Mark Pellegrino as Virgil Poe in AMERICAN RUST - Season 1 | ©2021 Matthias Clamer/Showtime

Mark Pellegrino as Virgil Poe in AMERICAN RUST – Season 1 | ©2021 Matthias Clamer/Showtime

In Part 2 of our exclusive interview with actor Mark Pellegrino, he talks more about his role on Virgil Poe in AMERICAN RUST, which is on Sunday nights on Showtime. Virgil is the father of Billy Poe (Alex Neustaedter), a young man accused of murder in the small town of Buell, Pennsylvania. Virgil and Billy’s mom Grace (Maura Tierney) are no longer together, and Virgil is not the most responsible person, but in his way, he tries to help his son. Virgil is rather resentful that town sheriff/Grace’s lover Del Harris (Jeff Daniels) is also trying to help Billy.

Additionally, Pellegrino discusses the ending he would have liked to see for his SUPERNATURAL character Lucifer, and more.

ASSIGNMENT X: By now, you’ve had a little experience of playing either actual fathers or father figures. Have your previous roles of playing the father of a sulky adult or near-adult son helped prepare you for Virgil’s relationship with Billy?

MARK PELLEGRINO: I think that Bill Standall [in 13 REASONS WHY] really loved his son [Alex, played by Miles Heizer], and he made mistakes early on, not really being able to identify with his son, who his son was, but he really tried to be a good father, he was really present, and again, saves his son’s life. Virgil, I think, has to be dragged kicking and screaming into adulthood, and Grace is the one who does that by reminding him that he has these responsibilities that he easily forfeits for sleeping with whoever will sleep with him, whoever will give him a bed to sleep in for that night. So, there’s nothing really fatherly [laughs] in my other parts that carries …

AX: What about Lucifer in SUPERNATURAL and the vampire Bishop in BEING HUMAN?

PELLEGRINO: I think Bishop in BEING HUMAN was a caring father, and a guilty one, like so many of us who grew up making mistakes with our kids that never seem to go away. Lucifer would probably be the closest [to Virgil], because he was such a narcissist, it was really all about Lucifer. It was Lucifer’s story, and Jack [his son, played by Alexander Calvert] had to follow along. And Jack was cool, so long as he followed along.

And there may be a little of that with the Lothario that Virgil is. As long as Billy goes along, it’s cool. When he breaks formation with his dad for whatever reason, it’s not cool. There is a scene where they get in this tremendous argument, where Billy just lays it out like it is. Virgil’s trying to take him to the border, over to Canada, to escape going to trial. Billy’s like, “I’m going to stay here and face the music. I’m not like you.” And that is too much truth for Virgil to deal with. He just goes off. I can see Lucifer doing that, too.

Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer in SUPERNATURAL - Season 13 - "Beat the Devil" | © 2018 The CW Network, LLC/Dean Buscher

Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer in SUPERNATURAL – Season 13 – “Beat the Devil” | © 2018 The CW Network, LLC/Dean Buscher

AX: How did you feel about the way Lucifer ended on SUPERNATURAL?

PELLEGRINO: I was always hoping for a redemption arc for Lucifer. Lucifer changed so much through the series. I really loved the Season 5 Lucifer [when he was first introduced], because he was complex, and he was really badass for real. He spoke softly and carried a big stick, and there was a subtle humor to him. All of that sort of went away and he became a much broader, impish character, more a Trump-esque character, talked a big talk, but really didn’t have much delivery when it came down to it. Or at least, I was disappointed in his delivery, just a couple of times [laughs].

So, I was hoping that all that bluster and all that brashness would be humbled by being a father, and he would suddenly confront his own emptiness, and his own lack of a father, and want to pick up the reins when it came to Jack. But he only did that on the surface. I was disappointed that he didn’t have that redemption arc, that he didn’t do something really noble in the end. So, I think I was sort of alone in my desire for that redemption arc. Eugenie [Ross-Leming], I think, one of the writers and producers, wanted the redemption arc, but none of the other writers did. So, I wasn’t so satisfied with Lucifer’s ending. Such an iconic being, who is responsible for so much in the world, at least according to our mythology, deserves to go out with a bang, not with a whimper. Or, I think, deserves the kind of redemption arc that a rebel, the original rebel, who is proven right after all these eons, deserves.

AX: Well, Lucifer turns out to be right about how awful his father God, played by Rob Benedict, is in the SUPERNATURAL universe …

PELLEGRINO: [God] was a bad guy. The things that Lucifer was saying were true. Writers, I feel, have to be gods themselves, and there’s a relentless adherence to story and narrative and what they want to say, and sometimes that’s killing off sentiment. And as much as I would want Lucifer to be better, could he? They say narcissism is an incurable mental condition. Lucifer even pinged himself as a narcissist in one episode. Can a person like that, who’s constitutionally incapable of introspection and changing his life, really change? Probably not. So, they probably gave the more truthful ending. I wanted the sentimental ending, the one that was impossible, and they gave us the possible.

Mark Pellegrino as Virgil Poe in AMERICAN RUST - Season 1 - 'My Name Is Billy" | ©2021 Dennis Wong/Showtime

Mark Pellegrino as Virgil Poe in AMERICAN RUST – Season 1 – ‘My Name Is Billy” | ©2021 Dennis Wong/Showtime

AX: Back to AMERICAN RUST, if Virgil is a narcissist, can Virgil change?

PELLEGRINO: Good question. I tend to have the unromantic thought that that’s not possible, that it’s going to lead to some deep, deep conflict somewhere down the line. But I have the sentimental hope that maybe he can. We all want to be seen as good guys in the end. I’m no different. I want my characters to shine as good guys. Of course, they almost never do [laughs], but I’d like that. Maybe that’s my vanity.

AX: Do you like the challenge of playing these non-good-guy characters, or are these the kinds of roles that you get offered, because people go, “Oh, he’s really good at that, let’s get Mark Pellegrino”?

PELLEGRINO: I find it interesting that I am often cast as [these characters]. Let me try to explain this. I feel that there are definitely aspects of every one of these parts that I play that I identify with, and it must read in my normal behavior, because I keep getting cast in these parts.

The main thing that I identify with is being the red-headed stepchild, the outsider, the one who, for whatever reason, wants to be in the in group and can’t be. So, almost all of the parts, less so with Virgil, but Paul [in DEXTER], Lucifer, Bishop, all these guys were outside. They were outside of the group they wanted to be in. They may have been leaders, they may have been liked or admired or feared by people, but they person they really wanted to connect with, they could never connect with. And there’s something in my life that I think I understand about that. And maybe that’s why I get cast so often as that.

And maybe because I – not “try,” it’s in the material – I allow a lightness to characters like that to come out, and hopefully, at points, enough hurt at being on the outside to bleed through that the parts become a little more dimensional than they might have originally seen them as. In the book AMERICAN RUST [by Philipp Meyer], Virgil is just an absentee dad. He’s barely in it. He has almost no personality. It’s mostly a drama between Billy and his mother and the sheriff. But [in the series, creator Dan Futterman has] given a Virgil a much bigger role to play, and a potentially deep arc and conflict with the main characters, which comes around later on in the series.

AX: If there’s an AMERICAN RUST Season 2, is there anything you’re hoping that Virgil will get to do?

PELLEGRINO: Yeah. I want to be in it more [laughs]. I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s something that happens towards the end [of Season 1] that puts Virgil in a very unique position, where some s*** can really hit the fan. It’s a power position that we’re not used to seeing Virgil in. He’s always the outsider that everybody sort of craps on and doesn’t even think twice about, but now he’s got something that could be a game changer.

Mark Pellegrino as Virgil Poe in AMERICAN RUST - Season 1 - 'Happy Returns" | ©2021 Dennis Wong/Showtime

Mark Pellegrino as Virgil Poe in AMERICAN RUST – Season 1 – ‘Happy Returns” | ©2021 Dennis Wong/Showtime

AX: Do you have any other projects going on that we should know about?

PELLEGRINO: I just started a YouTube channel. I do these little philosophy bites called REALITY CHECK. I write these little sequences on controversial topics, because for some reason, I’m attracted to controversy. Probably not best trait in the world to have, but I feel like we’re living in a culture that’s being more and more dominated by bully voices. And the bully voices are not about discourse, they’re not about exchange, they’re about shutting down intent.

And I think our freedom is in our capacity to exchange, persuade, and even if it’s vigorous argument, sometimes ugly, in that argument, there’s rationality, and that rationality is what we have to grasp onto in order to stay civilized and not devolve into a culture that promotes violence as a way of getting what you want. So, I write these little ditties, and then have them edited and put funny bits in them, and they’re three minutes long, about topics that I think I hear multiple opinions on, but none of them seem right to me. So, I talk about these things in a way that I think is accessible and funny and different.

So, I’m doing that, and I’m also helping pitch a project, a limited run series, based on ATLAS SHRUGGED that’s actually good. There’s a pilot episode that’s diverse and funny and interesting, sort of all the things that the literature itself isn’t, but it’s very good. And I’m also writing on the second draft of a political comedy script.

Mark Pellegrino at the CW night - showcasing THE TOMORROW PEOPLE at The Paley Center For Media Celebrates the Fall TV Season | ©2013 Sue Schneider

Mark Pellegrino at the CW night – showcasing THE TOMORROW PEOPLE at The Paley Center For Media Celebrates the Fall TV Season | ©2013 Sue Schneider

AX: And what would you most like people to know about AMERICAN RUST?

PELLEGRINO: It’s a family drama, with a crime story element to it that makes it a multilayered mystery. I think it’s a show that has a slow-burn start, but it’s like going up the hill of a roller-coaster. Once you touch that peak and go down, there’s no stopping it.

Related: AMERICAN RUST: Actor Mark Pellegrino on the Showtime limited series – Part 1

Related: AMERICAN RUST: Alex Neustaedter chats about playing a small town murder suspect on the new Showtime limited series

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Article: AMERICAN RUST: Actor Mark Pellegrino on the Showtime limited series and Lucifer’s end on SUPERNATURAL  – Part 2

 

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