[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.]
Tonight’s episode of From had us all in our feels as we learned through flashbacks about the Sophie’s Choice Boyd had to make to save his son, and back in the present as Boyd said his piece with Ellis before heading into the woods with Sara. As Pegah Gafoori shared with us last week in our conversation, Fatima is often the bridge between father and son, and she was again here as she pushed Ellis to repair that relationship because he might not see his father again.
This week I chatted with Corteon Moore about navigating Ellis’s arc this season, and tonight’s emotional reunion. “When I originally got the audition, all I knew was that Ellis and Boyd weren’t really close anymore. They didn’t say anything about my mother. I knew mom’s not in the picture so something must have happened,” he recalls.
“After I got the part, [showrunner] John Griffin let me know that Ellis’s dad ultimately had to sacrifice his mom (played by sci-fi favorite Lisa Ryder), and that wasn’t, until a few days before we shot. I met with Harold [Perinneau], who wonderfully plays Boyd, as I’m sure everybody knows, and we really dove into that and discussed what that would do to a father/son dynamic and to a person and how somebody like Ellis would allow that to change them, how they interact with other people and how they guard themselves up [with] armor. He’s a soft kid under all that thick skin. And really he’s just scared.”
“[Boyd] chose to save me. And that’s a really heavy thing to bear. I was really interested in exploring not only the hate that Ellis would have for his father, but also for himself, because he thinks, ‘If I wasn’t around, maybe my mom would be here.’ There’s nothing like the love a person carries for their mother. Regardless of what circumstances bring you to losing somebody like that, you’re going to be really angry at yourself [and] the world.”
Moore loved getting to dive deeper into those layers as the season progressed. “When I signed on, I only had read episode one and two and already Ellis was a dream character, not just for me, but I would imagine for any actor, to play somebody with that much trauma, but also complexity,” he says.
“And the way he’s able to use art as an outlet is just something so cool and so exciting to portray. And the scripts got better and better as they came along. And episode seven and eight are the turning points of where you slowly discover what’s been bugging Ellis. You go face to face with it all.”
“And to prepare for those moments Ellis has with Boyd, in particular that one in the hospital. It was really about Ellis trying to connect with Boyd outside of being upset. [I was] thinking about my own dad, and how Harold is with his kids and explore what it really means to be a family. What it means to be hurt by somebody that you love more than anything in the world. To get to those moments, it was really just about understanding myself and understanding Harold as a person.”
“I honestly remember sitting in that hospital bed and not talking to Harold too much. We knew that we had some pretty big scenes ahead of us. And I just sat there and, and he walked up to me with those eyes that he’s got and his presence and I just let him try to break down these walls that I had spent months trying to put up.”
“And it was tough. It felt like somebody was really trying to get to me and it was painful and also really, really beautiful. I owe it all really to Harold’s ability as an actor to really reach for that love and really try to get inside of my heart. At that point we didn’t know if Ellis and Boyd would ever see each other again.”
After experiencing such a loss, Ellis finds his peace at Colony House, and with Fatima, and then Julie as his found family. “[Colony House] is a second chance for Ellis to redefine what family means. We’re stuck here and not that many people are coming in on a day to day basis, so you’ve got to really be able to learn to live with what you’ve got. And aside from Fatima, I didn’t really feel like he had anybody else,” Moore explains.
“When the Matthews come in, and Julie in particular, Ellis sees her as somebody that [is going through something] we understand. We want to be here for her We want to love her in ways that we wish we could be loved and we want to be loved by her in the ways that we wish we could be loved.”
“It’s a theme at Colony House. We really are a family. We really are here together. Regardless of things you’ve done in your past, regardless of the things that are going on right now, we just want to make sure that everyone knows that they’re not alone. And I think Ellis is a kid. He doesn’t want to be alone. He wants a family. And I think everybody deserves a family. Ellis is philosophical and artistic and he thinks bigger than the town [and about what’s] going on in his soul and his life and in his heart. And Julie [helped him] to be able to fill some of those voids.”
Ellis’s artwork populates his attic loft, and series producer Jack Bender is the artist behind many of those pieces. Moore loved having Bender’s vision inform his character. “Jack Bender is such an incredible artist, in every regard, but to be able to see his paintings put into practice in such a really unique way was not only a cool way for me to see deeper into Jack’s world as an artist, but also a way for me to build this character, [by seeing] a lot of the visual representations of what’s going on inside [Ellis’s] mind,” he says.
“This is how he is expressing it. And [also] to see some slight changes evolve over the course of the season as new things pop up here and there in the studio. It was really wonderful to watch that evolution from the inside out.”
When we chatted with Ricky He, who plays Kenny, earlier this season, he shared that he and Moore became fast friends and had a routine of reading the scripts together. “Ricky is my brother. We’re both at similar stages in our career and in our life. And it was just really cool to be able to tackle a show of this caliber with somebody like that and walk away with a lifelong friend,” he shares.
“We trained together. Ricky is a very talented fighter and I’m a novice myself. So he is able to help me along the way. When you meet somebody, in any place, but especially as an actor, sometimes you can see it when something clicks. I remember the moment I met Ricky, I [thought], ‘this is something really special.’”
“That kitchen scene [in episode 2] was a couple of people who really understood each other on a molecular level [being] able to do what they love most. And I was really grateful to be able to watch him, and Shaun Majumder, too, do the work that he does. He’s a fantastic actor, along with the entire cast. He’s the greatest, I love that guy.”
Before From, viewers got to see Moore in the latest season of Slasher: Flesh & Blood, which is streaming in the US on Shudder and Hollywood Suite in Canada. [Spoilers ahead!] In the season, Moore was the youngest son of a diabolical patriarch played by David Cronenberg. He’s also one of the first kills of the season–and in a series first, a kill that’s witnessed by a group of people unable to stop it. He shares that it was bananas to shoot.
“I got to come in and try and create a really lovable character with some pretty crucial flaws and really just have fun. And that show really taught me a lot about stamina. It was just go, go. “It was probably the most eventful project I’ve ever done, and one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had in my life, but it was also terrifying,” he recalls.
“And then, on top of all that I got to play David Cronenberg’s son. I seem to have a running streak now where I’m playing some pretty iconic people’s kids.”“[The death scene] was a 15-hour day. I was Inside of this table, which was built so that they could put my prosthetic body on the top. My real body’s on the inside of this box and my real head is sticking out.”
“So I can have all the reactions, my leg being spun off and just imagine the most amount of blood ever, getting poured on every inch of your body for just hours and hours and just screaming and screaming and crying and then waking up again and realizing where you are. It was like a Groundhog Day of just having to die every 45 minutes. It felt just as scary to make as it did to watch, which I don’t think happens often.
Back to From, Moore has love the role and the show and hopes they get to come back (HARD SAME). “This was just my dream role and each and every scene really did mean a lot to me, but any time that we got to kind of leave a trail of breadcrumbs about what was going on underneath Ellis’s pain, that was always really interesting,” he shares.
“The overindulgence of alcohol in episode seven [which has the audience asking questions], was fun for me [because] you’ll understand later why he’s doing this. He’s just hurt, but it was fun to let loose and show him even more wild-eyed than we ever really got to see before. We’re really, really proud of the work we’ve put out and the people seem to be loving it. Fingers crossed we get to keep going and unraveling this mystery.”
[Updated 09/26/22: From will be available in Canada on Paramount+ beginning 09/27/22.
Photos courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. and Shudder
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