Exclusive Video Interview: Chiké Okonkwo Says La Brea’s End is Very Satisfying

La BreaTonight, the third and final season of La Brea continues on NBC with an all-new episode. The series follows a group of survivors who travel to 10,000 B.C. through a sinkhole in Los Angeles. Previously, Ty traveled through a portal and ended up back in 2021 where he had to convince Sam, who hadn’t met him yet, to help him save the survivors in the past. In tonight’s episode, Ty (Chiké Okonkwo) and Sam (Jon Seda) bring Gavin into the mix, but he’s not the only one that Ty will come into contact with from his past.

Recently, Okonkwo spoke with SciFi Vision about connecting with the characters in the present, if he would listen to Ty’s crazy story, collaborating with creator David Appelbaum on Ty’s story, if he was satisfied with the ending of the series, what he took from the set, how La Brea has changed him, and more.

Watch the interview or read the transcript below and tune in tonight to NBC for an all-new episode.

SCIFI VISION:   To start off, at the end of Episode Two, you and Sam are going to get Gavin. So, can you maybe sort of tease how that bit is gonna go with in regards to the present that they're in right now and trying to get everybody on board with it? 

La BreaCHIKÉ OKONKWO:   Yeah, one of my favorite parts of the season was having those scenes with an actor that I know very well now and characters who know each other very, very well, but having to start again, as if they don't know each other at all. So, it gave Ty some interesting challenges of how to get around it. And John Seda is such a wonderful actor and a great scene partner, that it was difficult to make a connection to get through. There was some really great writing in those scenes as well. So, it means that it's all the more fulfilling when he finally gets through to him at the end of Episode Two. They go on this new adventure in 2021, and I'm so excited for viewers to see where that leads. We spend so much time in the sinkholes, especially with Ty. Ty’s been down there the entire time since the beginning. So, to be able to see sort of this different storyline unfold, and how it folds in - I will say this much, characters that we've met along the way, it's a really, really clever twist to the way the story is being sold. 

I just thought about as you were saying about how he tried to convince people. If that happened to you, would you believe somebody, or would you just kind of like right away be like, Get away from me. I don't want to talk to you. [laughs]

Actually, I think, because I've been an actor my whole life, I've gotten so used to being imaginative, that…if they were they seemed like they believed it, I'd certainly want to hear what they had to say. I wouldn't dismiss it straight away. I would just like to see where people go with things. [laughs] Yeah, so maybe that'll get me in trouble. 

Yeah, just if you think about it, like from a realistic point of view, it just seems so crazy. Like you wonder how many people would have actually stayed there long enough to listen to him. 

Yeah, Ty's lucky enough he didn’t end up in prison day one. 

True. So, we get more backstory in season three. We get to to meet your [ex-wife], can you is there anything you're allowed to kind of tease a bit about that? 

So, Annabelle Stevenson plays that character, and she played it so beautifully. We only have a few short scenes in episode three, but it was like a whole world of time that we get to see as a viewer. And I got to experience playing him. And, you know, for me, early on in the process, because at the very beginning, season one Episode One, Ty is wanting to commit suicide. That begs the question for an actor, well, what's brought him to this point? And so much of that we get to now see when we visit his real life, and essentially, we get to see where Ty leaves the world two weeks before the sinkhole, and it's a joy genuinely. Myself and David Appelbaum, the show's creator, we had a lot of conversations about the backstory, about the reasons to why Ty might feel that way at the beginning of season one. And now, a lot of that backstory stuff, you know, just work we did privately and conversations we had privately, just the two of us, becoming parts of the show, which is a really joyful part of being an actor, that you get to input in that way as well. And David Appelbaum and his incredible writers on this show did all the work, but it's nice to have also had a small say in the way that the story gets to unfold.

I guess this is sort of about continuing what you were saying, but were you surprised though, between Episode One and now what's happened?… Or were you just kind of like, it made sense…Did anything really shock you or anything like that? [Ty]’s story I mean, particularly, not the dinosaurs and all that fun stuff. 
It's just occurred to me that the thing that I actually miss most about doing a show like this is that first moment where you get the script. We're filming so much during the course of the season. We're always on set, always filming, but at the moment as a new script comes through, it doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing, I will try and read it as quickly as possible. I'll try and do that first read as quickly as possible. So, I'll be on set, sat in the chair, just reading it on my iPad, or as soon as I get home that night. It's like being a kid at Christmas; you get to unpack a new present. And so much of the story I was surprised with, but like I said, I had, in fact, we were lucky, myself, David Appelbaum, the show's creator, we got to know each other really well during the pandemic, because we started this show one week before the world closed down in March 2020. And so that enforced break meant, not only did we get to know each other as people, and he got to know me as an actor, I got to know him as a writer and a creator, [but] we got to tell stories to each other about what might have brought Ty to that moment. I got to say, “Oh, what about if, you know, his ex-wife had these issues, and he couldn't help her or save her quote, unquote, even though he's a therapist? And that weight that it would put on the character.” And now, lo and behold, in season three, we get to see so much of that play out. So, that was unique. I think it doesn't always happen that way. And, again, so much to thank David and the writers for, because it's nice to be able to play those elements and to peel back different parts of the character. 

La BreaI was going to say at least you didn't probably didn't feel rushed for Prep with all those all that time to think about it. 

It’s so true.

Where were you satisfied, though, with his ending? I mean, is there anything that you feel like you wish you would have gotten to do or see in his life? I mean, I know you can't spoil anything, but just kind of overall? 

No, I think the viewers will be very satisfied with the way the whole show ends. And because we've got such a big ensemble cast, there are so many stories to wind up, so many loose ends to tie up. It's a really, really satisfying way to conclude this whole chapter, this whole book, almost, of a show. So, yeah, for me, I'm very happy with the way that it goes. I always enjoyed endings. It's a really weird thing to say, because I love the job I do, but endings are a really important part of that. When you're in the theater, for example, you get to tell a whole story every night and some afternoons. To be able to tell the whole story on television is kind of rare. So, I find endings very fulfilling, very satisfying, and this one was very satisfying, and so I'm excited for the viewers to check it all out. 

The story though was shorter than it was supposed to be. Were you given things that maybe the audience doesn't know, just to help you kind of prepare from David, not that you can necessarily tell me what it is. I was just curious, like, as you were going through, were there things where he was like, you know, “You should be aware of this or whatever,” because we don't get to se everything? 

David’s such an incredible collaborator. So, it wasn't things that he would give me, but it was conversations that we would have that would give me a lot. I also got to sit in, in the writers room. So, I got to watch the process play out. When I was in LA, I would go in and sit down and just be part [of it]. And that's not just me and my storyline, of course; it's the whole storyline. Like, I got to see somewhat of how the sausage was made. So, yeah, there are different ways to be a showrunner or to be a creator of a show, but David's way of being a collaborative team builder and being able to go through this together meant that I was always able to go to him with suggestions, with thoughts, with ideas. I was always able to go to the writers with just ways that I could understand the character better. The deeper I understand the character, especially on television, the easier it is for me to build a full life and the full story, and it's the part of the job that I really enjoy. So, yeah, it was definitely a two way street. 

Was there anything that either you were given or that you took from the set? 

…Between seasons one and two, we knew we were coming back, so there's nothing that you can take, because everything will be used again. I have some costume that was made for me so it felt like it was only right to keep hold of it. Also, there were these shoes in Australia where we were filming. They’re sort of like gum boots in a way. Everyone in the crew wears them, and they’ve become very prevalent now here in the US as well. So, I'm glad I got to keep those boots, because they're kind of trendy now as well. But that was Ty’s sort of -Character shoes are very important anyway, but for Ty being in that environment, they were just useful, but now they're kind of trendy, so I'm glad I kept them. I still have the label inside that says Ty, because we all had to have multiple numbers of our costume, so I think they say Ty 4, because they were my fourth pair of shoes. 

What have you learned about yourself, or how has changed in your life specifically just since the beginning that kind of stands out? 

I love that question. Thank you for asking that. I'm from the UK. I moved to the US, gosh, fourteen years ago, to tell bigger stories and stories that were sort of more global feeling. I love the work I did back in the UK. And now, obviously with Netflix and everything, those stories, you're able to tell those stories everywhere. But certainly when I was coming up…it was LA, that is still the focal point of our industry. So, I am grateful that in doing television, I get to play a character that're so deep. I get to be on that set that's so big, and these are these big set pieces. Lots of television is people sat in rooms talking, and so, to be able to be out there having this big adventure and to be able to travel like we have as well, I think, for me, it's always about the different stories, the stories you get to tell, the character you get to play. So, I get to unpack Ty over three seasons, over thirty episodes. It's been genuinely a real joy to see the depths of him, and also, like I said before, to work with David Appelbaum, who was so collaborative and supportive of that journey for us as actors. So, yeah, it's one that will stay with me, because so many people love the show as well, and people are constantly talking to you about it on the street. So, I'm really grateful that I got to do all of those big things in one show.

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