7 Qs With: Luke Cage's Justin Swain

By Jordan Ramsey (@J_Rambo88)

What was the most fun role you've ever played? Why was it so fun?

I think that would be my part on Boardwalk Empire. I really loved the show and was so glad to be auditioning for it. Meredith Tucker had called me in a few times for various roles. It was the second season of the show and I was called in to play one of the heads of the IRA, Patrick. I had to do a full on Irish accent, which is really fun. When I left the final call back I remember thinking something like "I don't know how I will feel if I don't get this one" because I loved playing the character so much. I had auditioned for a play earlier that day as well and when I got home I was pretty exhausted and took a nap. I woke up to my cell phone ringing and it was my agent. He just said "You booked them." And I was like "What? What do you mean ‘them'?" I had booked the play and Boardwalk Empire. It was good day and I think it was the day things turned a corner for me.

Also, fun fact, when I shot Boardwalk I worked with Charlie Cox that day. He was a very nice guy and I was so excited to see him later on as Daredevil!

What made you want to become an actor?

I did my first play when I was six years old. I've been acting ever since. It's always been a place where I felt a sense of freedom. Shaw said actors get a chance to "make all that can be: be". I feel that sense of wonder and imagination every time I get a chance to play a character. So I'd say that feeling of freedom within a role is what drove me.

What would you say is your dream role or genre to work in? Why?

Oh man, yeah!  One show I'd love to do before it closes out would be House of Cards. I know Robin Wright directs some episodes; it would be so cool to work with her. I love the writing on that show (Beau Willimon). It's just such a great show!

What is a fun fact about you that people aren't aware of?

I lived in a castle in the Netherlands for 6 months during college. I studied art history and lived in a tower. The Castle had two moats and my work-study job was being the Castle bartender and taking care of the geese and peacocks on the property.

What was your experience like on the set of Luke Cage

Getting the chance to play Bailey was so cool. The role grew as the season progressed and each time I was sent my pages it was an exciting surprise to see where the writers were taking it. He's an analytical guy and I think that is a good balance and challenge for Misty who tends to go with her gut. I think he also wants to protect Misty; in little subtle ways Bailey is trying to make sure she doesn't self destruct before they they are able to understand what is really going on with the whole Luke Cage situation.

One funny detail was his glasses. Early on I got some pages that said he wore glasses, so I quickly grabbed my wife's glasses as I left the house. When we started shooting the scene I was wearing the glasses and looking at the computer screen. It was my wife's prescription so as I stared at the computer screen I started to feel sick. I couldn't wear the glasses for too long so I had to take them off during the scene and it started to become a little Bailey character thing. Ha!

Are you a comic book fan, and if so, what’s your favorite comic book series or superhero? Why?

I wasn't into the comics as much as I was into the films and the Marvel studios shows. My father in law actually really loves comics and has collected them over the years. He knew everything about Luke Cage from the comics and he actually bought me a really great Luke Cage comic for Christmas. One interesting thing he told me when we were talking about the show is that when Luke Cage the series came out, Luke Cage the comic book sold out! He said in his years of collecting comics he had never heard of that happening. 

Are there any projects we need to look out for in the near future? Can you tell us a bit more about them?

I'm looking at working on a virtual reality project. I’m also finishing up the development of a new series about a group of fishermen in Massachusetts who are over regulated by the government so they turn to smuggling to survive.  There are lots of opportunities on the horizon!


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