Alistair Petrie is having quite the exciting year. On one end of the spectrum his infamously loved character, George White from “Deep State” will be getting a second chance at life, and on the other end, he is transforming into a powerful lord who works side by side with one of the most famous comic book characters of all time in the new “Hellboy” reboot. Petrie sat down with Metro to chat about “Deep State” season 2 (out April 28), the new “Hellboy” film (out April 12) and what to expect overall from both of his vividly distinct characters.
George White is quite a polarizing character, how would you describe him? Do you consider him a villain?
It’s funny, one sort of talks about who’s good and who’s bad- I think the interesting stuff for me lies in the gray sort of matter in the middle of that. I think my job as an actor is to find the human being really, and then put that human being under this sort of contextual pressure of the piece. I mean there’s no question he does some bad things, I think he believes in the great mantra of the so-called greater good and then finds himself disappearing down that rabbit hole trying to sort of answer the question of are you doing this for the greater good? I think he finds evermore rather depressing ways of answering that positively. Until he sort of crosses the line — he doesn’t really understand or know where that line is, he ultimately comes to realize I think that he’s crossed it though. But by that time it’s a bit too late. What I think intrigued me about him was when we got to see him for a brief time with his family, because it’s very easy to just throw on a suit and tie and curl your top lip and invite an audience to hate you for it.
What’s in store for George in “Deep State” season 2?
Well, thankfully that was our writer’s big challenge — how on earth to bring him back. I always knew it was potentially a one season deal. But I was very keen to work on the show so I was very happy about that- at least to be a part of it at all, let alone multiple seasons with a real story arc. So effectively the show takes place two years before season 1 and concurrently six months afterward, so you could sort of argue it’s a semi-origin story — how George White got to the point of where he is in season 1. It’s really an extraordinary thing to have to play, because in many ways you’re literally going back in time and in season 2, I don’t get to play anything beyond what I did in season 1 because I died. So it’s sort of a re-discovery somewhat and I was sort of nervous about thinking who is this man that I sort of established? But actually, it was kind of liberating in a way because you’re playing someone who hasn’t done any of these things from season 1, it’s kind of an odd thing to do — normally it never works out that way. That was the fun of it, really. He hooks up with Walter Goggins’ character, and they go on what might be termed as an escapade into Mali and that hangs half of the story in season 2.
Would you suggest watching season 1 of “Deep State” before watching season 2?
Actually, I’d argue it’s not essential, partly because Mark Strong’s storyline in season 1 is wrapped up. So I think you can come to season 2 fresh and start it as a stand-alone piece on its own. Which again, I think is a really fun concept.
You are also in the new “Hellboy” movie, what can you tell me about your character?
My character is a lord of the realm, called Lord Adam Glaren. He is a very senior figure in a sort of occult society called the Osiris Club. In the graphic novels that club, or outfit, was charged with protecting and preserving the balance of the world. So he runs this society with a group of cohorts who have certain. … well I don’t want to say immortality but they certainly live longer than most people.
Were you a comic book fan growing up, or is this a whole new world that you are delving in to?
As a child, I was brought up in the Middle East and we didn’t have access to television particularly — the world of satellite TV didn’t exist in the late ’70s. So it was what we could get our hands on, it was comic books initially and then we moved into the world of graphic novels. I wasn’t massively aware of “Hellboy,” although I started to become laterally aware. There’s always an excitement for an actor to bring something so noticeably visual on a page to life. It’s obviously hugely different from a novel or a script where you just have words — for this you have images that you can dive into. Audiences absolutely love that. It’s tricky because you’ve got to do it justice and the fan base is so passionate, but equally in a sense, you’ve got to forget that to try and tell the story that you want to tell
while still being imaginative and reverential at the same time.
Would you say this “Hellboy” rendition is darker than Del Toro’s versions?
I think it’s got the potential to be more so in a way. The team that has made it, and the director Neil Marshall, I think they didn’t want to sort of sanitize it. They’ve been very bold, I mean it’s got an R rating, which I think is exciting and it sort of frees you up to tell the story the way you want to tell it and go for it. Let’s face it, it wasn’t a surprise. I don’t think you set out to make a movie with an R rating as a goal, but you look at the material and go well we know what we’re going to do so let’s go for it rather than having to go well we can’t do that. With an R rating, you sort of just say, OK let’s do it.
Overall what can “Hellboy” fans expect from the movie?
I think they’re going to see something on a scale that Del Toro’s didn’t necessarily pursue. They’ve taken the source material and are detonating a story explosion underneath of it. Hopefully audiences will be back for more. They’re going to see scale, humor and they will see David Harbour absolutely inhabit the role of Hellboy. He does a phenomenal job and I think it’s going to be an absolute spectacle.