Interview: Douglas Smith

From the interview archives.


Toronto born actor Douglas Smith is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Ben Hendrickson in Big Love and upcoming you can catch him as Marcus Isaacson in The Alienist. VULKAN caught up with Douglas to talk about the new series premiering on January 22nd on TNT.

You play Marcus Isaacson in The Alienist. What attracted you to this role?

I was really excited to get the opportunity to immerse myself in the world of the Alienist and the character Marcus Isaacson. He is a character caught between the old and the new. His family are Jewish and they immigrated to New York City from eastern Europe and raised him and his brother on the lower east side of manhattan in the 1870s. Marcus is a twin and he is basically the exact opposite of his brother. Marcus is interested in assimilation in New York and becoming a modern american man whereas his brother lucius is more tied to tradition and their heritage.

The series follows reporter John Moore as he and psychologist Dr. Kreizler investigate a serial killer in New York. What is Marcus’s relation to the story?

Marcus and Lucius play integral roles in the investigation which is headed up by Dr Kreizler. They are obsessive in their scientific methods and they bring many cutting edge technologies to the investigation. Fingerprints, Photography and assortment of other early forensic methods. Handwriting analysis as well.

This might be morbid but personally I’m really fascinated by stories like this, so what is one serial killer that you’d be interested in exploring at some point in your acting career and what is it about them that you find interesting?

H.H. Holmes. I have been interested in his story for many years. Ever since I read “The Devil In The White City” I have longed to break down his psychology and see how he could be humanized in either a film or stage production. 

If you could sum up The Alienist in only three words to entice viewers to tune in, what would those be?

Good Show Watch

How true to the original novel will the series be? I understand that Caleb Carr did take part in the writing process.

It is very faithful to the novel. I personally referenced it many times while filming. It helped keep in line with the tone.

Is there any sibling rivalry when it comes to you and your brother Gregory’s acting careers or have you always just been supportive of each other?

I know it must be kinda of boring to hear this but there is zero rivalry between the two of us. We have always had very different paths and I have always felt nothing but 100 percent support from him. Nowadays he spends the majority of his time directing television rather than acting.

What Shakespearean character would you most like to experiment with given the opportunity?

Hmmm…. either Prince Hal or Richard the 2nd. I like the histories. 

When did you first gain an interest in composition?

I can’t remember exactly. I guess I started fooling around with song structure around 10 or 11.

What is your process like when composing a new score? Do you start with percussion, a bed of chords, or let the melody drive the arrangement?

Humming a melody while punishing the piano like a toddler is the usual way it goes.

What is one film you recently saw that you loved the accompanying composition of?

Wakefield starring Brian Cranston has a beautiful score. It was by Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Aaron Zigman.

I do believe you’re an avid hiker. What’s one trail you hope to hike one day?

Somewhere in Iceland.

You’re a citizen of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Is there one you prefer over the other? Why?

I like the country of New Orleans the best.

Are there any charity related projects you are campaigning for currently that you’d like to shed a light on?

YOUNG LEADERSHIP COUNCIL NEW ORLEANS

Do you have anything upcoming in 2018 that we should keep an eye out for

The Alienist Premieres Jan 22nd on TNT.

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