Interview with Brad William Henke of “The Stand” on CBS All Access by Suzanne 1/15/21
It was fun to talk to Brad. I’ve watched many shows that he’s been in.
Here is the audio version of it.
Suzanne: Tell us how this role on The Stand came about for you.
Brad: The writer, the creator of the show (Benjamin Cavell) called me, and he wrote for me on Justified, and he wrote on Sneaky Pete. So, he called and offered me the role.
Suzanne: Oh, cool.
Brad: So, I got to read all the scripts, and I said, “yes,” of course. Then I had like three months to prepare, which was awesome. That’s how it happened.
Suzanne: That’s great. So, have you done so much TV work now that pretty much they just call you and offer you the role, or do you still have to audition?
Brad: I think the funny thing is, sometimes when you audition, you hear someone else already has an offer, and they don’t know if it’s gonna go through or [not]. So, I do audition, but most of the roles I get are offers.
Suzanne: Sounds like it’s a little bit like a regular job interview.
Brad: Yeah, I guess so.
Suzanne: I’m glad you mentioned Justified. I was looking at all the roles you’ve done. You’ve done some of my favorite shows like Justified and Dexter, and I remember the show you were on October Road.
Brad: Oh, you do?
Suzanne: Yeah, I watched that.
How did you prepare for acting as a developmentally disabled man?
Brad: Well, I’ve had a couple of friends – like I had someone that I knew in high school. He was two years older than me. He played football in college, and he got a blood clot in his head. After that, he was never the same. He was kind of like Tom.
Then I knew another person who was born mentally challenged, and when I was actually teaching at a junior college and coaching football, and he took my weight training class, I made him the manager of the football team, kind of like that movie, Radio. I just did a lot of things like that.
I learned the voice, because a lot of times when someone has a head injury, they learn to talk again by singing, and so I used a Dolly Parton song, “Coat of Many Colors.” It was like, “My coat of many colors – Hi! My name is Tom Cullen,” so I kind of made it so I could match that pitch. So, that’s how I kind of invented his voice.
Suzanne: Did you have to learn how to move a particular way?
Brad: I just made it so like one of my arms and one of my legs felt a little heavier, just because my character fell off the roof and was also kicked in the head. He had a head injury like that, so I just studied the effects of that.
Suzanne: How long did shooting take for The Stand?
Brad: It started at the beginning of October, and it ended March 12th.
Suzanne: Last year, right? It started in 2019.
Brad: Last year.
Suzanne: What did you like best about doing the show?
Brad: Well, I liked the producers, Benjamin Cavell and Taylor Elmore. I liked all the actors. They were really into it, and they made it fun. Angelina [Kekich], the costume designer, like everyone was just really into it, and so I really liked that. I liked being in Canada shooting it. It was really rainy and cold and isolating, and I thought that was really good for my character. I was just there with my two, fifteen year old Puggles. Some days in December the sun never even came out. It just felt good for the mood of the show.
Suzanne: Your dogs are so cute. I went on your Instagram.
Brad: Thank you. One of them is sixteen now.
Suzanne: Oh, wow.
Brad: I [saw] this kids’ movie called Soul. Have you seen it?
Suzanne: I haven’t seen it. I’ve heard about it. I haven’t watched it yet.
Brad: It’s really good. It won’t ruin anything, but when you die, your soul goes up this escalator into the sky, and sometimes I feel like he’s on that escalator. I’m like, “[unintelligible] get off the escalator.”
Suzanne: What did you like least about doing it? Was there a particular challenge that you had?
Brad: No, I loved it all. It was a challenge to play this character, because it could be simple; it could be offensive. You can really fall on your face, and that’s what I really liked about the – I don’t want to call it stress, but the [idea that] I could ruin the whole show, or I could make the show better. So, I like that feeling.
Suzanne: Did it shock you that the pandemic happened right after you guys finished shooting The Stand with a similar story?
Brad: Yeah. Sometimes I would fly back and forth, and you have to go through customs and stuff, and it takes like two hours. So, I flew back, and I only had two weeks off or something. I was basically done, but I had to shoot one more scene. I had to shoot the scene from Episode Four where I ride away on my bike. I get to Canada, and there was absolutely no one in customs. It was like a ghost town, because Canada was ahead of the US. Then I go to this hotel, and there’re like five people in it. I’m like, “I hope we did this justice.”…But then when I watched the show; I think we did.
Suzanne: Had you worked with any of the cast or crew before?
Brad: Just Ben and Taylor on Justified and on Sneaky Pete, but no one else.
Suzanne: Do you have any fun anecdotes about shooting? Any fun things that happened?
Brad: Every day was fun. A cool thing that happened, was my dogs had never been in snow before, and I was taking them one day from my my trailer to the makeup trailer, and one of my dog’s girlfriends, she just held up her paw in the air like, “I can’t do it anymore.” It was so cute. Then I picked her up, and I took her in there, and I told them what happened, and then every day they would give my dogs little hot towels on their paws. It was so cute. That was really cool, because they’re getting old, so it was kind of like our last big thing together. So, it will always be special to me in so many ways.
Suzanne: Wow, that’s nice.
So, had you read the original book or seen the other mini-series before doing it?
Brad: No. Well, I read the book after I got offered the job. I didn’t watch the mini-series, because I didn’t want to be influenced one way or the other.
Suzanne: It’s actually funny, because we saw a part of the original miniseries being filmed.
Brad: Oh, really?
Suzanne: Yeah, we were in Las Vegas, and we were staying at the Golden Gate downtown, which is right in the corner there, and this was before they had that whole canopy in Vegas with the light shows and all that. They had roped off that part of the downtown, and they had made it for their movie. So, they had a lot of the windows blacked out, and they said stuff like, “stay away” or “the virus,” whatever. I can’t remember the catchphrases. They had built all these things, and they had a giant horseshoe – like the horseshoe had fallen fallen off Binion’s in the middle of the street, and we could see them filming right below our window. So, that was fun.
Brad: That’s great.
Suzanne: Yeah, if you’re not living in LA, or you’re not in the industry, you don’t get to see those things too often, unless you just happen to be where they’re filming.
Brad: Yeah, but, you know, so many things don’t shoot in LA anymore.
Suzanne: That’s true.
Brad: This is the longest I’ve ever been in LA in years. They shoot in Canada; they shoot in Chicago.
Suzanne: Yeah, a lot of it’s in Canada, and a lot of it’s in Atlanta.
Brad: A lot of it’s in Canada and Atlanta too, yeah. I had never really worked in Canada. I shot one movie in Canada, but it’s [unintelligible], so being in Vancouver, I really really, really enjoyed.
Suzanne: Yeah, that’s surprising, I guess. It seems like everybody I talk to nowadays are filming in Canada.
Suzanne: So, what have you been doing during the pandemic to keep busy?
Brad: At first I worked out a lot, then I stopped that. I’m back on it this week. Got two kittens. I got a Doberman puppy, which if it wasn’t a pandemic, I would not have time to train and take care of. So, I love her, but she’s a lot of energy.
Suzanne: Yeah, I have a dog that’s about three and a half years old, and we we got her when she was three months, and I had never trained a dog before. So, I know what you mean.
Brad: I have little dogs, so you can let them get away with a little more. [Not] like with big dogs jumping on people’s legs.
Suzanne: Yeah, I understand.
Brad: I get on the couch and curl into this corner like she’s tiny or something.
Suzanne: Yeah. I have a sort of – she’s low to the ground, but she’s kind of big, fat, but small. It’s hard to explain. She’s part Corgi and part Bassett, and she still thinks she’s a lap dog, but she’s a little too big and fat to be a lap dog.
Suzanne: Well, I’m going to look forward to those pictures of your cats on your Instagram. Do you have any yet?
Brad: Yeah, I have one, when one cat was laying with my dogs, like, “If they do it, why can’t we?”
If I have a minute, I’m gonna start posting, because I wasn’t posting anything until the show started being on TV. I’m not that interesting. People don’t want to see me eat a salad [unintelligible].
Suzanne: So, I read that you gained a lot of weight and then lost it for your roles. What was your secret? What did you do to lose the weight again?
Brad: To lose the weight, I ate five tomatoes a day, because they have – it begins with an “L.” It has something –
Suzanne: Oh, lycopene?
Brad: Yes, and that will help you lose weight. Actually, Henry Zaga, who played Nick told me about this, because he went to like the Hollywood – because he lost a lot of weight. And I would drink a glass of water and a tomato five times a day, and then that makes you not as hungry.
Suzanne: And that’s all you ate?
Brad: You know, pretty much, but I wasn’t that hungry. I mean, like if you eat that before your meal, you’re not that hungry.
Suzanne: Oh, that makes sense. It’s like eating a salad, practically.
Brad: Yeah. Then, you know, for me, like whey-wise, I can gain weight easy. I was a pro football player. Not everyone can weigh 300 pounds and move around. [Gaining] it’s not hard, and losing, it feels like it’s hard to stop the train for a while, and then the train stays in one position. It’s hard to get it to go the other direction, but once it goes the other direction, with eating right and exercising like six days a week, it starts to come off.
Suzanne: Do you have anything else that you’re working on or that is coming out that you can tell us about?
Brad: No. I have a couple things that I hope that I get, but nothing that’s been going on. It’s like really, really frustrating. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I had a couple of things that were supposed to go in – like, I started working on them in October, like, “Hey, it’s gonna go in December,” and when everything started to spike up, they’re like, “No, that’s not happening.” There’s a couple that I’m waiting on. I know there’s one that for some crazy reason, I’m the second choice, so I hope the first choice doesn’t take it.
Brad: [Unintelligible] but any job that I wasn’t the first choice/
Suzanne: Yeah. Well, break a leg, good luck, whatever it takes.
Brad: Whatever it takes, exactly.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Breakout “Orange is the New Black” star and SAG Award winner Brad William Henke makes a statement in the star-packed limited series adaptation of Stephen King’s iconic 1978 novel, THE STAND, which premieres on CBS All Access on Thursday, December 17th. Henke plays Tom Cullen opposite Whoopi Goldberg, James Marsden, Amber Heard and Alexander Skarsgård.
In an ominously well-timed series, THE STAND is adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name which is about the Biblical aftermath of a global pandemic that kills 98 percent of the population, setting a stage for a clash of good vs. evil. The series stars Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abagail, Alexander Skarsgård as Randall Flagg, James Marsden as Stu Redman, Jovan Adepo as Larry Underwood, Amber Heard as Nadine Cross, and Owen Teague as Harold Lauder. The nine- episode new series will air weekly on CBS All Access. The new version will include a new coda at the end of the finale written by Stephen King himself.
Henke is an accomplished character actor in Hollywood, appearing in some of the most iconic TV series including “Lost,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Justified,” and in a number of films including the David Ayer films FURY and BRIGHT and opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal in SHERRYBABY and CHOKE with Sam Rockwell. Before heading into acting, Henke was drafted out of college into the NFL for the New York Giants. He was subsequently picked up by the Denver Broncos and played in Super Bowl XXIV against the San Francisco 49ers.
When he’s not on set, Henke is usually boxing, doing Jiu Jitsu, riding his bike or playing with his three dogs and two cats (lovingly documented on his Instagram @bradwilliamhenke).
Proofread and Edited by Brenda