THE HOLLYWOOD NEWS -Fans of Sundance TV’s simmering Southern Gothic saga Rectify will be champing at the bit to see what happens in the upcoming fourth season. For the time being however they’ll no doubt console themselves with the home entertainment release of Season 3. The show stars Aden Young as the wrongly-convicted Daniel Holden, whose return to his home community pricks the web of family secrets which form the core of this highly-acclaimed drama.
One of its most memorable characters is Daniel’s tortured step brother Teddy, played by Clayne Crawford. Crawford has earned plaudits for his portrayal of the complex clan member and if you don’t know his name, you may well do by the time the year is out: he’s also been cast as the new Martin Riggs in Fox’s small screen reimagining of Lethal Weapon.
We got on the phone with Crawford for a frank conversation about working in an intense environment and his thoughts on taking over from Mel Gibson…
For the benefit of people who might be thinking of jumping aboard, how would you sum up the premise and the journey your character Teddy’s been on so far?
Goodness! The show is an in-depth exploration of family, and certainly a family that is captured in time, in that moment when Daniel comes back into the picture. I think it places a dark cloud over this family. We observe these people trying to navigate one another, with Daniel and the situation and the town. I think that lends itself to great drama and suspense.
As far as Teddy goes, you know… poor Teddy! He’s just a mess isn’t he? So vulnerable, so insecure, so self aware, so concerned with others’ perceptions of him. Exhausting to play, but extremely rewarding at the same time. I love Teddy, I feel for him. I just want to give him a hug.
What’s been the most difficult aspect of that character to play over the past three years?
Look, Teddy is everything we don’t wanna be. Right? We as human beings spend our entire lives either trying to correct or trying to hide things. And Teddy is just a fucking open wound at all times, clinging onto the edge of a cliff which is his reality, and just trying to hold onto everything that he loves because at the end of the day he’s a little boy that never had enough love. He lost his mother at a young age, his father was never really a part of his life. His father now meets this new woman who has other children, his step sister hates him, he has a step brother who is in prison who he doesn’t know and doesn’t understand. And then as soon as he’s started to find his way this new Mom has a new child, the new baby is a distraction and Teddy again is left in the cold. I think he’s desperately looking for love and companionship and just to have something because he’s never had anything.
He desperately tries to do everything that he feels is right… even in the first season, bringing Daniel the pornography magazine. That was an olive branch! That was Teddy’s way of saying “Hey, welcome to the family, I want us to get along.” And it’s always taken the wrong way. So I see Teddy as someone who’s extremely broken, and used his perfect hair and his perfect clothes and his big red truck and all these things as a distraction from who he is, which is a sad little boy.
In terms of making the show, do you know much about the direction of travel? Are you told about developments beforehand or do they keep you in the dark for dramatic effect?
They keep us in the dark. Ray McKinnon (Rectify‘s creator) gives you a taste at a time, because he doesn’t want you to get ahead of yourself. If you don’t play the moment and you don’t execute it perfectly, the next piece won’t work. So it’s all about calibrating, and just showing enough and just playing enough of the moment, so that it will lead us into the next. It’s quite delicate. You come to work with an understanding of the material but without a lot of choices made as an actor. We find it on set and Ray has set an environment to where we know that we’re all going, including him… we’re going into this not knowing where the scene is gonna take us. Having an understanding of the outline, but really exploring the scene throughout the day. And all of us at times saying “Alright we gotta stop. Get all the people out of here. This is not working, we’ve got to rehearse and figure out what we’re doing.” As an actor you just never get that kind of time and nor do you have an individual that’s behind the monitor that cares as much as Ray does.
Does it make a difference making the show with Sundance TV, who are associated with an independent spirit?
When I think of Sundance I think “quality”. They’ve done that with us on this show. They don’t ask to read the scripts, they don’t come to set and give us fucking notes and try to tell us how to do our job. They truly leave Ray alone and I don’t know if there’s another network on television, not even AMC that would allow Ray to have done that. That’s why the show is so special and that’s why there’s nothing on television like it.
The fourth season is reportedly the final one. What are your hopes for the end of the story and Teddy’s fate?
I would have to be selfish to have any desires for this character. I’ve been so fulfilled as an artist to play him and to go through the levels of emotion that I have. More than anything I want Ray to be satisfied with what he’s made, at the end of this fourth season. This has been Ray’s singular vision. There’s a little bit of all the characters inside Ray. He understands them immensely and for me I want him to be satisfied when we wrap. I want him to sit back and feel he’s done what he set out to do. Me as an actor, I’m just enjoying the ride.
I can’t let you go without talking about a very different sort of character you’re about to play, in Lethal Weapon…
I was quite set, ready to go to Rectify for my final season and spending time with my family on my farm in Alabama when they called. I laughed in their face at the idea of even turning Lethal Weapon into a TV show, I said “You need to leave the fucking franchise alone, it’s great and Mel Gibson did such a wonderful job, I want no part of it.” And that went on for about three weeks before I finally read the script…
In my heart I’m still just a kid, who wants to play cowboys. I love playing dress up, I’m a kid at heart and I love using that platform as a therapy for myself. So when I read a character who was broken and had lost everything and he channelled that through stopping bad guys.. y’know for lack of a better word he saves the day and he’s just this damaged guy, and he’s funny and it was something where I thought “You know what? Fuck it, if you guys really want me to do this let’s just go and do the best we can and if we fail miserably that’s okay, we’ll go do something else.”