One of my favorite shows on any channel is AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire. Over the course of its first three seasons, the fictional drama has followed a dynamic group of characters as they navigate the rise of the personal computer in the 1980s. Now about to enter its fourth and final season, the show has entered the 90s and with it the birth of the World Wide Web.
While the ratings on Halt and Catch Fire have never been what it deserved, that hasn’t stopped creators and showrunners Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers from producing a fantastic world with rich characters. Each year the show has consistently engaging storylines that center on both men and women and what it was like to live in that era. Alongside the great writing, the show has always had fantastic production design and direction. It’s one of those special shows that will only grow in stature over the course of time. I’m incredibly grateful AMC allowed this special series to run for four years and end on its own terms.
With the final season premiering tonight on AMC, I recently landed an exclusive interview with Lee Pace. He talked about being able to end the show on their terms, if he thought they’d get a fourth season at the end of season three, how much he tries to learn about the arc of the season, the amazing way they show the passage of time in the first episode of season four, how he thinks the series finale is perfect, what he’ll miss the most about making the show, and so much more. In addition, Pace talked about getting ready to play John DeLorean in director Nick Hamm’s Driven and being in Karen Gillan’s directorial feature The Party’s Just Beginning. Check out what he had to say below.
LEE PACE: Hey, thank you so much for your support of the show over the years. I’ve read a lot about what you wrote and I just think it’s a … I really appreciate it.
Collider: I’m a big fan.
PACE: Oh good.
You know what’s funny? I actually think I spoke to you at the Guardians of the Galaxy junket and was telling you how much I enjoyed the show then.
PACE: I remember.
Thanks for getting on the call with me today. Do you feel like you tweet too much?
PACE: Do you think I tweet too much?
I’m being very sarcastic.
PACE: Yeah. I was like, “God, I feel like I should be more participatory with that,” but, yeah, no. I don’t, actually. I think I … I don’t know, when was the last time … I tweeted earlier this … I tweeted last week, right?
It’s a very rare occurrence.
PACE: I know. I know. I actually love Twitter, but I don’t … I never know what to … I get a lot of my news from Twitter. But, I never … I sometimes just don’t think … I think Twitter is full of a lot of talkers and not many listeners, so I’m happy to be one of the listeners.
Let’s jump into some serious stuff. When you guys were making Halt season three, did you guys feel like this was it or that you really had a chance to come back for a fourth season?
PACE: I definitely felt excited about what we were doing. I definitely felt excited about that big time jump that we had. I loved when Evans came on board, found this really great, kind of, look to the show. The Chris’ were showrunning for the first time and it felt fresh in a way that I found that I was very inspired by.
So yeah, it was just very … I was very proud of what we made last season, but, you know, there was the end of season three on our show, so I didn’t feel in any way that we had a fourth season in the bag. I was grateful to get that third season and when we got the call about doing a fourth season I was like … Yeah, just really, really grateful to get to play the character again and then continue working with all these people because…I just really appreciate that AMC gave us that opportunity to keep going with it.
Also, the other thing is that a lot of shows don’t get to end on their own terms, and you guys do, which is such a rarity and such a privilege.
PACE: Such a privilege. I remember with another show I did called, Pushing Daisies, we, you know, it’s like we were making the show while it was airing and that second season, making the show while we got the news that we weren’t going to be making it anymore, and that’s a hard and not a very pleasant experience to go through. I mean that was another thing that I was just, I loved those people so much. It’s been really fortunate the people I’ve been able to work with and it was a real disappointment when it was like suddenly we were tying up story lines.
So to get this opportunity to … The Chris’ in particular to say what they wanted to say about these characters and end on the note they wanted to end on, which just … Yeah, really … I felt really … I was so happy to return to the character for that reason. I find Joe so complicated and … Like, he’s always different. In the circumstances he becomes a different person. He changes so drastically that another version of him is going to be exciting and unexpected. In my mind anyway because he’s never the same as he was before.
I completely agree and that’s one of the reasons I like watching you play the character. When the seasons begin do you try to find out where it’s all going, or do you prefer taking it script by script?
PACE: I like to know as much as I can know, yeah. I like to know as much as I can know. I mean and they’re still working off the story, so they tell me as much they kind of feel comfortable telling me, which is, you know, that’s … It works out in a really good … The alchemy works. Let me just put it that way, because I like the surprised when they hit me. Like last season with that big time jump hit, I didn’t know they were going to do that. So, when that script happened, it was like a big, “Whoa! Did not see that coming.” At the time, it felt like the only way these people, actually, are able to be in the same room together, you know. It’s with time. I mean that’s just the only way that that happens. The only way that that works out is by having a little bit of time.
Yeah. I mean there’s no formula to it, so I like knowing as much as I can know and I like the surprises. It’s such a concentrated thing making the season, you know, it’s like the words … We’re learning lines from one episode, filming another episode.
We all live together, me, Scoot and Mackenzie [Davis] and Toby [Huss] so it’s, you know, it’s like we’re always kind of talking about the show and talking about our lives. It’s just what this … I don’t know. We’re just kind of living in the world of the show in a way that’s kind of hard to define, I guess.
I think one of my favorite bits of filmmaking on the entire run of the show is the beginning of episode one, season four and the way that shows a passage of time and the filmmaking involved. Can you talk about when you first read the script and your reaction to that?
PACE: Yeah, when I read the script I was just super interested in the idea of what they were doing to actually represent, you know, with Gordon walking downstairs or an upstairs and kind of moving through that space … I always love on our show when we go into Gordon’s mind. When the photography expresses his ecological perspective. Since the first season, it’s been one of the territories in the show that I just find really compelling and to use that in this teaser or to kind of, you know, pass, what is it like two, three years? I just found that really interesting on the page, and then, we got Juan [José Campanella] back who directed our pilot and … You know, he’s one of my favorite directors that we work with, and he was technically able to maneuver that in such an interesting way, you know? It’s a real magic moment.
It’s a great oner and-
PACE: I haven’t seen it yet. I’m glad it’s turned out in a cool way.
Oh, it’s fantastic. I got to see the first three episodes of the upcoming season and it’s on the top of it’s game. But that beginning of episode one is really incredible. The way it’s … And you know this, the TV schedule is brutal and being able to pull off something like that takes time, so, you know, I think the Chris’ told me that was like a two day shoot.
PACE: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that was a long shoot.
And a lot of talk is … The way I look changes in it, so that was … We were trying to figure that out because I wanted Joe to look very different at the beginning of the season, because I think we’re finding him at the beginning of the season at a lower point than we’ve ever seen him before. I wanted to kind of … I felt it was important to represent that and how and everything about his energy and we really had that, you know, that … you know that big oner to do that in.
Well the other thing is that Joe has been professing the internet and believing in what’s coming for so long, and then at the beginning of season four he’s finally at that place that he’s been dreaming about and he’s sort of there alone.
PACE: Yeah, all alone. I mean the thing about Joe is that it’s not really a question about, if he’s right or wrong because he’s right. He knows he’s right and I think that, you know, Gordon kind of knows he’s right too, but it doesn’t matter, you know, because that not … It’s not the fact of him being right or wrong that’s ever an issue here. It’s the fact that there’s other factors, you know. There’s unreasonable people and him being one of them that seems to stand in the way of things actually moving forward.
There’s luck. I think luck, actually, plays such a hand in this story. You know Joe’s luck is really not the best. That’s life, right? It is. Like sometimes it just comes down to that, sometimes the deciding factor is luck.
Or being at the right place at the right time.
PACE: Yeah. Exactly
That’s actually happened a few-
PACE: He’s got the right idea. It’s just the … It’s the other things that don’t seem to be working in his favor.
When you’re playing a character like this for four years, and you’re so invested, and you know the show’s coming to an end, when you finally get that last script, and I don’t want to know any spoilers, what’s it like to sit down with it knowing this is the last time I’m going to read this and knowing, you know, this is the end.