This year’s London Film and Comic Con was a terrific event, made special by Miltos Yerolemou, Michael Trucco and Ryan Robbins. All three of them really took me by surprise, it doesn’t happen often. I first saw Ryan Robbins in Stargate Atlantis as Ladon Radim, and as much as I understood the character and his motivations, I wanted to throw something at the TV. I hated him, but I thought he was brilliant to watch. So from then on, every time I caught Falling Skies, or Sanctuary, it was OMG That’s him, it’s Ladon”. Then when I re-watched Battlestar Galactica, there he was again. My blackbelt in Google-Fu yielded the name, Ryan Robbins, and here he was in London.
When an actor does such a good job that you have to find out more about them on the internet, it’s pretty cool. When you read up about them, the end result can be a real eye opener. He’s Canadian, so of course that gets the thumbs up from me! But this bit, well (courtesy of Wikipedia):
Longing for a new creative outlet and now living in Vancouver, he helped form an experimental band, Hellenkeller. During that time, he was a struggling artist, believing in his art but also homeless; living in a van during the winter months.
A good chunk of my family come from Vancouver, winter in Vancouver is not particularly forgiving. Living in a van in Vancouver during winter is beyond cold. I’ve been homeless, I know what that feels like, but I honestly don’t think I could have survived that in Vancouver.
We asked him if he would be good enough to spare us some time for an interview, his response was an emphatic yes. His Twitter description reads:
“I’m that guy, from that show… you know the one”
If we were to re-write it for him, it would be “Ryan, that great guy, from those awesome shows, the one you recognise instantly”.
Dannii set about hitting him with her questions.
How is the London Film and Comic Con going for you so far?
Aw, it’s fantastic! I’ve been enjoying myself a lot, I love London so it’s a good excuse to come and explore the City, and I’m a big comic book nerd too so it’s really good to walk around and see all the artists and writers that here. I’m just a fan, like everybody else here! I geek out with the best of them! I get to geek out in the “Green Room” and try to act really cool with all of the cool people that are here!
Since you’re a comic book fan, Ben Affleck, Batman, yay or nay?
I reserve judgement until we see him, you know, I don’t want to c*** p on the guy when we haven’t seen him just because Daredevil wasn’t great. I mean, movies are good for several reasons, you can’t hinge it all on the lead actor, and I think he’s just a completely different person to how he was then anyway. And from all accounts, you know, he’s working really hard, he’s taking this role really seriously. He’s giving it everything he’s got and that’s all that really counts for me. And he’s got what it takes to do it you know, he’s aging himself up for it, he put on weight. Let’s see. I’ve got a good feeling, I think he’s going to do a pretty good job. So let’s see.
Falling Skies, Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Atlantis although sit in the same genre, but stylistically, visually, are very different, how was it going from one to the other?
Oh it was great! I like the challenge of never playing the same character twice, I want to do something different.
I hated you so much in Stargate Atlantis as Ladon!
He was such a good character.
Awesome! Then I did a good job. I was shooting in a series called Sanctuary where for four seasons I played a Werewolf, and then in the one hiatus I went and played Charles Manson in a movie, you know, talk about two completely different characters, and I love that in the work, and I always look for that. I always look for something, a new challenge, but at the end of the day I’m not really concerned if you remember my name an all that, but I just want to be that guy, I want you to turn on the TV and see a movie and go “oh my god it’s that guy, I love that guy, he’s great”, because that guy, those are all of my favourite actors including “that girl”, there’s a lot of them as well! That’s my Twitter handle, “I’m that guy from that show”, and I like that, I mean those character actors are my favourite people, they get the really interesting characters. Playing the lead can be a real challenge because you have to be stable in one role, I don’t want to do that. I’m not a stable person (laughs), too much pressure!
Ladon was quite a vicious character, do you prefer playing the antagonist?
It depends. It’s really fun to play the antagonist. I’m actually glad you said antagonist because no bad guy thinks that they’re a bad guy. They think their cause is really “just”. I mean from the audiences perspective, sure Ladon may have seemed a bit of an as***e, but from his perspective he’s just trying to save his people, he’s trying to save his planet, he’s doing whatever he can to save his people, he’s a scientist who’s been put in this situation, it’s a huge responsibility, and he’s willing to whatever it takes to save his family. It just so happens it a completely different perspective to ours. Had it been called Stargate Genii maybe we would be talking differently about Ladon (laughs).
Is it quite difficult to interact with the levels of CGI that are now in TV shows?
It was really hard. You know we started Sanctuary a while ago as a web series and it was all green screen, it was all imaginary, but it’s not too bad for me. I have an overactive imagination as it is, so I can imagine the world in front of me. The thing that’s cool though is that the world that I imagine is nothing compared to the world you end up seeing in the end.
Does that come as a bit of surprise for you?
Yeah, Sanctuary was incredible. I mean those sets were maybe an eighth or quarter built and all the rest was green screen.
That’s Game of Thrones territory!
Exactly! And you just go in, and that’s your job. It’s sort of like back in the theatre, there you let the audience use their imagination on what’s beyond those walls, but with Sanctuary the CGI teamwill just show you.
Did you expect Battlestar Galactica to reach such a huge level of popularity?
I had a feeling. After the mini-series, after I saw how great it was, I had a feeling that it was going to be something special and wasn’t what people thought. Some people may be initially poo pooed it a little bit going “oh, it’s a re-make of a show that was like kind of campy version of Star Wars for television”, but that’s what it was designed to be. I’m actually a huge fan of the original Battlestar Galactica, I loved it! The fact that they got away with saying “Frak” on television, in 1978, that was a big thing! That was some really aggressive television for 1978. It was sexy, it was pretty violent, and they kind of swore. They broke some rules and, I thought that was awesome! And the thing I liked about the current Battlestar is that it stayed politically and socially relevant, like really relevant, frighteningly relevant. When we were talking about Ladon earlier, with Battlestar, our heroes became the suicide bombers. It’s a huge thing, and if you watch it today, it still has social and political relevance, and I thought the writing was just astounding on that show.
I thought it really raised the bar, along with Life on Mars and Game of Thrones. The three of those shows have ripped the roof off of the top of the genres.
Oh absolutely, listen, Game of Thrones is on a whole new level, that show is just amazing. But Battlestar was huge at the time, it had a huge following, but Game of Thrones has now of course, just blown up! Worldwide! I was just talking with Jerome in the back and it’s just..
He’s a very down to earth guy.
Actually they all are! I did a little film with Kit Harrington and he’s completely, well we didn’t know each other well, we worked together briefly, we talked a lot and he’s completely unaffected by all of the Hollywood silliness. And it seems like he’s living the dream, great characters to play, but hey,enough about those guys, back to me (laughs).
What’s been the most challenging character for you to play so far?
Charles Manson. He’s a very complicated individual, and he’s a world renowned icon of evil. As far as the world is concerned he’s just evil, and I had to play that guy and not be able to judge him and try to play him from a neutral perspective. I mean you have to look at him like a psychologist would in a sense and try to stay neutral and try to understand him, why he made the choices he made. It’s not to sympathise, but you can’t allow yourself to judge that character when you’re playing him. And that. That’s horrible.
What charities do you support?
For one, and thank you for asking! Sanctuary for Kids is a big charity for me, I’m a Sea Shepherd supporter and for me, youth and animals. Youth, for my own personal reasons I care very deeply about disenfranchised young people, children that survive all forms of abuse, be it in the home, but it’s a real thing, and depression, anxiety and stress, it’s hard for young people to deal with. We get to figure it out when we’re adults but when you’re young and you maybe you don’t have that personal history to draw from, to learn from, to know. You say to a kid, “Trust me it’s going to be ok, you’re going to be fine”, it doesn’t mean anything to them because you don’t know, or you haven’t had as a young person, enough time on this earth to know what that feels like. Time just feels like forever, you say “A year from now, don’t worry, you’re going to forget all about this”, with some of the things they’re struggling with, and if you were in their place at that age you’d be thinking “A year!? Are you f***g kidding me, that’s ridiculous, that’s so much time”. But for me, because I’m older, a year, I can handle that, I can get there, but when you’re a kid that’s hard, that’s beyond hard, that’s an eternity, especially when you’ve gone through something very difficult. And at the end of the day, it’ the kids who are going to take care of me when I’m in a home, it’s the kids who are going to vote for the politicians that are or are not going to change this world. The future is literally in their hands, and if we don’t give them hope, I mean, god, there’s a lot of hopelessness out there. You’ve got to give them hope. Let them know that we’re out there, that we’re not just a bunch of a**holes grownups that are judging them. So it’s super important to me. That’s a big one for me.
Sadly, the interview had to come to an end but we’d like to thank Showmasters, and Ryan very much for his time.