I want to play all types of roles, says 'Altered Carbon' star Byron Mann
Byron is in most shows you are binge-watching right now, and his resume is only getting more impressive by the day.
'Altered Carbon' is one of the most exciting dystopian science fiction shows streaming on Netflix right now, and the man playing the OG Takeshi Kovacs, Byron Mann, is also bust being a chameleon throughout the year.
His impressive upcoming ventures include playing a UNN admiral Augusto Nguyễn in the ongoing season 3 of 'The Expanse,' an inspector making things difficult for Dwayne Johnson in the upcoming 'Skyscraper' and a lot more he is not privy to talk about just yet.
Thanks to the watershed moment in Hollywood a couple of years ago, with the #OscarSoWhite controversy, actors like Byron have been getting bigger and better platforms to showcase their talent.
"I have noticed now that there are more roles that are non-ethnic specific," Byron tells Meaww, specifically speaking of his own role in the upcoming supernatural thriller 'Only You.'
His role in the David Oyelowo-starrer 'Only You,' was originally written as a Caucasian character, reveals Byron, adding that this in itself is proof that more and more roles are written such that it can be played by anybody, with even casting directors being open to casting actors regardless of their ethnicity.
"It is the best time to be an actor," says an optimistic Byron.
His role in 'Altered Carbon,' though, could not have been played by anyone but him, mostly because of the sheer talent he brings to the role, but also because as Byron explains it, "A major plot in the series and the book is really a half-Asian man trapped in the body of a white male in a world he is not familiar with."
Kovacs, Byron's character in the Netflix series, is based on the character by the same name that was created by Richard K. Morgan for his novel 'Altered Carbon.'
"He is kind of like an inter-galactical soldier. He is not superman. He just has a heightened sense called the envoy intuition and of course, he is highly skilled, very dangerous as you can in the first episode," explains Byron, further adding, "This is a character that is in angst. He has lost the love of his life and he has lost his sister – his only remaining family. So, he is kind of just drifting along as a mercenary for hire. That's when we find him in the first episode of the series."
When we meet Kovacs, he has just woken up from a government-induced 300-year-long nap, and he is in the body of a Caucasian person played by Joel Kinnaman. Hence, the identity crisis. Despite playing the same character, though, Joel and Byron decided to skip the trope of sharing many physical ticks, despite discussing it in the beginning.
"We actually established some ticks, some mannerisms that we were going to do. Then we ran it by Laeta and we kind of just felt that let's not force it," says Byron, explaining the rationale, "We are different sleeves, different bodies. They all react differently. We reached the consensus to just let it be."
However, when Byron himself returned as the sleeve for the Russian character Dimitri Kadmin, he gave him some ticks that OG Kovac did. "We decided to use one or two physical traits to indicate that it is the same guy. So, there is one sequence in which I start to scratch my eyebrow," Byron elaborates.
"When I took on this role, my main thing was to first understand the mythology behind it, the terminology, the rules of this world and I did that mainly by sitting down with Laeta Kalogridis, the showrunner of 'Altered Carbon,'" related Byron.
The second aspect of his transformation for the role was purely physical. After all, he had quite a bit of shirtless scenes. "I had to train two to three months before I started filming. For personal physique and also the fight training. That pretty much took up two solid months. So, it was fairly intense."
If you have seen Byron in 'Arrow' or 'Rise of the Legend,' or any of his other films for that matter, you already know he has a spectacularly fit body, but as it turns out the thought of being shirtless on screen makes a man want to go the extra mile in the gym.
"I found out when I took on this project that for a large part of the show I am actually shirtless. So, the difference between being shirtless on the screen and just being in good shape. When you find out that you have to be shirtless on screen, whether you are a man or a woman it does things to you," a candid Byron opens up.
Then there was the fight training and brutal duels. "It wasn't a hugely martial arts involving show. It was more of a brutal fighting. We wanted to keep it very realistic certainly to my character," Byron explains, adding, "So, it wasn't like crouching tiger... It was more very brutal, very real kind of fighting."
Byron did get to show off his martial arts as Yao Fei in 'Arrow,' wherein he played the Green Arrow's first training master. We can't help but wonder if he will return as an evil incarnation or a hallucination like he did in the season 5 of the CW show.
"Anything is possible," he says. When he was on the show first, he reminds us that it did not have the fan following it does now.
"It was just Steven Amell and myself on this island sets. Nobody knew what was happening. Hopefully, someone will watch this show," he laughs.
Now, the show has dealt with reincarnations, magic, speedsters and even time travel, so like Byron says, his return is as good a possibility as anything else.
What we can definitely count on, is seeing Byron reprise the role of admiral Nguyễn in the ongoing season 3 of 'The Expanse.' However, he is quite tightlipped about his plot-line on the show, teasing us only with, "It's very good. There is a huge turbulence going on in the world of Expanse and my character is right in the forefront of it."
On the topic of 'Skyscraper' he says, "It is a movie with Dwayne Johnson which will be released on July 13th. It's basically the tallest building in the world, which is set in Hong Kong and Dwayne Johnson has to save his children trapped on top of the building. So, he has to climb from outside the building, into the building. So, my character is the inspector who is trying to investigate what is happening. I try to figure out who he is and investigate... The rest of the thing you have to see."
Even with 'Only You,' Byron says the bare minimum, yet manages to hold our interest: "It has incredible premise starring David Oyelowo." When asked if it would be his venture into horror film genre, he clarifies, "It’s not a horror film like 'Exorcist', it is a supernatural thriller. I don't believe it is a horror film. Not even as extreme as 'A Quiet Place.' The best way to describe it is a supernatural thriller."
With such an impressive and constantly rising career graph, there isn't much that Byron hasn't done in the field of acting, but he would love to explore the genre of comedy, despite claiming to not be the "type of actor that craves after a certain type of role, because it's all story."
"I want to play all types of roles. I have done one or two comedies before in my career but I would love to do more comedy," he says, adding he also wants to work with the best filmmakers, showrunners and actors – both in the west and the east.