Disclaimer: These True Lies interviews have been edited for clarity.
James Cameron’s hit spy film True Lies has now been adapted into a television series airing on CBS. Series creator Matt Nix, and stars Steve Howey and Omar Miller spoke at WonderCon about their version of True Lies, and fan-favourite guest star Matthew Lillard.
LadyJenevia: The most memorable episode by far was episode four, because of Matthew Lillard as The Wolf.
LadyJenevia: You two had a very interesting dynamic. How much of that did you just create because you’ve known each other for so long and you have that friendship and understanding of each other, versus just playing what’s already on the page?
Howey: Lillard and I used to play in this NBA entertainment league back in the day so it was good to see him. He’s actually saved my life one time. He got me out of a very precarious situation where a sea of dudes was coming to beat me up and he got me out of there pretty fast. It’s [a story] for another time but I already had an affinity for him. That was great. He came in doing this thing and he was trying this character, The Wolf. It was this kind of autistic, scary, sweet guy, and he lifted the show. High tide raises all ships. He was the high tide for that episode and we really needed him because the schedule was really hard. It was a really hard shoot. I had a lot of difficulty doing this because I wasn’t used to it. I’m used to the ‘lazy boy’ of jobs from Shameless to Reba to other movies, so this was a lot of work. He elevated the intensity and I definitely needed it. I hope he comes back because I would love to play with him again.
LadyJenevia: I think everyone wants him back.
Howey: Yeah, he’s so good! I’ve never seen him play that kind of character before.
LadyJenevia: Omar, have you created any sort of backstory to fill in the gaps of who your character is just so that as an actor, you know where you’re coming from and what motivates you to behave or speak the way that you do?
Miller: Yes, I did that early. I created a backstory. It’s just part of my preparation as a performer but strangely enough, I got a lot of help from Matt Nix and the team and what you’ll see is, there’s an episode that really mines deeply and has some more heavy dramatic fare of Gibb’s background and why he is the way that he is, and his family background. We have a fabulous actor, Keith David, the national treasure who… if you don’t know his face, you must have just been born or if you don’t know his face, you know his voice. He plays my father on the show, and I think it’s episode eight maybe. Oh man, we get into some really heavy stuff while within the context of the spy world and saving the world. I had what I did to prep to get started and I got a lot of aid by it actually being written out.
LadyJenevia: Matt, as a Charlie’s Angels 2000 fan, my eyes immediately went to McG’s name on the producer list. Can we expect to see him direct any episodes?
Nix: Oh wow! I say this as a good friend of McG and out of total love; that would be a very expensive episode.
LadyJenevia: And that’s why I want to see it!
Nix: Yeah, exactly. Well, McG was originally going to direct the pilot. He brought me onto it and this had been a passion project of his for years. You know, it’s funny, I’ll be honest, I had never thought of it. I think what we need is for a lot of people to watch the show. If we get a season two, we get a great time slot in season two, and we do very well, for you, I will put the screws to McG and try to make him direct an episode.
LadyJenevia: Love that.
Nix: It is total slumming for him though because he’s a guy who is always off making… he didn’t direct the pilot of True Lies because he got a movie. I think what he would make for an episode of directing an episode of True Lies is about what he spends on shoes in a month.
LadyJenevia: Matthew Lillard said that you wrote the character of The Wolf specifically for him. Can you provide your perspective of the creative inception of The Wolf and getting Matthew to come on board? That was the highlight of the five episodes I’ve seen.
Nix: Oh yeah, it’s fantastic. Matt and I have been been friends for years. Obviously, he has some experience playing sweet-faced psychopaths. I wanted to do this story and he was really a natural choice for it. I’ve been trying to get him to do something for years and we live close to each other. We play Dungeons and Dragons together. It turns out that being in my Dungeons and Dragons group is a pretty good way of getting a job as an actor. Also, having spent as much time with him [as I have], it was pretty easy to write in his voice.
LadyJenevia: Steve, being that this is an adaptation of a James Cameron film, what do you think it is about him as a storyteller that makes his body of work as iconic [as it is], and reaching a stratosphere that other directors never do?
Howey: Well when you’re a genius, you are trying to take over a country, you’re trying to invent something, you’re an entrepreneur, you’re doing different things. Luckily, he focused his talent into motion pictures. He’s one of the best we have and it’s an honour to be a part of something that he created. I mean, his name’s on the cover of our scripts. Omar said, Matt said it, we just want to entertain. We’re just trying to do something that people want to tune into and watch. We got close to it in some of the episodes. Some of the episodes are alright, but that’s… I’m honest, but I think we do have the potential of this being really cool and being more of the levity in the espionage game. I would rather it be more ‘wink-wink-nudge-nudge’ as we save the day instead of the serious stuff. I love the goofiness and we did some of that. I was doing ADR the other day and Gibb says, ‘You got to get over to the thing,’ and I’m like shooting, going, ‘We’re doing the best we can here, Gibb!’ It’s that kind of thing, to show the humour in a serious situation that is the best. But to go back to your question, to be part of something that James Cameron created is like a dream come true.
Watch the full True Lies interviews here: