This isn’t a standard interview. I’m not trying to reproduce 60 minutes here. This is an old fashioned chat between two Banshee addicts. For the second time, I talked to Matty Rauch, who inhibits the fearsome Clay Burton on Cinemax’s hit series. Read up.
*This interview was first posted on Film-Addict on January 23rd.
Dan Buffa-It’s a big day for Burton with the big show down with Nola in this episode? Are you excited? The legion of Fanshees are ready to go nuts.
Rauch-It’s a big day for Banshee. Something we have all been looking forward to for a long time. I have seen a rough cut of it but not the entirety so I am excited to see it unfold.
DB-They are releasing small bits of your fight with Odette Annable online. The way the weapon slams into your chest at the beginning of that fight is epic. The show always comes up with ways to make the violence fresh and brutal. No fight ever feels the same on Banshee.
Rauch-We did some interesting technical stuff on this fight. The tech nerds are going to love this fight. We invented our own camera rig because it had to go inside and outside the car. There’s one long continuous shot. It’s Birdman style. It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, professionally. I am excited for the fans to enjoy it the way we enjoyed it. A lot of people put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it. I am so excited to see this fight. Odette and I worked very hard.
DB-It’s rare to get to see two main characters on Banshee, two faces of the show, clash on screen. It’s a rare special thing to see.
Rauch-I think the network and producers really wanted to set up Nola and Burton as two highly dangerous people. Nola has a charm to her but she is also a very dangerous person, and Odette plays her perfectly. Burton is mysterious and very frightening but there is a loyalty to him that fans have picked up on. I think they wanted to set this up as the biggest fight of the series. I know it was a great challenge and I felt pretty lucky to be a part of it.
DB-How does a fight scene come together and how long does it take to complete?
Rauch-It starts with the producers. Greg, Loni, John, Adam and Bob Phillips. There are so many elements to it. Odette and I trained for it extensively. We had to shoot it in a day. 14 hours in terribly hot weather. The crew was working hard. Our amazing stunt coordinator, Marcus Young, and the crew taught us how to fight and then taught us about that particular fight. Odette has an incredible stunt double named Boni Yanigasawa. I had a great double who taught me so much in four weeks named Dave Maccomber. Two of the best stunt doubles in the business. Those two are stone cold ninja pros. The camera crews were running around. The stunt guys. There was a ton of blood. So much shit goes on during these fight scenes. I don’t want to give too much of it away but when people see it they are going to be like, “What the fuck?” It happens really fast. It’s three and a half minutes long but it feels like 60 seconds. It’s really intense and really fast. You don’t know who is going to win this fight. It does not end well.
DB-Both Burton and Nola are true armies of one. She’s something else.
Rauch-I can talk about Odette for hours. She is one of the coolest people to work with in the business. She’s cool, funny, and so talented. Very dedicated. I thought her performance in the scene with Ivana in episode 2 last week was amazing. The scene that impressed me the most was the one with Chayton(Geno). There’s a fiery independent streak in Odette’s Nola. She’s a lone wolf. It’s old school revenge. A pound of flesh for a pound of flesh. So you have two immovable forces meeting each other. The setup and the writing is all there with this fight. I literally can’t wait for this episode.
DB-Sometimes, it’s so hard to wait for another episode. I feel like I have to go for a run or challenge somebody to a fight in my apartment complex to compensate.
Rauch-Don’t do that. TV is fantasy my friend. Remember it’s make believe. I will say this. There was one part of a take where Odette punched me in the face. We rehearsed a lot. Then you get in front of the camera and its hot and everybody is going, and she hit me. It hurt like a bitch. However, after that, the whole day went smooth. That’s the thing about fighting and acting on a stage or on a TV show set. Stage fighting is truly fake. It’s not fighting. To a certain extent, the banshee fights is real fighting. There’s contact and things you can’t fake. It’s vicious and brutal.
DB-The episode seems packed to the punch with lots of story but this fight seems at the epicenter of it.
Rauch-It’s only a few minutes of a rather huge episode. There is Lucas and the FBI agents. Shit is heating up in the town itself with the Proctor enterprise. Chayton is a force to reckon with. The Banshee plate is full. As you can see with the first two episodes, we are off to a good start. Magnus(Martens) directs this episode block. Going from Loni to Magnus is like going from one buddy to another buddy. I like the way Magnus works with the actors and the vibe on the set is great. Both are virtuosic in their own way. Magnus has an incredible style about him.
DB-I love the fact that Banshee gets one director to work in two episode blocks. It allows them to relax and become familiar with the territory instead of just riding through town.
Rauch-It’s an interesting way of doing things. It has to do with budget and technical blocks. Games of Thrones and House of Cards do the same thing. It has to do with prep. Very elaborate technical sequences. Allow the directors to work in the world. It’s nice for the cast because you get to work with the director for a month. There are dinners and hanging out and that’s part of the fabric of making the show. On Banshee, it takes us about 20 shooting days to shoot two episodes. It’s really a lot of fun.
DB-This episode will be good for you and that’s great because you are a hard working guy and deserve the exposure.
Rauch-Ah, you know me Dan, I don’t like to think of it in terms of deserve. I like the show. If it is good for me, that’s terrific. It’s good for the show and that’s most important. Each episode gets better and better. The show is a hit and the critics are responding. It’s a really well made show and I am super lucky to be a part of it. When I took the job, I had no idea. It looked like a cool creepy character and I was going to have fun in Charlotte. Here are we three years later, and I just kind of fell into it.
DB-The show is doing well and the critics are latching on now. That has to feel great.
Rauch-It’s a tough business and the only real power an actor has is to say yes or no. You can agree to it or not agree. I believe that work in general is good. I think work leads to more work. I like it. It’s not about money or fame. I just enjoy the process and doing the job. If you look at the pilot and then watch episode 301, it’s an exponential leap. I feel lucky to be a part of it.
DB-What’s the process you take in going from good sweet guy from New York named Matty Rauch to the methodical creepy killer, Burton?
Rauch-The work on the set is particular. For me, I like to do my prep before I get on the set. I get the material, read the script and see how Burton fits into the story and my relation to the others. The day of shooting for me is all about being loose. I like to joke around and enjoy myself. The camera notices when you are not relaxed. One of things about Burton is that he is strangely relaxed. He is not a tense guy.
Burton is Anti-Lucas, in a way. Laid back and not always intense.
Rauch-Right. Antony can be very intense on the set. I told you last year and I’ll say it again. I have so much respect for Antony. He is the hardest working guy on the set. He lives and breathes Banshee for the five months of shooting time. He never complains and is very diligent. However, he can be really intense like Lucas is. Sometimes I don’t know if that is really how Antony is or if that is him channeling Lucas the entire time.
DB-How did you get the role?
Rauch-When you get an opportunity for the role, your agents give you the material. There are times where I just don’t like the material. Most of the time, you say great and I will be there. Every once in a while you get something that you just “get” it. There’s no rhyme or reason for that. It just happens. I read the scene for the audition and instantly in my mind, I get this guy (Burton). I can’t explain it. I did one scene and got the job.
DB-Burton has more to do this season and is in front of the camera more. Is that exciting for you or do you play it the same way as previous seasons?
Rauch-It may sound like a cliché to say but I don’t think about in terms of size of the role. It’s flattering and exciting to have a little more to do. From moment one, the first episode we shot, I knew what I wanted to do and encouraged by the creative team to go there. It was important to never give anything away. Every moment has to be an opportunity to give a full picture of the guy. It’s up to the network but I want to give them a fully realized person.
DB-I feel lucky to be able to talk to you people so much. As a fan, I feel grateful to communicate with you. It’s a wonderful position to be in. You don’t get that in this business often. With you and the rest of the cast and crew, it’s very easy going.
Rauch-It’s a symbiotic relationship. It’s nice when people want to write about you. It’s good for the actors and the network. As much of a labor of love that the show is, it’s a job. So if I have to take 30 minutes out of my day to talk to somebody who loves the show and writes about it and has a following, it goes with the territory. It’s the right thing to do. It’s fun to do. It’s an exciting week. Odette and I worked hard this week and getting the love from Cinemax and the press is great.
DB-One of the intriguing plot lines this season is the tripod of weird love that is the Kai-Rebecca-Burton relationship. They are sleeping together and Rebecca is essentially becoming a partner and invading Burton’s turf. Take us inside Clay’s head here. What does he think of Rebecca?
Rauch-It’s a tripid of weird love indeed. Some dark magic going on there. As I saw a lot in season 2, Burton is mistrustful of Rebecca’s energy. She is a wildcard. At the same time, he is stuck. We have also seen Burton’s loyalty to Proctor is unflinching. He would do anything Kai asked of him. Since Rebecca is taken under Kai’s wing, Burton is watchful of her but there is a boundary of how he can approach Proctor. When Rebecca executes the man in Episode 2, Burton sees that she is becoming more loyal to Proctor but also a pure wildcard. I don’t want to say there is an emotional attachment, but he seems more protective of her. As we move forward, you could see the two coming to a meeting of the minds. Rebecca is an asset and a liability, and Burton has to be aware of that.
DB-Episode 2, “Snakes and What Not” featured another brief stare faceoff between Lucas and Burton? These two just don’t like each other and I know that’s what a lot of fanshees want to see. Any hope for a fight down the road?
Rauch-I don’t think we have to see them fight, necessarily. I will say that the relationship between Burton and Hood, which is some ways is like the one between Antony and Matt. That started the first day we ever worked together. It’s from the first season when Proctor is arrested. There’s a tiny moment where Burton and Hood kind of clock each other. There is a flash of recognition between the two men. They see a little bit of themselves in each other. They are trained killers. The mysterious of Lucas Hood is on Burton’s mind. It’s fun with Antony because he is interested in nuance and embraces these interactions. What Burton knows for sure about Hood the moment he saw him is that he can’t be trifled with and it is the same way with Hood seeing Burton. It is going to benefit both Hood and Burton going forward because it’s…awesome, this show, it’s really fucking awesome.”
DB-The show really is and people won’t appreciate the world awesome until they watch this show. Speaking of recognition, the critics are finally starting to recognize this show.
Rauch-It’s extremely gratifying. Greg is tweeting that Rotten Tomatoes has our rating this season at 100 percent. They are seeing the absurdist part of the show and the pulpy, cinematic western style of the show. When those things come together, it’s a pretty cool witches brew of awesomeness. It’s not real but it’s so much fun. It’s a Mach 10 pistol version of the world. In the world we have created, there are a lot of layers.
DB-One of things the cast and crew rave about and a lot of fans don’t know enough about is the hard work that every single person on the set of Banshee does. Who are some people we should know that don’t get enough credit?
Rauch-The people in the main credits of the show are essential. Greg, Tropper, Loni, Phillips, and Chris Faloona. They control what you see every episode. Other than those people, there are a couple people. The first person I think of is Bud Kremp, who is our A Camera Operator. He is the guy who shoots the primary camera and he is the channel between the director and assistant director. What you see is what Bud shoots. The primary shooter on the show. Bud shows up first and leaves last. He is incredibly savvy and won’t shoot it unless it’s right. He respects the actors. He’s got a great relationship with the cast and the crew. He is one of the unsung heroes. He is nominated for an award. There’s a couple of other people. Marcus Young and the rest of the stunt crew. The wardrobe department and makeup department. Ange Grmolyes who makes Burton’s hair look so good. The assistant directors are also vital. Gary Cotti. Matt Clarke. Jocko Phillips. The people who run the set. Day to day. All day. Making a show like this very complex. There are over 120 people who work on the show. Production coordinators. Travel coordinators. The set builders. Sound design. There’s so many people.
DB-That’s another good thing about this show. The way the cast remembers the hard working people on the ground. I crave behind the scenes details so finding out about these people is important.
Rauch-Playing Burton, you are a solitary guy on the show. So I walk around and talk to the stand in for Burton and the sound people. I get to know the makeup and costume people. Nobody outside the show would know Jill or Keith or Toby, but those are the people who make my costume look pristine every day, day in and day out. They’re essential to the show, to my work, personally, and they’re awesome.
DB-Spin off idea? Job(Hoon Lee) and Burton walk into a nightclub and…
Rauch-I am a big fan of Hoon’s. We spend a lot of time together and have become friends. I am dying for a scene between Burton and Job. If you want to push a spinoff with Job and Burton, I am all for it. Burton and Job go to Cleveland to pick up vacuum cleaners. That would be fun.
Rauch is an integral part of the show’s success, because every time Burton makes an appearance, the viewer remembers it. His presence and connection aren’t easy to forget about and they burn their way into your memory. Like the rest of the cast and crew, Rauch appreciates the fan support on Twitter and respects the time given to the show. The support given to Banshee only makes the creators try even harder to put a better product on the table.
I think we all just feel lucky that Banshee exists and is earning the respect it deserves. The work ethic on the show and the drive it has is completely unique in this day and age of television. Tune in tonight, and the following seven Friday nights at 9 p.m. Central Time for a dose of high powered television.
Have fun tonight and spread the good word about Cinemax’s Banshee. Or else, Burton may show up at your doorstep and the glasses may come off.