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Meet the Cast: CBS's "Moonlight"

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Date
05-09-2008
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A sunny spring afternoon may not seem like the best time to visit the set of a vampire show, but Moonlight vampires don’t burst into flames at the first hint of UV light.  They just have to wear sunglasses and they suffer from heat exhaustion if they spend too long in the daylight.  Of course, rehydrating a vampire takes something a little stronger than Gatorade.

Moonlight stars Alex O’Loughlin as vampire Mick St. John who works as a private investigator.  He’s in love with Beth Turner (Sophia Myles), a mortal woman and a reporter.  Together, they solve crimes.  The show also features Jason Dohring as Mick’s best friend, the hedonistic vampire Josef.  Eric Winters recently joined the cast as Assistant District Attorney Ben Talbot, the guy who shows up at all the crime scenes Mick and Beth crash.

First stop on the press tour is stage nineteen, home of Josef’s office and Beth’s oceanside condo.  We get a tour of the sets and settle into the living room of Beth’s condo to wait for Jason Dohring, who plays 400-year-old vampire Josef Konstin.  Dohring pauses before joining us to check his hair in a mirror on the other side of the soundstage.  He is possibly not aware that anyone is watching him through the blinds of Beth’s living room window. He takes several minutes to ensure that his “I couldn’t be bothered to brush it” hairstyle is properly tousled before joining us on the set.

Jason may have been born in Ohio, but his speech is pure California-boy.  His speech is peppered with “like,” “whatever,” and “you know what I mean?” with frequent utterances of “dude” and an occasional “bro” or “rad.”   He wears a royal blue, open collar shirt.  The costume designer, Sal Perez, prefers that style for Josef.  “It's a vampire show, so it's always about the neckline,” Perez says.  “I would never put a vampire  in a turtleneck sweater because... why?”

Jason DohringJason Dohring

In the thirteenth episode of the series, Jason’s character finally gets to go into full-vampire mode.  “Mick and I go kick some ass,” he says.  “We come in like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and start ripping some vamps up.”

He didn’t have more than a casual interest in vampires before he got this part, but now he’s fascinated by the mythology.  “I think there's a part of the human aspect of being immortal and more powerful than you probably think you are.  So I think people like, see that and it kind of turns them on because they're, like - wow!  Like when you see Star Wars and you're like, yeah, dude, I want to do that.”

“[Every vampire story] has different rules, so we're kind of figuring out what we are and what our style is like, which I guess is just more or less real people that live their lives and yet become vampires.   My guy's a little bit eccentric.  [Josef’s] been around eight lifetimes. That's just been the challenge, there's no new situations - you've seen everything before. When you give advice to Mick or someone like that it's just - 'Please.  This happened to me 200 years ago.  I know what you're going through.'”

Although he’s been acting since he was eight, he didn’t take his acting very seriously until a few years ago.  “Probably a year before Veronica, I was like, I want to be awesome.  And that was the start of it for me.  I almost don't know if it was so much about acting as it was about doing good work.  I want to do work that blows people away.”

One things that’s helped him develop his craft is studying the work of great actors like Marlon Brando. “Instead of watching the whole movie you watch one scene twenty times.  I think that's probably the best advice you could give to an actor.  You watch it and you're like, Hey, cool, he did nothing.  But rewind it anyway and watch it again.  Oh, look at that.  Look at the way he's standing.  Rewind it again.  ... holy s**t.  Look at all that stuff he does in three seconds, every time they’re on film, man.

“They move with grace and beauty.  I think that's something that can be learned and you can pick that up and use that in your work. That definitely shaped my career, just studying those guys.”  Acting is clearly something he’s passionate about.  He pauses, self-consciously, and adds, “Feels like Inside the Actor's Studio, doesn't it?  ‘C**ksucker’ is my favorite swear word.”


Alex O’Loughlin plays 85-year-old vampire detective Mick St. John.  Today he’s filming a forties flashback for the fifteenth episode, called What’s Left Behind. We catch him between scenes.  He’s wearing an authentic World War II uniform and his hair is slicked back.  He speaks in his natural Australian accent instead of the American one he uses on the show.

“You see me in heavy combat.  With my best friend,” Alex says of the episode. “Mick was a medic when he went in [to the military], with basic overall training. And as we will see in this episode his other firearm training is honed in the face of battle, which is the reality for so many soldiers at war.  A lot of my friends have been to battle in Somalia and the Gulf War and different parts of the world and they go in specializing in one area and they come out knowing a whole lot more about a lot of stuff.” 

Mick put his medical skills to use recently, when romantic rival Josh Lindsey was shot.  “Mick tried to save him and he's pretty good just dealing with what he has to deal with, but that blood - there was so much blood.  The urge to do what comes instinctively and naturally to him now - it was right at the surface the whole time.“   Of course, like many good-guy vamps before him, Mick doesn’t drink from humans.  “He doesn't kill for pleasure anymore and he gets his blood from a blood bank.“

Alex O'Loughlin in costume for a flashback sequence.Alex O'Loughlin in costume for a flashback sequence.

Alex has plenty of ideas about Mick that haven’t made it to the screen yet.  “Perhaps in the many years that Mick has had and before he became a private investigator, in that transition time for him, he may have gone off and actually studied hematology - gone and done a lot of research and got like, really well educated in blood.”

“Really the limits of the storytelling possibilities for us are the limits of our imaginations,” Alex says.  “The ideas are so immense and we've got so much flashback stuff to do and there's pieces of jewelry that Mick wears that he's worn from the beginning of the show that we haven't talked about yet that come from different stories as well.    I mean, I've got lots of ideas.  I walk into the writers' room and they go ,” he sighs heavily.  “But the writers are the same.  There's so many ways we can go with it and so I'm just hoping we get a season 2 because of the possibilities.”

Fans of the show have started a blood drive in order to show the executives how much they want it renewed.  “It's quite overwhelming,” Alex says.  He is working towards becoming a spokesperson for the American Red Cross because of the blood drive. “The amount of people and how much they support the show.  How they're actually participating and stepping up and making things happen.  I think it's great.  Any time any of us get any kind of opportunity to do philanthropic work, I think we should take it.”

“There's been so many reasons and times for this show to be canned.  When they do a pilot and they fire everyone - everyone - you learn to not have any expectations whatsoever because surprises are inevitable. That we're still going with everything that's going on, [including] the strike is a testament to what we have here in Moonlight and the cast and crew and the fans.”

Alex does his own stunts whenever possible.  “I've got a harness that I use for wire work, going up in the air and doing big jumps and stuff.  I really like the fighting stuff.  I sort of see it as a dance, and my character should inform the way we choreograph the fight and stuff like that.  I really enjoy it.  I find it exhilarating.”  But due to time and budget restrictions, among other things, that’s not always possible.  “I have a very, very, very dedicated stunt team who do a lot of work,” he says.

Alex spends most of his working time with Sophia Myles, who plays his human love interest, Beth Turner.  “She's easy to get along with, which makes a big difference when you've got to spend 18 hours a day with somebody.  We spend a lot of time together, we're great mates, she's really fantastic to work with.  I'm Australian, she's British - we have similar sensibilities, similar sense of humor - we grew up with the same TV - so we have all that in common.”

He was interested in acting from a very young age.  “My grandmother who's ninety-three years old - she's so wonderful.  She's this big.  We have a special sack that we carry her around in.  She told me that [when] I was a toddler, two or three, I told her 'Gran, I wanna be an actor when I grow up.'”  But it took years before he decided to actively pursue it.   “I was about eighteen or nineteen and showing off one day in front of a group of my friends and my good friend Steve pulled me aside and said, 'You're an actor and you don't do anything about it and you should be ashamed of yourself.'  And I went away and I thought about it and I realized he was right.  I realized that I'd spent my life to date walking out of cinemas and theaters and away from performances and feeling a strange sort of nostalgic, empty, sick feeling, and I could never explain it.  From that moment, I pursued it and I haven't looked back.”


Eric Winters is the new guy in the cast.  He plays the new Assistant District Attorney, Ben Talbot and possible romantic interest for character, Beth.  Sometimes it can be tough joining an existing show mid-season.  “Alex and Sophia run a great ship as far as cast goes, being that they're the two leads on the show - they're really warm.  And starting from the top down, the producers, everybody has been extremely welcoming and friendly and it makes for a really comfortable environment when you're coming in midstream on a show.“

Eric WinterEric Winter

“He’s driven by his work to do whatever he has to to get the answers to  solve the problems going on in town,” Eric says of his character. “I don't think he sticks to the book, necessarily, so I think it leaves for a lot of play with what and who he's willing to go after, especially to screw with Mick.  He's got a big finger on the pulse of Mick and he can't quite figure it out and I think it drives him crazy.”

“I hate to say that I was one of these ‘slash’ - I was a model slash turned actor,” Eric laughs.  “I went to UCLA and was a psycho-biology major.  So it was totally irrelevant for acting. I took some drama and I basically got very turned on by it with the drama classes, and when I started modeling, it transitioned into a lot of different acting classes.  It's a passion that's grown tremendously since I started.”

Eric has always loved vampire stories.  “ Mythology - all these types of - werewolves, Dracula - have always been fascinating to me.  It's just a cool genre.  I think they're real,” he says in a serious tone, then laughs.  “Nah, just kidding.  But wouldn't it be cool if they were?“

Although ADA Talbot is human, Eric wouldn’t mind if he became a vampire.  “Do I want to [turn into a vampire]?  Who doesn't?  I want those cool fangs on,” he laughs.  “Never got to play a vampire before.  Could be a fun thing.”


The press tour group is standing outside a soundstage on the Warner lot when Sophia Myles arrives for her interview.  She rides up to us on a retro cruiser bike.  Her hair is cut into a bob that ends just below her ears and she’s wearing a military-style jacket.  She looks like someone out of a forties flashback herself, though she isn’t actually working today.

Like Alex, Sophia uses an American accent in her role as Beth Turner, although she grew up in the UK. “I'd been coming to LA since I was twenty-one,” Sophia says.  ”Alex and myself have both been coming over here for the best part of a decade, knocking on people's doors and trying to get jobs.  I came out last March and had a hideous trip and couldn't get arrested and I said, 'RIght, this is it.  I'm sick and tired of trying to sell myself out here. They can wake up and smell the coffee.  Unless I have a job, I'm not coming back.’  And about three weeks later, I got a letter through my door offering me this gig.”

Sophia Myles arrives for her interviewSophia Myles arrives for her interview

“L.A.'s great - L.A.'s the most fabulous city in the world if you're employed here,” Sophia says.  “It's the most awful city in the world if you're unemployed.  But it's great, and we've been made to feel so welcome, both Alex and I, and we're working at Warner Brothers!  It's a dream come true.”

“Al is the older brother I never had, and also the best, the best acting partner,” she says when asked about her relationship with Alex.  “He really is the co-star of my dreams.  I see him more than I've ever seen any boyfriend in my life.  If we didn't get along it would be an absolute nightmare.  But our relationship is based on humor.  So we laugh a lot.”

The entertainment industry in California isn’t the same as in the United Kingdom.  “It's kind of 99% about the cash and then 1% about the creative bit. So that was an adjustment.  We're working for a corporation and it's strange to me the idea that we're more concerned about who's advertising in the commercial break.  But I'm not interested in that.  I'm interested in how many hearts and souls we're moving, in people that are seeing the show.”

The success of the show and the devotion of fans make up for a lot, though.  “None of us coming into it had any kind of expectations really, and it's blown my mind how it's like the snowball effect, the success of it all.  I think the one thing that we love the most is our fanbase.  They're giving blood now, I hear.  They're donating blood to the Red Cross to try and make sure that CBS give us a second season.”

Although she loves working on Moonlight, Sophia isn’t a big fan of vampires in general.  “I've yet to kind of make the connection between why drinking blood from somebody is sexy.  It doesn't quite float my boat,” she admits, though it does make the relationship between Mick and Beth more interesting.  “I wouldn't recommend to any girls out there to get involved with a vampire, now that I know what it entails.  Because there's issues, you know, can they have kids together?  She's going to age, he's not.  But they're madly in love with each other.”

She’s not ready for Beth to be turned into a vampire.  “Mick hasn't yet given her any kind of solid commitment.  I'd like to see a nice big diamond before she gets turned.” 

Sophia got into acting when she was sixteen.  “I was never interested in drama, I was very very academic at school and I had a place to read philosophy at Cambridge University, actually, which I never went to.  There was a very very handsome teacher walking around the halls when I was sixteen and I was like, ‘Oh, who's that?’  He was new and he turned out to be the new drama teacher, so I was like, Well, I'll do that, then.  I was doing a play as part of the exam at sixteen and Julian Fellowes, who is the script writer for Gosford Park, was producing a lot of stuff at the time.  He offered me a job in a period drama for the BBC.  And the minute I walked onto a film set, I was completely hook line and sinker mad in love with it.”


Final stop on the Moonlight press tour is the wardrobe department, where we meet costume designer Sal Perez.  Work on a vampire presents its challenges, like constantly replacing shirts, jeans and coats destroyed by blood and special effects.  But it also has opportunities for elaborate costumes that would never come up in other shows.  Perez used to work on Veronica Mars, which was, as he says, “Here’s your t-shirt, here’s your hoodie.”  But with Moonlight, he gets to dress eighteenth-century French nobility one week and World War II soldiers the next.  And for twentieth-century flashbacks, he has the entire Warner Brothers costume archives to draw from.  The studio was founded in 1918 and they keep costumes from every production in a basement at their Burbank lot.

Perez is already preparing for the final episode, though he doesn’t have a script yet.  He’s working from an outline.  No one on set has the script for the finale episode at the time of the visit, but they all look forward to reading what could be the last episode of Moonlight ever, or it could be a lead-in to the show’s second season.

Moonlight Madness...

No matter what happens, it has been pure pleasure watching the Moonlight cast work such marvelous magic on the small screen every Friday night. Amongst so much waste, they are the shining gem. The chemistry between Alex, Sophia, and Jason ("Mick", "Beth", and "Josef"), is absolutely breathtaking... not to mention the rest of the players who add that perfect touch. All the fans know that the cancellation was not a matter of public preference... If that were the case, they would still be on. It's just yet another unbelievable inconsistency in the media world that proceeds without any rhyme or reason. We just hope that another station will have the sense to pick them up where the last show left off... but if not, thank we thank them so much for the sweet "16", which will forever be a wonderful memory as we channel-surf in vain, hoping to find something with even a fraction of the entertainment value that they have given us in such a short span of time. God bless the Moonlight gang... Forever in our hearts!

Moonlight, My Moonlight

We will not rest until our moonlight is back. It won its time slot every week, but it still wasn't good enough for CBS. Apparently my vote wasn't counted. Ironically enough the show that replaced it last Friday lost to another network. Never would have happened with Moonlight. Proof is in the puddin'.

moonlight

Thank you for the wonderful interviews. I love the cast of Moonlight, and all involved with the production. I hope that another network is smart enough to pick up this lovely, fictional story. We, moonlight fans, are just heart sick over the cancellation, and want a 2nd season desparately.

Moonlight

Seriously sick over Moonlight's cancellation. We did find out, however, that CBS was pushing to change it from the beautiful lovestory that it is into "CSI Vampire", so it appears to be the best thing, afterall. Now we just hope for another network that would like the 8,000,000 + viewers that CBS threw out with the bathwater. (That's 8,000,000 Nielsen viewers, NOT including all the fans NOT added into the ever-faulty Nielsen count!) If they're smart, they will see that Moonlight can only do their network good; If they're not, I will give up on network TV for good!

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT

great interview! just awesome. proves the reason all of us are so intent on getting moonlight picked up on a more appreciative network for season 2. we will not rest!

Like Nector From The Gods

"Moonlight" had an amazing first season and fans are set to ensure there IS a second season. After hearing what CBS had planned for "Moonlight" I can honestly say I would be pleased as punch to have it on another network. The amazing romance between Mick and Beth is what entrances us, holds us firm so that it almost feels like sacrilege to turn away. Add the friendship of Josef and Mick kicking rear and taking names and you have the perfect cast and a show that demands we be there to experience it all. We will have Season 2. Be sure to watch the internet for news about it.

Nina Tassler

I just read something from one of the boards that put my feelings into perspective perfectly: "Just read that Ms. Tassler said her reaction would be to 'Laugh' when she got flooded with letters from us. Seriously, does anyone need a hit from the sacred ass paddle more than that???" The good laugh I just got from that has got to outweigh anything the grinch Tassler has in her. And I KNOW Moonlight will have the ultimate last laugh! VAMPIRE SOLIDARIY RAH! RAH!! RAH!!!

Early on while reading this

Early on while reading this excellent article I had so much in my head...now I can't think of a damn thing to say! Beautiful job, I love the interviews and thank you so much!

I enjoyed your article. It

I enjoyed your article. It is nice to read about the cast and crew getting along so well, and welcoming Eric Winter too. I am actually glad, now, that CBS didn't renew Moonlight and force it to become CSI: vampires. While I enjoy every episode in some way, I don't want the telling of "my, our" Moonlight to be twisted into a "formula" that I have grown tired of, and think others are tired of the CSI "formula" too. There are noticeable differences in the season 1 episodes from beginning to end, and a season 2 with a new network would have to include the reversing of some of those differences to be true to the creators (yeah Ron and Trevor!) and desires of the fans. A season 2 on a new network is the chance for that network to start a new path in series production. The new path would show that being responsive to the actual fans will bring the fans and their money to that new network. If you make decent shows, the fans will come. And the advertisers. TV audiences have been bullied around by "big networks" and big corporations, the advertisers. "There's nothing to watch on television," has become true if you are a thinking viewer. Inexpensive to make (read that cheap) reality and game shows have either turned viewers away from tv or turned viewers into robots who will sit through any dribble, oh I mean any hour of people planning things behind other's backs or yelling at each other. And reality and game shows have put pressure on shows, such as Moonlight, to reduce costs by any means necessary. Thank goodness Moonlight fans know a good thing when they see it, and are refusing to let it die. I am very glad to see other viewers who want their voices to be heard and counted. Its past time to be mad and we're not going to take it anymore. Its past time to have a rating system that really works. It is time to follow the network that will make Moonlight the way the creators, actors, crews, writers and producers say it should be made. And we will bring our money and voices with us.

Moonlight

I love Moonlight. The actors are fantastic and the scripts are poignant. It is a wonderful show and I am very hopeful that a second season will soon be forthcoming with a network that really appreciates the quality of this production.

Great article. I love the

Great article. I love the show and the cast. what great chemistry! Love the picture of Sophia with her bike.

Moonlight

Thank you so much for the article. Since Moonlights cancellation, we Moonlight fans have been so heartbroken and downtrodden. It's nice to hear how enthusiastic the actors (especially Alex and Jason) are about their roles and the series. What was CBS thinking?! They do need one to the head with the sacred ass padle.

Devoted Moonlight Fan

Moonlight was the greatest show ever on T.V. I loved reading your article, and I am with the others. We Moonlight fans will not give up until our beloved show is back. It wasn't just about vampire life. It has romance, drama, mysticism, and mystery. Not many shows can have that and have a successful fanbase. This show does, and that means a great deal.

Just wanted to thank your

Just wanted to thank your site for its coverage of such a great show. This is a fun and underrated genre of entertainment. Keep fighting Moonlighters, We need more diversity in Television!

Moonlight

Great article! I pray that Moonlight finds a new home on another network. I love the show and was heartbroken when the news came out CBS cancelled it.

Great article

It was lovely to read your article on the cast of Moonlight. It was informative, amusing and stylish. I'll look forward to reading more of your contributions to Classic-Horror. It's such a pity (and a short-sighted move on the part of the network execs) to have this wonderful TV series canceled, especially when the cast, crew, Warner Brothers and the fans were misled by CBS to the conclusion that a second season was forthcoming. Moonlight is a wonderful TV series and I enjoyed every episode. Your set visit article was just the bit of upbeat reading I was looking for. Thanks LD

Thanks for the article. It's

Thanks for the article. It's a shame such a wonderful show having to battle for a renewal.

Help us with the Vampire Relocation Project!

Yes, Moonlight deserves a second season and those of us who desire an escape from the realities of everyday life and who appreciate a great show filled with romance, model friendships and exciting mysteries will not stop fighting until Joel Silver, Alex O'Loughlin or someone else in position of leadership at Warner Brothers tells us to stop! CBS may not appreciate 8M loyal viewers but there must be another network who will and in return we will reward that network with not only our viewership but our pocketbooks! Don't let the door close on Moonlight - help us find our sexy vamps and their leading ladies a new home at a network that will appreciate us! Bye Bye CBS!

Moonlight Fan

The article was great and would like to thank you for the interviews. The battle will continue to save our favorite show.

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