Editor’s note: Follows is a one-on-one interview with Joshua Sasse, of the movie “The Big and I,” and Leah Gibson, from “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.” Both are playing key roles in “Rogue,” DIRECTV’s first original series.
DIRECTV has resurrected a number of cancelled series like “Damages” and “Friday Night Lights.” Now, the Audience Network is producing an original show called “Rogue,” which premieres on April 3 at 9 p.m. Thandie Newton plays Grace, an undercover detective who loses her son in a shooting. To track down those responsible, Grace finds herself getting caught up with the Laszlos, the city’s most infamous crime family. The Ahwatukee Foothills News recently talked with two of show’s stars, Joshua Sasse and Leah Gibson. Sasse plays Alec Laszlo, the son of crime boss Jimmy Laszlo, while Gibson plays Cathy Laszlo, Alec’s wife who pushes her husband to seize control from his dominating father.
Q: How does it feel to be apart of DIRECTV’s first completely original series?
Sasse: It feels amazing to create something in a new and original format. We were given a lot of freedom as actors to create our roles and that’s a very rare thing.
Gibson: It’s exciting because this is a new endeavor for DIRECTV. They were very collaborative and supportive of us the entire way.
Q: Do you think that “Rogue” will open the door for DIRECTV to produce more original series?
Sasse: For sure. They’ve really enjoyed the journey of creating the show as much as we have. We have a lot of faith in the show now so I don’t see why not.
Q: Would you say that your characters have a bit of a Macbeth/Lady Macbeth complex?
Gibson: It’s certainly been a reference throughout the process. I was concerned about playing Cathy in a real, human way. I wanted to play her as a very strong woman with a unique position in the Laszlo crime family unit. Her love and strong emotions for her husband are all rooted in a very real family love.
Q: What do you think sets rogue apart from all the other suspense dramas on television?
Sasse: DIRECTV enables us to do what other suspense dramas can’t in terms of sexual content and violent content. The show has a real film quality, almost like a 10-hour movie. In that respect, it’s like something we’ve never seen before.
Gibson: The writing is so superb. It takes these classic themes that have been explored in film and television about gangs, but our show is very much centered on characters and their relationships. It’s a very human representation of all those things, which I find interesting.
Q: Sasse’s character has a pretty confrontational relationship with his mobster father, who is played by Marton Csokas. Did things ever get really heated or uncomfortable between you guys on set?
Sasse: Yeah, absolutely. It’s an intense relationship. Marton and I would often talk offset about how we wanted to explore our relationship. When we were onset it was like electricity because the audience has to believe what they’re watching.
Q: Would you say that the Laszlos are a bit like the Sopranos in the sense that they’re criminals, but still have a lot of humanity to them?
Sasse: The humanity of this family was something that creator Matthew Parkhill really wanted to play on. There have been a lot of shows about crime syndicate families, but you don’t always get to see what happens when these gangsters go home. It really rounds out the characters.
Gibson: I was most concerned about presenting something really raw, gritty, and truthful, which I think the audience is going to respond to.
Q: Between the original content being made available on DIRECTV, Hulu and Netflix in addition to HBO, Showtime and cable, do you think that network dramas are starting to become dated?
Sasse: Definitely. They don’t seem to be working at the same standard as we are because they have so many rules. People nowadays have very high expectations for what they see in the media. If you’re living in a world that isn’t completely real then you’re just falling behind and I think that’s what’s happened to network TV.
Gibson: I don’t know. That’s a debatable topic really. There are just different versions of storytelling when it comes to TV. The standards have been rising in recent years and it’s great to be apart of this show because it takes things further.
Q: Do you guys have any big scenes coming up with Thandie Newton? If so, what’s it like acting alongside her?
Sasse: The minute you meet Thandie you get an instant impression of what she’s like. She’s so caring and a highly intelligent human being. Regarding what happens in the series, I can’t give anything away.
Q: Would you say that family is the major underlying theme of the show?
Gibson: I love the way that the institution of family is profiled in this show. There’s no black and white world in “Rogue,” just shades of gray. You’re watching human struggle and different relationships.
Q: What about “Rogue” has you most excited?
Sasse: The unpredictability of it. When we were filming we didn’t know what would be coming the next week. I think that is exactly what the audience is going through. You just have no idea what’s going to be thrown at any time.
Gibson: This show delivers all of the answers that the audience wants and they’re not what you expect at all.
• Ahwatukee native and Desert Vista graduate Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.