Interview: Guy Burnet

From the interview archives.

English actor Guy Burnet is known for series like Ray Donovan, Chicago Fire and more recently, Hand of God. VULKAN caught up with Guy to discuss his role in Counterpart, what he thinks about parallel dimensions, joining the cast of Pitch Perfect and working again with Ron Pearlman on his upcoming film Asher.

Counterpart has a really interesting premise. Are you someone who is interested in the theory of parallel dimensions?

The premise is what drew me to “Counterpart.” The idea is very high-concept, but expertly executed by Justin Marks which makes it smart and plausible. We even received a manual in conjunction with the script. I’m completely captivated by time, space and all its relativity. Aside from boxing and football (soccer), it’s by far and away the most interesting subject for me to converse about or contemplate alone. We are so limited by what we know factually that possibilities are endless. If particles can disappear and reappear; then where the f*ck are they going?? A parallel universe? I don’t know and I probably sound like a loon.

If there is another Guy Burnet out there right now, what do you hope he’s doing?

I would hope he was doing some good. Helping people and that kinda stuff.

Would you take the plunge and try and enter another dimension if the opportunity presented itself, or would fear of the unknown keep you at bay?

I’d be incredibly intrigued, but I think fear would stop me. I couldn’t do it to my mother. But, with no responsibilities in this world I’d jump right through.

The series has a fantastic cast. What was the feeling on set between everyone?

A great cast. Really talented actors and lovely human beings. I joined the season from 3 episodes in and they welcomed me as part of the family. We’re all friends, we hang and eat together.

How was working with J.K Simmons?

I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with actors I really admire. JK is one of them. To share a scene with someone you look up to is magic. I try to learn as much as I can from them. I play an exuberant character whereby JK opposite me has a real stillness to him, but behind the eyes there is this intense energy that eats up the screen. He’s amazing.

Can you tell us a bit about Claude Lambert? Is he a good guy or one to watch out for?

Claude is a larger than life character. A bon vivant of sorts; worldly and exuberant in every way. He differs hugely from the other characters on the show.  It’s all airs and graces but in reality he is out for himself and the enjoyment of life or is it his counterpart?  He finds himself in the position of young ambassador of the other world, but his affiliations can be questioned. I personally based him on cross between my father and Prince Charles.

What drives him to do the work he does?

He’s driven by the lifestyle on offer in this world.; the mischievous and decadent life he can have.

But there’s an underlying depth to him for sure, and on his journey he will cock a snook to all those around him.

What was the most challenging part of working on this series?

Firstly getting your head around the nuances in the story itself; who am I right now and how am I driving the story in a way that makes sense for the show and the character. The other tricky side is grounding an exuberant character to make him honest without losing the fun and dandiness of who he is.

You’ll also be appearing in Asher as Lyor. Can you tell us a bit about his backstory as well?

I met Ron Pearlman on the set of “Hand of God.” We hit it off immediately over life and love of cinema. We wanted to work together again. He had this script, “Asher,” which was his baby that he sent over for me to read. I gave him some of my notes and he sat with me a day later a told me he wanted me to be ‘Lyor.’ It’s a cool project. Ron is an aging assassin in a gentrified Brooklyn. In comes this young fresh assassin Lyor; a hot head, and shit goes down. I loved doing it and I love Ron.

In what ways might you say Lyor is different from Claude?

He couldn’t be anymore different. Lyor is a young American/Israeli soldier; supremely trained, but hot dog and entirely unpredictable. Claude is a diplomat and worldly bon vivant. Perhaps what they share is that they are both rascals.

You seem to be attracted to roles where the stories are based in corruption, what is it about these kinds of stories that you find so compelling?

Man, honestly it’s what they cast me in haha. I am attracted to these roles because they are the most fun to play, truly. I could never be that way in reality, so I get to explore what it would be like in make believe.

What kind of career would you think you’d enter if you weren’t acting?

Good question. As a kid I wanted to be a pilot; I just never did it. Then a football (soccer) player, but I was too scared not to succeed. I’d say that given the choice I would be working in the football world as a coach or scout. I’d love that. In reality, probably changing car batteries in my uncle’s garage which I did for some time and honestly loved every moment of it.

If you were forced to become either Claude, Lyor, or Raymond Kelly (Hand of God) and live the rest of your life as them, who would you choose?

F*ckin hell hahaha. It would have to be Claude Lambert. Raymond and Lyor would end up dead or in prison. As much as Claude may be a bit of snake, he knows how to enjoy life.

What was your favourite part of Raymond Kelly’s character?

I loved that character. He’s a chameleon assassin. He was someone else every time you met him. I was given freedom to create a villainous superhero alongside Ben Watkins and the other writers.

You’ll also be appearing in Pitch Perfect 3 as Theo, a bit of a departure from the kind of films we’re used to seeing you in. What attracted you to this role?

This really is different. I’ve been a different kind of antagonist now for two years in serious dramas.  “Pitch Perfect” was just fun! Again, I was given freedom to create, but in a entirely different genre. I remember going in to meet on this and saying what the hell am I doing, this isn’t me. I think I even said that to the director and producer and then said, but I could try something different and I guess they liked it. It’s really a testament to Kerry Barden the casting director, producers and my smart agents for seeing something that I didn’t.

Do you do much singing and dancing nowadays? Who are you currently listening to?

Nah man… I don’t sing. Bad karaoke maybe, in the shower sure, but not in ”Pitch Perfect,” not professionally, and definitely not around some fucking fireplace with a group of people. My girlfriend is an incredible jazz singer and I like to listen to her. I’m into older music; Bowie, Prince and old school hip hop. My good buddy Bryan Ling manages some great bands and he fills me in on contemporary music that I will love.  But I dance! I dance like a crazy motherf*cker and hope nobody’s watching. 

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