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Quarry’s Mustafa Shakir and Damon Herriman Talk Character [Exclusive] 

Quarry’s Mustafa Shakir and Damon Herriman Talk Character [Exclusive]
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/CINEMAX

Last week, Mustafa Shakir‘s Moses made his first appearance. Although we didn’t know his name, it quickly became clear why he was ingratiating himself with Ruth. In this week’s “A Mouthful of Splinters,” we get a proper introduction to the man and his mission and I talk directly to the source about what can we expect from him.

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/CINEMAX
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/CINEMAX

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

TV GOODNESS: We officially meet you in Episode 3. You’re “on assignment” for The Broker and you’re also on probation with him. In this episode we also learn that you’re a musician. Tell me about your character’s motivations and what we can expect from Moses.

Mustafa Shakir: “Moses is peculiar in that it seems like a lot of times that he’s not on anyone’s side. So in terms of clear motivations, sometimes they’re not evident. [Laughs.] In one breath he’s protecting this young boy and in the next breath, he’s like ‘If you say anything I’ll kill you and your family,’ which I think is, for me, the motivation I have in my mind is he’s about getting the job done.

There’s a strong right and wrong with him, but it’s his own code. It feels like he’s gonna do what he needs to do in order to get the job done and what he does often is not like, it may not be to the person’s liking but he has his own thoughts in mind of how’s that’s helpful. And then on some real basic level, he’s trying to make some money. [Laughs.]

They didn’t send me a bunch of backstory about him so I made my own. His name is Moses because he is a go-between between The Broker’s world and the black community. You see the correlation?”

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/CINEMAX
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/CINEMAX

TV GOODNESS: Yeah. Absolutely.

Mustafa: “There’s not a lot of talk about that, but in my own mind, and especially the way they’ve written him, I see him as having a lot of responsibilities that, he takes care of a lot of people and not necessarily in an emotionally invested way or a sentimental way, but definitely have to drop off money for this family and this cousin and that — so, money is a big factor in there.

I think, ultimately, he’d just like to play his bass and live from his soul and not be caught up with The Broker, but he’s got some leanings that have led him there. So there’s that.”

TV GOODNESS: I like that, “some leanings.” Actually, let’s talk about that. Memphis is known its enduring music culture and obviously we can tell how important music is to Moses. Can you talk about that?

Mustafa: “Yeah. It’s super important to him. Memphis is the home of so many great musicians. Stax [Museum] is there, all of those recordings.

For Moses I feel like it’s a point of frustration for him in a way because for whatever reason there’s always these factors that get in the way of him just playing his music. But I feel like if he didn’t have it he’d be a much worse individual. So music is his salvation and it’s doing its best to save him but it’s not a complete job all the time.”

TV GOODNESS: It looks like you’re really playing. Did you already know how to play? Did you do research?

Mustafa: “I did some research. I didn’t know how to play. They got me some lessons and I don’t know, for whatever reason I picked it up really quickly and I’m playing bass now as a result of the show.”

Damon Herriman‘s Buddy is a bit of a contradiction in terms. He’s an out gay man in the South in the ’70s. His job is unconventional (and illegal) and requires a lot from him, both physically and mentally. So what happens when someone questions his sexuality either on or off the job? Of all the characters on the show, I think I’m most intrigued by him and I really loved talking to the actor about this character and his motivations.

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/CINEMAX
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/CINEMAX

TV GOODNESS: Can you introduce your character and tell us a little bit about how he fits into this world?

Damon Herriman: “Buddy is one of a group of underground contract killers working for a man known as The Broker, played by the wonderful Scottish actor Peter Mullan. He’s probably the most experienced of the guys that The Broker has working for him.

Buddy is, on the outside a tough guy. He’s someone with an incredible temper. Someone you don’t want to cross or say the wrong thing to because he reacts in very extreme ways, but on the inside he’s also someone who is being worn down by this career that he’s found himself in.

What’s so great about the show, I think, is we meet characters like this and we think they’re one thing and then we suddenly find them at home drinking martinis with their mother and you see this whole other side. It’s a very layered, complex character.”

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/CINEMAX
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/CINEMAX

TV GOODNESS: What’s been the most fun for you to play for this character?

Damon: “I would have to say the scenes with Ann Dowd, who plays my mum. She is just so brilliant. Any readers who don’t know the name Ann Dowd, Google her. You probably know her face. She’s just an extraordinary actor, extraordinary woman and we just had so much fun.

Her scenes with me are scattered throughout the series, but we actually only had the opportunity to shoot them in two days because of her availability because she was working on The Leftovers at the time. So, we just had the best two days ever. The mother/son relationship had to be forged very quickly between two complete strangers. We got on like a house on fire and I would say, for me, that was certainly a highlight for me.”

TV GOODNESS: Let’s talk about that a little bit more because, I think, that relationship was a highlight of the series. Can you talk a little bit about that dynamic?

Damon: “Yeah. I guess Buddy and Naomi have this very typical yet very atypical relationship. I mean typical in the sense that she talks to him like a teenage boy. He’s not a teenager, but he’s still lives at home with her. One part of their relationship is bickering and nagging that comes between a mother and son who are living together, but usually the son is much younger.

There’s also this other side to her character, which is that she is very accepting of who her son is. It’s 1972 in Memphis. Her son’s gay and she’s aware of that and she talks about his relationships and things. She doesn’t make any specials mentions of the fact that he’s interested in guys. He just is and she knows that and she’s totally fine with that. She just talks about it as if it’s a completely normal thing.

They sit around smoking in the middle of the day and drinking together. He comes home from work with a leg that’s been shot to pieces and she stitches him up so it’s an extraordinary relationship played out in a very normal way, I guess.”

Interviews edited for space and content.

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/CINEMAX
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/CINEMAX

So what’s on tap for this week’s episode? The clip below is the first scene of tonight’s show and it definitely sets the tone for the entire episode. Will this make Mac commit to The Broker? Why does The Broker give Moses this assignment? How is Buddy recovering from his injury? How much trouble is Joni really in? And what is Suggs ultimately after?

“A Mouthful of Splinters” synopsis:

Mac is forced to turn to The Broker for help; Moses gets a new assignment.

Clip 1:

Check back later this season for more with both actors.

Quarry airs Fridays at 10/9c on Cinemax.

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