When I was recently offered the opportunity to do an interview with actor Donal Logue, to chat with him about his roles on three of my must-watch TV shows – Vikings, Copper and Sons of Anarchy – needless to say, I jumped at the chance. Throw in the fact that that he was on one of my personal favorites – the gone-far-too-soon Terriers – and it was truly one of the most enjoyable interviews that I’ve ever done.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, Donal Logue talked about the amazing and unique opportunity he has to work on three popular drama series simultaneously, how he came to play King Horik on History’s original drama series Vikings (which just wrapped up its highly successful first season) and that he’ll definitely be back for Season 2, the type of character he’ll be playing on BBC America’s Copper, when the series returns for Season 2 on June 23rd, what the experience of doing Sons of Anarchy has been like, and if the success of the Kickstarter campaign for the Veronica Mars movie gives him any more hope that Terriers could return, in some form and at some point. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
DONAL LOGUE: It’s been an amazing opportunity. I think it’s pretty unique. It’s required some good will, on all sides, to sometimes make the scheduling work out between the three. I know it’s going to be a crazy run when Copper, Sons and Vikings overlap. It’s been a challenge, which is great, and something that I look forward to.
How did you come to be a part of Vikings?
LOGUE: It was weird. I ran after Vikings. For the first time in my life, it was something I pursued. I don’t know if it was because they had offers out to other people or what, but it was a mix I wasn’t allowed into for a long time. I was like, “Man, I’ll go to Ireland and audition for it myself.” So, by the time I was considered for it and things worked out, I was too late. I was doing a movie called CBGB and they had to go into production really fast. I’m a huge fan of Michael Hirst, and I’m a huge fan of historical drama. It’s very difficult to pull off. I loved Elizabeth and The Tudors, and everything that he’s done. So, he said, “Let me keep it in mind and think about something for you.” And then, he told me he had something that he wanted to introduce at the end of the first season. But, what it required was Kurt Sutter to be really cool and say, “Whatever happens, we’re going to make it work,” which is difficult when you’re trying to pre-write for arcs. So, I owe Kurt Sutter. He’s just a great guy. It would have really been a heartbreaker not to do Sons of Anarchy. It’s a thrilling environment and it’s a really thrilling part.
How do you view King Horik? What type of leader is he?
LOGUE: I think he’s a really fascinating guy. There isn’t a tremendous amount of written information about the Vikings, and I find it pretty humorous when people on chat boards say, “It’s okay, if you’re into historical inaccuracy.” But, it’s spelled incorrectly, so I’m like, “Really?! You know more about history than Michael Hirst, who’s an Oxford professor genius?” He’s such a brilliant man. Of course, you have to fictionalize certain things to make it work. King Horik was the King of Denmark. What was interesting was that he was open to the idea of Christianity. He wasn’t really brutally threatened by it. He seemed like a really smooth political operator. He was a powerful guy, but he wasn’t really just brutish. And that’s the way I’m playing him in Vikings. It’s a fascinating historical epic. I don’t know if, at first, they thought they were going to cover really wide swaths of time with the show, but I think it’s really smart to stick with what’s almost the tale of a family.
Are you hoping to return for Season 2, if scheduling and storytelling permit?
LOGUE: Well, I know I’m going back to Vikings for 10 episodes. I’m definitely on for the second season. The only details to work out are potentially when we start, compared to when Sons is ending. There may be just a couple of trips, back and forth.
How was the experience of shooting in Ireland? Does the location help you feel transported?
LOGUE: Absolutely! It was emotional. It’s funny because I’m the lone American on the production, but at the same time, my mom lives there. More than maybe even any crew member, I have more first cousins living where we are shooting. I have 52 first cousins. My mom and dad were the only two to move to North America, so I’ve got deep family there, but I’m a California kid. But, it was great to go home. I had friends already, when I got there.
LOGUE: I watched Copper, and I don’t watch much, at all. I had to catch up on a few episodes, but I had seen a few episodes. I had been in this weird 19th century, New York history kick, partially because of this script that Bill Paxton and I wrote, some years back, that we were catching up about again. It takes place in the later part of the 1800s in New York, so I was reading all of this history. And Copper was on, so I watched it. I had a little bit of actor envy because I thought it would be a cool world to jump into. And then, it just happened really quickly. It just came to me. I essentially had to get Kurt Sutter’s permission to do it, and he said, “Is it good?,” and I said, “Yeah, it’s a really good part. It’s the beginning of the Irish American political machine. It’s that turn from just being starved, emaciated immigrants who were looked down upon, to finding their way and creating the America that we know today.”
How does the character you’re playing on Copper fit into the storyline for the new season?
LOGUE: For a lot of these guys, the overwhelming elephant in the room is the Civil War. They had draft riots in New York because the Irish were coming in. There was a huge wave in the 1840s because fo the famine. And now, there’s this huge wave of Irish people coming in and getting off the boat and being told, “Okay, here’s a musket. Go fight for Lincoln.” The war dragged on and really took its toll. With the amount of carnage and how many hundreds of thousands of men were killed, the Irish community were getting fed up with feeling like they were baring the brunt of service, which wasn’t necessarily true, but I can see how they thought that. The population in New York, around the turn of the century, was exploding. So, from the 1840s to the 1860s, New York went from being the size of Yuma, Arizona to Dallas, Texas. And Five Points was crazy. Of this crazy madhouse, it was the craziest. So this guy, who’s an Irish immigrant, comes back from the war with political connections and a deep history in the police department. He’s loosely based on a Boss Tweed character from Tammany Hall, where the Irish organized and became the big political power, at this time in New York. They used their numbers and the democratic process to get huge power. They did good things because they stood for the underclass, but they lined their own pockets, as well. That’s who the character is loosely based on.
What has the experience of doing Sons of Anarchy been like?
LOGUE: I probably know less about the trajectory of that than anything else. It’s the first time I’ve been on a show where you have to be super private about the plot and you have to be really careful about the secrets of what happens because people really want to know, but they would get devastated, if they found out earlier. The last year really has been great, with all of the different projects. CBGB will come out, and I have a couple of small films and these different shows.
How challenging is it to play the intensity and violence of that show, or is it just fun, as an actor?
LOGUE: I guess it’s freeing, more than anything. It’s funny because I’ll have an actorly talk with the best of them, and I have my own private thoughts about the whole artifice of acting, but generally speaking, it’s good to keep it to yourself because it just sounds indulgent. It absolutely is a career that exposes itself to ridicule, and I’m sensitive to that, “Oh, I’m an actor,” stuff. My character’s sister got killed on Sons of Anarchy, and she was played by my actual little sister. That was a violent-ass scene and I was like, “That’s my sister!” She was in Terriers, and there was a scene where I had to drop her off at a mental institution and I just cried. The director was like, “That’s great, but why don’t you pull that back a little bit,” and I was like, “I can’t!” I’ve never been that person whose emotions are too strong to deal with, but it happens when I work with my little sister, Karina. People are like, “Dude, you’re an asshole on Sons of Anarchy! You’re the bad guy!” And I’m like, “For what?! For avenging the death of my sister, who had a crucifix plunged into her neck? Who’s the bad guy? I’m the good guy! If someone did that to any one of my family, I’d have no problem going after them.” So, it’s fun, it’s freeing and it’s not that hard to access. The easiest and most accessible emotion is rage. That’s why it’s easy to pander to hate. It’s not hard to start getting bitter and dark. The hard thing is to elevate a little bit from that. Within this character, there’s a chance to look at violence, in this way. It’s like, “Oh, you like violence? Let’s see how violent it can get.” I think Lee Toric has a moral justification for whatever violence he wants to inflict. But at the same time, I think there’s a really sadistic level to this guy. That’s maybe why he lost his previous job. So, it’s been freeing, fascinating, challenging and kind of wild to go through the whole thing. I love working on that show
When the whole Kickstarter campaign happened for the Veronica Mars movie, did you feel like there was a chance that Terriers could still have a life, in some way?
LOGUE: Terriers was really great. It was a great experience. We all miss it. It’s honestly just a question of, do Shawn Ryan and Ted Griffin have time? They both have the desire. I feel like, if they had said, “Oh, my god, we have the perfect idea for a two-hour wrap-up movie of Terriers,” they would have looked into it. Long before the Veronica Mars thing, Shawn was the first one who threw out the idea of a Kickstarter for Terriers. The fact that Veronica Mars had such massive, crazy support is great. It’s just encouraging. I think we will do something with Terriers. It’s just a question of, whatever they’re up to in their schedules, they have to find the time to create the script. But, everybody is on board, including Ted Griffin and Shawn Ryan.
We could do a really bare bones, indie film version of Terriers. We want to make something that’s going to be along the lines of our sensibilities. When we were making it, there never felt like there were cliched moments. We really stuck to our guns. We wondered how people would respond to really legitimate chemistry between two men who really care about each other. As it turns out, very few people watched. But, the fans are so deep that it’s great. God bless it! It’s cool.
I actually feel like 13 episodes of Terriers was a really awesome BBC-style mini-series that had this really interesting existential ending to it. I was absolutely gutted when it didn’t continue, but I made a lot of peace with the fact that we got to do all 13 and that people get to see them now. Back in the old days, it would have been canceled after two showings and the rest of it would have never seen the light of day. Now, people can find it on Netflix. It’s great!