INTERVIEW: Get to know Marvel’s ‘Helstrom’ actor Trevor Roberts
Longevity and joy through passion and persistence
Passion is something that simply cannot be faked. It bleeds through in our words, energizes our movements, and elevates those around us. Having worked with the likes of DiCaprio, De Niro, and Pacino, Trevor Roberts has been able to channel his passions into an impressive series of roles across stage and screen. Ahead of the release of Marvel’s Helstrom, I had the opportunity to speak with Roberts about his latest role. His love for his craft is abundantly clear.
Roberts has a recurring guest star role in Marvel’s Helstrom as Father Joshua Crow, a Priest who is more than he appears.
PUREFANDOM: Hi Trevor, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. First and foremost, congratulations on landing the role of Father Joshua Crow.
TREVOR ROBERTS: Hey, thanks for that. I’m really happy to be talking about Helstrom with you today.
After watching the first 5 episodes, Helstrom is much more of an intriguing family drama with horror/supernatural elements as compared to many other comic book TV properties out right now.
First off, I love how you frame the core essence of the show. As I watch each episode, it’s so easy to relate to the characters, their ticks, their walls and defense mechanisms, when you see them as real, damaged people, dealing with their lives – their incredibly scary lives, as best as they’re equipped. It can be heartbreaking, and ultimately very healing to watch.
Can you talk about how you came to land the role of Father Crow?
Landing the role was such an interesting process. Everything from the true title of the show to what character you’re actually reading for, was kept under lock and key. I mean, we never saw the word Helstrom on a call sheet, a studio map – nothing. So, you get an audition for “2nd Hulu Project”, and as an actor, you have to immediately go with your instincts, trust the writing, and emotionally invest, to the hilt.
I initially read for a character that appears in the first two episodes, and had such a deep connection to the pain, torment and emotional struggle that this poor man was going through. I knew I made a good impression on the casting team and producers. It was just a really palpable feeling of “this guy GETS our show”. But, as is often the case, “they went another way”. I was grateful for the experience, went on my merry way, went in studio a few weeks later to narrate an audiobook, and got the call for Helstrom again. My agent says, “The showrunner, Paul is asking for you by name”. And…what actor doesn’t love hearing that?
The scene I was asked to read was this slimeball corporate type, who was being, let’s just say, less than professional while interviewing a young, pretty woman, for a job. I HATED this guy, on the page. But as an actor, I was like, “Oh…this is going to be REAL fun”! We sent off the tape, and it was a pretty quick turnaround to be approved by Marvel and Hulu for ‘Father Crow’.
Without giving too much away, can you tell us about how your character fits in to this supernatural dynamic and what we can expect from him this season?
Without giving anything away, Joshua Crow starts out as a man who Arianna Guerra’s character ‘Gabriella Rossetti’ goes to for guidance. Immediately, this man of the cloth reveals that he is not all he appears. Like all the characters in Helstom, Father Crow is at the mercy of, and in battle with, the forces of evil, trying their damndest… yeah I went there…as they try to “eff” with humanity for their own pleasure and amusement.
How much did you know about the source material going into Helstrom? Are you a fan of the comic / comics in general?
Helstrom? Come again? Never heard of it. I joke, but seriously, it was never on my radar. When it comes to comics, I’m not an avid collector or fan, but what I positively love about them, is how all the people who were once classified as “nerds” are now the people in charge of a huge portion of entertainment in pop and niche genre culture. You can’t get away from the influence of comics and why would you want to? While I can’t say I ever grew up reading comics, and thinking, “…some day, I want to do THAT in a movie”; I feel like I’ve appropriately nerded out over this whole experience.
Helstrom deals heavily in some disturbing imagery and concepts. After a day of shooting demonic possessions and half eaten prop rats, do you feel like you need a palate cleanser, or is it just another day at the office?
Hey, what our catering department can do with rat should NOT be underestimated!
There were some days, when the work was particularly emotional and dark, where, as an actor you have to dig down and access what’s real and painful for you, but also let the pain and truth of what the character is going through…LIVE in you. And it can be taxing, exhausting. It can sometimes give you a headache, keeping yourself in “that place” for the sake of the work, but even those “dark” days wash away pretty quickly as you literally strip off that character and their wardrobe.
Really, no two days on the set of “Helstrom” were the same. We had such a talented group of directors to work with as well. Some were right there with you, discussing the scene, getting everyone on the same page and totally hyped for what we were shooting that day. Others were more hands off, and would let you play, and give you a smile and a double thumbs up after a great take. Both were delightful types to work with.
We first meet your character on screen in episode 4 Containment. It was an incredibly creepy and unsettling way to open that episode. Assuming you are nothing like your portrayal of Father Crow, is there anything special about your process or preparation for the day when you are getting into a scene that is a bit more disturbing?
I love my introductory scene! I mean, you can barely see me, but where it goes, what’s said, I’m smiling just thinking of it. And then when we were shooting episode 7 and one of our producers, [Matt McInnis] told me, between takes, “Yeah…we’re making your intro scene the teaser for that episode”. Again, I’m pumping my fist!
Prepping for my first episode in particular, I was kind of going in blind. I had just [recently] been cast, went to the table read, was lucky enough that Sheila Wilson, our writer for that episode, was in the room. I was able to fire off some questions about my character, this story, this world. [Yet and still], I had work to do.
Different roles require different types of prep. For this one, because this world was brand new and we were creating it, it gives you equal parts freedom and responsibility. You have to be thoughtful and deliberate in your approach. There was always the sense of “I want this to be awesome for the fans”. I remember doing a lot of work physically to figure out how this character moved and even breathed. Whether that prep translates to the audience remains to be seen, but it’s that kind of prep that allows you to come to set and “play”.
And when do you personally know you are nailing your “darker side”?
Two things: when you get to the end of a take, and you’re like, “…what just happened? How’d we get here? Did I say my lines?!”. When you lose yourself. And the reactions from the crew. They were so awesome. Getting high fives from our sound guys [Rudy and Yared], or the nodding laughs from the camera crew after they yell “cut”, it quickly informs you as to what people are enjoying. That, or our crew are some seriously twisted folks!
Your recent credits include Netflix’s Altered Carbon, CW’s Supernatural, ABC’s Once Upon a Time – and to my knowledge, none of that is taking full advantage of your song and dance background. Is that something that you save for the stage, or have you just not found a TV role that calls for your full skill set?
Ahhh, the theatre! I MAY have slipped on a pair of tap shoes once or twice in my day… I mean, I love theatre and musical theatre, it’s my first love. Live, unedited performance, where the audience really is part of the experience; there’s nothing like it! Film and tv are their own gem. You simply can’t compare the two and you’d go insane if you tried. I’ve always wanted to bring my love of song and dance and theatrical characters to the big and small screen. But sadly, no…I’ve yet been able to bring those specific skills to film and tv work; but, I ain’t going anywhere. Lin Manuel Miranda – call me, anytime!
Last question: It is 1000 years from now. The aliens are searching through the wreckage of what is left of humanity. They will definitely find a GIF of you as Dookie in Scary Movie yelling “WAZZUP”. How does it feel to be part of such an enduring part of pop culture?
First off, hilarious lead in, points to you! Scary Movie – I mean, that was 1999 when we shot it. To be a part of something that people still love, and re-watch, and quote, and send me the gif on the regular… It’s pretty “effing” cool. Who else gets to say, “I am Dookie”? It really goes to show that you never can tell how a project is going to be received.
You get the call to audition for a movie directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans, and let’s be clear, I was a HUGE fan of “In Living Color”. When you walk in the room and you get to meet the man, take his words, make him laugh, and then get brought into the fold, it’s wonderful. For that film, there was no real script, we’d show up every day, and improv; figure the scene out, who’s going to say what. ”Here, light this aquarium-bong”…and that’s a wrap. So, I reiterate, pretty “effing” cool.
Trevor, it has been my absolute pleasure to pick your brain. Thank you for your time and I’m wishing you continued success and joy in your future projects!
Hey, thanks so much. It was a pleasure for me too! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
To borrow the words of Trevor Roberts, hearing him to talk about something he is clearly so passionate about is “pretty ‘effing’ cool”. Catch that passion in action on Marvel’s Helstrom, available for streaming right now on Hulu.