TakeFive Gal Chats With Moonlight’s Jason Dohring

Moonlight Jason Dohring Photo

I thought this Friday’s episode was really great – I just felt like it gelled, like you guys all seemed happy to be back.  How was it returning to set after the break?
Yeah, it was all right.  I kind of got practice for that with the last show, so you kind of get used to that.  It was cool because I happened to shoot later in the week; it was already rolling, so it was easy to get back into it.

Wanted to find out if you could describe your character of Josef and maybe some of the challenges for stepping into the role?
Yeah, okay, so I mean I would describe as, I don’t know, a 400 hundred year old bad-ass hedge fund trader who is very humanistic and loves life.  Ii think they use the word bon-vivant which means enjoyer of the luxuries of life.  At the same time, he’s had a bunch of experience.  He understands the threat to getting exposed and that sort of thing as a vampire and what would happen.  It has a lot of context with past historical events and I think they’ve given into that more in the future, that sort of thing.  At the same time, the most difficult thing to get, what that’s really like, being alive back in the 16, 1700s and stuff like that.  Having 200 year old relationships and what that’s really like.

I was talking to the writers yesterday about some possible season 2 storylines and history and stuff like that, and huge historical events that you see were influenced and changed by us vampires back then.  It should be comical and interesting.

One of the things, before the series even came out, there seemed like a lot of people weren’t familiar with the concept, or just had heard basic bits of it, and people weren’t even willing to give it a chance.  Do you think that’s still happening where people don’t understand what this show is about, that it’s totally different?
Forgive me if I don’t answer your question totally.  It originally started out as a vampire show and that was cool with the supernatural elements.  What’s really captured people is Mick’s underlying struggle with his life.  It involves Beth and being human and being a vampire and wanting that.  You see in episode 13, the one thing he wants, he wants change, he wanted to be human.  He got it taken away from him in this episode.  It’s pretty emotional, and I think there are a lot of turns coming up.

There are a lot of comparisons.  Vampire shows or vampire movies and such.  Everyone thinks it’s just a reiteration of it.  Really the series is totally different.
Yeah, I totally get you now.  Yeah dude, we started out as vampires, then we just have a fucking, oh sorry, fantastic love story. Back when I originally saw the first 3 or 4 episodes, I was like, dude this is CSI with vampires.  The shooting, going through the veins, coming back out, flying through the buildings of downtown.  We have a lot of cool visually very appealing, and then we have character on top of that and vampire on top of that.  You’re right dude, there’s no other show that has those elements or a vampire show that has those elements.  It’s more like Ann Rice with the love story.

What drew you to taking on this role?  Were you looking to do something different from your Veronica Mars character?
I was looking at doing something, I mean, maybe yeah.  I was looking at probably trying to do some kind of comedy because I was so tired of everybody in my life dying on film.  Sometimes you do a certain role, and you’re looked at as doing that successfully, so I think there was similarities to Logan in Veronica.  I think that’s why I was called on to do it.  I think I’ll wind up doing some comedy films or lighthearted stuff.  At the same time, I start watching movies, and I get the yearning to do really dramatic stuff.  This show kind of has both parts.  They do some heavy stuff and there’s a lot of light stuff as well.

Are there any teases you can give to fans about what’s coming up in the next few episodes?
Yeah, sure.  In 13, which is this Friday’s episode, you get to see Josef go vamp.  He becomes a vampire for the first time on film.  You’ll see, complete with the makeup and teeth.  [SPOILER ALERT]  He actually goes vamp on Mick and turns him.  We’ve had a lot of discussion about this scene.  There is a 30 piece orchestra that we used to do the music on it.  I think it is feature quality, the way we have it all working together.  After he turns into a vampire, you can see what a badass Josef can be, we go and kick some ass with Matrix type stuff.  It’s pretty rad the way these vampires fight.  They have us up on wires, we’re flying through the sky, swirling around in the air and coming down and killing each other.  I think you’ll see some cool stuff in 13.  In 16, you’ll see his softer side of him.  More of his feelings toward a girl.  He’s kind of got these troubles and Mick kind of sits him down and talks him through it.  One of the other points, we’re going to have a lot more in 16 with the vampire mythology.  I think the coolest thing is you see a bunch of vampires come together to solve a problem.  So you have like Guillermo and Logan and other characters that you’ve seen, they’re really funny.  People from different social spectrums and we all get together to work on a problem.  It’s kind of like Ocean’s 11 where we get in there and figure out this big plan and we all kind of attack from our own different way, as this threat is posed of kind of getting exposed.

I was wondering if you could talk about your first day working on the Moonlight set, and general experience working on your first episode?
Boy dude, I was scared. We shot at this guy’s house who owns the Grant Parking lots all over downtown.  He has this really fantastic house and that was my first day.  You don’t know anybody on the crew, that sort of thing.  Most of my scenes were shot on that first day.  It was cool because Alex was right there, and we were talking.  It’s great to have someone there to talk to. You can be like, oh dude, I don’t know what to do with this part of the scene, and it doesn’t feel right to me.  It’s like “okay cool man, try this”.  It was kind of like he got to be there to work it out with you, it’s a blessing.  Yeah, but I was terrified, yeah.  Plus Joel Silver was on set.  He came on set.

I’m glad you mentioned Joel Silver – how is it being perceived on set, now that Moonlight has gone through a couple show runners.  Hopefully, we’re all hoping for a second season.  Does that create major changes at all?
Yeah, man, and I think I mentioned at the Paley Center yesterday.  We had to eventually write our rules.  What is our show?  What kind of rules do we have as vampires?  What styles do we want?  Gabrielle and Harry have been on since the beginning, so we have certain writers.  We do have a through line of vision, in that sense because we have people that have been on since the beginning, so even though we’ve had somewhat of a similarity.  It’s kind of interesting.  I think we’ve been building. Particularly, 11 and 12 were these fantastic shows and I think 13 and 14 are unbelievable.  I think we have found our way by whatever means to pull it together to come up with something really amazing.  We’re pulling it off, so it’s remarkable.

How involved is Joel in the production?  
I think he’s quite involved.  At least in the storyline.  If he has ideas or he needs to come up with something, he’s always right there to do it.  Even on Veronica Mars, he would call up Paris Hilton to get her on the show, Anthony Anderson.  He would get our big names to the show.  It was kind of what we needed then and are doing now.  He’s Joel, dude.  I think he’s happy with the writing crew that we have now, and they’re leading us in a good direction and he knows that.

What do you draw on for your portrayal?
Dude, I mean, you don’t know any 400 year old vampires, so you kind of gotta do a little imagination, I guess, for the most part of it. I mean you get the idea from like Ann Rice’s novels, what these guys are kind of like.  Their perceptions of the world, and how they get to hear a bit better, understand a bit deeper than maybe just your normal guy.  That kind of stuff combined with the imagination, sort of the flying around, and that sort of power.  And my guy, kill people or have people do it.  It gives you a sense of power that you kind of understand and just step into it.

In talking with the writers, has there been any storylines that have been pushed aside or pushed to next season as a result of the strike?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know, they shared a couple of next season stuff, and there was one idea that just blows me away, man, it’s so unreal.  I thought it was so cool.  I don’t know what they had in store for the whole season if there had been one, but whatever it was, it will come out in season 2.  I guess perhaps, we might have done more with DA Talbot, and he was going to either pose a threat to us or to the Mick and Beth relationship with regard to being the charming man that steps in front of that.  I’m sure we’ll get to all that, if there is a next year.

Wanted to get your take on how you’d describe your character’s relationship with Mick and how you’ve seen that grow and develop as the episodes have gone on?
I mean, it’s funny, because you start with, so he’s been alive for 80 years, I’ve been alive for 400.  We’ve known each other for a fair amount of time.  As actors, you don’t know each other.  I feel like as I get to know him better, I’ve started to feel like I can talk to him in the scenes, if you know what I mean?  Able to laugh with him, kind of inside jokes, it adds to the being on camera element.  The more we establish common ground or a liking and hanging out, that sort of thing, we grow.  These guys are best friends and you see more of that coming through in the next couple episodes.  It’s such a great relationship.  Best friends, and what that is.  Two guys who are quite different and kind of somewhat bust each other balls, and you’ll see that.  I think in episode 14.

Will there be more exploration of Josef’s back-story in the next season?
Yeah, dude.  There will.  There will.  They just told me some stuff last night.  I don’t know that I can say what that is.  You’ll find out where he comes from, what his story was back then, at the very beginning.  You get to find out how he came to be who he is and what happened at the beginning.

How much did you know of his back-story before coming in?  Does that help define how you portray him?
You know, dude, I haven’t known anything about him.  Because I don’t know that it was necessarily brought up yet.  I asked the writers yesterday, like what happened and they told me the simple thing of you’ll find out.  When they hash that story out, it’ll just become more detailed and there will be a whole storyline about it.

Was there instant cast chemistry?
It’s kind of funny.  With Veronica Mars, we all kind of met each other at the table read, so it was like, ok here’s our whole cast.  And then in this show, it was like there was Alex and I kind of joined and Sophia kind of joined, and Shannyn kind of joined, so we all kind of show up different times on the set, so it was a little bit different in that regard.  So we kind of like, over the season, kind of grew to know each other, and would go out together at these different functions at these sort of things.  It wasn’t that we were all hired together and then made any visits together to see fans or to do different junkets and that sort of thing.  We never did that all together until very recently which we kind of did last night.  I don’t know if anybody was there last night at the Paley Center?  It was rad.  You feel like this great family, this great chemistry.  We have such a cool cast, everyone is very, very cool, man.  We kind of all look out for each other, help each other.  It’s just a wonderful vibe.

You were lucky with both Veronica and this show to have a very rabid fan base, possibly more so now than ever.  What are some crazy fan experiences you’ve had?
Oh my gosh.  I don’t know man.  You get these gifts from people.  They’ll send you like a blanket, hand stitched that’s bigger than your bed.  And you just wonder how many reruns of Moonlight they had to watch to build that thing.  It’s like the colors of Moonlight as well, so a lot of thought goes into something like that and a lot of gifts.  Just to have a blood drive, it’s so creative and at the same time very pro-survival.  People need that.  Every single day, people need to have blood given to them.  It’s very important that we’ve aligned ourselves with something that helps people.

What makes a career as an actor rewarding?
I think it’s either performing good work or seeing that you’ve performed good work and seeing it appreciated.  The first time I ever had that experience, I started off with Veronica Mars as kind of an asshole character, a bad character.  It was around episode 6, you kind of saw a different side. And this lady came up to me, and you could tell she was so invested in it.  And she said “I used to hate you, but now I don’t know”.  Just the way she said that.  It was pretty cool.  I was glad to be disliked in a good way because it added to the show.  It was cool how people get so interested.  They are affected.  That’s the joy of it, man.  I think even before, when I said doing good work.  When it’s seen by somebody is the ultimate, even it’s just your cast mate, and he’s like dude, that was awesome, and you’re like okay thanks dude.  It’s that, dude.  Doing good work and having it be appreciated.

What are some of the thoughts about a potential second season of the show?
Maybe sadly enough, it just comes down to people watching the show.  We’ve got to perform well.  We’ve made several decent shows, you know what I mean?  The ones we have coming up are very, very good, and we just need people to watch them.  What you guys are doing is I think the best thing we can do, and just wait.  Just keep promoting it.  We have a great product here, and the more we can promote it and get people to see this, I think they’ll stick, and catch on, so thanks for doing it, and we’re going to do our part to make the shows good. If we can get the promotion and get people watching, I think it’s what it’ll come down to.

There’s good reviews and bad reviews, do you put any thought into the review?
I kind of review it myself, you know what I mean?  I have decided whether I do good work or bad work.  If I think I did good work and it’s appreciated, I know it, but if I do bad work or okay work and it’s appreciated, I feel so bad.  I realize that I kind of have to be my own critic or my own guide to my work.  Otherwise, I start changing what I’m doing, and it’s not as good honestly.  I just kind of stay away from the reviews and stay on what I’m doing.