EXCLUSIVE Charlie Jade interview: 01 Boxer

Charlie Jade makes its debut on British screens courtesy of the FX Channel in October, and to mark the occasion, UK readers of SFX will get a free DVD of the first episode with issue 162, on sale from Wednesday 26 September . Just to set the scene, we caught up with the stars and creator of the show to give us the lowdown on the Canadian/South African co-production, the story of a private detective (the eponymous Charlie Jade) who finds himself trapped in another universe.

Today it’s the turn of Michael Filipowich , who plays the not-very-nice 01 Boxer...

SFX: How would you describe your character, 01 Boxer?
Michael Filipowich: “I think my character - and I guess everybody feels this way about their character – is incredibly important to the story. Charlie Jade is at a point in his life where he is in crisis, and even though his life on the outside seems perfect - he’s got this great career, he’s got this girlfriend and everything’s kind of working out for him - but there’s something inside that’s pulling at him. He gets pulled into this alternate universe to find my character, and I think it becomes a metaphor for Charlie going to search for his shadow, to redeem his negativity, and I think he has to seek me out to do battle with his darkness. That’s where I think my character fits in. He represents the shadow side of the hero.”

SFX: Did you enjoy being bad?
MF: “It’s always a lot more fun to play those guys because they’re broad, because you get a lot of things that you wouldn’t normally do, but also it’s not so much fun, because it put me in touch with all of my problems around those issues as well. It’s a lot of fun from an acting point of view – obviously it’s the most fun you can have with a part.”

SFX: Did you find it difficult getting your head around the SF plot?
MF: “I was into that stuff to begin with, and it was one of the things that drew me to the show. When I first read for it, it was way more involved. The final project is a lot simpler to understand. When I read the first script it was very heavy with physics and quantum physics and all that stuff and they just decided that it was too much for people to take it in. As it stands they feel like the audience really doesn’t understand, but I was into that stuff from the beginning.”

SFX: Did you play 01 Boxer as scripted, or did you bring your own ideas to the role?
MF: “My approach to work is I try to push it as far as I can, and then it’s up to the producer or the director to say no. A lot of work went into it to get into the shooting process, but when we were shooting everyone was just open to having the best idea play out. So we did try a lot of different things, and I did have a lot of freedom developing my character. I didn’t change too much, but I feel that the writers eventually took their cues from what I was doing. It’s the best experience I’ve ever had in terms of a really collaborative process and not being a puppet.”

SFX: The show has been in limbo since 2005, and is still waiting for a second season. Do you feel there’s some unfinished business?
MF: “I always think about what people are left with because it’s kind of a confusing show. Even when I look at it, it changes from time to time with me, about how it sits with me, what it’s about, what it does to you. I think the show’s interesting because it kind of drags you in, demands your attention, and it demands your cooperation - it’s an interactive show in that way. I’m a little disappointed that it didn’t get a second season, that we didn’t get a chance to flesh things out the way I would have liked to flesh things out, but I’m excited that people are now getting a chance to see it all over the world.”

SFX: Would you want to go back?
MF: “I’ve thought about it. I don’t know. I’m at a different place. After I left the show I finished my masters in psychology so I’m exploring some different things. I’m doing more writing now - as an actor I feel you have so little control over what you’re doing and Charlie Jade really gave me a taste of what it’s like to have more creative control. I probably would because I like working with [producer] Bob Wertheimer and I like that kind of atmosphere, so I probably would do it.”

Look out for more exclusive Charlie Jade interviews on the SFX website next week! And remember to check out Charlie Jade on FX in October.