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Interview with The Tribe's Matt Robinson (Slade) at DragonCon 2004
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See a short clip from this interview here

A = Dreago
M = Matt Robinson

A: All right, here’s the deal. I’m not spoiled for season 5? I don’t know who the hell you are! So tell us a little bit about your character.

M: Heh heheheh, all right. I play a character called Slade. Who is a brand new character to series 5. No one knows where he comes from or exactly what he is doing. Umm, really ambiguous character. Is he a good guy, is he a bad guy, is he out for the people, is he out for himself. And gradually as the series develops you get more of an insight to his character. But he definitely starts off – he’s a real outsider. Very Lone Ranger character. And uh, you know lot of times, during kinda the initial read-throughs, you know, Clint Eastwood, Pale Rider, Mad Max, those themes kept coming back. You know, kind of like to inform the character of Slade.

A: So would you say he is more of an anti-hero than he is a reluctant hero?

M: Yeah! I’d say, yeah, very much an anti-hero. Which I think, you know, which is such an interesting thing to play. You know, a lot of the characters that are actually in films that I love are the anti-heroes. You know, people who almost- yeah, there’s a slight reluctance there- but there’s also an ambiguity. What are their morals? What is their code of living. What are they really doing here. And it is just interesting because it is never black or white. And it’s, you know, and I think you can relate to that. Cause here’s a character that has a lot of complexities. Yes, can be capable of acts of great kindness, but on the flip side can be really cold hearted and that is great to play, it’s true to life.

A: So, you’ve painted a ummm….let’s just say that the anti-hero is the most fun to play and it is definitely the most complex, but are there anythings about playing Slade that can be uncomfortable for you, as an actor?

M: Umm, I think uhh, as series 5 kinda develops you see that sometimes his attitude, ahhh, towards women is quite interesting. There’s a real coldness there that as an actor is quite challenging because umm, there is a real coldness to Slade. Which is really intrinsic to him. He’s a Lone Ranger very much so, and he’s suddenly thrown into this world where the whole idea is “this is for the Tribe” and “this is for the group of people”, being together, there is a huge emphasis on friendship and fellowship, you know. And I think when you throw someone who is a very, you know, kinda solitary character into that, it is a real challenge for them. So, it’s kind of, that was the biggest challenge in playing Slade I think. Working out how much I could push it to the warmth and how far I could push it to the coldness. Umm, and the script was great. Because it was really well written. You kinda got the sense that the writers really relished a lot of the dialogue and the part of Slade. And uuh, it was lovely. It was never clear-cut. Which is great as an actor because you have so many choices.

A: Right, absolutely. Is it possible to be an anti-hero and not have a crap attitude towards women?

M: Ha ha, heh heh. Umm, yeah, I think so! There’s a film actually called LA Confidential and umm, Russell Crowe plays a character in that who’s very much the anti-hero. Big tough bruiser of a cop, who is really a quite nasty piece of work. Very violent. Big drinker. Short temper. But. The whole thing about his character is that he can not stand any abuse towards women or any misogyny. Throughout the film, your way into his kind of warmth is when he’s protecting all these women in the film. He’s a huge anti-hero. Yet, has this real, real, softness and tenderness for looking out for women in distress. So, yeah, I think you can – and again, I think it’s down to the choices, how far you play it. Is you attitu-are you misogynistic or are you just quite cold towards the women/female characters because you can’t afford to let them get close to you? And does that come from the fact that you’re scared of intimacy? Or you’ve, maybe you’re scared of anyone getting close to you in case that means that you then get tied down, you know, when you’re used to being just this solitary character. So I think it depends if your motivation is coming from a misogynistic attitude or from the fact of ‘look, I can’t let anyone get close to me’. There’s that real sense that it is the latter with Slade. He’s never, I never wanted to make him misogynistic and it was never there in the writing. It was just the case, that I felt that his backstory – he’d been through a lot and he’d seen a lot. Consequently, he’s very scared about letting people get close to him. As an actor, that’s great, you know, to start off there and then as the series goes on, having the luxury of so many episodes in which you can just gradually reveal, you know, start showing the parts bit by bit. It’s great, rather than showing them all at once.

A: So that must make you very popular with the female fans then?

M: Well, I think it’s, you know, I mean it was definitely, you know, kinda of that it was the anti-hero part which was really played up. You know, it was great, I got a really cool costume! Heh, I get to ride a motorbike and uh, you know, there’s moments where he’s very much the anti-hero who morphs into the hero. Where he really does kinda answer this real call of good, this real call of helping out those around him. Which I think it is appealing to both the actor and the audience, whether they’re female or male.

A: Right, but let’s talk about-truthfully, be realistic and cut the BS - the female fandom. Do you think you’d be as popular had you not been the anti-hero, had you not been the cold guy that every woman wants to save?

M: Umm, I dunno, I guess it depends if I’d been if the character of Slade was a real anti-hero. Umm, I –(exhales). I mean, look at Jay! Jay’s kind of definitely a hero character. You know, kinda very, very much. And huge female following. I think it’s then how you play the role. But I know- but I don’t know- but I think there’s a lot more, there is something very sexy, very appealing about that. You know, that kind of coldness, you know. And I think, yeah, I think that definitely helped. The female characters on the show, you can see some of them wanting to know what makes him tick. And I guess that translates into some of the fans outside. You know? It definitely felt, it’s a very sexy role to play. Absolutely, there is some, obviously you play all parts, various theater productions-

A: Do you play all parts? Do you find your looks hamper you in some ways?

M: Umm, (exhales) I’ve kinda- yeah, I mean I started off doing a lot more, kinda playing the bad guy look. That was mainly because the theater company I first worked with, there was me and then there was the blond guy-

A: (knowingly) Ahh, okay.

M: You know, the blond guy plays the good guy and I play the bad part, the bad guys. Which is a lot of fun. Playing the bad guy is great. And it’s the whole British thing. (laughs)You know, in so many films the bad guy is British. Gary Oldman makes a living doing that. Umm, but I definitely find that a lot of roles that I do tend to go out for, you know are kind of a leading man character. Which is great and that’s what I’m really interested in doing, but now and then there are certain character actor parts that I think would be really juicy to play that I know I probably wouldn’t get considered for because of the certain look that I have. I mean, no complaints. I think being a male actor we’re a luckier than female actors. A lot luckier. I mean, look at someone like Sean Penn. Now entering that real golden age in his career where you are getting really interesting character parts. Benicio del Torro, you know, and as a guy you have parts that run and run and run. You can show some of the best parts are generally in your thirties and forties, apart from like the romances and comedies, the rest of them are all older. Umm, So you can kinda develop from being leading man into movie star. When you get a little fatter and a little grayer and you’re hair starts going, you can then- there’s a real character actor part for you. But I have to admit, the leading man parts are the parts that really interest me right now. If my looks play a part in really getting me that, you know, but it’s also the talent then great! I’d never complain about – that’s how the Industry works. You look around and you do see people like Orlando Bloom and people like that, yes they’re charismatic and talented of course, but he’s getting to work with all these amazing actors. And yes, his looks have played a part and I think so many actors turn around and bite the hand that feeds them in a way. That’s the way it is.

A: So how far would you be willing to use your looks to get a part? I mean, if the script called for total nudity would you do it?

M: Umm, if it was, yeah. If the part, you know and this again sounds a bit of a BS reply. But if it wasn’t gratuitous, I would. I’ve turned down and couple of roles before that were just gratuitous. There was no need for it to be there. Because that kind of thing can come back and bite you in the ass. And it does. That kind of thing comes back and hampers you. But oh yeah, if it was in the film- the directors I want work with one day, films that interest me, films like Fight Club, Seven, really gritty films where you see the underbelly of life. It’s real gritty, kinda yes, there’s a real sexual charge to it. If the part was there and – in a David Mamet play every other word is the F-word but it is beautifully written- I have no problem doing that. And if a part required that and it was intrinsic, absolutely, absolutely. Because it’s just, that’s part of the character.

A: All right, thank you!

M: Cool.


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