The biggest mystery to date on AWAKE has been which of Detective Michael Britten’s realities is real: the one with his wife or the one with his son. But as the show peels back layer after layer another intriguing mystery has arisen: who would anyone want to kill his family? In recent interview during a conference call with press, co-stars Steve Harris and Wilmer Valderrama also posed the interesting possibility that the two realities may interest in upcoming episodes. It is already a juggling act to track Britten’s realities, but imagine if those realities began to not only mess with his mind, but ours as well. Regardless of the mind-tricks and carefully embedded mysteries tying the series together, this interview reveals that the actors are clearly having a ball making AWAKE a reality for us to watch.
What is it about Michael Britten that makes your characters follow his orders without really questioning what he’s asking you to do?
WILMER: I guess from my perspective — I play this young rookie detective, newly promoted to be his partner — and I think that there’s a certain protocol that comes with being someone’s partner. Where it’s not so much about questioning, but it’s just kind of going along to see how it all pans out. And, for me — as the season goes along — you will see that I grow a little bit more and more frustrated about the fact of the matter — which is some of his reasoning seems illogical in my world and eventually that will play out as well. But I think there’s some kind of unspoken feeling to the fact that when you are someone’s partner, there is a very fine line about how much you question and how much you go along with.
STEVE: And, for me, on the other end, I’ve been his partner for many years. So there’s a trust factor that goes along with that I feel. But I also question him because it’s a different approach that we’re taking towards the cases now. So his way of working is all panning out. It is all making sense. So even though my question, “Well why would we do this? Why would we do that?” comes into play, he’s still my partner. He’s been my partner for many years. So when you have that sort of relationship, we’re more like brothers than anything else. So I will stick with him because he’s basically my brother.
What is it like getting to work with Jason Isaacs, since as he says that he’s “very in the moment with his lines”?
STEVE: Well, the truth of it is — this is such a dangerous area … [Laughter]
WILMER: That’s a great question.
STEVE: I have been scripted to say so many things, but the fact of it is I actually like working with Jason. I love his energy. I love what he brings to the table. Clearly you could see that he’s talented. He’s very collaborative type actor, which is a precious commodity to have — especially when the show really evolves around you and the whole nine yards. So he’s very collaborative. He’s a good guy, and I’m actually having a good time working with him. That’s what they paid me to say. Though, here’s the truth: it really has been funny and really underneath all of that kind of stuff, he really is a nice guy.
STEVE: Straight up.
WILMER: To follow-up with what Steve’s saying, to be honest, he’s single-handedly one of the big reasons why I signed on to do the show. I love him in everything that he has ever done and I can honestly say that with a straight face. I mean the guy is just a really, really solid and great actor and he really fights for authenticity. He really fights for our consistency, but most importantly for just the genesis and the journey of his character, that eventually, influences all of us as part of his initial chapter and journey. So to see him be so invested into the show, it’s really great — because it’s contagious. We love the show and we have so much fun working together. And I have a blast with him too, like we were very silly, him and I. All of us, the three boys, have a really good a really good thing going and it’s very special and very rare when you can come to work and really love your crew and really respect and admire them. And, for me, specifically to look up to people like Steve and Jason who are just arguably some of the best actors of our generation. So, for me, working with Jason has been very eye-opening. Seeing how invested he’s been with every word and like he says, “very collaborative.” He makes sure that every scene and every moment really works, and I think you’ll see that shines throughout the series, for sure.
Jason Isaacs said that he didn’t think AWAKE was really a high concept idea and that people would be able to get on board. Do you agree that regular mainstream audiences are going to understand the show and how works?
STEVE: Of course. I really believe that. I don’t think — for some reason or another “high concept” has become a bad word in some lights and I actually don’t feel it’s high concept. It’s basically a show about a man dealing with a turmoil in his life where his realities are sort of construed in that one may be real and one not, and he’s living it as if both are real. Now to me with all of the stuff that’s on television now, with all of the things that people have available to watch, I don’t view that as high concept at all. And I think that people are showing that they want to watch something that has them be invested every week. And we want to give them that; then in the same light, give them something that they want to talk about on Friday, the next day – that they would like to talk about and have a conversation around the water cooler. And we really hope that’s what’s going on.
WILMER: Yes, and to compliment what Steve is saying, I think that the writers have done an incredible job of just finding a very unique way of narrating his journey. The thing that makes it fun and different, and most importantly, just fresh is just it’s just very refreshing to see the way that this procedural is told. It has so much more “heart” than any regular procedural. There is so much more invested emotionally, not only in the cases, but also in his personal journey. And I think that that’s what’s unique and original about the show is that as awesome and as cool and as rad and as hardcore some of our cases. Actually the thrill of the show would be there’s also this really great fundamental “heart and soul and spirit” to the show that’s very easy to relate to. But I think what Jason is saying is right, I think the writers and the producers have done an incredible job and I think that is consistent with a formula and a format that is easy to follow. I don’t think, like Steve says, “high concept” is a bad word because the phrase described as “high concept” as something outside-of-the-box something that is original. And that’s one of the reasons why we signed to do this show because we weren’t going to be doing the same thing we’ve done for the last decade — and a half of television that Steve and I have been working in.
What kind of detectives do you think you would be in real life? Do you think you’d have the patience for it?
WILMER: Really good looking ones! [Laughter]
STEVE: Very well dressed.
WILMER: Really, really good looking detectives. I’ll tell you that much right now. That at the very least I can tell you.
STEVE: I don’t want to forsake any person’s job, but that’s a hard job to do. Nobody wants be a police officer. Nobody looks for a police officer unless there’s trouble or trouble has happened or some it coming. To answer your question, possibly. I believe possibly. But I don’t know if I could ever endure having that sort of negative vibe around me 95% of the time.
WILMER: Yes, it’s a breed of human being. It’s the same respect and the same love that we have for our armed forces and the men and women of the armed forces. They go to Iraq and Afghanistan and it’s just a sole journey. That, again, is a very powerful individual. What I mean is that we’re all powerful in our own unique way and I think we all play to our strengths. But as a detective, I wouldn’t know what to do. I mean to be honest, I have so much love and respect for the people that really truly do it — and my hat is off to them for how they look at life and the thankless jobs that they take upon.
What specifically about this show that made the two of you decide to do a weekly series?
STEVE: Wow, I’m going to say I think we got a hit. When I read it, I thought it was the one of the best things I’d read. And the one thing that I learned from the previous series, and I think both of us learned from the previous series that we were on, was that if you have the foundation of good writing — creative writing I might add — then you want to jump aboard that ship. So clearly this show is one of those shows. You tie into it the fact that you have somebody like Howard Gordon being attached as the executive producer, and NBC willing to give this a legitimate shot — looking at this to be part of their lineup strongly — then you tie in all of us, the actors that we got, Wilmer, Jason, and you go to Cherry and BD and Dylan and Laura — I mean it goes on and on. When you start adding that sort of package together with everything else that they’ve put together, this is like a show you want to be a part of. This is the kind of show that not only would bring you back to television if you were out of it for a such a while as I have, and I believe Wilmer was for a while as well, it’s also the kind of show that you’re proud to be a part of and you really want to be a part of. So that’s my answer to that one.
WILMER: I’m with Steve. And I think that this is very rare you have an opportunity to work with this incredible coalition of people that are just so prolific and everything. I mean it’s from Howard Gordon, which I’m obsessed with THE X FILES, and I’m obsessed with 24 and I love HOMELAND. To come from that great pedigree and great vision and tone is really, really ideal. And Kyle Killen is really smart, and Jeffery Reiner who’s our showrunner, who did FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and THE EVENT, they’re s just people that really love to conceptualize things. But I tell you one of the biggest selling points was — I mean, it was a little scary for me to come back to television and I really didn’t want to come television with something that was predictable, that I’ve done before. I was very blessed to have received the script and to eventually join forces with everyone on this because, for me in my mind, it couldn’t have gotten more of a solid team and more of perfect format to just return with something so different. I love working with these guys and I’d go to work with these guys any day. I’s just blessing to be around this much talent. And how could say ‘no’ to something this special.
When you’re dealing with sort of this split-world, when read the scripts, do you find that you’re still trying to figure out what’s going on?
STEVE: It’s actually pretty easy for us to follow. Because we we’re living it every day. So for us, it’s very easy, and I think some of the components that the writers and the creators have put in to make it easier for viewership to follow the two worlds. I think people are getting it and getting into it. So we’re very happy with the way it’s turning out as such. So it really wasn’t that difficult to get into it because, for us, those worlds and the way they designed them, those are what we live in every day. So it wasn’t that difficult for me.
WILMER: Exactly. For us as actors — I mean, look, for some, you read it and you’re like, “Whoa I want to know what happens next.” You’re really always really excited to see, “Well what’s this week’s episode.” Whereas normally we know how it is going to pan and how it’s going to play out throughout the series. It’s all these some questions, but when it comes for us as the characters within it, we have to kind of just play immediately what’s in front of us. We’re living that moment in time. So we make choices based on what’s presented to us at that very moment, and what we get from our partner Michael Britten. So at the very moment we’re going to go along this self-discovery journey that he’s on, and let that somehow influence our thought and it makes react a certain situation or create some kind of theory behind it. But I think that it’s pretty simple for us. It’s very simple. You’re working with numbers. There’s two of everything, right? There’s two partners, two psychiatrists, two cases and two loved ones who are grieving and trying to cope — and you just see the evolution of how they are intertwine together. Eventually, it just makes for great TV.
Wilmer, with all your years doing pre-camera comedy in front of the audience, how is this a change of pace?
WILMER: I mean. it’s day-and-night for sure. I miss doing comedy, but I’m so fulfilled and it’s so rewarding to be doing this drama. I love it. I’ve been doing film for a while now, so it really does feel — and I think probably still Steve feels the same way – this, specifically this type of show, it really truly feels like we’re shooting a weekly movie. We do a movie every week. Every episode something beginning, middle and end. There’s something thrilling in that. We’re on location and all of that. It’s also been in amazing locations all over Los Angeles. So it’s just a very different experience, completely different experience. But the clowning around and the joking around in between takes is completely still the same. That’s for sure. None of that has changed. We’re the craziest clowns in between takes. But when it comes to the game-play, you come to work and it’s just a really, really different experience. It’s very fun for me and I’m having a blast.
Do you have any funny stories you can tell us about that happened in between takes?
STEVE: Hey, don’t you dare tell that one. Don’t you dare.
WILMER: I know, I know, I know. I was trying to figure whether it would be newsworthy, to be honest. Let’s see. There’s a lot of stuff that happens in between. There’s a lot of funny outtakes. There’s a lot of funny situations. I think the funniest things is — I’ll tell you, the funniest stuff is basically Jason has a speaker, and in between takes while they’re setting up or turning the camera around, or something that, he’ll play music from his iPhone into this speaker. And you can really tell a lot about a person when you listen to the selection of music. I’m just going to say one thing about Jason: Jason loves Broadway musicals, okay. That’s all I’m going to say. And I’m going to leave at that because everything else doesn’t matter.
STEVE: That was so wrong, boss.
WILMER: I’m so wrong. Oh my God he’s going to kill me. [Laughter]
Do either of you know what’s going on? Have you been told anything, and if not, do you want to be let in on the secret or would you rather be in the dark?
STEVE: No. I’m assuming you’re talking about the future episodes and that sort of thing. Because what happens is we get the next script, the next script, the next script, and then we live in those scripts. So I really don’t know what the overall rainbow is, for the arc of the show, in regards to that. And to be perfectly honest, I really don’t want to know. I would prefer just play in the moment what we’re doing everything, and be excited by the next script, the next episode. What we’re going to turn over next? What part of the mind? What part of the field? How visceral we going to get into it next? What kind of the whole process of doing this for me, especially a show like this, is that I discover motion, and then getting your opportunity to perform it and to pull it off. So I love that sort of fell to it. It keeps it really alive.
WILMER: I’m with him on that. It’s really fun for us to not know because we, as the characters, discover everything as we go. But when it comes to the actual show itself, we have a pretty good idea of how things are being handled and sublimely, the cerebral process. We have a really good understanding of the type of show we’re on. I will tell you this, the one thing that I can promise you from all of us on AWAKE is that– no pun intended — that one day we’re going to awake and it’s going to be all a dream. What I mean is, everything you see on this show from every episode to the arcs and all that will be some kind of clue. It will be some kind of hint that will eventually create an equation that will give us a resolution that we are going to be fulfilled by. I’ve had the opportunity to actually to talk to the creator and to Howard Gordon about where it’s going from this season to the next, and there is definitely a plan. That’s a fact. There is definitely something that they’re going to build towards. So this is not one of those things where like nobody really knows. I’ve also been heart-broken by many shows when you put your whole faith in them, and then when it ends, you’re just like, “There goes six years of my life.” But with this show, we definitely took note of a lot of those and we have building some kind of structure where we’re going to build to a sort of resolution. Where we’re definitely going to be very much fulfilled as an audience.
It seems like in each reality there are radically different personality types around Britten, like the psychologists, one is very confrontational, one is very supportive collaborative. That seems to be the case also with his detective partners what with Bird being supportive and collaborative and Vega being very in your face. So how do you develop these characters in this way without seeming too over the top, or too under the radar?
WILMER: Well, for me, as Detective Vega, it comes from a number of places. There’s a little bit of a question. I walk a very fine line. Was I really hired as a rookie — was I promoted as a rookie detective to be Michael Britten’s new partner, or was I promoted as a detective to pretty much report everything I see? From our point of view as from the inside of Michael Britten’s mind, there’s a little bit of that fine line that played there, even though there’s an undertone of that my frustration comes from being a rookie and wanting to really prove myself and wanting to go along and be an actual partner. Unfortunately, I find myself being a partner to someone that is either loosing grip, or has a really interesting theory of solving cases that I just never thought I would ever encounter in my detective career. Needless to say, some of the things that he’s going through whether this is a dream or not, or whether he’s dreaming of these clues, eventually we piece that together throughout the series. But, for right now, for what you guys have seen up to now, for my character is the level of frustration that he’s lacking communication that he wants. Because want and he’s eager to be a partner. He’s eager to be a detective. So therefore he’s just more confrontational about it and he’s more frustrated because he doesn’t have the trust from Michael Britten. And because Michael Britten doesn’t trust him with things in general, it makes his job even that much more complicated and just inconsistent.
STEVE: I think for me, being with a partner, I’m just the opposite. But he’s a rookie joining forces with a seasoned veteran. Me and him, we’ve been seasoned veterans. We’ve grown up together basically. We’ve been everything. We’ve been through our faults and ours successes and our failures. We’ve been through it all. So sometimes — in speaking to actual police officers, they will tell you that their partners sometimes are closer to them than their actual family or their wives — and I think we have that relationship. So though I do feel that I question him, I wanted to give him a little more rope based on our relationship. Then when I do question him, it’s because it’s something that’s been violated by what we sort of set up over the years. So you’re coming up with “this doesn’t fit the pattern” and then I may question what’s going on. So I will give him more rope because we’ve been together to long. I think that helps. I think because, me and Michael, being two people who are of the same age and actually have been in the particular game of acting for the same amount of time and dealt with some of the same things, it makes it quite easy to that. We all do it. We all do the same sort of things.
In the pilot, right near the end we see Vega as a uniformed officer in the “red” reality. Will Bird will ever bleed into the “green” reality and whether we’ll see more of these kinds of bleeds to the point where it might affect Britten?
STEVE: This might not be too much, I don’t know. But you will see us go into each other’s reality as it progresses. That will be a definite. We dropped a hint — just a hint — in the beginning where we pop into each other’s reality. Then down the line, you will see us popping in and out. Of course it’s going to have an effect on Michael and his character, because then he has to deal with us in a whole different world. So you will see it gravitate towards that. I think because the audience will have established with us being in our separate worlds, that as we cross over, is much easier down the line.
WILMER: Right, and for sure you’re definitely going to see it break through and it’s going to play some kind of factor as well. As Michael Britten’s condition gets more and more evident, you will see some of these things intertwine with one another that eventually would make it just a little bit more colorful, let’s just say, for Michael to experience. For my character, I have fun because I’m an LAPD officer in one reality and I’m a detective in the other. So I get to play two different relationships with Michael — one as his partner and in the other one he barely knows him. So it’s really fun to play those dynamics too. But, for sure, you’re going to see the intertwining of a lot of the stories that are going to be for one another, specifically in his detective world.
Can you talk about, without giving too much away, some episodes or scenes that you’re really looking forward to in this season?
STEVE: Well, I look forward to the whole show, thank you very much. I think it’s hard for a show like this, to answer that and not give away too much. Because it’s like as you see, as it progresses, we keep peeling and peeling and peeling things away. There are a couple of episodes here that I think are really going to drive people to question which one of these worlds is real, and which one isn’t. I think it’s also going to drive people to choose which one they’re going to choose to be real. Because you get so invested. And it keeps dropping these tasty little morsels week after week after week, and pretty soon you kind of full. You ought to be in this and I think that’s what we do. Not to be too nebulous but I feel like with us keep peeling away that it really is the kind of show that if you watch every week you want to get a different taste of something good.
WILMER: There’s a bunch of episodes that — I mean, I’m not going to lie — are going to blow your mind. I mean the show is going to a place where it’s going to be unpredictable. They’re going to be fun. They’re going to be a little bit of a puzzle. But also they’re going to be so thrilling and emotional. I mean, we’re going to play a lot of emotions and it’s going to be great. I mean I’m with Steve on this. It’s just the show just gets more and more fascinating and unpredictably mysterious.
Do we see Vega warming up a bit more to Britten later in the season? And how do your characters evolve throughout the season?
WILMER: Yes, for sure. I think that at the beginning is a little bit of that frustration for a new partnership – a new relationship building trust with one another. And he’s obviously at a place where he’s really trusting a lot of people considering that he doesn’t trust Bird. It plants the seed in his head that I might be not someone that he wants to trust considering that he’s being transferred and they probably don’t want anybody to report that he’s not fit for the job somehow — Michael Britten that is. And throughout the series you see my character really fighting for that loyalty and fighting for that respect that wants from Michael. Most importantly, that trust; and throughout the series you see them work the case and eventually that relationship evolves into something that eventually will play out more through the series, where you’ll see the true dynamics and how it all going to affect Vega and Michael. There’s something big that’s going to happen between them, and there’s going to be a lot more than meets the eye to this entire undertone conspiracy, and how it all plays together. All of us somehow have some kind of role within that entire big picture and you’ll see it play out. But for sure, you’ll see that emotion evolving manifestation throughout the series for the characters.
Can you talk about what Vega and Freeman go through being Michael’s partner and how that develops as the series continues?
STEVE: Well I think my character goes through a process of being with a partner where everything sort of made sense. Now since this accident, things aren’t making nearly as much sense. I sort of compare to being married and you’ve been married with somebody for so many years, and then all of the sudden in year 15 they want to try something new in bedroom, and you go, “Wait, wait, wait, where did that come from?” I think that our relationship has that going on, but you have so much trust in each other. You have so much belief in each other that you’ve developed over the years, that I think as the show progresses you will see that bond get even closer. You’ll see that bond, and it will be questioned. They will be taken to certain extremes. I believe you will see why these guys have been together for so long and have worked together so well for so long as the show progresses.
WILMER: Yes, and for my character, you’re going to see him being more and more invested into what into what Michael’s emotional journey is going to be. But most importantly he wants to be the best detective he can be. So he’ll stay very consistent to where he wants to climb to and that is to be a detective respected by the force as well. I think it’s a fascinating journey for all the characters and, for me, it’s just building toward that trust and foundation that he wants to be as a partner. But also he finds himself walking this really fine line between the Captain and Michael Britten. What does he actually report back to the Captain? Why does he actually confined in Michael Britten? And I think it’s that inner struggle thing. I’m a rookie I want to do the right thing. I want to follow orders. But emotionally, I’m getting invested in the sense that I’m now caring for my partner and I’m not sure what to do yet. And I think that is going to play out also throughout the arc of the character.
What are some of the cases that we have to look forward to?
WILMER: We have a lot of cases. I mean, by the way, we double-up. We have pretty much two cases in every episode. So you can double that for sure. I mean we have a lot of great episodes. I don’t know, Steve, do you have some that stick in your mind that you want to maybe share?
STEVE: Actually share, no.
WILMER: Don’t want to give up too much because all the queues are so unpredictable.
STEVE: Yes, I mean that’s the issue. What he’s dealing with and as it starts unfold, there’s an aspect of a conspiracy in play. There’s an aspect of him still trying to do the job. The value system of whether or not he believes in himself as it progresses. It’s because the thing about BD [Wong] and Cherry [Jones] and what they provide is at some point when you’re dealing with this, you have to start question which world is really real if you have to deal with them. And I think that has a bearing on how his mind functions and how his mind works in future episodes. Because you start to question that regardless of whether you want to stay exactly where you are. You have two people that keep battering you with that, then at some point you have to sort of vibe and deal with it. And I think that trying to do all of things while working your jobs, both of our cases at the same time, I think it bodes well for a lot of quite creative and inventive cases further down the line.
WILMER: Right. That’s right. I mean, if you must hear a little nugget, I will tell you that we’re going to find out more than meets the eye to that car accident and the conspiracy behind it, and why it was done. We’re going to get closer and closer to why Michael doesn’t really remember anything from that night. And then I’m going to tell you something else that’s going to sound super crazy, but we are going to have a penguin in one of the episodes. Do what you will with that piece of information. But I’m going say is that if a penguin is a hint of things to come, I think the show is going to give you the ability to live in a number of aspects. One of the things that we’re definitely going to do is we’re going to have fun with the ability that we have to go through from one dream to the other, and that will play out in every episode starting next week.
Steve, it seems like you are really at home with television. Do you feel that way?
STEVE: To me it’s either way. What I really feel is that when you get on television you get an opportunity to create a character, to develop a character and carry it through. If you’re fortunate to stay on television for a period of time, you get to carry that character through for a period of time, and then people come and get sort of attached to you. I will say that on television I’ve been given more opportunities to do a larger brand of work. So I figure that also fulfills a sort of thing. As you as an actor, you love it when a show or a case or something is on your shoulders and you actually get to play in the thing that you’ve studied for so long and you worked so hard to achieve. So I think that though I’ve had many opportunities on film, and even a few of them where I’ve been sort of a guy that that’s sort of banked on, in a show like this — even though clearly it’s about Michael and his two worlds — since all of us are so collaborative and we have such an important part in that, it gives me an opportunity to play a little bit and have a larger say in what’s going on. And I think that if you like my work, you’re going to like that.
Wilmer, do you like doing your part? Was this the type of part you were looking for?
WILMER: I think, for me, I’ve had the opportunity to do some interesting characters on my independent film work and some of the feature films that I’ve released in the last few years. But to come back to television with a character like this on a TV series — this was really a different and exciting new chapter for me. Because I’ve got to tell you to come back to television after 8 to 10 years, 200 episodes, I mean pretty much a decade of comedy — it’s a little nerve-racking, I’m not going to lie. It gets a little scary because you don’t want to recreate. You don’t want to feel like you have to recreate that experience or that legacy you left behind with your last series. You want to just make sure you embrace a new opportunity. And hopefully I honor a new color change returning back. I couldn’t have dreamed it better — no pun intended I guess — but I couldn’t have dreamed the show that actually brought me back to television to be more ideal than AWAKE. And to join forces with a cast like Steve Harris and Jason Isaacs — the three of us are the Three Musketeers — we love what we do and we love acting, and we care. It’s a very, very great environment to learn from. To learn from Steve and Jason has been amazing and also to have a cast like Cherry Jones, BD Wong, Laura Allen, Dylan Minnette — I mean, you’re looking at a cast that is just so solid about everything they are and they’re about. And they’re in it for the same common goal, so it becomes this great team this great Navy Seal team that comes back to television to tell a story that’s compelling like this. How could you say ‘no’ to something like this? It’s very fulfilling and I’m excited to be able to show my old school fans, my new fans, and just people in general a different side of me, but also a different character. For me that’s important. It’s important that people know that acting is what I do and it’s what I love. I took a long break. I took a six-year break from television and returning was ideal — only because of this television platform called AWAKE.
With Bird and Vega appearing in both realities, it seems as though there are two casts on the show, the “red” and the “green” and since you are pretty much counterparts to one another, do the two of you ever get to catch up and compare notes and see each other on set?
STEVE: Yes, we do. Let’s be clear about this, sometimes we’ve been known to show up on the set when the other person is working just to rib them. Just depending on what take that show has on it. So, yes, honestly sometimes you do go a long time without really seeing each other or passing each other in the trailer because we are in the two different worlds. But oftentimes because of how this thing is setup, we still end up sharing the same space and it’s a joy. I want to be point blank about this: it is a joy to work on that show. We have a ball. I know it’s a serious show. I know it’s labeled a drama. I understand what I’m getting paid to do. But the joy that we bring around doing our work I think infuses the process as well.
WILMER: I agree.
STEVE: Because we all try to put our “hard hats” on, you know, but we enjoy being around each other and I think that that’s really been a pleasure to be a part of this show for many factors, but definitely for that factor, it’s one of the top ones.
WILMER: Yes, 100%. I mean 100% I’m with Steve on this. Specifically, when you shoot a show as dramatic and as emotional as AWAKE is, and as mysterious and as unpredictable as the show is, it’s so important. I’s also considered such a gift to be able to come to work and really actually be there for each other. When I’m on set and I’m not shooting, I’m just waiting around or whatever, I’ll just go and watch some of Steve’s scenes from behind the monitors or we’ll see some of Jason’s other scenes and stuff like that and it’s fun. We’re truly intrigued by the show’s journey. We’re truly intrigued by the premise of the show. And I love everything these guys do. When I see Jason and Steve go to work, it’s like watching the best acting class you could be in. I mean it’s just great. So for me, I really enjoy them. I’m some of their biggest fans. It’s just really, really like he said, “It’s just so refreshing to be able to work with a group of people that are in it on the same level and that are working as hard as you are too.” It’s just a gift.
What would you say is that you have learned and taken away from your time with the show so far?
STEVE: I mean there’s so much. But the simplest thing, we pointed out, is the relationship we have behind the scenes. We’re also proud of the reputation of what we’re putting on screen. The process has been great, from both NBC and 20th Century in dealing and relating to us as a show. I think when you tie all of that together, especially since I’m proud to say that I’m on the show. The respect that I have for the people on this show, that you can do a show like this, and you can present it to people in America and so far they’ve given us a favorable view that they’re actually watching the show and want to be invested, I think that’s really an honor. It’s an honor to come back to television and to represent a show that I can hold my head up high again as I’ve done before. So it really is an honor to be back on TV with this type of show.
WILMER: And just to complement what Steve is saying, I feel the same way. To be able to do the work, to do what we do and to be part of a team like this is just amazing. It’s like a weekly movie. It’s something that television has never seen. And I think all of us thankfully and feeling really blessed that we’ve been part of some iconic legacies from Steve’s previous work to some of my work and Jason’s work and Cherry’s work and BD’s work. I mean, you look at this cast and everyone has some really serious experience, and we feel the same: this specific show is just as special as everything we’ve done before. Otherwise we wouldn’t be in it. And thankfully, and in the most humble terms, we have some choices. We had choices and this was just ideal and just the perfect way to unite.
Did either of you do any research before the show, like shadowing real detectives or anything like that?
WILMER: Yes. For this show I definitely try to sleep as much as possible, making sure that I stay consistent with what dream is about. [Laughter] But I think that aside from liking to sleep in, we definitely did a lot of stuff when it comes to the detective part of it all. I mean I know I did a lot of my ride-alongs. I talked to a number of detectives and making sure that I had that swag, as we say. And we have this amazing guy named Jessie Escorta, who is a awesome detective a consultant that’s on set with us pretty much every day making sure that we are authentic and that the cases feel authentic and that the procedural stuff with the cases feels as accurate as possible. So accuracy and authenticity is something that we take really serious on the show. We do our best to come so close to detectives that the goal is that when a detective watches the show that they go, “Yes, I hold the pad on my left hand,” “Yes, I don’t button my jacket.” Like there’s all these little things that a detective has to keep in mind as he makes things easier for him, and we’re really trying to be as real as possible.
STEVE: He’s mentioned Jessie, who’s our detective consultant on the show, and he knows what he’s doing. I think that we tend to follow that. I didn’t do the ride-alongs and the things of that nature. Either fortunately or unfortunately depending on who you listen to, I may have been on the different sides of the police here and there, so I like the consultants, I like the guys that we use. A lot of the guys that we also use in the show as the detectives or police officers are former detectives and police officers. It has a way of keeping that reality in place. And part of my thing is sometimes I may keep Jessie on his toes by sort of maybe playing around and violating some of that, and he always comes and he’s right on point, he comes and gets me. I’m messing with him most of the time. So it really is a lot of fun.
WILMER: Yes, for sure. He’s a really nice guy too, so it makes it really fun. We’re having a really good time with them. But it’s really cool. When you have as much of a presence and as much swag as Mr. Steve Harris — what I mean, to be completely honest, no matter what comes out of his mouth, it’s either authority or he’s narrating “The Lion King.” I mean, the man cannot do anything wrong. Steve Harris, he sits there. He’ll shoot somebody and he’ll have this face that looks so cool that you go, “Detectives wish they have Steve Harris’ face when they shoot somebody.” I mean, Steve Harris’ voice is so prolific. I mean to be honest, the guy doesn’t need any research.
STEVE: I’m not going to get you on this [now], but I’m going to get you! [Laughter]
WILMER: I love Steve. I mean, I love this man to death man. We have a really good time.
To see how deep the conspiracy goes and how entangled Michael Britten’s realities become, be sure to tune in to watch AWAKE on Thursday nights at 10:00 p.m. on NBC.
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