratings are, but it affords us to be able to take chances I think, to be able to dream big, because they have invested a huge amount of money in the show, and that allows us to kind of really explore the world in a depth that I don’t think cable shows do.
They also give you space – they’re not particularly heavy handed. They obviously have a very strong vision for the show, but they equally leave you alone in terms what you want to do day-to-day, character-wise and scene by scene. I think they’re brilliant, we’re very fortunate, because I don’t think this show would have been made on any other network, because it’s a very difficult subject matter, and a lot of networks would have shied away. It’s only on a network like Amazon that we would be able to make this show.
How have you found the reaction to the show from viewers and readers?
I get stopped a lot more in Sainsburys now! [laughs] People have been very, very complimentary, and very excited about what’s going to happen next.
It was real to surprise to us when we turned up at the start of Season 2 to film. The direction of Season 2 has been a real surprise to us, I think the creators have made some very bold choices, and I think people will be very surprised at the direction both geographically that the characters go, and in the sci-fi element of it; the alternate realities that the show is capable of visiting. I think people will be very shocked, and I’ll be interested to see what they think.
To round things off, can you give us a few hints about what to expect from Season 2 and Frank?
Well, you can expect a very different man. As opposed to being reactive he’s proactive, and finds himself in some dangerous situations, which leads to lots of action, running around and the internal struggles that he goes through, and also having seen himself killed in these film reels, which play a big part as well.
Physically he’s different as well – I had to go to the gym quite a lot – so there’s a real change, both physically and as a person. So he’s a different guy.