INTERVIEW: A.J. Simmons on Mining the Layers of Randall’s Antagonism on FROM Season 2
Disclaimer: This FROM interview has been edited for clarity.
MGM+ series FROM is home to a random group of people who have become trapped there and a mysterious group of monsters with unknown origins. A fascinating addition to season 2 is Randall, one of the passengers on a bus that arrived in the town during the season one finale. Randall, though seemingly reasonable in his initial skepticism about the town mysteries and circumstances, quickly devolves into hostility and violence towards the other residents of the town. Actor A.J. Simmons sat down to speak with us about the many layers of Randall as a character.
LadyJenevia: I’m really happy to get to speak with you because Randall, I think, is a very interesting character. When he first comes to the town, what I found most interesting, considering how antagonistic he becomes, is that he’s one of the people who tries to help Jim when Tabitha disappears down the hole. From your perspective as an actor, is he a good guy who’s reacting very badly to the town or is the town merely revealing who he actually?
Simmons: That’s a very good question. I think he has good in him but the expectation that he’s reacting badly to the town is probably not so fair to say for somebody like that. If I’m really trying to put myself in Randall’s shoes and you come into a town all this crazy stuff, it’s like… it’s not real, it’s like a fairy tale, right? I think he’s doing the best he can and I think very quickly, the guard will come up when it’s the whole trust thing. He’s come in on his own, can’t lean on anybody else, doesn’t trust anybody else for good reason, people start dying, disappearing…
I think he’s reacting how I would probably react.
LadyJenevia: (jokingly) Very hostile, very antagonistic…
Simmons: I mean, maybe less hostile, I would try and help people but I don’t think I’d be that easy to trust because it seems very far-fetched to believe right away and just willingly be like, “Oh, okay yeah, I’ll just do whatever you say.” You know what I mean?
LadyJenevia: Yeah, definitely. Acting and bringing a character to life is an exercise in empathy so in just a general sense, what is your window of empathy into Randall as a character?
Simmons: His frustration and being isolated in a place like that, and just sort of being constricted by circumstances that you can’t control. Seeing that really is the window to get into it and then just being self-sufficient or trying to be self-sufficient, that kind of thing. You’ve ultimately only got your own back in this life as best you can… I can enter into it that way, and then the whole antagonistic thing just comes after.
LadyJenevia: Once he’s shown to not work well with others, Donna has him move into the bus. Was he actually happy to have this space of his own or was he just trying to save face? I feel like I saw a whole range of emotions on his face. He enters the bus and then there’s all this blood on the ground so I couldn’t quite gauge…
Simmons: Yeah, that’s an interesting point. The thing is, I think he is quite happy to be away from these people because I think frankly they’re just annoying the shit out of him. I think beyond that, it’s then they’re seeing the blood and then it’s kind of raising questions but again, is this just all one big game? Is this all just for show? I think he’s quite relieved but at the same time, it just sort of amps up his suspicions when he hasn’t really got a moment to like let his guard down. He’s got to be alone all times you know so it’s a bit of a cocktail.
LadyJenevia: Once he’s on that bus and he gets to experience the ‘fun’ nighttime activities of the town and the monsters come. He’s kind of taunting them almost, especially once they start to leave, which I found to be a very interesting reaction. Does he not believe that he’s in danger or is is it denial? Again, I can’t quite get a read on him. It’s an ensemble show, you know there’s not a lot of screen time to spare, but yeah I can’t quite read what his what his feelings really were about that encounter.
Simmons: I think a fair amount of that was his fight or flight and his ego but I think he’s also trying to figure it out still. Randall hasn’t been there for very long at all and he hasn’t seen anybody change from a town person to a creature. He hasn’t seen any of this so it’s almost like he needs confirmation of this thing. As the season progresses and his theories that come out, you kind of understand this sort of thought process behind that. Randall thinks he could just deal with it anyway, creature or not. It’s a bit of that bravado, but like, you know I wouldn’t want to fight him. I think he’s got some problems.
LadyJenevia: About a month ago, I spoke with Nathan Simmons who plays Elgin. You two had a very memorable introduction to the show, it was a can of pea soup is what I believe he said so would you care to share your perspective of filming that scene?
Simmons: It was like the first scene that Nathan and myself, we did together, and it was like 36 degrees Celsius, not Fahrenheit, and we’re on this bus. It’s hot and we’re doing this and there’s lots of people, oh man, it was just like tumbling around, he throws it up on me and it just reeked and there’s nowhere for the smell to go so yeah, it was a very visceral experience.
LadyJenevia: I’ve seen as far as episode eight, which obviously ends with him taking Donna hostage. In just a cryptic way, could you tease a bit about what’s to come from how that situation is gonna play out? Obviously you don’t have to spoil it, but just a way to get fans excited…
LadyJenevia: Nice! Good, short, concise.
LadyJenevia: Well thank you so much for your time and it was really interesting getting more insight into your process and the whole psychology of the character because I think there’s a lot to him beyond just the bravado.
Simmons: Absolutely, it’s like an onion.
FROM season 2 is available to stream on MGM+.
Watch my FROM interview with A.J. Simmons here:
Watch my interview with FROM cast members Chloe Van Landschoot and Pegah Ghafoori here:
Watch my interview with FROM cast members Ricky He and Avery Konrad here:
Watch my interview with FROM cast member Nathan D. Simmons here:
Watch my interview with Harold Perrineau and other FROM cast members here:
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