EXCLUSIVE TV Goodness Q&A: Aden Young Discusses Sundance Channel’s Rectify [INTERVIEW]
I like to sing Rectify‘s praises often, because it’s such an intriguing show. After Daniel Holden is released from Death Row after nearly 20 years, he’s having a hard time adjusting to the outside world. He’s missed out on so much, but (most of) his family is trying to ease that transition. He doesn’t react to things like most other people and he’s not sure where he fits in. But the thing I love most about this show is that we don’t know whether or not Daniel committed this crime.
TV Goodness spoke exclusively to Aden Young about how he became involved in the show, his favorite moments from season 1, and what to expect in season 2.
TV GOODNESS: How did you hear about this project?
Aden Young: “Nowadays no matter where you live you know people will hire casting agents to find that right person and strangely enough, going through Sydney, I heard they were looking for this character. But I was in Bangkok shooting a film and the casting agent approached my agent. I’d known Faith Martin, the Australian casting agent who was brought on, for 20 years or so. She just said this is the role for Aden and I’m gonna fight and if he says no to this- cause I was known as ‘Dr. No’ for awhile, especially in television. I’m just not a great fan of 23 episodes, 9 months a year, 18 hours a day. So I was never really interested in television as a contractual obligation. Creatively also I was concerned about the idea of having to play the same character for such a length of time over the years in any sort of procedural. You never get to see the scripts when you are that young, out of work actor struggling to afford a hot dog. You sign on and you’re sort of being used as a brand tool for the rest of your life in that regard and it never interested me. But Rectify was different. It was a short run. It was only ever gonna be a short run even if it [came] back. We’re doing 10 episodes next [season]. And it just happened right- everything creatively about it was perfect and in my estimation at least, exceeded the standards of television coming out of America today. That was beyond thrilling. You’re not finding that in cinema any more because the exhibition houses have closed for that type of quality in many regards, at least in Australia and in a lot of American towns like in New York and LA for example. You can’t find those unique choices and here was one that was quite spectacular, that had its own vision. I had some with dealings with the Sundance Institute years ago. Their brand is unique and their brand is visionary and their brand is independent and I thought these are the kind of people I’d like to spend dinner with for a while so I boarded the boat and got on my way.”
TV GOODNESS: Daniel is such an odd yet endearing character. As an audience we don’t know whether or not Daniel committed this crime. How has that been to play for you?
Aden: “It’s very much based on a conversation Ray [McKinnon] and I had early on where I asked him, ‘Are you going to tell me whether Daniel’s guilty or innocent of this crime?’ and he said, ‘I’m not sure. What would you like?’ And I said, ‘Well can think about it and now that I know you’re not sure you could’ve just told me and had all this over and done with.’ I thought what must it be like for this character to carry a secret like that for nearly 20 years and know that it’s robbed him of his actual life and his family and his friends and everything about him has been destroyed by this action? And what must it be like to be innocent of this crime and live through a period of wondering at what moment could I have changed things? Even if he was guilty at what moment could I have changed things because no matter whether Daniel is guilty of the crime of rape and murder of Hannah I truly, truly believe that if he was for that length of time he would be examining the absolute minutiae of the moments leading up to that night and those moments. [He] might go back so far as the time that he saw her, the time that he met her in primary school for example- that he had time in scale to think about it and I just think that he would carry such a burden of guilt for her tragedy that regardless or not of whether he did it he certainly feels guilty of it.”
TV GOODNESS: I love the ensemble cast. Everyone is so great in the show. How has it been to work with them?
Aden: “I was having to loosen my game as much as I could every single day and I’m not so much just talking about the main characters, who were revelations as far as I’m concerned but I’m talking about people who might come in only for one of two scenes here and there. Everyone who arrives brought a significant quality to the show I felt and oftentimes, especially with a long shoot you can get a little lazy and pull out your bag of tricks [to] get through the scene, but you just couldn’t do it with these people. They had obviously recognized the quality of the writing and they wanted to bring a real rawness and a truth or a real humor or a real whatever, but a certain reverence to it that you couldn’t ignore. That was spellbinding in a way and I’m so enthusiastic about coming back and seeing how those- what were smaller characters in the first season might develop into larger characters in the next season. As far as the main cast is concerned, nobody arrived with any ego which was extraordinary. It was delightful, absolutely delightful. It felt like a group of people who honestly you could’ve said, ‘What should Aden do in this scene?’ and I would’ve listened to them. There was no preciousness about what it was we were attempting. We weren’t really working as individuals we were sort of desperately trying to make sure that RayÂ was getting his vision fulfilled.”
TV GOODNESS: What were some of your favorite scenes or moments from the season?
Aden: “There’s one scene in particular which I did with J. Smith-Cameron where I ask her if I can have a beer. There’s confusion over whether or not its a twist top or if it’s gonna be opened with an opener. Somehow it becomes this scene, it gets another depth based on this singular moment that we discovered as we were shooting it – just the blocking of it when she came to the fridge and she hands me a beer. She goes to open it thinking, well the last time I probably opened a beer was for my husband sometime ago. Your [step]father doesn’t drink beer. Teddy Jr. does. I’m gonna get the opener. But I, of course, look down and on the top of it it says twist. So I twist it. And then she comes back and then it’s suddenly embarrassing, it’s suddenly about the time we’ve spent apart and about a mother and a son and that I didn’t fulfill in that quiet, tiny little moment- I didn’t allow my mother to mother me and now I’m embarrassed. And it’s all that sort of little stumbling but it felt very interesting to be involved with as an actor rather just read the dialogue and that’s what it means. That was a great joy. There was a beautiful moment in the bookshop in “Jacob’s Ladder” that I really enjoyed playing and some scenes with Abigail [Spencer], Amantha, and Adelaide [Clemens]. There’s too many really to pick one out.”
TV GOODNESS: Have you and Ray talked about season 2? What do you want to see for Daniel? Do you have thoughts on where it will go?
Aden:Â “It’s hard to know. Ray is an intriguing man and he holds his cards very close to his chest in that regard. I’m actually extremely glad – I don’t know if you can imagine why but I’ll try to explain – I’m glad I don’t know much about where we’re going even though we had discussions about a few bits and pieces of it. I found playing Daniel a very difficult experience. I found that because it was such an intense role of inhabiting that world on Death Row, asking the moral questions of capital punishment and asking the questions of guilt and innocence in a man and dealing with such an atrocity and then portraying a character who’s paralyzed to communication with those who love him and being able to spot the manipulations of the sharks circling- it took a while for me to get him out of my house so to speak. If I knew where he was going I would start imagining all sorts of things and I’d start wondering how to play it and I’d start preparing and we’ve still got a way to go before we start up. All I can say is Daniel’s on holiday, thank God. Because it really- I think he needs to be to a certain extent after all those years on Death Row. I think what you could imagine and what I could imagine would be two very different things except for the fact that he’s certainly not out of the woods so to speak in many regards and I think there’s gonna be a great deal of navigation of that landscape that he’s in now. A few people have asked me why wasn’t he jubilant when he was released and I said he was. He was just incapable of feeling it or expressing it to a degree and perhaps we might see some of that jubilance. Perhaps we won’t. Perhaps we’ll see a darker edge of examining the experiences that he missed out on. I don’t really know.”
TV GOODNESS: Is there anything else you want to add?
Aden: “Not really. Whatever you take of it I hope you’re trying to relate to him and that’s all.”
TV GOODNESS : I’m really looking forward to the season finale and I’ve really enjoyed the series so far so thank you.
Aden: “Have you not seen the end of it?”
TV GOODNESS: The finale hasn’t aired yet.
Aden: “Well I think the end is- to me I had the opportunity of watching the six hours, or six episodes together and it played very much like a symphony. Five and six take you to a place quite different to where it’s been so far. Six especially begins to, everything begins to rise to a crescendo so I think you’ll enjoy it. I think you’ll see what the motivations were for Ray in writing such an intrigue.”
The season finale of Rectify airs Monday, May 20th at 10/9c on the Sundance Channel.
Edited for space and content.
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