'People of Earth' star Ken Hall on his role in 'Polar' and transitioning from comedy to serious roles
Funny man, Ken Hall, is moving out of his comfort zone, and into new horizons with his role in 'Polar'. He speaks to MEAWW.
Veteran comedian, Ken Hall, who's best known for his breakout role as Jeff the Grey on TBS' 'People of Earth', is every bit as charming as his alien counterpart. Hall is an accomplished director, actor, and writer, and the Canadian comedian has won multiple awards in his respective genre.
While Hall is very comfortable with his role in comedy, he looks to further explore the world of acting and is slowly making his way into more serious roles. His wit for improvisation is quite prominent in 'People of Earth', and at the end credits of season 1 episode 1, where Don proudly states he got a sample from Wyatt's character, the line, "congratulations, grab a medal, congratulations for doing your job" was improvised on the spot between Drew Nelson, Björn Gustafsson and himself.
In this exclusive interview with MEAWW, Hall opened up about the trials and joys of working with the dynamic casts of 'Polar' and 'The Umbrella Academy', while also giving us a few fair tidbits about his previous roles in 'People of Earth'. Hall also detailed his role as Pogo on 'The Umbrella Academy', and took us through his transformation into the intelligent chimp, while also talking about his upcoming projects which is veering away from his role in comedy.
Hall plays the quirky Dr. Becker in 'Polar', and his love for all things weird is translated quite nicely on-screen, and though he might have been playing smaller roles in past series and movies, Hall is making his way to a superstardom future, one step at a time.
With your history of being a comedian, could we see you bringing a little funny to the slightly more serious ‘The Umbrella Academy’? What would best describe your role in the show?
I'm always looking to bring comedic moments to the characters I play. Umbrella Academy is a beautifully dark show where I play the body of Pogo. It is not a comedy but there are funny moments albeit in a subtle way. I think the fact that you have a chimpanzee in a tweed blazer is already comedic in nature.
I provided the physicality, the movement and the body of Pogo. My role is motion capture and Peter Jackson's company, WETA provided the amazing special effects. Pogo is the creation of Sir Reginald Hargreaves, a billionaire industrialist who transformed Pogo from a regular chimpanzee to an upright walking, highly intelligent and refined chimpanzee.
Would you say that your character plays a pivotal role in the series?
Yes, I would say so. He is an integral part of the family and strives to serve the children as well as his Master. Pogo has deeper connections with the children and acts almost in a paternal manner towards them.
With a show that's as creative and imaginative as ‘The Umbrella Academy’, how was the atmosphere on set? Are there any memories you'd like to share?
Umbrella Academy has some of the best sets I've ever had the pleasure to play in. The incredible amount of detail and style of the academy house itself is breathtaking. It often felt like I was in a museum and would discover something new that I had not seen initially, every day. The atmosphere was very positive and flowed well.
Memorable moments include my first day on set here in Toronto in January. It rained all day and we used sprinklers to create a sense of even more rain for this large scene. I had a really bad case of bronchitis at the time and was frozen for most of it. I had so many layers on under my body suit that I must have looked like a puffy marshmallow. One of the hardest and more challenging shoots I've ever done.
I always want to do a great job on set, so it was quite an experience to have my first day on set be so physically demanding and yet I felt amazing when I survived the day. I had an amazing sense of accomplishment and affirmation that even under the harshest of conditions you can rise to the occasion and do a great job. A great lesson to carry forward.
Sad to see People of Earth cancelled. Thanks to @PoE_TBS for the amazing experience to play Jeff alongside such talented people. So many fond memories - truly grateful. The biggest thanks to all of you who watched and laughed with us. If anyone wants to pick us up...I'm in!! :) pic.twitter.com/dN9XqHVs3C— Ken Hall (@TheKenHall) June 10, 2018
With ‘Polar’ being another graphic novel adaptation made for TV, would you say your roles are slowly moving away from comedy (even if it’s ever so slightly)?
Good question, I'm certainly open to moving away from comedy if required. It's a cool opportunity to stretch other muscles that you're not necessarily used to. I appreciate the opportunity to try all different kinds of roles and situations that may or may not be comedic and I have a desire to grow as an actor and albeit comedy has been much of my bread and butter, it’s nice that I don't have to be so exclusive or only known as a comedic actor. There is a nice versatility in playing outside of your comfort zone.
Would you say you relate to your character on ‘Polar’?
Haha. Yes, I can relate to Dr. Becker and his quirkiness although I've never personally kept baked goods and urine samples together...yet. I am a bit of an oddball although the older I get, I see it's not just me. Everyone has this trait. It’s almost like we spend so much time trying to hide how weird we really are. There is something funny about the idea that everyone is trying to fit in and appear normal until you realize that's the very stuff that makes you, you. And that's a good thing.
Now that 2019 has begun, what would you say is your crowning achievement in the past year?
Polar and working with Mads and with director Jonas Akerlund were all highlights for me. The Umbrella Academy was also a huge achievement, as it was my first foray into motion capture and being able to work with such talented folks allowed me to grow and develop more as a performer and a person.
Are there any other upcoming projects you'd like to mention other than ‘The Umbrella Academy’ and ‘Polar’?
I'm currently dipping a toe in the world of public speaking and motivational speaking. I recently participated in a public speaking event in Toronto called Speakers Slam and told a personal story about my evolution as a person and many of the challenges and struggles, I encountered growing up. I love the vulnerability and the connection with an audience. I also feel I've lived and experienced things that have allowed me to see the world in different ways and in sharing those I hope to inspire and help others.