THE STRAIN’s Kevin Durand Talks Fet, Keamy, The Walking Dead and More



THE STRAIN -- Pictured: Kevin Durand as Vasiliy Fet. CR. Frank Ockenfels/FX
Guillermo delToro‘s and Carlton Cuse‘s The Strain is easily the best new show of the summer, in every way: stunning visuals, a fresh story, memorable characters, and tension and terror galore, all topped by an excellent cast. Kevin Durand plays Ukrainian-American Vasiliy Fet, definitely the character I’d choose first for my vampire outbreak defense team, but worlds away from the character he played when he appeared on my favorite-ever series. That’s right, he was badass Widmore mercenary Martin Keamy in Seasons 4 through 6 of Lost. I asked him about that, and about his sci-fi work in general, when we spoke earlier this week during a Q&A session:

SciFi Mafia: Hello, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk with us today. You’ll always be Keamy to me, but I forget about Keamy when I’m watching Fet, because Fet’s so awesome, too, just in a totally different way.

Kevin Durand(dreamily) Martin Christopher Keamy…

SciFi Mafia What a great character that was, too.

Kevin Durand Sure was. Thanks for bringing me back to Martin Christopher Keamy. Thank God for that character. Thank God for Carlton Cuse.

SciFi Mafia Well, tell me, what kind of an impact did that have on your career?

Kevin Durand as Martin Keamy

Kevin Durand as Martin Keamy

Kevin Durand For that one, I got an audition, and I went in and I did this one scene that was kind of — there wasn’t a whole lot of description, or I didn’t really understand who this guy was, they didn’t really tell me much. It was so secretive.

SciFi Mafia Sure.

Kevin Durand And I went in and read, and I got it. I thought it was going to be one episode, and I thought, “Well, it would just be nice to go to Hawaii.” I went out there and we all kind of fell in love, and I loved what they were writing, they loved what I was doing.

And then all these years later I get a call that Carlton Cuse and Guillermo del Toro want to meet with me. I’m so grateful that Carlton thought of me for both characters, because I think these characters up to this point, and I’ve been doing this for like 23 years or something, they seem to be the characters that have had the most impact, and I’m so grateful for the fact that he thought about me for both times.

SciFi Mafia Well, earned. Obviously well done by you.

Kevin Oh, thank you.

SciFi Mafia Absolutely. Then just as a quick follow-up, you’ve been in so many different kinds of productions but you’ve been in a fair number of sci-fi related productions. What do you like best about it and what do you dislike the most about it?

Kevin Durand About sci-fi?

SciFi Mafia Yes. Sci-fi horror, that kind of genre work.

Kevin Durand Well, sci-fi done right is, as far as I’m concerned, is the greatest form of escapism. So not just as a reader or a viewer I’m a big fan of the genre, but even to be an actor stepping into that role it’s always just such a wonderful challenge and it’s always so exciting to kind of just – I always call it “drifting.” I always kind of drift off into these characters and become a part of these different worlds. Yes, it’s always been such a pleasure. When sci-fi is done right I mean there’s no limit to where we can take things and stretch our reality. And that’s why, it’s just limitless.

SciFi Mafia But is there a downside to it? Have you found a downside to it?

Kevin Durand Well, yes, it’s downside is when you don’t have enough money in the budget and you try to make these fantastical things happen, but there’s a lack of money and you see the lack of that money on the screen, and then it’s harder to kind of escape. It’s harder to get whisked away by something that the production just isn’t allowing you to go on that trip. Now when sci-fi is backed properly there’s nothing better.

SciFi Mafia Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for your work.

Kevin Durand Thank you. Thank you for your question and support. I appreciate it.

What a terrific guy. Throughout the session he was genuine, enthusiastic, engaged, entertaining, and thoughtful. And his character is such an integral part of The Strain, all I can say is he’d better survive this weekend’s season finale. We need more Fet, and more Kevin Durand, on our screens.

Read on to see the entire transcribed session, and whatever you do, do not miss the season finale of The Strain Sunday at 10/9c on FX.

As always, questions came from a variety of media outlets:

Q I’m curious, have you read any of the books or where did you get the inspiration for the way you play “Fet” from?

Kevin Durand Well, I read all three of the books before I fully signed on. And my inspiration to play “Fet,” I guess in reading the books I kind of saw him very similarly to the way that I’m playing him. I feel like a lot of it was on the page. I hear that he’s a lot more of a charming kind and happier than people had anticipated, but I kind of always saw that, because through the journals and the books we see how he really finds himself within this apocalypse and is (laughing) blooming like a beautiful Ukrainian flower amidst the apocalypse.

Q Right. Another thought, what’s been the most challenging for you so far?

Kevin Durand The most challenging… It’s just been such a blast and so much fun shooting. I mean we had long hours, it was cold. I know that a lot of the cast members found the climate to be a bit challenging; however I’m from 20 hours north of Toronto so I kind of felt really at home. So challenge wise I feel like all my preparation was there going in, and my challenge was just to try to be the best that I could be every day.

So are you normally a horror fan or a thriller fan of films or television?

Kevin Durand Yes. Since I was a child, much to the chagrin of my father, my mother would keep me up and I would watch horror films with her since I was about four years old or five years old, so I’ve always been a fan. (laughing) And they always say that you marry your mother, and my wife is the biggest horror fan ever, so I kind of experienced a rebirth in terms of my interest in the genre since I married Sandra four years ago. So when this opportunity came along we read the books. We were kind of like snickering and giggling like some little kids going, “Oh my God, this is going to be awesome!”

The series is incredible, it’s unlike anything we’ve seen; what is it about it, do you think, that is so appealing to a horror fan, that we may not see in other things?

Kevin Durand Well, you’re seeing this story being told from the perspective of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. But Guillermo has his eye on every single frame and he brings a certain beauty to the most horrific things, and it’s very hard to look away. You can’t help but stare at the Master’s face when you’re in an extreme close-up and look at the beautiful, intricate details. I think he has such a unique take on horror. I remember watching Pan’s Labyrinth and just being in absolute awe of the things that scared me, because they were so beautiful.

Q Well, it’s fantastic, and you’ve done a great job. Appreciate it, and best of luck.

Kevin Durand Oh, thank you so much.

Kevin Durand as Vasiliy Fet, David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian

Kevin Durand as Vasiliy Fet, David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian

Why do you think Fet was so willing to take the leap from exterminating rats to exterminating vampires? I mean he did take a little while to consider it, but he jumped in with both feet.

Kevin Durand Yes. Well, I think that Fet has this inner kind of warrior, this Viking warrior inside of him, and it was always kind of living within him. But in this specific circumstance, when all hell has broken loose and the vermin have turned into human bloodsucking vermin, it feels like way more of a natural transition than probably you would assume. He’s a master at exterminating, and this new world really needs him and I think he’s so happy to step up to the task.

Q That makes sense. Can’t wait for the finale.

Kevin Durand Thank you. Me, too.

So, I’m curious, as we gear up for the finale and everything, how satisfied are you with where Fet has landed at the end of the first season and going into season two?

Kevin Durand I have to say I feel so good about it. Even the way that from the first time that we get to see Fet and the journey to where he’s at now, I mean, the whole journey I’ve been just kind of tickled by. And to see where he’s at now you could see that things are getting more intense as the minutes roll by, and it’s kind of like seeing a great kind of prize fighter before a big fight staying really calm and relaxed and ready for action, and I think that’s where Fet’s at. I mean he’s making googley-eyes at this girl when the world’s going to crap. That’s because he’s very comfortable, he’s ready, he knows that if there’s anyone for the job that he’s the guy.

Q And as a follow-up, obviously we’ve seen that he has become kind of a full-fledged member of the team now. What kind of affect do you think that had on the character?

Kevin Durand Well, I don’t think he’s used to playing with other kids in the sandbox, but he’s a smart guy and he understands that there’s a lot of power that comes with numbers. He looks around the room and he has a genuine respect for everybody in that group and knows that we can all play our role in taking down the Master.

Great. Thank you so much.

Kevin Durand Oh, thank you.

Q Hello, Kevin. I love the show. You’re really wonderful in it.

Kevin Durand Oh, thank you so much.

Q  Several weeks ago FX scheduled a call like this for Sean Astin on a Monday and his character died the Sunday night, so I’m kind of relieved that you’re okay. Is there a story behind how you hooked up with this show and with this character?

Kevin Durand I was prepping for a film at the time called The Captive that I did for Atom Egoyan; I lost like 40 pounds, and I had this little mustache, and I looked like a very different person. Then I found out that Guillermo and Carlton wanted to meet me on this project. So I had three days. I read the book, went in, and after I read that first book I was like there is no way that Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse are going to see me as this big, robust, heroic, stoic fella Vasiliy Fet, because I was so skinny and sick looking.

And we had this meeting and sat down and I assured them that I was kind of starving myself just for this project I was going to do and then I was going to get back to normal. In the room they asked me if I wanted to be Vasiliy Fet. Every day since I’ve been so grateful for that meeting, because in playing him I don’t know if I’ve ever had so much fun, ever. And also in watching it, it’s been so incredibly gratifying to watch the season unfold.

Q Yes, I agree as a viewer. I was at Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago. There’s a whole wall of vampire fiction there, which is great, because teenage girls needs something to read. But I think it’s cool that this show has taken vampires back away from those books and TV shows and movies that want to make the vampire charming and sexy and brooding and angst ridden. Do you kind of take pride in being involved in a show that makes vampires truly bad again?

Kevin Durand Absolutely. I mean, obviously, I can’t take credit for that at all. It lays in the wonderful, crazy, beautiful, dark mind of Guillermo del Toro. Because he’s been having dreams about these vampires and making sketches and taking notes since he was a child, and that’s how these vampires came to fruition. They’ve been a part of his nightmares for decades. So what’s really satisfying is to see Guillermo, who is such a lovely, charismatic visionary, actually get those nightmares out of his head and onto the screen. And I’m so grateful to be a part of it and help him tell the story.

Q Cool. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Kevin Durand Thank you. Thank you kindly.

*Warning: mild finale spoiler ahead – skip up to the screen shot if you want to avoid it*

Q I was curious, since you’ve read the books, is there a particular scene in the second book coming in the next season that you’re really excited to watch come to life on the show?

Kevin Durand It’s so hard to pinpoint a specific scene, because even in just trying to imagine what we’re going to do in the second season, because the books have really served us but they’ve been almost like a skeleton, and then Carlton Cuse and Chuck Hogan and the amazing writing room, they kind of like put the flesh and the blood and the muscle on that skeleton as the season goes. So I can’t even tell you what I might be up to.

And one thing that’s interesting in the transition is in the second book I have a lot of—well, in the first book it starts and then I have it all the way through the third book as well—but Vasiliy is journaling a lot. So for me I’m starting to read the second book again just so that I can try to figure out how to play that kind of between the lines of just, kind of like he goes through this almost like a rebirth; as everything goes to crap Vasiliy keeps getting stronger and more confident and more able. So I’m really looking forward to that evolution.

*End of spoiler*

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Q Very cool. And quick follow-up, welcome to Twitter. I know you’re brand new to Twitter. What was that live tweeting experience like last night?

Kevin Durand That live tweeting experience last night – I was so excited and had so much fun. I’ve always been so against doing the social media thing. I don’t know, my head must have been up my butt. I’ve just been so scared to share stuff. I thought I should stay mysterious, kind of. But I have to say since I’ve joined I’ve really enjoyed being able to see immediately people’s reactions and have communications to people who are watching the show or other projects that I might be a part of. Luckily they’re not tweeting and saying, “Wow, Kevin Durand, you really suck.”

Q Yes, it helps that everybody loves Fet. Absolutely true.

Kevin Durand Exactly. Exactly. It could have been a very different experience. I might be Astin already if that was the case. But yes, it was just so lovely to get all that kind of support, and, yes, I really enjoyed it. I think I might want to do it again for the finale. I don’t know, we’ll see.
(Kevin Durand is @OneMightyTree on Twitter, from his role as Tree Lane in Mystery, Alaska)

Q Oh, excellent. That sounds good. All right. Take care. Thank you very much.

Kevin Durand Hey, thank you.

Hello and good morning.

Kevin Durand Good morning.

Q And just like everyone else said, I think you’re the bomb on this show. Just fantastic.

Kevin Durand Oh, thank you. I’m the bomb. The bomb.

Q Yes, the bomb. Yes.

Kevin Durand I love that. Fet loves bombs.

Q Okay, Fet thinks very quickly and has nerves of steel, even when he was facing that sleeping hoard of strigoi in last week’s episode. Given that, what do you think it would take to really unnerve this guy and put true fear in his heart?

Kevin Durand Wow, that’s a really good question. I’m not really sure, because we haven’t gotten that yet. I don’t know if we will. I mean I think he has—it’s going to be interesting to see him in a group of people like this, and when you’re in a group of people under such a high level of duress there is a very high, intense level of bonding amongst the group. So I think the idea that Fet will develop feelings for people within this group would definitely raise the stakes for him and probably put fear in his heart.

It’s just like Setrakian has told us before, he said love is our downfall. And I think of him being a loner up to this point, like even seeing that he hasn’t seen his father or mother, he’s been estranged from there for years. He hasn’t really had to account for anyone for a long time, and now he seems like he really, genuinely respected Setrakian at this point and I see a relationship budding there, like a father/son relationship. It seems like he’s kind of interested in Dutch as well. I don’t see a whole lot of love lost between him and Eph but, who knows, they may become friends. I don’t know. But I think that that might be the thing is connection to these human beings under that duress may take him to that point.

Q And then, just a quick follow-up, this was a question that came up several times I saw on Twitter last night, so what’s the deal with Dutch? Does he like this girl, or is it just harmless flirting, or what can you say about that?

Kevin Durand We haven’t really explored it a whole lot. I think that he sees a spectrum of things in her. Obviously, she’s not hard on the eyes, but she’s hyper intelligent, she’s rebellious like him, she’s tough like him, she doesn’t take any crap like him, and he really gets a kick out of it. I think he sees she’s kind of reflecting to him kind of like a mirror in some ways in the short time that they have known each other, so he’s just intrigued.

Actually, as you probably know if you’ve read the books, I mean she doesn’t exist in the book.

Q Right.

Kevin Durand So her fate and what she ends up doing within the show are completely a mystery to me. It’s one of those things that I’m so excited about with this show is that we really don’t know what’s going to happen. So if I make it through episode 13 then I’ll get to shoot a second season, and then maybe we can find out.

Q Well, thank you. I’m looking forward to the finale.

Kevin Durand Thank you. Me, too.

Q Dude, everyone loves Fet.

Kevin Durand Oh, that’s so good to hear.

Q And you know you’re the son that Setrakian never had, so you’re not going anywhere.

Kevin Durand Well, we’ll have to tune in to find out.

Q Yes. Well, you mentioned earlier, I thought it was really interesting, about Fet essentially being kind of an upbeat character, and sometimes I wonder if he really thinks things are going to turn out okay or if he just has no fear.

But anyway, talk to me about the role of hope. When we look at especially the first two books, The Strain and The Fall – super dark.

Kevin Durand Yes.

Q So talk to me about the role of hope in this series. Maybe it’s more important for the show than it was for the books.

Kevin Durand I think that when you’re going up against the odds that we’re going against, I mean even just putting our little group just against that one seven foot, eight foot, maybe nine foot tall Master, I mean that’s scary enough as it is, but now we have a population that’s just exploding with these things. The only thing that you really have is hope. The only thing that you have is optimism.

And I think that’s part of why people have been drawn to Fet, because he’s not kind of letting the fall of civilization get him down. I think he truly believes and truly has hope in his heart; and not just hope, though. I think he really believes that he is going to get through it, and he’s starting to understand that he’s going to be instrumental in that, and it really makes him feel good and strong and confident in himself.

Q Right.

Kevin Durand I don’t know if I answered that question. I kind of danced around a lot. I was trying—

Q No, I think you did. Well, the difference between the books and the series, do you feel like for a TV show it’s really important to give people, to give the viewers some kind of ray of light?

Kevin Durand Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean I think you have to have a reason. You can’t be watching this show for five seasons thinking that they’re all doomed. There has to be some chance that they could make it, and this is the group of people that I would hope for in a vampire apocalypse. I hope that there’s a real Fet and an Eph and a Setrakian and a Nora and a Dutch out there to help take us through it.

Q If you could play any other role on the show which one would you pick and why?

Kevin Durand It’s so funny, because someone asked me that last night and I was so paralyzed by it, like I am now, because when I read the first book I didn’t even know that they wanted me for Fet, and Fet doesn’t start in the first book until about page 240. But even in the last, I guess it was the second half of the book, just off of that second half of the book I was like, “God, I hope I get to play that guy. I hope that’s who they want me for.”

In watching the show I guess maybe Eichhorst would have been fun, because I usually, up to this point, people usually see me destroying the world as opposed to helping to save it. So I can’t really think of who else I could have played, but Eichhorst would have been fun.

But kudos, I mean how amazing is Richard Sammel as Eichhorst? I mean I don’t know if I could have in any way gotten to that same level of just sheer— he terrifies me. Yes, he’s a terrifying dude. Terrifying opponent.

Q Absolutely.

SciFi Mafia Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk with us today. You’ll always be Keamy to me, but I forget about Keamy when I’m watching Fet, because Fet’s so awesome, too, just in a totally different way.

Kevin Durand Martin Christopher Keamy…

SciFi Mafia What a great character that is, too.

Kevin Durand Sure it. Thanks for bringing me back to Martin Christopher Keamy. Thank God for that character. Thank God for Carlton Cuse.

SciFi Mafia Well, tell me, what kind of an impact did that have on your career?

Kevin Durand For that one I got an audition, and I went in and I did this one scene that was kind of there wasn’t a whole lot of description or I didn’t really understand who this guy was, they didn’t really tell me much. It was so secretive.

SciFi Mafia Sure.

Kevin Durand And I went in and read, and I got it. I thought it was going to be one episode, and I thought, “Well, it would just be nice to go to Hawaii.” I went out there and we all kind of fell in love, and I loved what they were writing, they loved what I was doing.

And then all these years later I get a call that Carlton Cuse and Guillermo del Toro want to meet with me. I’m so grateful that Carlton thought of me for both characters, because I think these characters up to this point, and I’ve been doing this for like 23 years or something, they seem to be the characters that have had the most impact, and I’m so grateful for the fact that he thought about me for both times.

SciFi Mafia Well, earned. Obviously well done by you.

Kevin Durand Oh, thank you.

SciFi Mafia Absolutely. Then just as a quick follow-up, you’ve been in so many different kinds of productions but you’ve been in a fair number of sci-fi related productions. What do you like best about it and what do you dislike the most about it?

Kevin Durand About sci-fi?

SciFi Mafia Yes. Sci-fi horror, that kind of genre work.

Kevin Durand Well, sci-fi done right is, as far as I’m concerned, is the greatest form of escapism. So not just as a reader or a viewer I’m a big fan of the genre, but even to be an actor stepping into that role it’s always just such a wonderful challenge and it’s always so exciting to kind of just – I always call it “drifting.” I always kind of drift off into these characters and become a part of these different worlds. Yes, it’s always been such a pleasure. When sci-fi is done right I mean there’s no limit to where we can take things and stretch our reality. And that’s why, it’s just limitless.

SciFi Mafia Sure. But is there a downside to it? Have you found a downside to it?

Kevin Durand Well, yes, it’s downside is when you don’t have enough money in the budget and you try to make these fantastical things happen, but there’s a lack of money and you see the lack of that money on the screen, and then it’s harder to kind of escape. It’s harder to get whisked away by something that the production just isn’t allowing you to go on that trip. Now when sci-fi is backed properly there’s nothing better.

SciFi Mafia Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for your work.

Kevin Durand Thank you. Thank you for your question and support. I appreciate it.

I had just one other question. Last week’s episode where you were down in the tunnels and had to crawl through that tiny hole or passage that seemed like a very hard scene, and I just wanted you to talk about that. How in the world were you able to get through that?

Kevin Durand Well, you know what’s really funny about that is that they brought me in I think a week or two early and wanted to see if I could make it through that hole, because they knew that I was the biggest one in the group. So I came to work and I just shot through it really quickly, because I have way too much confidence in my athletic prowess. I was like, “Yes, look at that, big guy could do it really quick.”

I didn’t keep in mind, I didn’t do the math and realize that okay, well Fet has this really thick, bulky jacket plus his knapsack. So I got to set and Mía just shot through that thing like a lightning bolt, and I was like, “Oh, I have to beat Mía’s time,” in my head. I got in there and right from the start I could hardly move, and the panic on my face it was a real panic, like I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this. So it really happened, I really did almost get stuck. So it took a lot of me maneuvering muscles that I didn’t even know that I had, just to move like half an inch forward. So, luckily I got out. I’m here right now still alive.

Yes. It scared the crap out of a lot of fans, though, I think.

Kevin Durand Well how fricking scary was that vampire coming after me?

Q Yes!

Kevin Durand I remember watching her go through that tunnel afterwards, and I mean I got chills, I got chills just watching the way that it was so subhuman; it was so like it was animal. It was really freaky. I’m glad that she didn’t bite me, thank goodness.

Q Yes! I think all the fandom out there is very glad as well.

Kevin Durand Good. Awesome.

Q Hello, Kevin. My question is about the script that you get for the show, or maybe that your agent sends you for other films and projects. I’m wondering, what do you see as the difference on the page between genre material, like these thrillers and sci-fi and horror material or superhero movie like X-Men, versus more of an indie drama like Fruitvale Station, for example. I see that on your bio. I haven’t actually seen Fruitvale Station, but I’ve heard a lot about it and I know it’s more of a character driven type of thing.

Kevin Durand Yes. Yes. Well, from my perspective, I don’t approach the scripts in any different way. It all comes down to how the words on the page compel me or not, and I never really discriminate by genre. So if I have a visceral reaction to the words I’m reading then I know that I’m in the right place and that I’m interested.

So when I read Fruitvale I remember thinking I don’t think that I could play this guy, but there was a visceral reaction where I was like – so that means that I have to try. And it was the same thing when I read The Captive, Atom Egoyan’s The Captive, I was like there’s no way that I could play this guy. I was terrified, and I knew that I had to do it.

Reading Vasiliy every day, it’s not so much feeling like I can’t do it. I feel so stimulated by the opportunity to get to play someone heroic and stoic and good. And so it really just comes down to the quality of the words on the page as to what genre it lives in.

Q And which style do you prefer of shooting or directorial style working with the director; do you prefer more of a looser, getting a scene on its feet, maybe doing some more rehearsal and improv, or sticking to the script?

Kevin Durand It’s kind of funny, I’m kind of loosey-goosey, because I feel like I can learn from every experience. So some directors come in super regimented, like you said, and they have a very specific plan of attack, and I’m happy to be one of the players on the field and let’s attack your plan, let’s go, and let’s see what I can contribute. And then a lot of the times I’ve worked with directors where, like you said, like you could even stray from the page and just kind of find moments that might not be there, and I enjoy that, too. I don’t really have a preference. I’m just happy to be there, bro (laughs).

Q How about on The Strain, what is the style of shooting, are there very strict story boards or animatics?

Kevin Durand Well, the style of The Strainthe directors are all different from episode-to-episode. So, for instance, on episode 8 we had Guy Ferland direct it, and he had a shot list that was, I mean it was truly insane looking at this shot list at the start of every day. I mean we were just looking at each other — there’s absolutely no way that we’re going to be able to shoot this in eight days. And Guy, it was phenomenal how he attacked it. No one believed that he actually got it all done, and not only got it done but did it in a way where I just think he really killed it and hit all the moments, and it’s one of my favorite episodes.

Then you have other episodes that are just like, Peter Weller had a different kind of style. That’s one thing that I really loved about being on a TV series was that I got to work and learn from all these different folks, like every week it was a different plan of attack. So it was always trying to hold onto who you think the character is and how he would react in a certain moment and kind of help educate them, but at the same time be open to these different people’s opinions. That was kind of one of the fun parts of being a part of a collective.

Hey, Kevin. I’ve been a big fan of yours ever since Dark Angel, and it’s just a real pleasure to talk to you. So thank you for talking to us today.

Kevin Durand Oh, wow. Joshua!

Q Oh, yes, I have a lot of friends that really loved Joshua. When they found out I was interviewing you, they were like, “let him know that we love him for Joshua!”

Kevin Durand That is so fun. Joshua was the first character that I played that when, because I spent so much time with him because I was in prosthetics for five hours in the morning and then two hours taking it off and it was about usually between twelve hours and fourteen hours between that, my days were so long, that when that show ended I genuinely missed Joshua. I mourned Joshua.

Q Yes. I think everyone knows him. Okay, so my question. You’ve played some different nationalities and you’ve done different accents, and I was just wondering do you work with dialect coaches or do you devote a lot of time to practicing different accents that your characters call for?

Kevin Durand I have a funny kind of OCD. I’m a little obsessive compulsive with sounds and people’s idiosyncratic behavior, and I generally I don’t work with anyone. Sometimes the production will have someone that will kind of check up on me. But I’m so obsessive with this stuff that I usually just come to the table with what I end up doing.

For instance, for Robin Hood before Ridley had actually given me the job I moved to Scotland for two months and was frequenting a lot of hangouts in Glasgow and Edinburgh and just recording people, having conversations. There’s this one fellow, Bill Haggerty in Glasgow, that I’d meet at a pub about three times, four times a week and I would record our conversations, and I was trying to become Bill Haggerty.

So it’s always a different process, and I kind of go about it organically. With Vasiliy I wanted to find a way to meld a Ukrainian sound with a New York sound since he spent the first—

Q I think you do a masterful job with it.

Kevin Durand Oh, thank you so much.

Q I had a lot of friends that are like, “Where is he from; is he British?” and I’m like, “Oh, he’s Canadian.” They’re like, “I would have never thought that. I saw him in Robin Hood, and I thought he did such a good job on that accent.” Then I had people saying, “Oh, well he’s obviously Ukrainian, I mean I hear his accent in The Strain and it’s so good.”

Kevin Durand That’s so good to hear. It was definitely a learning process trying to think out the marriage between the two accents. Because Fet to me is like really like, I mean he is New York, but it depends. And I think about it, because I’m French Canadian and so my natural accent is not the one that I’m speaking in right now. So I know that in certain situations I start to hear my accent again when things are a little bit more intense, or if I’m having a couple beers, or if I’m just talking to my mom and dad, it all comes back. So I kind of implement that into Fet’s kind of life. If he’s hanging out and talking to his dad, like that one scene, it gets a little thicker, because it kind of brings out the Ukrainian. If he’s just hanging out with some dudes from the neighborhood then he definitely gets more New York. So it’s been really, really fun finding it, and I’m excited to keep finding it every day.

Q Yes, you’ve done a really good job, and I really loved watching you on the show, and I can’t wait to see what you do next. So thank you so much for talking to us.

Kevin Durand I appreciate that so much. Thank you.

Q Hello. Thank you so much for talking to us this morning. How are you doing?

Kevin Durand I’m doing really well. Doing really well. Yes, I’m excited to get to talk about Fet and about the show. It’s awesome to be a fan of something that I’m such a big part of.

Q Okay. “Vasiliy Fet” seems to distrust people and he seems to judge them, and he seems to let those emotions drive his actions and relationships on the show. What are your thoughts on that?

Kevin Durand So “Vasiliy Fet” mistrusts people and he what?

Q And he judges them. I feel like he has a lot of judgment for the characters on the show, for “Ephraim” in particular.

Kevin Durand I don’t know. I don’t know if I fully agree with that. I think Vasiliy is very straight up and he reacts to people the way—he’s very reactionary. So Eph, off the top, just kind of gave him – I think he’s a little bit, he has a thing in terms of judging people. I think that he kind of gets set off a little bit, his temper gets set off a little bit when people look down upon him and when they just expect a lot less from him. People have been looking down on him for a long time because of his job, and I think he feels that from Eph. And Vasiliy’s a very learned man. He might not come off that way, but he never, ever sees himself as a step below Ephraim just because he’s a doctor. So he kind of takes people for the way that they react to him, I think. I don’t think he judges people.

So, as you mentioned earlier during this call, horror films were kind of your babysitters growing up.

Kevin Durand Yes.

Q What do you think your eight year old self would say about The Strain? You think he would be inspired by it?

Kevin Durand Well, I think that my eight year old self would be so inspired by it, so excited by it, and I really, truly think that he would love Vasiliy Fet. I think that I’d be like, well actually I still am to this day, I’m still like, “Man, when I grow up I hope I can be like Vasiliy Fet.” Yes, I think that young Kevin would be really into it. Yes indeed.

Great. Well, thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

Kevin Durand Thank you.

The Strain 111 Nora Eph Fet

Hey, Kevin. Really love you on the show.

Kevin Durand Thank you so much.

Q Since Fet has joined this group of characters, I mean he sort of developed this flirty relationship with Dutch, you have some really great chemistry going with David Bradley, but Fet’s interaction with the other characters is a little more limited. Is there a particular character that either you as an actor or maybe that you think Fet as a character would want more time with?

Kevin Durand I love working with Corey Stoll. Whenever we got to do scenes together there was just a shorthand. I think we’re both kind of as journeyman actors we’ve both been around, both done a lot of work over the years, and I think there was just like a really nice understanding between us. So I look forward to getting to work with him a lot more.

And also, I’m very, very impressed by Mía Maestro as well, and we haven’t had a whole lot of interactions yet, but I’m looking forward to more of those as well.

Q Yes, I’m hoping to see more of all you guys in season two.

Kevin Durand Yes. Yes. Hopefully I make it through episode 13, and then I get to come back and we get to explore all this stuff.

Yes. And then, just as a quick follow-up, I mean because for the first half of the season Fet is sort of unknown, he’s sort of stalking the streets as like the solo hero, and then about halfway through suddenly you’re in this big group dynamic. What is it like going through that change as an actor?

Kevin Durand I really, really appreciated the opportunity to have the first half of the season to find Fet. I was really kind of exploring, trying to really feel him out, and by the time we got into the group dynamic I felt like I had a good hold on who he was. So when I started working with this group, who are all like such great actors and people that I genuinely fell in love with, became friends with, it was really rewarding to get to bounce ideas off of each other and move the narrative forward and find moments. Yes, it’s just really great to be a part of that group.

Q Awesome. Man, thanks so much for talking to us.

Kevin Durand Thanks, bra. Thank you very much.

Hi, Kevin.

Kevin Durand Hey, how you doing?

Q I’m doing good. Thank you for doing this interview. We all appreciate your time. I’m a big fan of yours.

Kevin Durand Oh, thank you so much, I appreciate that. Thank you.

Q My question is The Straintrilogy has also been adapted into a comic book series, and being a big comic book fan myself I was wondering if you read them and if they helped you prepare for your role at all?

Kevin Durand Yes, it’s really interesting. When I got the books initially and read the books Guillermo also gave me some of the graphic novels, and reading through them it was very informative to kind of see the physicality of Vasiliy. And even though my ideas were a little different, I still did take a lot from it. Very helpful to get to see an artist’s rendition of who your guy, who your character looks like, and even in every frame you get a sense of his movement and it just gives you more artillery to go into work with.

Q Yes. To be honest, when I was reading the comics I actually did picture you. I’m not just saying that.

Kevin Durand Oh, you did? Oh that’s nice!

Q Yes, actually I did when I was reading them. They came out about a year ago, but I did picture you. Which brings me to my follow-up question. I also pictured you as, I don’t know if you read The Walking Dead, but I pictured you as Abraham Ford, and I wondered if you were ever approached to do that role?

Kevin Durand You know what, I wasn’t. I wasn’t, but I heard that from people. Ultimately for me it’s just really nice; it’s such an incredible compliment that you think of me for these characters. I’m so grateful for that. But no, nobody ever talked to me about that.

But I think by the time they cast Abraham I think I was already Vasiliy Fet by the time they did that, I think. So I think even if they had thought about it I think it would have been too late anyways, because I became Vasiliy Fet, the exterminator.

Q Well, we all appreciate you as Vasiliy Fet.

Kevin Durand Oh, thank you so much. Thank you. I’ve had a lot of people with The Walking Dead talk to me, mentioned that they see me for a character named “Negan,” but I haven’t read the comic. But my ears are always open to what’s being said out on, and, like I said, I’m always honored to hear any of your thoughts. Bring it on!

Q It’s my pleasure. Thank you very much.

Kevin Durand Thank you.

FX Thanks so much, everyone, for joining us today, and especially Kevin Durand. We really appreciate your time.

Kevin Durand Oh, thank you very much. I had a lot of fun with you guys. Thank you, guys. Thank you. Enjoy the finale next week!

Thanks again to the terrific Kevin Durand for taking the time to talk with us, and for bringing Fet to life. Please survive the season finale!

The Strain, starring Corey StollMia MaestroSean Astin, David BradleyKevin DurandNatalie BrownJonathan HydeRichard SammelRobert MailletJack KesyBen Hyland, and Miguel Gomez, airs its Season 1 finale this Sunday, October 5 at 10/9c on FX.





Erin Willard
Written by Erin Willard

Erin is the Editor In Chief and West Coast Correspondent for SciFiMafia.com