The weekly revisiting of Banshee interviews continues with Geno Segers, who created the fearsome Chayton Littlestone.
In the land of film and television, a world of make believe, Geno Segers is the complete package. He has the size, voice and the charisma of a man who knows what he wants and how he wants it. That road led him to Cinemax’s hit show, Banshee, where he has turned a tough looking guy in Chayton Littlestone into a character with substance and many layers of intrigue.
It turns out that forces of nature can be gentlemanly and revealing as well. I had the chance to speak with Segers this week about Chayton’s motivations, the reaction to killing a beloved character on screen and Friday’s huge showdown in New Orleans. This isn’t 60 minutes, folks. Just a couple of dudes talking about Banshee.
Dan Buffa-Friday looks like it’s going to be an exciting night for Fanshees.
Geno Segers-A lot of people are anticipating this meeting of the minds so to speak.
DB-When it comes to you and Antony Starr(who plays Lucas Hood on the show), it’s more like meeting of the fists. When you two see each other on set, do you sigh and think to yourself, “Oh boy”. I mean, there’s a lot of physicality between you two.
GS-Antony and I are really good friends actually. I used to live in New Zealand. I was a rugby player for several years and he grew up there. We more than likely ran into each other a few times. He was an up and coming actor and I was coming out of rugby and doing security along with other small businesses. It’s not a big place, but we would run into each other several times without really knowing it.
DB-So you are saying we have an origin story of Chayton and Lucas set up here.
GS-That’s an origin in reality. A Geno and Antony story.
DB-Let’s get the big elephant out of the room. How much hate did you receive when Chayton killed off the beloved Siobhan Kelly?
GS-Honestly, it was quite an interesting week. There was a lot of hate for Chayton, as you can imagine. I expected it and I looked forward to it. I learned very quickly that people viewed it differently. Some people sided with Chayton. Being a Fanshee myself, I didn’t side with Chayton. I wanted to see him die a miserable death. The line got crossed only once, and this guy said something to me about wanting the actor who played Chayton to die. Come on man. I’m just doing what the writers want me to do. Some people enjoy the freedom they have to speak bluntly over Twitter and social media whereas they couldn’t say it in person. When I see people in public, it’s all about love. It’s praise. The comments are so far one way and then so far the other way. My grandmother always told me, “Don’t drink anybody’s kool aide. If the kool aid is not sweet enough, you add a little sugar. If it’s too sweet, you add a little water. If you add something to someone else’s kool aid, it’s not their kool aid anymore. It’s your kool aid.” Compare that to the comments. If someone says somebody really nice about me, I add a little water. If someone says something really negative, I add some water. I must have done a really good job if that guy wanted me to die. I read the comments but I don’t embody them or take them personally.
DB-Everybody loves a good bad guy. Good guys need a great bad guy to make the show work. This season, Chayton has become that big bad. When I talked to Loni Peristere(Director and Executive Producer) before the season, he talked about making Chayton something more. Season 3 has seen that transformation come full circle, and also seen Chayton tumble down the rabbit hole of violence.
GS-Yeah, Chayton takes a turn for the worse when his brother, Tommy, dies. That really showed that he was human and vengeful. He wants it in such a way that he is willing to do anything to get it but he also isn’t stupid. He doesn’t want to get caught and go to jail. As he explained to Aimee in the woods, he isn’t to let them put him into another cage and nobody(including someone as close as Aimee once was) will get in his way. He’s a mad dog and he’s agitated.
DB-In the second season, we didn’t see that mad dog. Chayton let Siobhan live after the car accident. That was a different guy. A guy who could kill but still had the chain on him. When Tommy was killed, the chain got broke and it can’t be reattached.
GS-Chayton was an honorable warrior. No women and no kids. Loni asked me if I had done any homework on Chayton in the middle of Season 2 and 3, and I had. I kept a journal as Chayton for months prior to going back to set. The journal covered Chayton’s trip from New Orleans back to Banshee. As I wrote in this journal as Chayton, I realized he was taking fights along the way back. As he realized that in taking all these fights, there was always going to be someone standing in front of him willing to die. He can’t kill all the white men. Eventually, someone is going to kill him. Every warrior knows his death is coming and they seek a warrior’s death. Chayton realizes he can’t take the land back. He is outnumbered, so the objective has changed when he returns to Banshee. Taking whatever he can and that means taking it the same way this country was taken in the beginning and that is with the gun. That was the assault on Colonel Stowe’s transport. He was training his people to take back what they could and how that would change things immediately. That said, he still refuses to use a gun. He wants to remain pure and use a bow and arrow. Then, the tire comes off the road when his brother dies, who he was desperately trying to protect. Chayton knew that his days were numbered, so he had to leave it to someone. When Tommy died, everything crumbled.
DB-Chayton turned into a lone wolf so to speak.
GS-Absolutely. The only person Chayton trusted was Tommy, so all bets are off. He’s willing to do anything to stay free. (In episode 307, You Can’t Hide From The Dead), he pitchforked a guy for no reason. He then pitchforked the lady who helped him. Ultimately, Chayton is on a path of destruction and reached the point of no return. He’s going back to New Orleans to seek refuge.
DB-One of the things I’ve started to think about this season is Chayton underestimating Hood in thinking he is just a sheriff and not seeing a guy who is deadly as him.
GS-The thought of Chayton being snuck up on was a moot point between myself and Antony. We talk about these moments that Hood and Chayton are face to face. The banter and the communication that only a warrior or assassin would know. Chayton feels very close to Hood in a way, because he knows him. At the same time, he doesn’t really know him. There’s something very familiar about this guy to Chayton. It’s a question that is going on in his mind. He can’t put the pieces together. You’ll find in episode 8(All The Wisdom I Have Left) that a lot of this comes to light for Chayton. His eyes are opened in a different way. There are two realizations for Chayton. It’s not just a fight this week. It’s a fight and a conversation at the same time. Things are starting to unravel for him, so the “Aha” moment is coming for Chayton because he only believed Hood was a sheriff with really good training. That realization is made and then it is reformed later in the episode.
DB-There are a lot of similarities between Chayton and Hood. Both men are relentless in what they do and aren’t going back to prison and fearless in their life. They are both “Armies of One”, as stated in Season 2.
GS-Exactly. Let’s face it. A Banshee sheriff would NOT go to New Orleans to chase someone. He would not go across state lines or out of the county to chase someone. That realization is made by Chayton. He used to leave Banshee and go to New Orleans without hesitation and now this guy is coming on the reservation and coming down to New Orleans after him. There’s a point where the light comes on and then it comes on again. It gets real bright.
DB-Let’s go back to that Kinaho raid on the Cadi. What kind of shooting schedule was that? One night? Several nights?
GS-It was a long time. It was more than a week. If you look at the interior shots and the exterior shots, it was a long time. They weren’t shooting the interior and exterior shot at the same time. They did the interior first and then the exterior.
DB-My favorite part wasn’t even the action part of the episode. It was the quieter moments like the conversations between you and Antony. Two guys taunting each other. I’m a Dark Knight guy, so those scenes had the Batman/Joker faceoff written all over them. Those were as good as the bullets flying in.
GS-My favorite part was Hood and Proctor putting down their fists for a moment because they need each other. Proctor staying and helping Hood defend the Cadi until he could get himself together. Proctor has developed a softer side and is trying to be more than he currently is. However, his niece Rebecca is getting him into quite a conundrum. It’s going to come to a head real soon.
DB-The best thing about Banshee is the bad guys are not merely villains but wholly developed characters instead. You don’t see that on other television shows.
GS-All you have to do is look at the protagonist of the show. Hood is not a good guy. Who is a good guy and who is a bad guy? I call them pro-antagonists and anti-protagonists. Chayton is an anti-protagonist because he is a bad guy with a good moral compass (or at least he used to be). He had a plan and beliefs but now he is a mad dog and no one is going to side with a mad dog.
DB-In season 3, one of the true good guys, Brock, is switching over to the bad ways of Lucas.
GS-The last real pure Christian in the Banshee police department was (Emmett) Yawners (played by Demetrius Grosse). When Yawners went rogue, he was the last moral compass for Brock. Yawners was telling Brock that he doesn’t need to go see his ex-wife and that he isn’t married to her anymore. Emmett told Brock to leave her alone and manage it in a Christian way. When Emmett was gone, Brock’s moral compass wasn’t there and he goes back to his ex-wife. Brock wanted to go after Hondo because of Emmett’s death and now he wants to go after Chayton for Siobhan’s murder.
DB-One of the few regrets with the show is not seeing Chayton and Emmett square off.
GS-Chayton realistically would not have wanted to fight Emmett. He wanted to wake up the sleeping giant in Emmett. He felt like Emmett was someone that should have been on his side. You have to think about the charisma of someone like Chayton. Someone who will help you see the flaw in yourself and build you back up in his own righteousness. Chayton wanted to wake up Emmett and convince him to pull that badge off. Telling him they raped your people and kidnapped your ancestors. They chained you up for centuries. He wants to wake the giant up. Fighting Emmett was not in Chayton’s motivation. Chayton’s last words to Emmett were “These belong to you” in tossing him the handcuffs. He was still trying to wake him up.
DB-This Friday, it is fight club in New Orleans. What can you tell fans, other than hang on and brace yourselves?
GS-It is going to be concentrated. It’s going to be visceral and grimy. You won’t be disappointed.
DB-The fight scenes on Banshee are amazing. How much prep goes into a fight like the one on Friday.
GS-It’s all choreographed in a dojo. We make it fit on the set. For the most part, it’s all timed out in the number of moves and the time it takes for the fight to go. How much time is the footage going to take? Some fights are 80 to 90 different moves. You throw a punch and I duck, that’s one move. I throw a punch and it hits you in the stomach, that’s two moves. You kick me and I catch it, and that’s a third move. So on and so forth. We are talking about 75 moves. You redo 10-15 moves per piece. It’s very specific and the actors have to learn all the moves as well as the stunts. Any close up shot has to be the actor. A wide shot is a place where you can use a double. When the camera is right there, it’s hard to get the stunt guy in there. There’s a lot of work in these scenes.
DB-There’s a dedication on the set to Banshee that you don’t hear about elsewhere. You don’t see it in films and shows. They skim over a lot of stuff. The Banshee crew goes at it full tilt. Loni told me that Greg Yaitanes(Showrunner, Director) once said, “there is no such thing as a small stunt”.
GS-They don’t mess around. They want it a certain way and they know what they want. I used to have to this saying when I go on set, “Hey guys, we are shooting for perfection. If we fall short, we’ll have something great.” That is the mantra for Banshee fight scenes or even the opening. They want it all to be perfect.
DB-There’s an adrenaline that comes with this show when Friday night comes along. I almost have to move around the room or hit a punching bag to level myself out. Fans feel strongly about this show and it grows every week.
GS-No one is immune to being killed on Banshee and that plays into that. The Walking Dead set that precedence. Game of Thrones does that. The kid who played the king that everybody hated on Game of Thrones got a death threat. Man, I look forward to someone issuing me a death threat. I’ll call you out quick. We live in a world where the performer is not allowed to say something, like we should take the high road. Why should I be above anything? If you feel comfortable sounding off on me, why can’t I sound off on you?
When I interview an actor, director or creator, I want to give my readers a unique look into their persona. Tell them something different. What I found out about Geno confirmed what I suspected. He is the real deal. Geno Segers is more than meets the eye. When he first walked into the world of Banshee before that first collision with Hood in Season 2, Fanshees saw a simple tough bad guy. Since that entrance, Segers has carved a multi-dimensional character out of Chayton from that initial makeup. He took a bad guy and made him into someone real, vulnerable and suspect to change. On Friday, fans find out what Chayton is really made of. If they have been paying attention at all this season, they’ll know Segers is a lot more than just a presence and a voice. He’s a force to reckon with.
(Photo Credit-Gregory Shummon/Cinemax)