The Mark Sheppard interview, part 2

Last updated 10:04 15/11/2011

If you missed the first part of my interview with Mark Sheppard yesterday, click here.

Part 2 of the interview is below: since there is quite a bit to get through, I've split things up by subject. Also, at the end, there are a few reader questions that were submitted through Twitter - if you sent me a question for Mark, check below to see if it got answered. Without further ado, allow me to hand things over to Mr Mark Sheppard.

20111115-1On the role of Crowley in Supernatural:
"It's brilliant. Ben Edlund is a massive genius, he's just such a cool guy. I mean, the man created The Tick. What else can you say [laughs]? I've been a fan of his work for years and years, and he wrote an interesting, again morally ambiguous ... I actually don't think Crowley is morally ambiguous at all, I think he's actually sexually ambiguous, which makes it kind of interesting. He just likes making people uncomfortable. There's this wonderful rumour going around which is that you've never seen Crowley's eyes flash red, so are you absolutely certain that he's a demon? But would it matter? That's the funny thing - I don't really think it would matter so much, as I don't think it would have mattered whether Romo was the fifth cylon. I don't think it would have made a difference. The characters are the characters, you know."

On the role of Canton Delaware III in Doctor Who:
"Steven [Moffat, Doctor Who showrunner] very definitely - I think I read an article where [he said] he was under some pressure to create a gay character who wasn't mincing around the screen. I mean, no disrespect to Captain Jack or anyone else at all, I'm being extreme in my stereotype, but I'm saying to have a character where being gay wasn't the singular identifier of the character, where the primary focus of the character is not what he's doing about being gay. I'm sure it's a large part of Canton's life, and a part of his back story as well, but it was fascinating that Steven was interviewed on why he'd picked Canton to be this way. But what I think is more interesting about Canton, is that I think Canton really represents us - it's what we would do, so Canton becomes the ultimate fan, in a way.

"A kid came up to me in a convention and said 'you know, Canton is the second-smartest man in the room', and I said 'really, why is that?' He said 'because he realises that the doctor is the smartest man in the room' - and I always thought was a very good way to put it. It's what we would do - and it's an interesting process by which Canton develops his attempts to understand what the Doctor actually comes for and what he's doing, using Rory as a sounding board. I'm sure Canton would be curious to see whether it was something the CIA had known all along, him being in the FBI."

20111115-2On whether he could tell The X Files would be a hit when he guest-starred:
"I'd actually bumped into Gillian a few months beforehand, through a mutual friend, and she said she was on this show The X Files, and I thought she said X Men. I had no idea [laughs]! Jeff Kober did an episode - I think Ice came before mine, and I know Jeff - and it sort of became this thing that I had some idea of. But the phenomenon had not hit. It was three million viewers or less in the first showing, which was nothing then, back then it was a tiny insignificant number because there were far less channels that people were watching. But the first repeat was closer to six million. It was one of those shows that grew - one of the few shows I've ever seen that has repeated and yet gained further audience, which is rare in itself."

On the role of Benedict Valda in Warehouse 13:
"There's a weird thing about Warehouse 13, which is that I don't think anybody believes anyone is ever dead on Warehouse 13, because all it takes is an artifact. But contrary to that, I don't know that Benedict Valda was a great character in that context. I mean, if it's useful, it's useful - but maybe not. It's one of those characters that may have resonated a little, but I don't think it had a huge impact on the plot or the story. It felt like a bit of a waste. The results of it always seemed a little flat to me. I think the [problem] is that there were too many people being created high up, above Artie. There were a lot of bosses."

Reader question: Which sci-fi show would you like to guest-star in? Have you thought about a spot on Fringe?
"I've had an interesting intersection with Fringe over the years - I've always wanted to do the show, and I bumped into the casting director at a party one time and said 'why am I not on your show?' so we shall see. It is a very, very good show. But here's the thing: I've become that guy, I've become that liar, I've become that guy who can't tell people what they're doing or where I am because sometimes where I am impacts the plots of what I'm doing. So I have to lie to the fans on a continuous basis, to preserve their right to be entertained."

Reader question: Which role are you most recognised for in public?
"It depends  - Supernatural is very common, but Doctor Who is also very common, and it depends on the age group as well. I guess I've sort of migrated from being that guy to people actually knowing my name. It's very interesting when someone walks up to you and says 'Mark Sheppard' and you don't know if it's a subpoena or a parcel or someone asking directions."

Reader question: If you could go back and revisit one role, which role would that be?
"Everybody always wanted Firefly to continue, and I really believe it would have been fantastic in a second year. With X Files, Chris [Carter, X Files creator] always tried to work out how to bring Cecil L'ively back but it never worked out, it didn't make sense. But, you know, I'd love to see Canton come back - I'd love to see them all come back, actually."

Reader question: Which Doctor Who monster do you like the most?
"I was always afraid of the Cybermen as a kid. I think the Silence are extraordinary, and I think their impact has been diminished by the Weeping Angels, who are truly terrifying. But I think the Cybermen will always stick with me as something terrible."

My thanks to Mark Sheppard for taking time out of his busy visit to NZ to talk to me.

So what do you think of Mark's thoughts, above - do you agree with his speculation about Crowley, Canton or his turn on Warehouse 13? Which role would you like Mark to revisit?

And speaking of interviews / reader questions: Who would you like to see interviewed at On the Box? Who would you like to submit questions for? Put your suggestions in the comments below, and I'll see what I can do ...

Make sure you like On the Box on Facebook and add Chris on Twitter.
Or, feel free to email Chris at 
otbmail@chrisphilpott.co.nz
This is a spoiler-free blog - please comment responsibly.

4 comments
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Silarnon   #1   10:22 am Nov 15 2011

As many said yesterday, any time I see Mr Sheppard on screen it's great. And his answers in this interview show how much he invests in his characters. He really gets interested, he knows the shows, he clearly enjoys what he does.

All too often I read interviews from bit-parters who say they don't really know much about the show, they were only there for a short time, so why get too involved...

I think this is what makes My Sheppard stand out. He invests in the roles.

I agree with him - I'd love to see Canton back on Doctor Who.

Yeti   #2   04:07 pm Nov 15 2011

Thanks Chris. He was one of the more entertaining talks at the Expo. Interesting his comments about not working in acting in the UK before Dr Who ( assumidly Telly acting?) & s comment re Badger in Firefly being a character Joss wrote for himself to play but "chickened out" & hired Mark instead. Also interesting about Marks musical career in such bands as (appropiately named) TV Personalities ( a first wave UK punk band not sure when Mark "Empire" Sheppard was in tho') & Robyn Hitchcocks outfit. Seemed like a nice guy with sharp edges. Would like to see more of him in Who that would be cool.

RM   #3   09:37 am Nov 16 2011

You didn't ask him about Leverage. Interview FAIL.

Dee   #4   04:00 pm Nov 16 2011

Those Weeping Angels give me the willies

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