In the new YouTube Red series IMPULSE, Craig Arnold stands out in the role of Lucas Boone. Craig’s portrayal offered a humanity aspect to a character that makes you care a lot more about his character and what his ultimate fate will be. Every bit of empathy that Lucas displays, as well as the aching desire to be a better man, is felt through Craig’s deft performance. Having caught the attention of fans through his previous roles on DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION and HEARTLAND, Craig is an actor whose career is on the rise and it is a pleasure to see where it takes him. In an exclusive interview, Craig reflects on what was like bringing the character of Lucas Boone to life in IMPULSE.
Your new series IMPULSE is a lot of fun.
CRAIG: Thank you. I loved making it.
What did you see in the role of Lucas Boone that made you want to be a part of the show?
CRAIG: At first, actually I didn’t know how complex and deep he was going to be. He just appeared in the pilot to be kind of the “black sheep” of his family and kind of a tough guy. But after I spoke with Lauren LeFranc, our showrunner, before we went into shooting the full season, she was just so passionate about him and his story, and she expressed to me how much inner turmoil he had, and how much pain and guilt he’s experiencing. He just was so three-dimensional that at that point I could see him just as a full human with all these real problems. I think the difference between what he looked like on the surface and how he initially comes across, versus how sensitive he really is underneath it all, that was really what drew me in.
You described him as the “black sheep.” Is he actually the “black sheep” of the family? I would’ve kind of pegged his brother Clay (Tanner Stine) for that role.
CRAIG: They are both sort of tough guys, in a sense. I just think that Lucas has a little more of a moral compass than his dad and his brother. At first, I call him the “black sheep” because Bill (David James Elliott) had such high hops for Clay, and he really had invested a lot into Clay, and Lucas was kind of just the second son that he didn’t give as much thought to. I guess there’s that sense of it, but really I think it’s just sensitivity, and underneath it how he wants to do right, that sets him apart from his dad and his brother.
Lucas seems to have a parallel journey with Henry (Maddie Hasson). She is in a self-discovery mode for the entire season, and Lucas seems to be as well. That was kind of interesting: to see how they both kind of ended up at a place where they were both looking for identity. They weren’t sure who they were when we first met them, but by the final scene of the season they both have a little bit clearer an idea of who they are going to be, even though they don’t know what their future is going to hold.
CRAIG: Yeah, absolutely. It was really interesting to see how they develop. Lucas, being so certain at the beginning that his brother could do no wrong, and that it had to be Henry’s fault for making Clay into a paraplegic. Then as the pieces started to come together, he realized maybe what he thought wasn’t right, and that he’s going to have to take a step back and thinking: maybe it’s possible that his brother did do something wrong. I really love that aspect of the story, how he and Henry start to see things the same way. It’s like they’re both turning on the town and trying to find their own way of dealing everything — for her, new found power, and for him, the guilt of what he’d done, what his father told him to do. I really hope they continue together. I know that as the series progresses, Lucas just sees a lot more eye to eye with Henry. Hopefully, it’ll keep going in that direction.
When we last see your character Lucas, he is in a very dubious circumstance where he is sitting across the table from Esther Miller. Are we supposed to assume that he doesn’t live beyond that moment, or is there hope he could be around for a second season?
CRAIG: I think he will. I don’t know anything for certain at this point. The writers are keeping things pretty secretive. I think, personally, he’s looking for some form of atonement, and that could mean a variety of different things based on the circumstance that he’s in at the end. He did go on his own volition. So it wasn’t like they caught him and brought him there. I think he is trying to find some kind of peace by going there, and it’ll be exciting and intense to see how exactly he does that.
I was really scared there at the end when Lucas had Cleo (Missi Pyle) in the car, and we weren’t sure if he was going to kill her or what was going to happen. But Lucas always seemed to have a soft spot for Cleo. How did you see that scene where he took her?
CRAIG: You see in the fifth episode that his mother has always been cold towards him, and he never had a warm mother-figure. Then on top of that, it’s not like his dad was ever warm and supportive of him either. Cleo was really one of the first people in his life to just give him the time of day and take an interest in him, and just show him some kind of love really, some kind of affection, in a motherly way. I think it opened him up and made him realize what he might have been missing, just something as simple as a hug even, or just feeling loved.
Your character Lucas got a lot of the surprising scenes. For example, when he hugs Cleo in the middle of that one episode it felt like a surprising breakthrough for both of them — that they could have that kind of affection for somebody they barely know.
CRAIG: Yeah, absolutely. I think Lucas has had so much built up inside of him, and he was just so upset from how things went seeing his own mother, that it was finally just like at that point there was nothing left in him and he just couldn’t hold it together any more. That hug was just, after all the events that had transpired, just finally made him realize what he was missing the whole time.
Do you think at this point he really wants to find maybe a surrogate family? Would he want to possibly take the place of Esther Miller’s lost son and take up the family business just because he’s not only seeking atonement but perhaps a familial connection?
CRAIG: That’s an interesting idea. I haven’t thought about that. I think he definitely yearns to be a part of some kind of loving group or family. I don’t know necessarily how that would go down with Esther and the Mennonites. It might be pretty hard for them to accept him after what happened. I don’t know. I think he does need to fulfill that in himself, but how he’s going to do it, I’m really not sure. I wish I knew.
At this point, after everything Lucas has learned, how does he view Henry? She’s no longer the “bad girl” in his mind. But how does he see her? Is he curious about her? Is he wary of her?
CRAIG: I think he feels terrible for what happened and what his brother did to her, so he really feels empathy for her situation and what she’s been through. Yeah, I think he is definitely curious about her abilities, but more than that, I think he’s just so broken down about how he dealt with the whole situation, and how he didn’t really go about it in the right way in listening to his dad, who misled him. I think he’d really like to come clean with Henry and explain to her that he never meant to hurt her. I think he’s on her side by the end, that he cares for her, and he’s just so remorseful about everything that’s happened to her.
Lucas also clued in pretty quickly that Henry might have something else going on. I don’t know if he suspected she had supernatural abilities, but he definitely connected the dots pretty quickly that she was the source of why things were going badly for his brother and all their vehicles. Is he worried a little bit that she might be somebody who has powers and someone that he needs to be fearful of?
CRAIG: One of the things that’s so nice about the show is that it is really grounded in reality. When she first teleports, it’s not like everyone just accepts it as, “yeah, teleporting happens and that’s how the world is.” It really was as if it happened in our world and people were shocked and saying, “This is impossible.” He clues in quickly, and I think, as in real life ,in that happened, you definitely want to be cautious, and he knows that she’s not a goody two-shoes. She turned his brother into a paraplegic. He knows that she has that ability. But I do think that he’s more on the side of helping her out and just trying to get to understand her, and trying to work together.
What was it like for you working with both Missi Pyle and Maddie Hasson?
CRAIG: Amazing. Those two, they’re just incredible people and amazing actresses, they’re so supportive. They’re just lovely. They were so open, and Maddie, the main lead on the show, she just had such a great tone. She’s really a professional and really kind. Missi, as I’m sure you know, is just an amazing person, so energetic, and has such a great sense of humor. I was really lucky to get to work with them. I don’t have a single bad thing to say at all.
What about working with David James Elliott? He plays the father figure, was that an easy kind of relationship to slip into in character?
CRAIG: Yeah, we got along great. [Laughs] Well, I guess this doesn’t really translate to the show, but we got along really really well. We talk all the time now. He’s a really nice guy, and we hit it off immediately. It was nice. He was always giving me pointers and tips, and just advice about the industry and this lifestyle too. It was just, right off the bat, we just became really close. He was great to work with.
From the overall experience of working on the show, what did you feel like you learned as an actor or performer working on it?
CRAIG: I think I gained a lot of confidence. Just being with a cast as talented and as giving as this, I just found that there’s no place for ego anywhere, that you can be really nice and supportive and turn out a really good product, even if it is an intense show like ours. Everyone was just so, so kind, and always brought their A-game. I just learned to bring the proper etiquette, to show up and be ready to go, because everyone else always was.
It looked like it was a little cold in all those scenes. How was it working in the every day in extreme weather like that?
CRAIG: It was freezing! The coldest time actually was in the pilot. There were some scenes in the parking lot of the school when it was minus 20 degrees Celsius that day. I don’t know what that is in Fahrenheit, but it was cold. That’s such a huge aspect of the show: that it’s in this desolate little town that no one would really think twice about. Having it be so cold and dark really adds to the dreariness of the whole thing. It was worth it in the end.
How do you feel about where you’re going in your career right now? Do you have another project that you’re excited to talk about?
CRAIG: Yeah, I just went to Budapest actually about two months ago, and shot an episode of a series called RANSOM on CBS. It an episode that just aired. I also shot a movie called “Stranded” with a director named Jordan Barker, about a group of kids who get stranded on their way to a snowboarding trip in Massachusetts. That one’s going to be pretty scary. That’s a pretty intense horror movie. That should be coming out some time this year.
That’s quite a variety of projects. How do you select them?
CRAIG: Really it’s about what’s out there at the time, and what I’m able to get, and hopefully it’s stuff I’m passionate about. With the film “Stranded,” it was a really good team of directors that I really liked, and we filmed some really great stuff. I had never done a movie like this, a horror movie, before, so that kind of drew me in as well. At the end of the day I’m just looking for good stories that, when I read them I just automatically feel something, like I want to do that, I want to play that role. I don’t have to do too much math on it, I just try to go with my gut instinct.
You mentioned it was your first horror project, but if you think about it, IMPULSE is kind of a horror story. It’s not exactly a warm-and-fuzzy type show.
CRAIG: [Laughs] It is! Yeah, it’s pretty scary. You definitely have a point there. It would be pretty horrifying if these events transpired.
Watching the final scenes of IMPULSE, I was pretty scared for the characters and where they kind of ended up.
CRAIG: Yeah, it’s a very tumultuous ending for everybody.
It certainly looks like Bill Boone lost his arm, and that probably meant he ended up in the bucket of acid that was in the barn.
CRAIG: It looks that way. I don’t know exactly what happened. I think they’re leaving that open-ended, but it certainly appears that way.
They really made it seem like there was a huge bloodbath, even though you didn’t see the bodies. You definitely saw that severed arm, and I was like, “this feels like a horror story.”
CRAIG: Yeah, especially that last episode really got creepy.
And it left your character sitting across the table from the one person that probably wants to kill him most in the world.
CRAIG: [Laughs] Yeah, it was not a peaceful situation.
The big scene at the end where there’s the shootout in the big car dealership, what was that like to film?
CRAIG: That was a huge day. We spent the entire day filming that scene in the shootout, and we did lots of angles, lots of takes. It was funny: doing it over and over you kind of can lose sight of the intensity of it, and how it’s all supposed to flow, but our director on that episode, Cherien Dabis, was really good at keeping everyone in the zone and just reminding us what exactly is going on, and how intense this was, and just to keep the energy up every single take we did. It was really exciting. That’s one of my favorite scenes from the series, for sure. It’s just got so much tension. It was really fun. All the gunfire was crazy. It’s loud too. That was the thing I didn’t really think about before we did it. It really sounded like gunfire. Not that it feels like a real gun fight, but it adds another layer of reality to it when you’re doing it, which really helps. It was fun. It was a lot of work, but it was worthwhile for sure.
It had some twists to it. I was surprised your character Lucas decided to get the hell out of dodge. He didn’t want to stick around and see who was going to win or anything.
CRAIG: Yeah, because his plan before going into that was to leave, when he was loading up the bag with the money, and Cleo runs in and that kind of changes his plan. He really got sucked into that against his wishes. His plan all along was not to be there, but then the Mennonites came and he found himself stuck in a situation, he had nowhere to go. Finally, when things blew up ,he had a chance to get out of there.
Lucas made interesting choices throughout the entire series in each situation he found himself in. That was kind of interesting as a viewer to watch. I kept expecting him to be kind of more of an evil character, and yet he kept trying to move away from it. He’d try to make a better choice when given the opportunity, which was nice.
CRAIG: Yeah, really that was my favorite thing about him. That came down to having a really great writing team, and having Lauren LeFranc work as a showrunner. I was a little nervous at first that he was just going to be the bad guy, but then he just ended up being so deep, and really wanting to do right. Lauren described him to me as a guy who, if he was raised in better circumstances with a better family, maybe he would be doing great things. He has a good heart and he clearly means well, but he’s been surrounded by these toxic people and a really militant father who was so hard on him, and kind of broke him down. It’s nice to see throughout the course of the series that he develops his own sense of what he thinks is right and wrong, and decides for himself what he’s going to do next.
To see how the catastrophic events unfold that entangles Lucas, his brother Clay, his father Bill Boone with the lives of Henry and her mother Cleo, be sure to check out IMPULSE, which is available for binge-viewing on YouTube Red. For more information and sneak peeks about the show, you can follow the show on Twitter @IMPULSESeries. Then to find out what Craig is up to as his career grows, you can follow him on Twitter @thecraigarnold.
IMPULSE official trailer:
IMPULSE – Meet Lucas Boone:
IMPULSE – “Community Disservice” promo: