Exclusive: Lee Tergesen Interview on CASTLE

Lee Tergesen

Lee Tergesen is best known for playing Tobias on HBO’s prison drama Oz, but he is also an incredibly talented and established theater and film actor and he has recently appeared in shows ranging from Army Wives to Lie to Me. His film Helena from the Wedding opens in limited release November 12 and he plays a potential serial killer who gets deep under Beckett’s skin in the “3XK” episode of Castle.

Daemon’s TV talked to Lee about his Castle appearance, shooting Helena from the Wedding, and whether or not he thinks he’ll ever do a series full-time again.

Be sure to watch the “3XK episode of Castle airing on ABC tonight, Monday, October 25 at 10pm/9 central and enjoy the interview with Lee.

You’re going to be playing a violent felon which is familiar but not so much the potential serial killer part. What drew you to the role of Marcus Gates?

Lee Tergesen: Well, they asked me to do it which is always a good thing. I have a friend, John Huertas, who’s on the show and I’m a fan of the show. Then when they told me about this character it’s always fun to play psychos. What can I say, it’s my stock and trade.

What can you tell us about Marcus?

Lee Tergesen: He is a guy who’s very smart and sort of pops up and has killed someone. They realize that there are similarities between this latest victim and a series of other killings, the Triple X Killer. So they find me and start to question me but I’m very wily and I have an answer for everything. Somehow the more Beckett tries to corner me the more that I seem to slip away from her and she finds it unbelievably frustrating.

Who’s skin does Marcus get under more, Beckett’s or Castle’s?

Lee Tergesen: Definitely Beckett’s. Most of what happens with Castle is that he’s watching while I’m being interrogated but I do definitely plant a seed in his head that causes him to spin-off a little bit during the show.

It’s being billed a potentially recurring role. Can you speak to whether or not you’ll be returning?

Lee Tergesen: Right now I’m not sure. I’m in Boston doing a play called ‘Vengeance is the Lords’ at the Huntington Theater. It’s a new play by Bob Glaudini who wrote ‘Jack Goes Boating’ that Phillip Seymour Hoffman starred in.

When does the play open?

Lee Tergesen: Previews start November 12th and goes until the 12th or 19th of December.

And November 12th that’s when ‘Helena from the Wedding’ gets released, right?

Lee Tergesen: I know, I know and I’m actually not going to be able to go. I thought that I was going to be able to go but I don’t think I’m going to be able to be there for the premiere because obviously we have our first performance but I’m so happy that that movie is getting seen in some theaters and I guess it’s also going to be on Pay Per View simultaneously.

It’s gotten a lot of online buzz about being a raw and honest portrayal of marriage. What was it like shooting it?

Lee Tergesen: It was a blast. Joe Infantolino who wrote and directed it I had known through Alexa Fogel who produced it and she was one of the casting directors on ‘Oz’. She’s also cast me in a ton of things since then. She’s a very good friend and she thinks I’m talented. So, anyway, we shot it for twelve days. Joe’s family has this cabin up in the Catskills and so he had directed a short and he came up with this idea for a feature length film that would be shot just entirely in that location to be unbelievably cost effective. So it was very fast and loose. It was really a great, great bunch of actors. Paul Fitzgerald. Jessica Hecht. Dagmara Dominczyk. Now I can’t think of the girl’s name who’s on ‘Community’. Gillian Jacobs. So it was a blast. It premiered at South by Southwest. Oh, and Melanie Lynskey plays my wife. She’s fucking incredible.

You also have ‘Red Tails’ about the Tuskegee Airmen. When is that coming out?

Lee Tergesen: I just actually did some looping, some ADR for that and what they said, what George Lucas told me was that it was going to come out in August. I didn’t want to ask why it was going to be August. I guess they’re doing a pant load of CGI stuff that is taking them a long time and they did some reshaping in the story. I’m not really sure what’s going on.

That must’ve been like a one eighty, doing that film right after doing ‘Helena from the Wedding’?

Lee Tergesen: Yeah. I wasn’t a fighter pilot or anything, but yeah, and we shot it in Prague. It was a George Lucas production and it was a pretty big change. I’ve been very lucky with the stuff that I’ve been getting to do lately. It’s been really fun.

I also didn’t realize that you were in a particular episode of ‘House’. How is it that you can disappear into these characters that you play?

Lee Tergesen: I don’t know. I think it depends a lot on the viewer. I think that’s a hard question to answer. I’m sort of blushing, I think, right now.

I was a huge ‘Oz’ fan and whenever I see you I should see Tobias but I never do. I always see whatever the role is you’re doing. That doesn’t happen with every actor –

Lee Tergesen: Thank you. That really does mean a lot to me. There’s always going to be some of the actor in the thing. I try to work with costume people. Also, when you start reading something sometimes the script will point you in a direction in terms of characterization.

Do you think you’ll ever do another series in a full time role?

Lee Tergesen: I absolutely want to do another series, yeah, but just finding the right thing, something that works and something that they want me on, it’s a matter of time. It’s funny, I was also on this show called ‘Weird Science’ for four or five years right before I did ‘Oz’ and so I’ve been in series in my career a lot of the time and this is just the time where I’m not. I think out of twenty years I’ve been on for maybe thirteen or fourteen of those years I’ve been on shows or something like ‘Generation Kill’ which took up almost a whole year.

And in the meantime I can’t wait to see you on ‘Castle’ –

Lee Tergesen: Yeah. That’s such a great bunch of people. Nathan [Fillion] is such a great guy. Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Everyone. It’s a lot of fun to work on. I definitely hope that I get to go back. They were definitely talking to me about it but I don’t know how that’s going to work or when it will work. But you never know.

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