Interview: Mark Pellegrino of LOST and Supernatural
Tue, 02 Feb 2010 07:44:21
Mark Pellegrino Videos
Mark Pellegrino doesn't worship the devil, but he plays him on TV.
In fact, Pellegrino's portrayal of Satan on Supernatural is quite fiery. It's not an easy role to play, considering it's been interpreted by someone since, oh, the beginning of time. However, Pellegrino nails it, lacing Lucifer with a relatable sense of strange honesty. At the same time, Pellegrino is the slightly messianic Jacob on the latest season of the smash hit, LOST. How's that for acting range?
Pellegrino sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about stepping into Satan's shoes for Supernatural and getting stranded on an island in LOST. He teaches us how to be good and bad in the same interview, that's just how slick Pellegrino is…
Playing the devil is pretty awesome…
Yeah, the devil is awesome [Laughs]. It's a really fun part. You can do just about anything you want, and it's all good because you're Satan [Laughs].
How do you get yourself into the mindset of playing the ultimate villain? Moreover, how do you put a different spin on Satan?
One, it's about not looking at it as evil. As an actor, you always have to justify your character's actions to yourself, and I think the devil has a really interesting beef. If you think about it, he was a faithful son who was rejected and betrayed by his father and his brother. He's pretty mad and he wants to get even. He was thrown over for beings that he thought were so much less than him and so unworthy of what his father wanted, so he felt sacrificed. I think any human being can relate to the feeling of being betrayed and wanting revenge for that as well as justice. That, is what I think gives the part strength and moral force instead of thinking, "I'm just evil." The devil wants to destroy humanity for a damn good reason [Laughs].
There's definitely a sense of fun to that, but you still preserve the character's inherent darkness.
Sure, revenge is a pretty doggone dark place and feeling murderous rage towards people is really dark. The interesting thing about the way they write Satan in the series is he's kind of down-to-earth, honest, simple and uncomplicated in a way. He comes at everybody not just from their weaknesses but from a truthful and just point of view. When he's tempting people, everything he says to them makes sense. I think that's a pretty cool angle.
As Verbal Kint says in The Usual Suspects, "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist…"
Yeah, that's for sure! The trick to playing evil is to not play evil. The most evil people that you can think of in history think that they were fighting for a moral good. Hitler thought that he was fighting for a moral good. I was just reading a book about the Salem Witch Trials. I don't think a single judge on those panels that killed 19 people and imprisoned 150 ever thought he wasn't doing the Lord's work.
Of course not…As an actor you can go into an interesting psychological headspace as the devil. The character can be so nefarious, but he's also the ultimate tempter. We all have that side.
Definitely! I think Satan comes at you from the side you can't escape—that material side. You're in the world and you're a human being, so you're going to have certain characteristics that the devil can work with—ambition, desire, lust and all of these worldly powerful emotions and feelings that drive you. They're not necessarily negative, but they can be if taken to the wrong extreme.
Did you spend a lot of time researching other portrayals of Satan? How did you create your devil?
No, I like to just figure out what I'm doing and do that. I was lucky in the sense that being a student of history and philosophy, I had read the Bible several times and the Book of Enuch which is about the fall of angels. I had a little bit more of a head start on the mythology than some other people. That was a plus working for me. The show's writing lends itself to a more humanistic approach instead of something really ethereal and untouchable.
What's up with LOST?
It's a pretty exciting! I'm getting the impression that my TV career is like my internal dynamic. I'm playing Jesus in one show and the Devil in the other. I'm assuming that's kind of what it is. Jacob seems like a Christ-like figure or an angel of sorts on the other side of Satan. The LOST creators always throw twists and turns. I've done a few episodes of LOST but who knows where it's going to go. Just as they get you thinking that you're going to be one way, it ends up turning into something entirely different. It's a great show. It's wild, and it's a blessing. However, Satan's character feels a little more flamboyant and even a little more reachable or accessible in a way than Jacob does. I don't know what that says about me [Laughs]. Jacob's got that calm, unruffled, seeing-beyond-the-horizon guise. It's very different from me. I feel like I'm closer to Lucifer in a lot of weird ways [Laughs].
Do you ever listen to music to get into character?
I've never really tailored a list of music to a particular character. I do use music sometimes just to open myself emotionally. There's all kinds of stuff that does that. Music can definitely help me concentrate and get away from the chaos of the set. It gets you more internal and open.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…