“It’s challenging going into a guest star role,” explained Charles, “particularly on an established show because it’s like getting on a moving train. The show is already well-oiled. The characters and relationships are established. The rhythm of how things work is established.”
Damon’s experience parallels Charles’ as he joins the Hawks machine and tries to find his place alongside TK. How will these two manage to get along both on and off the field? Charles isn’t giving anything away.
“You are going to have to wait and see how that interaction plays out and how Damon is affected by [TK’s] persona, his behavior. But also how [TK] is affected by Damon, the challenge of having to hold your own when there is a new kid on the block.”
“I think it’s easy to see the rivalry between these two wide receivers,” he continued, “but their relationship will develop and deepen as the season progresses.
“What ends up happening is you get more of a friendship that develops and almost a brotherhood develops. And in a sense that’s grounded in reality because I am entering this new fraternity that is the New York Hawks and TK is my guide, Damon’s guide.
“And so, just as much as Damon is processing and figuring out how to deal with his past, he is also learning how to deal with his present with TK. And so in that sense you see a mentor-mentee relationship developing.
“And Damon has to decide,” Charles hinted, finally, “whether the life that is presented for him by TK is the life he wants to live.”
USA Network Conference CallNecessary Roughness
June 21, 2012 QUESTION:
I was a big fan of Friday Night Lights,
so I was thrilled to see you back on TV on another show that I love. And playing a football player again, [a] very different one from Smash.
So how do you feel about playing a character while the environment, sports-wise, is similar but very different because this is professional football - a different league?
The character is very, very different from Smash. Seems like the opposite, because Smash has this little bit of cockiness going on about him. And Damon instead, at least from what we have seen so far, looks like he is a very humble guy who doesn’t think he deserves what’s coming to him.
How was it to get into playing this character while being, again, a football player in such a different way? And how do you feel the character is different than the actual players that we see in the NFL? GAIUS CHARLES:
Well that’s a very good question. Thanks for asking. First I would say that the world of Friday Night Lights
and Panther Football and Smash and the NFL is a completely different and separate world from the world of Necessary Roughness
and Damon Razor and the Hawks.
So one thing that actually really helped me [with] that differentiation in my mind was just realizing that this is a totally different show. Totally different style. Totally different genre. Totally different shooting style. And so in a sense – yes, I have had a fair amount of experience playing TV football. But I really saw a completely new character and completely new story.
And an actor usually is always looking for ways to show a new side of them. Or a different kind of range of what they can do. So because I had the wonderful opportunity of playing Smash, this part came along as something to help me show another side of the coin, so to speak. It helped me show how I can play the really big and gregarious, confident characters.
But how I also play a very introverted, complicated character who is also trying to find himself. And the vehicle, obviously, is professional sports. And I think that it’s great because the sports, whether it be football or whatever professional sport, and on Friday Night Lights
the pressure of high school football. It’s a great class form to show how people respond to challenges. And so I was just really, really happy to be able to play Damon and show another side to what I can do as an actor. QUESTION:
I’m wondering what it’s like for you to play this humble character that you have to play opposite such a bigger than life character, somewhat similar to your character in Friday Night Lights
but being bigger? GAIUS CHARLES:
Well, I tell you (Mehcad Brooks), who plays TK, is one of the - everybody is wonderful but I actually thought it was really smart writing in the sense that okay, we have this larger-than-life wide receiver. And now let’s put him up against this very humble, complicated character - Damon Razor - and see what happens.
We have shot four episodes so far. You are going to have to wait and see how that interaction plays out and how Damon is affected by his persona, his behavior. But also how he is affected by Damon, the challenge of having to hold your own when there is a new kid on the block, so to speak.
So it was a lot of fun, both on screen and the nature that I felt comfortable on set with many other actors. So it was a real pleasure to work with them. QUESTION:
So now that we know the history and the secrets that Damon has been keeping, how much of that is going to affect the future of your role on the show in terms of working with Dani and maybe having some issues on the field? GAIUS CHARLES:
Well, I never know how much I can say. But it will affect it. It will play in great and dramatic ways. There is a point where you see Damon have to face the music. Coming out - and (unintelligible) because has so much potential he actually ends up doing a lot for (unintelligible). So Matt, played by Mark Blucas, and so you see their relationship start to develop well.
So to get more compelling, but Damon doesn’t get away that easy in terms of his past. But he does eventually deal with the pressures, deal with the press. SCIFI VISION:
I know that you did a lot of research into Damon’s insecurity disorder or whatever it’s called. But I think you’ve also mentioned that as an actor you could relate to that. Could you elaborate a little bit? GAIUS CHARLES:
Yes. It’s interesting because when I was speaking they asked me about it. And in my research I found out that it’s something - first of all, the actual diagnosis of impostor syndrome is very well … according to the psychologist that I spoke with. But the symptoms are common in the sense that high achievers, at times, struggle with their own gifts.
And so from my research, they talked about therapists and psychologists going up to places like Harvard and going up to Cambridge and talking to these super-gifted folks, and then explaining this thing called impostor syndrome and what not. And basically the room falling silent because these people had at some point struggled with it. Because you are so good at what you do, you sometimes doubt yourself, I guess is what the article is pointing to.
But even actors in my research - actors and actresses like Michelle Pfeiffer and other folks who are super-talented award winning - Kate Winslet was another actress, a name that came up - struggle with impostor syndrome.
And I guess all the time I talked to actors in the past who have said they struggle with believing in themselves. And I think sometimes the whole impostor syndrome is kind of a big diagnosis to get your head around.
But I think if you talk more in terms of self-doubt, whatever a point of success you find yourself - I think that it’s much more common and much more a concept that we can grasp. And so I think we all struggle with self-doubt, but I would hope that we all also find the courage in ourself to overcome it, if that makes sense. SCIFI VISION:
It does. As an actor you are always being judged. You have to face rejection a lot as an actor. Did that help you relate to the character? GAIUS CHARLES:
I’m glad you asked that because I think that as an actor you almost become really resilient to criticism and rejection in the sense that if you don’t get the part, you haven’t gotten the part. You have been down that road before. You know how to react. You get back up on your feet and keep moving. So in a way I think being an actor can make you confident or more confident than certain other professions where you are not challenged or you are not rejected as much. If that makes sense. QUESTION:
Are going to be working a lot with TK this season, who is obviously dealing with a post traumatic stress disorder. Did you do any research into that or how did you deal with this story line knowing it is such a controversial one? GAIUS CHARLES:
I was more focused on, again, my character’s issue than TK’s. And so even when my character was introduced in the episode that aired last night - I don’t really have a knowledge of TK’s background. (Unintelligible) in terms of Damon Razor. So I wasn’t particularly playing that I know that TK has PTSD and all that kind of stuff.
I was more so staying in the moment and staying in the short line of each individual script, if that makes sense. Because I think that as the episode goes on you see other issues come up in players, which is actually really cool. But I think for Damon and for me the focus is really on the impostor syndrome. The self doubt, and dealing with the results of it all. QUESTION:
What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of putting back on the shoulder pads and returning to the football field? GAIUS CHARLES:
That is a great question. I know it’s really cool, I remember when I did the pilot for that. I hadn’t played high school football and so the pads were bulky and trying to figure out how they all work and trying to get into gear, so to speak. And so returning to the field to portray Damon Razor on Necessary Roughness
was actually, the learning curve was much shorter in terms of just feeling comfortable in the pads, feeling comfortable on the field.
We shoot in Atlanta and Atlanta and Austin are not necessarily the same in weather. But we are on the field one day and it is 190 degrees and people are like, “Oh, my gosh.” And I’m, “Yes. This is what (unintelligible).”
So in a sense I had the experience to get past some of the challenges than I think some actors maybe fleeing from New York or L.A. to do something that, they haven’t really worked in those kinds of conditions. They haven’t had to get on the show and put on the pads and really get in the physical space of their character. That was not a challenge for me.
So I guess that was the good part. I can’t really think of anything negative. I would just say that it was good to have that experience because it has helped me get into a role that much easier. QUESTION:
So what has been your favorite aspect of being on the show and why? The interactions that Damon has with the various characters like Dr. Dani, Matt and TK, playing football on screen again, getting to play such a complex character? GAIUS CHARLES:
I think yes, probably getting to play a character again that is different than what people see me as. In terms of playing Smash and that kind of thing, I am really very into research and very into taking notes and calling contacts and people. And picking at brains and asking questions.
And the research to me is probably one of the most fun aspects of acting because when you have the research down you have a framework to rely on. And then you can really take risks and go places because you grounded all of your research and your understanding of who the character is in a reality that gives you the flexibility to play. And go places that maybe you wouldn’t go if you weren’t sure. So I think the research is probably one of my favorite things to do.
And it’s challenging going into a guest star role, particularly on an established show because it’s like getting on a moving train. The show is already well-oiled. The characters and relationships are established. The rhythm of how things work is established. Usually the director who is coming in to do the episode - actually I was very fortunate coming on because Kevin Dowling, who is an executive producer, actually directed my episode.
So I didn’t have to learn the set and learn the new director. I just had to join in to that family and that rhythm that is the production. So that was great. So I would also say another positive thing was just being able to get to work with people who were very gracious and helped me to find my way. Which is a real blessing. QUESTION:
Could you tell us a little bit more about how Damon will or won’t be corrupted, so to speak, by this world he just entered and how he will cope with that? GAIUS CHARLES:
Yes. That is a really good question. I think it’s easy to see the rivalry between these two wide receivers. What ends up happening is you get more of a friendship that develops and almost a brotherhood develops. And in a sense that’s grounded in reality because I am entering this new fraternity that is the New York Hawks and TK is my guide. You know, Damon’s guide.
And so, just as much as Damon is processing and figuring out how to deal with his past, he is also learning how to deal with his present with TK. And so in that scene you see a mentor-mentee relationship developing. And Damon has to decide whether the life that is presented for him by TK is the life he wants to live.
And I believe that is probably - not two or three episodes from now. Yes, and it is something that is really - I think it was probably one of my favorite moments in their interaction because you do start to see the respect and the need that these two have for each other.
Because I think also, somebody asked me about the PTSD question. And I don’t know that, I’m just saying this in my own experience. But sometimes when you help somebody else like TK is helping or mentoring or leading Damon, you benefit from that. So in a sense I think the relationship might also be healing for TK, like “Okay, let me shepherd this young guy.” And in a way that helps me along with my own issues.
I am reluctant to say that because I don’t know what (Kyle’s) perspective is but I could imagine that could be the case. SCIFI VISION:
I think I’ve read that you are not really the hugest football fan and I am wondering what are some of your favorite sports and some of your favorite teams. GAIUS CHARLES:
Oh, my gosh. Well, I don’t know where you read that. But I will say that when I began FNL
, yes I wasn’t too into football. But now, seven years later, FNL
and Necessary Roughness,
it’s like, “Come on!”
But, yes, I like football. I’m really into basketball right now. I mean, how could you not be? I’m just really, really into basketball. I’m more of a gym rat. I’m in the gym four or five days a week. I love endurance sports like the Iron Man and all that kind of stuff - triathlons. I was actually trying to train for this triathlon coming up this month. But I started working on Necessary Roughness
and I said that’s not going to happen.
But in the future I hope to get around to competing in one. SCIFI VISION:
So when you are sitting home watching ESPN, you’re tuning in more to the triathlon than watching NFL all Sunday afternoon? GAIUS CHARLES:
Well I guess watching - triathlons, I mean, I’ve never watched one. I think they would be kind of boring. But no, I would probably be watching either a football game or basketball game or something like that.
I also really love politics so I’m always up on the big news stations and going between anchors and stuff like that. So, either one. QUESTION:
Earlier you were talking about the potential brotherly relationship that will exist between Damon and TK. But last night’s episode - I really enjoyed the race scene that you had with TK. What was it like to shoot that scene? GAIUS CHARLES:
That was really great because it was at the end of the day. And I should say that when you shoot TV film as I am sure most folks know, you shoot one location that whole day. Or you try to shoot out that location in a day so all the stuff in the dome was shot in the same day. So all of the catching scenes, where he is doing the drills and the gauntlet, all of that was shot in the same day.
But at the end of the day we shot the race scene. And I hadn’t really - I don’t think I worked with Mehcad. I think that was my first scene with him. Yes, that was my first scene with him because before that I was just with the other combine actors who were portraying the combine and all that.
So it was cool to have that first introduction of working with him. And we were - honestly I was really looking forward to the kind of rapport that we would have and everything.
It was really interesting too because having played Smash and now looking at TK there was a thing in my mind where I had to be like, “Okay, remember you are Damon.” QUESTION:
He had to suppress his Smash. GAIUS CHARLES:
Because the Smash wants to come out, you know? But it’s like, “Okay, wait a minute, you are Damon now. Okay, I got it.”
And so the race was cool because it was, like I said, our first initial meeting on screen. And setting off that rivalry and that relationship was a lot of fun.