Interview with Christopher Shyer

Christopher Shyer plays Marcus, high commander Anna's right hand man, in the new show "V". Christopher talks about working with the green screen and about a possible storyline for Marcus had the second season not been shortened from 13 to 10 episodes. He also tells us what a great experience working with Clint Eastwood was and he talks about the musicals he worked on.

Foto: Copyright: Dennys Ilic Photography
© Dennys Ilic Photography

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1. How did you get into acting?

I started trying out for musicals in High School. My first professional gig was a Broadway style review show at Canada's Wonderland. I was 19. I went on to work at Summer Stock theaters across Canada and then worked with Mainstream Producers David Mervish and Garth Drabinsky until I landed my first television gig in a Canadian Soap in '98 and that same year a film called the Falling that Premiered at the Toronto International Film festival. I've been working in film/ television and on stage ever since.

2. In "V" you play Marcus, high commander Anna's right hand man. What do you find fascinating about this shady character?

Marcus is an enigma. We don't know a lot him - yet. I like that he's a strong silent and stoic presence in the story. He's the Ultimate V. There is a sense of formal tradition about him with a dark creepy edge ;-)

3. How much of your scenes were shot with the green screen? Do you find working with the green screen more difficult in some way?

All of our scenes on the ship are shot in the green screen studio. It's one big green room. After 8 hours you start to see orange when u close your eyes to give them a rest from all the green. I am grateful that I have Morena or Mark to work opposite in those scenes. If I had to keep my focus on a tennis ball that would later be replaced with a CGI character - that would be really challenging ;-) Your sense of geography on the ship is also challenged working in this green environment-however, our tech guys have monitors set up to show us what the hallway or room or whatever it is we're in at the time looks like - so it helps to give us our bearings. The special effects and CGI on this show are pretty stellar I think.

4. Do you know the miniseries from 1983 which "V" is based on? How different is working on a scifi show now from what is was then?

I was somewhat familiar. I was an "Alien Nation" guy, but I did a little more research after I was cast. I remember the guinea pig eating moment. It really freaked me out. The special effects on Jane's neck, as she swallowed that helpless little guinea pig was pretty good. Speaking of special effects. You can do so much more now. There are no limits to the imagination. A lot of the re-imagined V is mapped out on computer graphics before it makes it to the screen. Production designer Stephen Geaghan and his crew do amazing work.

5. In the second season Marcus gets shot by the Fifth Column. Were you surprised when you got the script or did you know you would return?

Steve Pearlman, one of our Executive Producers, took me aside when we were shooting Ep 4 Unholy Alliance and said I want you to know that u are going to be shot - BUT - u will recover - however - u will be in a coma for 2 Eps, so let your representation know that you'll have some time off to do other work. I do not envy Steve's job ;-)

6. Morena Baccarin has the perfect charisma for a role like the high commander Anna. She expresses a lot just through her stare. What is working with her like?

Morena is a real pro. A Juilliard trained actress and a very sarcastically funny person. I feel very lucky to work opposite her. I think she and I work well together. I do a fair amount of listening and questioning as her second in command (underboss) and consigliere (advisor) and on this show. As Anna, I love that she is as malevolent as she is beautiful. That can be very engaging in a character.

7. The story lines in the season 2 finale seem a bit hurried. Do you know what would have happened if there had been 13 episodes as originally planned?

They had quite a few stories to to tie up so what was planned for Marcus had to be put on the back burner. Maybe that will be investigated in the third season. We will see. Scott Rosenbaum had said something to me before we heard about the cut from 13 to 10 Eps, that the reason for introducing the Thomas character was to give me something to deal with coming out of the coma and finding I was replaced - but we didn't have time to let that play out.

8. If the show is going to be cancelled - and we hope it doesn't - what would you have liked to see in season 3?

I'm not one to be superstitious, BUT - I do believe in the LAW of ATTRACTION - so, I will pass on answering this question. I will say this - I would love to see the show come back for a third season. It deserves a chance to continue its exploration of what is truly at stake for the V species and to what degree would humans and Visitors go to save themselves.

9. You also played parts in some musicals like "Mamma Mia" and "Les Miserables". Which is your favorite and why?

I joined an American tour of "West Side Story" in Hamburg, Germany. I think it was 1992. I played Tony opposite Andrea Burns as Maria (from the Broadway Production of In The Heights). I loved playing that role. It's an amazing story. How do u love the one u love when your families are mortal enemies? It asks the question: Is love stronger than hate? I sure hope so. "Les Miserables" was a great opportunity as well. It was so powerful just to stand there at the end of the show facing the audience singing the reprise of "Do u hear the People Sing". It was an epic ride. I also had a great time with the role of Will in Oklahoma. He was a truly naive but endearing character.

10. You play Nixon in "J. Edgar" which is directed by Clint Eastwood. What's working with him and Leonardo DiCaprio like?

Leo wasn't working on set that day unfortunately, but getting to work with Clint Eastwood was such a gift. If only more experiences on set could be like that ;-) He's so calm and respectful of actors and the process. Quick to laugh and really easy going. He does't always use the word "action", but the phrase "go when your ready". He's 82 now and no sign of stopping. I will forever remember that experience. And can I just say - I had no idea I had a Richard Nixon in me. It's wonderful thing when u can still surprise yourself.

11. If you could choose what would your dream movie be about, who would be in it and who would be directing it?

I have been saying for a long time now that Bruce Greenwood, Peter Gallagher, maybe Dennis Quaid and myself should play brothers. Throw in Ray Wise with Dame Judi Dench to play my mother or aunt. Cate Blanchett to play anything and Melissa Leo. Directed by David O Russell ("The Fighter"), or Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") or I'd love to work with Clint Eastwood again on a family Dramedy. Set in the 50/60's on a Air Force Base. One of the brothers would be a trainer of PACERS and the other brother a Gambler in love with a beautiful women from Coventry. It's a bit of a family BIO pic ;-)

12. Since myFanbase is an online magazine about TV series, do you have a favorite show?

I am a huge fan of "Nurse Jackie". "Modern Family" makes me laugh... a lot and I'm looking forward to the 4th Season of "True Blood". Thank you Alan Ball.

Nicole Oebel - myFanbase