FROM, already in its second season on MGM+ (formerly Epix) is created by John Griffin and set in a rundown small town that mysteriously traps people who drive through it. Food can be found, and some electricity works, but there are monsters in the woods that come out at night.
Harold Perrineau plays Boyd Stevens, one of the trapped people, is a former military man who has become the town sheriff. In Season 1, Boyd reconciled with his estranged son Ellis, played by Corteon Moore, while coming to terms with his grief about the loss of his wife, Ellis’s mother.
By the end of Season 1, we and Boyd learn that there seems to be a human element somehow controlling the town – and a bus full of newcomers gets stuck on the main street.
Perrineau’s many film and TV credits include I’LL FLY AWAY, ROMEO + JULIET, THE BEST MAN films and the Peacock series THE BEST MAN: THE FINAL CHAPTERS, OZ, two MATRIX movies, 28 WEEKS LATER, THE UNUSUALS, SONS OF ANARCHY, ZERO DARK THIRTY, WEDDING BAND, the CONSTANTINE TV series, GOLIATH, FULL CIRCLE, CRIMINAL MINDS, STAR, and THE ROOKIE.
One of Perrineau’s best-known roles is the troubled, unreliable Michael Dawson on LOST. Like FROM, lost took place in a mysterious and hard-to-leave environment. LOST and FROM also share executive producers Jack Bender, who also directs many episodes, and Jeff Pinkner, who is also a writer.
During MGM+’s portion of the winter 2023 Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour in Pasadena, Perrineau discusses how he got the role of Boyd, what makes FROM distinctive, whether there’s any meaning in the series’ color scheme, and more.
ASSIGNMENT X: Did you audition for FROM, or was the role of Boyd pitched to you?
HAROLD PERRINEAU: This was pitched to me by the casting director, Seth Yankiewitz, who’s a friend of mine. He said, “We have this show, there’s this character. I think this is you. And I know the producers might not be interested in looking at anybody from LOST, but I want to pitch you to Jack. So, would you read it and tell me what you think?” And I read it, and I was like, “Please pitch me to Jack, please.” And then Jack and Jeff, much to their credit, even though they weren’t so sure about LOST people, said, “You’re right. That’s a great idea.” And so, thank you, Seth Yankiewitz, because I did think it was a character that feels a lot like me, that I can sink my teeth into.
AX: When you ended with LOST, did you think, “Goodbye to this weird genre that’s its own thing”?
AX: At that time, did you feel like, “Well, someday I’d like to do something like this again,” or did you think, “No, I don’t want to do this again”?
PERRINEAU: [laughs] No, no, no. I’m in this acting game, in for a penny, in for a pound. I recognize things may come up again, or never again. The truth is, when I first read FROM, it didn’t remind me of LOST so much. Something about the [character] relationships just seemed a bit different to me. I knew that Jack and Jeff were there, and if I was there, people would make the comparisons. But it read like its own thing, especially because they kept saying, “This is horror.” LOST never considered itself horror. So, this felt quite enough different for me that I don’t feel like I’m repeating LOST at all.
AX: Well, your character in FROM is certainly very different from your LOST character, because Boyd is a very responsible person.
PERRINEAU: He really, really is. I don’t think he can help himself [laughs].
AX: Do you like playing someone with that kind of moral center?
PERRINEAU: I like that kind of moral center. And I like that sometimes it’s thrown off a little. Like in the very beginning, I don’t think [viewers] were too sure about what Boyd would do, when he’s smacking Frank Platt [played by Bob Mann] around, and making him look at [Frank’s dead wife and daughter]. I think you’re like, “Oh, what kind of sheriff is this guy?” But I do like this guy who considers himself responsible, and that makes him a hero. It’s not like, “Oh, I feel like a hero.” It’s, “I’ve got a job to do, and it’s not about me. It’s about these other people.” And as a family man, I really can understand that feeling.
AX: Does Boyd at this point have a familial feeling about the town, or is it still mostly directed towards Ellis?
PERRINEAU: Oh, no, about the town, I think he feels really familial about Kristi the nurse [played by Chloe Van Landschoot], about Kenny the deputy [played by Ricky He], about Donna [one of the town leaders, played by Elizabeth Saunders]. I think that they all feel like family, and I think he feels like he’s got to figure this out, he’s got to save his family.
AX: Did you and Corteon Moore, who plays Boyd’s son Ellis, ever sit down together and talk about your characters’ family relationship?
PERRINEAU: All the time. One of the really groovy things about working with this cast, a lot of them are newer to acting, so a lot of them don’t have any crazy egos. They are all really interested in being collaborative, and so, with every actor that I’ve had scenes with, we went out and talked about our scenes, talked about our characters, talked about the relationship, through the entire first season, and then again through the second season.
But we rehearsed a lot more in the first season than we did in the second season. The second season we needed to really [snaps fingers] be on our feet. The second season, you’ll see, is fast-paced. But Corteon and I did a lot of talking. We talked about his parents, we talked about my kids. In fact, last year, I was in New York City, doing THE BEST MAN, and Corteon had come to town on Father’s Day, so he and my kids, my friend and his kids, all went out to dinner for Father’s Day. And my daughters rib him like he’s a kid. We formed a real bond.
Ricky He and I talk a lot, Chloe Van Landschoot and I talk all the time, Avery Konrad [who plays voice-hearing Sara Myers] and I always talk, me and Shaun [Majumder, who plays Father Khatri]. So, each one of us have sat down and talked about who we are to each other, how we feel about each other, if we know each other well.
AX: Do you think there’s any comparison between Boyd and someone who feels a spiritual duty towards the community, like a minister might?
PERRINEAU: Well, you know, they make a lot of comparisons to him being “Mr. Loaves and Fishes.” I thought of it more as a Jesus Christ reference, and then the constant spirit talking to his wife I think is also something that feels like a bit of a religious experience for him.
AX: Does being Number One on the call sheet do anything for you in terms of your feelings of responsibility when the cameras aren’t rolling?
PERRINEAU: It really does. LOST is the first time I understood this idea about someone being Number One on the call sheet. I had worked plenty of times in the movies, but nobody had ever brought it up. It never came up. You’re doing a movie [ROMEO + JULIET] with Leonardo DiCaprio, but he’s not talking about being Number One. We’re just doing a movie. And so, [LOST] was the first time I started noticing it.
So, when they asked me to be Number One, it may be very namby-pamby of me, but I do feel really responsible to be a good person, and a great partner, and a good part of the community, and so, I try to make sure that that’s what I do. If you look at me and think, “Oh, that’s the way to do it,” then I’m happy about that. Sometimes there is a lot of pressure, on- or off-screen. But it’s still a community of great artists that are all working together to do this show.
AX: Since you’re the lead in FROM, as opposed to some supporting characters who seem like they could die at any moment, do you feel you have a little more job security?
PERRINEAU: I feel, and maybe falsely so, that I’m more secure. That being said, I’ve been here before, and so I know that there are always possibilities. But our producers saying, “Oh, we know where this is going,” that gives me as an actor, “Okay, you hired me as the lead, right?” Though if you pull a surprise and I dig it, and that means my demise, we’re just going to have to do it [laughs].
AX: Do the producers/writers tell you what’s going to happen in the story if you ask them, or are they secretive with the actors?
PERRINEAU: If I asked, I’m sure they would tell me. I don’t want to know. That works way better for me, because I’m really figuring it out on my feet, I’m figuring it out like Boyd is figuring it out. On LOST, we would get a script right before we were about to shoot. On this one, we get it a little bit more in advance, so we can plot a little bit ahead, the technical acting part of it. But it doesn’t put me ahead enough that I’m playing something in Scene Two that will relate to Scene Twenty-Eight, that Boyd just wouldn’t know. I don’t want to somehow tip my hand, like suddenly I’m limping, and you find out he’s got arthritis in his left knee.
AX: I feel compelled to ask you a question about minutiae, and it’s probably more of a producer question, but in FROM, there is a lot of this particular shade of blue-green. Houses are painted that color, the insides of rooms are painted that color, people’s shirts are that color. Is this some kind of clue about what’s going on?
PERRINEAU: [laughs] I don’t know if it’s a clue, so it maybe is a better question for you to ask the producers. My understanding of it so far is, it’s an aesthetic, it’s a feel, it’s a painting. Jack Bender is quite the artist. He loves creating beautiful visual pictures. My idea is, it’s not necessarily a clue into the world, though it may be, but a clue into the feeling. Those are colors that are like, “Is it green? Is it blue?” And that’s what we’re doing here. We’re like, “Is that a milk van? Or is it going to eat me? It’s going to eat you.” [laughs] That’s what it feels like.
AX: How is Jack Bender to work with as a director?
PERRINEAU: Jack Bender is just fabulous. He is so creative, and so responsible, and he’s got such a real idea about what’s going on that you feel like, “I can trust whatever he’s doing and whatever he’s saying.” Do I have questions sometimes? I do, or I have other ideas from what he has, but mostly, I hang out with what his ideas are, because like I said, he’s a really great visual storyteller. And since he’s looking at the whole story, and I’m looking really at it in this micro kind of way, I really trust his vision to let me know, “Oh, I need to open up a little bit more.”
AX: You’ve done a lot of things with action in them, but it seems like the action in FROM is a little more maybe vertical, where you’re going up on roofs and trees. Do they put you on a harness for those scenes, to make sure you don’t fall?
PERRINEAU: In a couple of them, especially there’s some stuff that we do in Season 1 where we’re climbing, and they created rain, and we really are out in the elements. That’s not a set. So, that’s slippery, so they did put harnesses on us, just to be safe. You don’t want any of us to fall off those rocks and down onto the ground. But I’m actually enjoying having to be in shape, doing all the running, doing all the jumping, and stuff like that. It’s actually a lot of fun.
AX: You don’t have any acrophobia when they put you on the roof?
PERRINEAU: No. It’s a little uncomfortable, but I’m pretty much interested in trying anything.
AX: What is the pace like in Season 2, compared to Season 1?
PERRINEAU: So much faster. And it starts right away. I feel like we get there, we get a little re-introduction, and then it doesn’t stop.
AX: In terms of the production schedule between the two seasons, was it the same number of days?
PERRINEAU: Oh, in terms of the work, I think this year, oddly, we got some more time, but then that led us into the winter months, but we were still playing summer months [laughs]. But we did get a little bit more time. I think we got an extra ten, fifteen days more than we had last year.
AX: Did you get different things out of FROM watching it, as opposed to making it?
PERRINEAU: Absolutely. For instance, that speech Donna says about the [valuable] things that people were getting from the town, even though it was a nightmare town – I read it, but until I saw her do that, I was like, “Oh, right. If she gets out of here, this could be the end of her world, the end of Ellis’s and Fatima’s world. You can go into a nightmare, and create a beautiful dream. And then, do you want to get out of it?”
I remember seeing that when I was watching it, and my wife and I talked about it, and I was like, I read it, but it didn’t hit me until now, the amount of community that had been created. And so, does Boyd really want to go? I think he does, but he was just retiring from being of service, and now he’s fully of service, and does he want to go? I hadn’t thought about it until I watched it.
AX: Besides FROM, do you have anything else coming up that we should know about?
PERRINEAU: No. I had a long last year. I’ve just got kids to raise. So, I’m going to be at home, being a dad. That’s my role right now [laughs].
AX: And what would you most like people to get out of FROM Season 2?
PERRINEAU: I hope that they get entertained again. I hope that they really like the characters, and the things that we’re doing. It was fun watching people be scared but want to come back, and ask for more. I really enjoyed that, and I enjoyed being part of that, so hopefully we get to do that again.
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Article: Exclusive Interview: Harold Perrineau on Season 2 of the horror series FROM