A Gentleman's Gentleman
Becomes A Cyberpunk
my two days on the set of Jekyll last week, the schedule was
such that only three actors were on set. As a result, I spent
most of my time just observing the shooting process and occasionally
giving in to the siren call of craft services, sampling Nutella
for the first time in my life.
our behind-the-scenes look...
one actor grabbed me right away on his first break, knowing
that I had a job to do besides stuffing my face.
Ziggy Poole, Jekyll's assistant, British actor Desmond Askew
brings a sense of fun when he can, but absolutely the right
gravity when necessary. With spiky reddish hair and an impish
grin, he brings an air of the formerly angry young man who
decided life was too short to be pissed about it.
an air he's brought to a few previous roles, most notably
in the cult(ish) film Go, and a stint on the WB's Roswell.
Not that it matters, because of course, we've got to live
in the now, and Desmond is proving his chops on this film.
McCaw: You're playing a character described in the script
as a young cyberpunk, Ziggy Poole. What's your take on him?
Askew: In the original book and, I think, every movie
version, Poole is Dr. Jekyll's butler. He's just immensely
loyal to Jekyll and thinks he's a genius, doing everything
he can to defend his honor and his person.
version of it, because it's an updated telling, obviously,
our Dr. Jekyll wouldn't have a butler. So he has a lab assistant.
It's essentially the same character deep down, but the façade
is very different. Ziggy is younger, a punk rocker, as opposed
the very stoic, staid morning-suited butler.
One thing that the director has mentioned is feeling a weight
in dealing with such a classic story. How do you feel about
Askew, studying his lines.
I'm just trying to keep it faithful towards the essence of
Poole's feelings toward Dr. Jekyll. I think that's the most
important part of his character. Jekyll absolutely trusts
him with his life, and to some degree Hyde trusts him as well.
He's a very honorable loyal person. Once he's signed on for
your team, he's going to be there to the death.
really the most important factor for me, so I'm not trying
to throw in any butler-esque lines in there. It's definitely
brought up to the modern day.
And he's a gamer?
Absolutely. He's very passionate about his games and his music.
The costume is mostly concert t-shirts and band t-shirts.
And Comic Book: The Movie
Oh, yes. Ziggy would love that. I'm sure he has the
DVD in the lab somewhere.
Are you a genre fan yourself?
To some degree, yeah. I would say that I'm a fan, but the
origin of that word is fanatic and I'm not fanatical. I like
to spread my attention a little wider among different genres.
material of any genre is good material. It's the same with
music. I don't think it's wise to restrict yourself to one
flavor of music. There's good classical music; there's good
hip-hop. I like "good" in everything, to find the best in
Okay, so Ziggy's good at games. How about you personally?
what he has to to earn his keep...
I'm pretty lame. Through my teens, I went to drama school
earlier than most people. I went from ages eleven to sixteen.
And so those formative years when the pop culture really stamps
itself on kids - I was too grown-up for my age. At that time,
I was very adult and very focused on my career.
on I got into it, but I'm still a little behind.
Are you too grown-up for your age now?
No, not at all. I've regressed. Now I'm twelve years old again.
I assume that Drama School was in England?
Yes, I didn't move out here until I was twenty-five.
So your background is a lot of stagework?
Plenty of theatre growing up, that's how I learned my craft.
But also a lot of TV. Because we're a smaller territory commercially,
actors in England, even our best and most well-known, do everything
because they have to. (Dame) Judi Dench was a sitcom actress.
You don't get paid as much for what you do, because it doesn't
reach as big an audience.
all commercialism, really, but it does give you a broad base
of training. I think it's good for an actor. It's good to
do stage work and TV work, because you can bring elements
of one craft to another.
How has it been working on this shoot? It's seemed rather
fast, even in casting.
Casting was relatively average. They signed me on for this
just before Christmas, for us to start near the end of January.
I've actually been cast with a lot less notice than that before.
shoot has been incredibly fast. We're scheduled for fifteen
days. I think we're going to run over that a little.
because the movie is just growing by the day. It was a little
project. I think it was Scott's baby. Whatever he would have
achieved with it, he would have been happy. But everybody
is pulling their own weight, and so much more, causing it
to grow day by day. I think everybody has the faith to put
in extra time, extra hours and extra money. It's going to
be the little movie that could, I think.
You had a week of rehearsal as well.
Yeah. My material is restricted to the lab, so I had a day
of rehearsal. But Matt was in every day, working with the
different characters. He's going to interact a lot with Jonathan
(Silverman) and Siena (Goines), who plays the Christy character.
She's really the temptation for Jekyll to become Hyde. She
represents his darker, more primitive side.
sure the lab coat looks spiffy...
What's it like working for Scott Zakarin? Do you need to do
some kissing up here?
(mock puffing up) Never.
so down to earth. He seems like he's having the time of his
life, and that reflects with everybody.
nice to everybody because he's having a good time.
And you're having a good time?
I'm having the greatest time. It's such a joyful project when
everybody wants to make this better than it should be. Making
it greater than the sum of its parts. Everybody has the same
aim here, and that's really coming across.
You mentioned that you had a short run on Roswell. How do
you feel about Tabasco sauce?
I'm not even quite sure why that has anything to do with it.
I think it's because one of the characters liked it. Every
character has their own set of passionate fans, and I believe
mine are known as "pepperjackers," because my character liked
pepperjack cheese on his sandwiches.
that show encompassed the two most passionate sets of fans
that are out there. Which is teen romance and sci fi. When
you get both of them in the one show, those fans were incredible.
That show was about to get axed, and it got pulled back.
Do you encounter "pepperjackers?"
I have done, yes. On the website, I don't know if it was the
official one or a fan site, they poured in questions. And
then the lady that runs the site came and asked me them. So
I was indirectly answering questions from these people.
so focused and intelligent. They were writing the plot ahead
of time. You're wondering what's going to happen next season,
and when you hear some of these people's ideas, you think
that maybe the network should hook them up with a job. They've
got some great ideas.
Between Roswell and Jekyll, you may carve out a niche as a
genre actor. Once you become known as that, you can't shake
it, can you?
I think you're right. In an ideal world, I don't want to restrict
myself, in any way, at all. But they're definitely very passionate
and very loyal fans, so I would have no problem being in many
more genre movies. They're the most appreciative fans.
Do you have a favorite role?
I don't, you know? It's pretty much always the one I'm working
on. Looking back, there are some that I favor more than others.
I really enjoyed the role I played in Go. He was the
ultimate bacchanalian. He just went with it, kind of like
a Hyde character. He wants to enjoy himself no matter what
a great role for an actor to play, because you're safe. It's
being able to get into fights, do drugs, sleep with women
without protection, all of those things without the consequences.
It's a good fun time being able to play doing it.
great being able to break stuff and not have to clean it up.
it was time for Desmond to go back on the set where, for a change,
he didn't break any stuff. The next day was his last on set,
after a week shooting in the lab. When his final scene wrapped,
the applause from the rest of the cast and crew was loud and
my hand on the way to his trailer to change, and with a sad
smile said that was it. But we both knew the truth: with this
company, you always come back.