AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Interview: Daz Crawford talks Kebo, Hydra, and how Hollywood typecasting shapes his roles
Marvel’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. is firing on all cylinders this season – fresh off of an amazing episode that showed us what happened to Jemma Simmons in the 4,722 Hours she spent on a dark and dusty planet, we spent some time chatting with Agent Ward’s (Brett Dalton) current right hand man, Kebo (Daz Crawford), about getting into this character, what comes next, fan reaction, keeping the excitement up week after week, and why a career in comedy is being pushed aside for thrillers, killers, and action!
When we first met Kebo, he was just one part of the finale of last season. Now he’s back this year – did you have to change how you approach a character like this, going from a one-off to this recurring bad guy?
I did have to tweak it slightly, for myself, just to keep my drive going. What the viewer sees isn’t necessarily, that’s the end result, but you don’t know how each actor came up with that emotion at that particular time, what drives them to be that way at that particular time, so I got to just tweak it slightly because it became ongoing.
I know you can’t say much, or even anything, really about what’s to come, but being a part of Hydra, this awful group, is there redemption for these characters? Do you play it like eventually there could be? Do you think that Ward is fully gone, that Kebo is fully evil, or do you think that there is some kind of redemption down the line?
Wow. You know, when we meet to do the readings every week, we don’t know until we turn the page on what’s coming. We go on what the writers write. Somebody, a fan wrote somewhere on a site, they said something like “Ward is a good boss, don’t you think, Kebo?” and I replied, well, if the first time you met your boss, or when you met your boss one day, they smashed your head against the bar, would you think that’s a good boss?” [laughs] The girl was kind of defending him, and I just laughed at the whole. Maybe you’ve got a soft spot for the guy, but he’s my boss and we don’t always like our bosses. Some people do, some people don’t. With regards to redemption, well….I know what I want! Obviously, everybody knows what Ward is after, so we have our own journey to try and complete, regardless of what’s written, you still have to have that backstory in your head to help driving you. It’s like, I didn’t get it this week, I’m going to get it next week, or next week after, even if it never comes. It just keeps you going. It’s like an ambition, I suppose. You have an ambition, and you keep getting hiccups and the hiccups would be the writers because they’re not letting you do what you want, otherwise, it would possibly end the show [laughs].
Were you watching SHIELD before you got involved?
I watched a couple of episodes before I’d even been asked to read for the last series, so I did have an idea. At first, I was thinking “oh what’s going on?” but then I realized there are three stories going on at the same time. They jump from story to story, they bounce forwards and backwards all the time. You kind of get invested in it like that.
It’s fun as a viewer, too. The show is not the same week to week, in a good way, that it keeps you engaged, it changes the narrative, it pulls episodes out like the Jemma Simmons ep from last week. As an actor that has to be exciting to, because you might never know what you’re going to get!
The coolest thing about that is that there’s a dozen writers, there’s 10 or 12 writers on it, so that’s why it’s brilliant. The writing is incredible. That diversity of writers, that’s why it bounces around like it does. It’s great. It’s just a great production. The whole team, everybody works together. It’s extremely professional. You go to sets, and this is, the writings and the storylines, it just goes all over the place. It’s very hard when I’m doing interviews because I knew what was coming [last week] but I couldn’t tell anyone! [laughs] It’s so good to actually watch it to go “oh wow, I wonder what everybody is thinking now” because that was a great episode! What’s going to happen next? And there’s tons of exciting stuff coming up [laughs].
It has to be hard to be in this kind of work to really want to talk about what you’ve been doing, but to be able to say nothing about it!
You know, I’ve got other projects on the go that are easy to talk! They haven’t been released but it’s easier to promote movies than television [laughs]. I have to keep everybody on their toes, so we’re not really allowed to divulge too much.
You talk about interacting with people, seeing stuff online – what has the fan reaction been like? What have you heard from people?
It’s funny! The remarks are, one fan wrote that Kebo keeps getting a good-hiding every time. Every episode he keeps getting boshed around by people! I remember, one episode, I remember seeing a clip in the beginning of the show of me getting a good-hiding, and then at the end of the show, I got a good-hiding from somebody else! The reactions have been, some people feel sorry for me! Which, okay, I can go with that! If you want to feel sorry, stand up for me, help me out here! What you’ve got to remember is that I’ve got to make it look believable or it will be on the cutting room floor. As long as it works and they’re emotionally attached to me in some way, whether they hate me, or feel sorry for me, or like me, or whatever, then I’ve done me job!
You’ve talked about feeling for the character – the episode where we see the little brat kind of take you down. I was so happy to see that he didn’t off you! Suddenly it’s like, am I rooting for this Hydra badguy? What is happening?
[laughs out loud] Yeah, it’s confusing! It’s like, what’s going on? Maybe they’re comparing me to Ward, and obviously, there’s no comparison; they’re two different people, but at the same time, we’re both on the same team and we both supposedly want the same things. It’s interesting to me because I didn’t know which waqy they were going to go.
What else besides SHIELD do you have going on?
There are a couple of projects that I shot this year, called ROGUE WARRIOR: ROBOT FIGHTER which is a cross between STAR WARS and WAR OF THE WORLDS, a Sci-Fi type movie. We shot that down in the Salton Sea, where they actually shot STAR WARS. My character there has a great name, Skull Crusher! I’m one half of a couple, I end up on a planet in jail, on a mystery planet and my girlfriend comes to the planet and tries to save me, saves me from the monsters and the robots, etc. Then we try to get back home and all sorts of crazy things go wrong. So that’s out in early 2016. I shot another movie called AWAKEN. My character’s name is Stitch – that’s a great ensemble cast. Eddie Furlong, Darryl Hannah, Vinnie Jones, quite a few people, good names. That’s a thriller. We shot that in Belize last year, and that’s fit to come out in the last few weeks. That is about human organ trafficking and a bunch of us get kidnapped, just random people from around the world, kidnapped, taken to an island, and basically, kept there as fodder until an order comes in for a heart or a lung and they would come collect us. My character, Stitch, he manages to escape but not off the island. Then, when the heroine, Natalie Burn, lands on the island, myself and her and one other, Michael Copon, we attempt to get off the island, but we need to save one other person who is with the bad guys. I’m a good guy in that one, for a change [laughs]. What else is going on? DAWN PATROL, again, has just been released. That’s with Scott Eastwood; another thriller. Based in the Far East, there was a war, and back in California, he tells the story trying to explain why a particular soldier got killed. I’m playing the minder of the mother of the kid that got killed. That’s out a couple of months now. There’s a couple of other things I’m actually reading for right now. I’m being kept busy! It’s kind of all over the place for the moment.
Is there a role or a type of thing that you gravitate towards, writing that speaks to you, movies vs TV?
Hollywood is very visual. When I walk through the door, 6’4″, 220 lbs, they automatically put you in a box. They don’t assume that you could be a lawyer or a doctor. Or a good guy, or a nice guy. They put you in this “killer” some kind of box role. It’s very hard as an actor, trained for 6 or 7 years. The way I would describe it, it’s almost the same as saying to a doctor who is trained for 10 years to be a doctor, and he goes into work one day and the head of the hospital says “right, Dr, I want you to work on reception today because you look like a receptionist.” Now that’s what it feels like to me. It’s very hard, so I purposely got a demo reel out there that’s got comedy, action, drama, that’s got everything, so they actually wouldn’t box me. I did a great move a few years ago with Katherine Heigl. I’m on a blind-date with Katherine. And it’s called CAFFEINE. It’s a comedy. We’re so opposite to each other, so chalk and cheese; it’s just not going to happen, but it’s extremely funny. The whole movie was great; it’s really well written. In that one, we had another good ensemble cast. People like Mena Suvari, Marsha Thompson, Mark Pellegrino, Katherine Heigl. We had a really great ensemble cast. Comedy, I love it. But I find it extremely hard to be cast in comedy. It’s not that I don’t get, I don’t even get the auditions. If I could get more comedy auditions, that might make a difference. In the meantime, I’m happy to roll on with thriller and action, kill people, if that’s what they want me to do, then that’s where I’ll go with that [laughs] until something gives me an opportunity to do something else.
With things like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, is there an opportunity for you to create that comedy for yourself? Would you write?
I produced a couple of independents a couple of years ago. I was in them and I produced them as well. Wow, that was not a journey, I would not recommend that for anybody [laughs]. I find it extremely hard to do both at the same time. You’re totally right! Kickstarter could possibly help and that is probably my only option. The crazy thing is, when somebody sees you doing it, and it’s successful, they’re interested. People don’t want to take the risk or people are lazy. They worry that oh, he doesn’t look like he could do comedy, so we won’t give him the option! We know he can do villains, we know he can do this, so let’s keep him in that role because he’s safe in that. It’s almost like Guillermo Del Toro waking up and saying to his agent, Right, I’m going to write a comedy today! [laughs] His agent freaks out, no, you don’t do comedy, what are we going to do? It’s a business, and you do have to accept it! You look at people, I get it, until you’re established, you have to do what Hollywood wants you to do! Look at The Rock / Dwayne Johnson. He started out as a wrestler, did all of his action stuff, and once he got in, he got to do some comedy movies, and some of them are funny! It can work. It’s just Hollywood! Hollywood! [laughs]
Marvel’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on ABC.
For more information on Daz, check him out on Twitter,