Serie - Homecoming S02: Stephan James interview
Par Mulder, Los Angeles, le 18.05.2020
The critically-acclaimed series Homecoming returns for its second season with a fresh new mystery and an exciting new star, Janelle Monáe. Her character wakes in a rowboat adrift a lake, with no memory of how she got there — or even who she is. Her ensuing search for identity will lead her into the heart of the Geist Group, the unconventional wellness company behind the Homecoming Initiative.
Q : Which were your sources of inspiration to create your character? What did you bring to this character to give him a real human depth? What do you have in common with him ?
Stephan James : Thank you for your question. You know my first inclination up, you know sort of diving into. You know this world a better it’s getting reacclimated civilian life I knew I had to you know obviously connect with veterans you know that was a good starting point for me so I was able to to talk to some you know some veterans who were my age some even younger get to hear testimony to them you know not so much about their experiences, influences but more so you know their experience sort of reactive meeting into civilian life and sort of the challenges that present themselves you know when going about that so I mean that first I have to start there and then everything else would which would sort of come after it. From me in the second season I got to do a lot more you know building humanity, showing people the man you know behind the soldier from season one.
Q : Can you tell us what we can expect for Walter in this season two ? What state of mind at the beginning and what can happen to him ?
Stephan James : Yeah so I can get you know if you remember that first season you know anybody who was a fan of that first season sort of experienced a young man who was actively being drained of his memory every single day. You know this season for me I got to stray away from that now you could say that looseness you know that sort of vulnerability that just had to be accepted from Walter during that first season. You know we kind of put that on its head and for me this season was particularly rewarding because Walter has a whole new issue he has a target, a determination to ,you know, not only figure out what happens in that first season but to turn to right the wrongs if you will you know teaching to gain some sort of vengeance and so for me that was always exciting going into the second season.
Q : You were talking about preparing for the role whenever you prepare for a role do you enjoy that part of the process as much as filming ?
Stephan James : I think everybody Is definitely subject with everything and depending on the role and on the character but often you know that sort of level of traffic. it's a necessity in terms of your characters. So you know I try to figure out but I can't go into a building without doing some background, working and understanding who it is that way you know. It often leading to truth and authenticity. While I wouldn't call myself a method actor for say. I think that on you know a lot of what I do is informed by real life , you know excited looking at those I think that's our job as artists is to be able to see on undercovering and correctly convey the truth.
Q : I want to talk about Walter. He seems to be a good guy and then there's this moment later in the season to you where we really sort of question that. Can you talk about Walter ? is he really this good guy or is it something that the audience needs to be prepared for ?
Stephan James : That's a slippery slope for me. I would say bad. I would say that no one is hundred percent good and no one is hundred percent equal. I would say that a lot of what we see in the second season as a direct result of sort of some of the things that Walter had to deal with in the first season. And so you know some of his ways some of his methods might in turn be justified so I guess it all depends on you know what see you're looking at , you know whose side you are your own in the all thing.
Q : So my question to you is that you know Julia Roberts (Heidi Bergman) was a cornerstone of Walter in season one. You know how difficult it was for you to move forward without her in the second season ?
Stephan James : I mean I could barely make it to set without her it was horrible. No, I'm just kidding but no look, Homecoming first season was obviously incredible I'm very fortunate to be at work and share my scenes with the great Julia Roberts. But you know for me this season just about like its own thing it just felt like a new thing. I tried to not compared to it with the first season too much. You know, don't they're connected they did sort of feel like their own separate worlds and that's a big credit to our director Kyle Patrick Alvarez did a great job of taking this season. You know it can be a daunting task any director to take on a show that already exist already has its fans base. decent and things of those nature but you know I think you really took it on their list and he was able to, you know, give us a whole new world that was different by equaling richness to battle to run same suspense than in the first season. For me it was just great. I mean, you know I had great partners in the in the first season with Julia and Sam. It really didn't change with Janelle Monáe.
Q : What's your favorite scene in this second season ?
Stephan James : My favorite scene in the second season and would probably be this this long walk and talk about that Walter and Janelle Monáe’s character go through in a forest. It's sort of the small walking and talking scene in one shot that leads to sort of an explosion if you will. You know without giving too much away but I just remember that the you know the prospects of that day and you know realizing that we were filming that scene on the steadycam. So there's one camera guy basically holding up this significantly heavy piece of camera equipment and yes do this backwards walk in the woods while Janelle and I just talked and so I just remember you know Janelle and I really trying to make it as easy as possible for the camera guy to be able to pull it off and so we know that that requires a different level of attention to detail you know for me and Janelle an intensity all of that moment so I don't know just a moment out of respect for me and Janelle. You know we look into our eyes and help each other through back home.
Q : How did you feel about working on the second season because it's like the same background some kind of story but almost different at the same time how did you ? How do you feel about that ?
Stephan James : I loved it. I loved it again. You know as actors we were able to; you know; with the casting people to read the full season before. So I was able to read season to almost like a movie you know understanding the beginning middle and end. It was gonna take place for my character you know. So it was an unusual in that way I can use a lot of films. Honestly it just felt great, it felt great, too for one be able to come back and for two, be able to come back in the way that I believe Walter came back you know it's almost like I was working backwards in a sense you know trying to uncover all the differences in a window of who Walter is. Which sense has his life. I was interest by his past and I have got an opportunity this season to really color and it makes it more of a whole character so honestly I was excited by season two.
Q : So We're obviously going all of us were experiencing and challenging and difficult times How are you experiencing the space yourself and what are you discovering about yourself for some people it's a time to. you know revalue things in their lives and prioritize different things. How are you experiencing it ?
Stephan James : I think you know for me I try to remain productive creatively as much as I can, you know, whether that's building out ideas you know trying right now and that like writing, reading scripts, watching a lot of movies and TV shows. You know going on walks when I can. You know just try to keep my creative energy alive. You know I think that you know this time you've used this times an excuse to be really lazy at that sort of shut off our brains but you know on the other side you can kind of just use the time for good and to see what you can come up with and what you can learn about yourself in this time so it's really been really great to just be able to stay home, stay centered and grounded mind you I'm looking forward to getting back to life as I'm sure most of the world is definitely trying to take this time for what's what.
Q : This is kind of a little offbeat. My daughters are watching Degrassi and I thought I saw you in there. So I just wonder what that guy co starring first Julia Roberts and then Janelle Monáe what would he say you know if you told him that back that ?
Stephan James : Wow. I don't know you know. I like to say that you know I had the most confidence in the world at that time I thought that anything was possible and a part of me did it but you know it's one thing to say I want to work with Julia Roberts one day but it's another thing to light after sitting in front of you and you're actually working with her right now. You're able to build a relationship that you know extends far as you know it works you know I had a junior texted me a couple days ago just to check into something all over us and I don't know it was just something that is so cool I just thought man you know how many of my friends with the leads you know how many of my friends would lead back to the Degrassy times but you know Julia and I would be so close and things of that nature. So yeah I can't really say that you know I would have totally believes someone if they told me that it would hand out like this but I definitely had big goals and big dreams and I don't think that it will not stop anytimes soon.
Q : My question to you is you know the show entertain heavily with the audience because involve more issues. You have done movies like You know If Beale Street Could Talk and this show Homecoming. How do you feel to be a part of this in Hollywood that highlight ?
Stephan James : Yeah I mean look. I don't need to be a politician or an activist by any stretch of the imagination but I've had an incredible opportunity in my life to be a part of telling stories that matter. Be a part of art that reflects life and society and that can in turn maybe change the world. And so for me I think that that's sort of my Guiding Light and as far as you know the roles I choose and you know the people I choose to work with. For me I think at the core of it all I've just been a fan of great stories and let me look at something like that If Beale Street Could Talk directed by a Barry Jenkins from a book of James Baldwin, you know the great literary genius that is James Baldwin. I mean that's to get anyone excited. So for me it’s no brainer to take on things like that. It's a no brainer for me when someone says you know you got to tell a story about veterans react meetings are going in life and by the way Julia Roberts is on the star opposite you. You know it's kind of a no brainer something yeah I've just been really really lucky to tell cool stories with really really cool people.
The critically-acclaimed series Homecoming returns for its second season with a fresh new mystery and an exciting new star, Janelle Monáe. Her character wakes in a rowboat adrift a lake with no memory of how she got there -- or even who she is.
Homecoming Season 2
Created by Eli Horowitz, Micah Bloomberg
Based on Homecoming by Eli Horowitz, Micah Bloomberg
Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Producers : Eric Simonson, Marc Bienstock
Starring Janelle Monáe, Chris Cooper, Stephan James, Hong Chau, Chelsea Wallace, Monica Zhang, Chip Chinery, Jake Sidney Cohen, Nicole Alicia Xavier, Johann Carchidi Abreu, Albert Bensabat, Ari Frenkel, Timothy E. Goodwin, Michelle Haro, Anna Jaller Jeni Jones, Mary Anne McGarry, Bilal Mir, Milo Stein and Audrey Wasilewski
Cinematography : Jas Shelton
Editor : Matthew Ramsey
Production companies : Esmail Corp, Gimlet Pictures, Crocodile, We Here At, Red Om Films, Anonymous Content, Universal Cable Productions, Amazon Studios
We would like to thank :
Amandine Rouhaut (Serieously) (France), Jonita Davis (USA), Lorenzo Ormando (Angleterre) and Ravi Bansal (PIT) (Inde) who were present with us during this great press roundtable
Our San Diego editor and photographer Felipe Acevedo for his reread and help
Hugo De Luca and Amazon Prime Video for this great press roundtable
Photos : Copyright Amazon Prime Video