In Syfy’s new sci-fi drama series INCORPORATED, the future is controlled by the iron-rule of a mega corporation intent on controlling every aspect of a person’s life. Determined to breach that control and save someone close to him is one man: Ben Larson (Sean Teale), who has infiltrated the top corporation and its elite ruling family. Both aided and hindered by those around him, Ben is never sure who to trust. One such murky figure is Roger Caplan, portrayed by Douglas Nyback. In an exclusive interview Douglas talks about the appeal of multi-layered, duplicitous world of INCORPORATED and what is next on the horizon.
What drew you to the role of Roger Caplan in the Syfy series INCORPORATED?
DOUGLAS: I’d be lying to you if I said Matt Damon and Ben Affleck producing wasn’t a huge incentive. I have such tremendous respect for both of them as performers and creative talents. But far for more than that, it was the fact that Roger is so loveably horrible. When he looks at you, he’s always looking for an angle into what he wants. He’s unabashed about it and in the world of INCORPORATED that kind of honest dishonesty is about as close to nobility as you can get.
How would you describe your character? What do you most admire and/or like about him?
DOUGLAS: With Roger, it’s that he learned very early that he’s not the best, but that he doesn’t have to be the best if he’s willing to exploit everyone else’s worst. Roger plays the hand he’s dealt and he knows that he can win with any hand, depending on how he plays it. Sure, he’s massively privileged, but in his world, everyone is. It’s like being good looking in a world of perfect beauties. Roger is just smart and conniving enough to look at himself and ask, “What else do I have to offer?” Even if the answer is at times dark, he’s always willing to do it. For Roger, willingness is more important than ability.
What journey does your character undertake in this series?
DOUGLAS: Ha! Without being able to give much away, Roger’s journey, like Ben’s (Sean Teale) all stems from a simple question, “How far are you willing to go to get what you want?” In that regard, everyone is just going to have to wait and see.
What was it like working with Dennis Haysbert, Julia Ormond and Sean Teale?
DOUGLAS: I can’t speak highly enough of all three. To be welcomed into this cast was such an honor. I had worked with Julia and Sean before, Julia in “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl”, and Sean in REIGN. Both experiences were incredible, but to see their work in this show, just the sheer caliber of it, was humbling and inspiring. It’s hard not to have a bit of a man crush on Sean. He’s just the loveliest human, a tremendously talented and hardworking actor. I think everyone on set would have walked through fire for that gent. And of course, Dennis Haysbert…is Dennis Haysbert. The man is a legend. He was in “Heat”, arguably the greatest heist film of all time. To share the screen with him was a dream come true. He’s just this force on set, like gravity. When he looks at you, you’re just pulled in.
What was your favorite part about working on this project?
DOUGLAS: I would have to say the collaborative spirit of everyone on set. From the producers and cast, to the directors and creative team, to the whole crew. Everyone put their heart and soul into this show and it’s evident on screen. I truly believe we’ve got lightning in a bottle here and it’s because everyone who was a part of it put real love into it. Oh, and the suits. The suits were damn fine.
What was the one thing you took away from working on INCORPORATED?
DOUGLAS: Ha! The suits. Seriously though, hmm, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one thing. If I have to, I’d say what an honor and responsibility it is to be given the free reign to really create, flesh out and shape a character from top to bottom. It’s always such a blessing to be involved from the very start of something. So often in this business you’re coming in mid-season, or mid-series, but here, these amazing creatives (Alex and David Pastor, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Ted Humphrey) all took a chance on me. I’m so glad they did because I think Roger turned out to be pretty special.
What do you hope viewers take away from watching INCORPORATED?
DOUGLAS: Well, the narrative of segregation and the stark division of wealth and power has never been more relevant than right now in our modern North American society. Science Fiction has always been a way to wrap real world issues in a futuristic setting, something that allows us enough distance to tell relevant stories without appearing to be a direct criticism on society. But now, pretty soon these dystopian stories may become period pieces, reflecting a time in our past where hope remained. I’d love for people to be entertained, but I also hope that we all heed some of the thematic warnings embedded in the series.
At this stage of your career, what do you think you have learned from the amazing variety of roles and projects you have worked on?
DOUGLAS: I’ve been really lucky so far, and my career is really just starting, to have had such a broad range of characters come my way. The lesson I think I’ve learned more than any other is that every character needs to be approached with empathy. It is for me, the only way into people who are vastly removed from who I am. Once I can honestly understand why a character behaves the way they behave, it simply becomes a matter of caring as much as humanly possible about getting what I need. You’ve got to form strong opinions, care about what you’re doing.
Then what are the perks of where you are in your career right now?
DOUGLAS: Right now, it’s all about possibility. I’ve reached this point where people I respect and admire, but more importantly people the entertainment industry respects and admires, have all looked at me and said, “Hey, this guy can do this.” So the question of whether or not I can has kind of been answered. This leads me to my favorite question in the world, “What’s next?” If there’s anything more exciting than possibility, I haven’t found it.
If there were one role you would like to revisit, which would it be and why?
DOUGLAS: Oh man, all of them! When you think about it, actors are instruments, we’re like pianos, except that a piano never changes. As actors, every day we wake up and there are new keys, or some keys are broken and gone. We evolve in maturity, intellectual capacity, emotional depth and physicality. I’d love to go back and apply the instrument I am now to the pieces I played back then, just to see how different they’d be, how subtly they would change. I would nerd out so hard at that.
Has there been any great advice you have gotten? What advice would you offer to other upcoming and aspiring actors?
DOUGLAS: I have been so blessed by the teachers in my life. So yes, there is so much great advice I could dole out, but what I’d say most of all is something a teacher named Dean Armstrong (www.armstrongactingstudios.com) gave me when I first got into film and TV: “Always be the hardest working actor you know.” Some of the most talented actors I’ve ever met have fallen by the wayside because they were lazy. Eventually you reach a level where everyone around you can do it, it’s whether they’re willing that becomes the question. It’s a job of sacrifice and hard work. Prepare yourselves for that.
Do you have any current or upcoming projects that you can share that fans should keep an eye out for?
DOUGLAS: Yeah! I’m actually just about to head off to Cuba to shoot a feature called “Skin” about a young woman who is diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy and turns to standup comedy as a means of coping with it. Then after that I’m off to Romania to shoot a beautiful feature called “The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova” about an estranged brother and sister exploring their grandmother’s history as a little girl in Pre-WWII Poland. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of both.
What do you aspire to do next?
DOUGLAS: My goal has always been to reach the largest audience I possibly can, for as long as possible and to leave people’s lives better for having done so. I’d love to keep working with networks like SyFy, AMC and HBO and to use genre as a means of telling stories that are relevant to our collective humanity. Cheesy as it sounds, what’s the point of working so hard to build a soap box if you’re not going to say anything from it?
To see if Ben’s quest is ultimately successful and whether Douglas’ character Roger Caplan can be an ally along the way, be sure to tune in for the premiere of INCORPORATED on Wednesday, November 30th at 10:00 p.m. on Syfy. Then keep an eye out for Douglas’ new films “Skin” and “The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova” premiering in 2017.