Nicholas Pinnock as Aaron Wallace in FOR LIFE - Season 1 - "Brother's Keeper" | ©2020 ABC/Eric Liebowitz

Nicholas Pinnock as Aaron Wallace in FOR LIFE – Season 1 – “Brother’s Keeper” | ©2020 ABC/Eric Liebowitz

In ABC’s new Tuesday-night drama FOR LIFE, Nicholas Pinnock plays New Yorker Aaron Wallace. Wrongly sentenced to life in prison for a crime he did not commit, Aaron is a self-taught attorney, serving as a lawyer for his fellow inmates while trying to win his freedom and rejoin his wife Marie (Joy Bryant) and daughter Jasmine (Tyla Harris).

Pinnock, originally from London, England, played Nelson Mandela in the telefilm MANDELA: THE PRISON YEARS. Other credits include the films CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT, VS, THE LAST TREE, and DARK ENCOUNTER, and the TV series CRIMINAL: UK, COUNTERPART, MIDWINTER OF THE SPIRIT, and FORTITUDE.

Aaron and FOR LIFE are both loosely based on the life and experiences of Isaac Wright Jr., who serves as consultant and as one of the show’s executive producers.

At a FOR LIFE Q&A session, Pinnock talks about what he learned from Wright. “Isaac and I spent quite a lot of time together. And for me, it was important to grab an essence of who he was, to add that to who we made Aaron. We’ve talked extensively [about] the way that he deals with things. The way he deals with his composure, his level-headedness, his steady demeanor, was something that I felt was important to capture for the role.”

Is there any room for comedy in FOR LIFE’s serious subject matter? “There is levity,” Pinnock says. “There has to be. And we found some really key moments to be able to pepper those in without it being outwardly comedic. There are some really lovely moments.”

Later, Pinnock makes time for some further discussion.

Nicholas Pinnock as Aaron Wallace in FOR LIFE - Season 1 - "Promises" | ©2020 ABC/Giovanni Rufino

Nicholas Pinnock as Aaron Wallace in FOR LIFE – Season 1 – “Promises” | ©2020 ABC/Giovanni Rufino

ASSIGNMENT X: Do you prefer working in the U.S. to working in England, or is this just where the part was?

NICHOLAS PINNOCK: It’s just where the part was. I prefer working [laughs].

AX: Had you done research into American prisons before FOR LIFE?

PINNOCK: Not before this show, no. I haven’t needed to, because I’ve not really played any characters that were involved in that environment. [The political prison environment of MANDELA was very different.] I enjoyed doing the research for this show and spending time with Isaac, and understanding a bit more about prison reform, and how certain aspects of the community are overcharged more than others, and how people who are wrongly convicted can stay in jail for years and years and years before they’re proven innocent.

AX: Do you feel like there’s a different vibe to scenes in the prison to the scenes where Aaron is being a lawyer in the courtroom to the scenes where he’s with his family?

PINNOCK: Absolutely. I think you’ve got those three elements where he has to, to a degree, code-switch. You see three or more different aspects of Aaron Wallace. He’s a different person with the prisoners than he is in the courtroom than he is with Marie and Jasmine, and when we see him with the relationship he has with the warden.

Nicholas Pinnock as Aaron Wallace in FOR LIFE - Season 1 | ©2020 ABC/Matthias Clamer

Nicholas Pinnock as Aaron Wallace in FOR LIFE – Season 1 | ©2020 ABC/Matthias Clamer

AX: There are some characters who have different faces for the different people they know, but they’re doing it intentionally. Aaron is not doing it intentionally as much as situationally …

PINNOCK: It’s more about the situation for him, because of the situation that he was put in when he was wrongly convicted.

AX: Is it more interesting to play someone like Aaron, or is it more interesting to play somebody who’s consciously being different people, depending on who he’s around?

PINNOCK: No, this way is far more interesting, because there’s a subtext there that will run with everything, that has subtle differences that the audience will really have to dig deep to uncover.

AX: What would you most like people to know about FOR LIFE?

PINNOCK: That it’s a show that covers socially conscious elements, as well as being something that’s entertaining.

This interview was conducted at ABC’s party for the Winter 2020 Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.

Related: Interview with FOR LIFE executive producer and actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson on the new ABC series

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Article: Exclusive Interview with FOR LIFE star Nicholas Pinnock on Season 1 of the ABC drama

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