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Categorized | Editorial, SDCC '14

Interview: Sean Astin Talks THE STRAIN and Being a Bad Guy

Posted on August 31, 2014 at 10:54 am by Amanda Andonian


Sean Astin sat down at our roundtable at SDCC this summer to chat about The Strain and his character, CDC investigator Jim Kent, who makes a deal with the devil to save his wife from terminal cancer.

Jim Kent is an interesting character. What did you think of him when you first read the script?

Poor Jim Kent. I see everything from my character’s point of view. The fact that he releases illegally the coffin with the Master in it to go from the cargo hold across the bridge into Manhattan thereby unleashing a pandemic that could wipe out all of civilization. I don’t think necessarily that he’s a bad guy. [Laughter] I think that Jim clearly likes to serve. He serves Corey Stoll’s character as an attendant as an aide kind of like Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings I character I played.

I remember him.

An oldie but a goodie folks. No, but the idea that you need milk, you need diagrams, whatever you need I’m going to figure it out to get to you. In so doing, my work with the CDC is going to help people. So the fact that he made this weird choice, this weird act of badness. I’m not sure that it’s an evil act; you have to wonder what they have on him. [It’s later revealed that Jim Kent’s wife has cancer and they get her into an experimental treatment.] He doesn’t seem happy about it in the pilot when he lets [the van carrying the Master’s coffin] through. He’s complaining about having to do it. Right away, you know that he’s a morally compromised guy. The question will become, is it forgivable? Can Eph and Nora forgive him for what he’s done? Will the audience forgive him for what he’s done?

When will we know why he did what he did?

It’s coming out soon. Third, fourth, fifth episode, it becomes clear. Because it’s so immediate. This plague is happening instantly, and Jim Kent is part of the team that is on the leading edge of it. And not unlike the vampires, it’s going to reveal itself quickly. What the pandemic becomes takes place over with time. With Jim, because they work so closely together, he can’t get away with too much for too long. Is he going to go to the dark side? Is he going to become as suggested a totally evil character? I think the reason why Guillermo [del Toro] and Carlton [Cuse] liked me for the part is that I play these characters that are likeable characters. And if they put a negative spin on that, a bad choice, it might retain a level of tension. The fans here at Comic Con have been coming up to me, “You’re so a good bad guy.” But the way they are saying it, they don’t like it. Which is great.

He explains his character’s bad choices further.

At a certain point people get compromised along the way. Jim is an obvious case for the audience who can see right away what he does. It wouldn’t seem based on the pilot that there is malevolence there. But how far would you go? What would the stakes have to be in order for you to go to the dark side in order for you to try to save yourself at the expense of others? That’s really what it becomes at a certain point. These vampires start multiplying. That’s what they are they multiply. They can die but essentially either civilization wins over the vampires or vampires win. There’s never going to be a balance between them. The question is where are you on the continuum.

Special thanks to FX and to SDCC. You can watch The Strain Sundays at 10pm on FX.

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