CS Interview: Tom Stevens talks F*ckface’s journey to the Deadly Class finale
SYFY’s Deadly Class is one of the best comic book adaptations on television, and after a solid first outing the series will be wrapping up Season 1 tomorrow night. Ahead of the finale, ComingSoon.net spoke with star Tom Stevens, who talked about playing the complex antagonist Chester “F*ckface” Wilson, his epic musical number in Episode 9, and teased the confrontation between Chester and Marcus in the finale. Check out the interview below and stay tuned for more exclusive interviews with Stevens and the Deadly Class cast following the season finale this Wednesday on SYFY!
Deadly Class is set in a dark, comic book world against the backdrop of the late ’80s counterculture. The story follows a homeless teen, Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth), that is recruited into a storied elite private school where the world’s top crime families send their next generations. Maintaining his moral code while surviving a ruthless curriculum, vicious social cliques, and his own adolescent uncertainties soon prove to be vital. Based on the best-selling 2014 Image Comics graphic novel by Rick Remender and Wes Craig, Deadly Class is a coming-of-age journey full of ancient mystery and teen angst.
From Sony Pictures Television and Universal Cable Productions, Deadly Class was adapted for television by Remender and Miles Orion Feldsott, who serve as executive producers alongside Joe Russo (Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America: Civil War), Anthony Russo (Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America: Civil War), Mike Larocca (Spy) and Mick Betancourt (The Purge, Shots Fired). Remender, Feldsott, and Betancourt also share showrunner duties on the series. Deadly Class stars Wadsworth, Benedict Wong, Lana Condor, María Gabriela de Faría, Luke Tennie, Liam James, and Michel Duval.
ComingSoon.net: How much fun was it to shoot that musical number in episode 9?
Tom Stevens: [Laughs] It was so much fun. It was really funny because the script came out, I saw that there was a song in it. I laughed my ass off. I read the words of the song to my wife who is on the show as well. She casts all the background characters, so she has the script, too. She started laughing and then she went, “That sounds kind of like this melody,” ’cause she and I used to play in a band together. She hummed something and then I picked up a guitar and I played it. Then I recorded that and I sent that to Rick [Remender] and Rick gave me a roaring review. He said, “This is perfect! This is exactly what I wanted, oh my God!” And Rick took that voice memo that I recorded on my phone to Sony and NBC and all these big producer meetings and was showing people this song that I had recorded literally within 15 minutes of reading the episode. And then, next thing I know, I’m in a studio with a professional producer recording scratch tracks with a guitar and stuff. It was hilarious.
CS: That’s awesome, though.
Stevens: Yeah, it was really fun. I mean, I have a background in music, so it wasn’t all that strange. But I thought that the punchline of that joke, the fact that there’s a song in the show, there’s that core of it that’s really funny that F*ckface, this horrible monster, actually has a beautiful singing voice.
CS: I liked that. It almost felt like a genuinely happy moment because he was in the spotlight. What do you think that meant to him to be “the star”?
Stevens: I think that moment kind of shows the place that F*ckface is in, especially after the therapy session that he had with Chico. His arc in the show as we’re all caught up before the finale is that he’s just trying to get his fame. He’s trying to get famous. And everything that he’s doing, he’s kind of f***ing up along the way. He brings other people in that he doesn’t trust, this family of hillbillies. He just knows that they’re all there just to get fame, too. They’re gonna get rich from the fame. And really what he has to do is just embrace the power that he has. The song could be in his mind. That could be a total fabrication, which was an idea that we bounced around with. There’s actually a version of it where it was like [singing], “Kallow, kalay, kalora,” and then it would cut out and into the world that was actually happening and it was Dwight Shandy seeing F*ckface like [screaming]. Trying to bust the guitar.
So, there was one original direction that we were gonna go with that was wrapped. But I really thought, what happens if this is real and this is just how beautiful of a soul F*ckface is underneath all this horrible damage? ‘Cause deep down had he not had what happened to him by his dad and the boy’s home and the scarring from Marcus and, you know, all this stuff… This anger and this rage be drawn out of him, maybe he was this beautiful soul underneath it all. He could have been a really beautiful artist.
CS: I feel like there’s F*ckface and then there’s Chester and they’re two sides of the same coin. Is that kind of how you see him, too?
Stevens: Yeah, I actually added another side to him. I always say that Chester, the little boy, created F*ckface, this scary monster to protect him from his father. This rage, this really bad thing that lives inside him. The thing that has to kill.
Stevens: So, he’s this little boy who has this persona to protect him from a monster. And, he lives as F*ckface because that’s the balance, that’s the middle place, to protect that other one but also to satiate the beast. In that scene with the bathtub, with Chico’s head? I played that as if I took Chester, got to take off the F*ckface mask, give that over to Chico, and just allow himself to be the little 8-year-old boy that he was before his dad completely scarred him.
CS: That scene is one of my favorites from the whole season because I thought it was great that they gave him such a three-dimensional arc. That he wasn’t just a psycho and he does have a traumatic background like all of the kids seem to have on the show.
Stevens: Yeah, and I was kind of surprised that they gave me that ’cause I was fully resolved to play a guy that had no redeemable qualities whatsoever. I was actually kind of happy about that. I was like, “Yeah, whatever. I’m cool with it.” What would it be like to play somebody that is completely evil? And I didn’t know if they were gonna actually approach this, but, on my first day when I met Miles [Orion Feldsott] and Rick, Miles told me the backstory that nobody really talks about with F*ckface.
When he was a kid — he even talks about this in the bathtub — his dad saw his relationship with the dog. The young boy, like, going to the creek with his dog fishing and playing fetch with him in a field with a stick, you know, having this beautiful relationship with this dog. And then going back to the trailer and his dad being this mean drunk who wanted to hurt him who saw that dog as an opportunity to do some serious damage to this kid. So he took him out behind the trailer and he made him do something. I don’t really need to go into what he did. That’s for F*ckface. That’s F*ckface’s secret.
CS: What can you tease about the finale, especially the confrontation between F*ckface and Marcus that everyone’s waiting to see?
Stevens: It is what Rick always imagined if he had enough pages to tell that story in the comic. ‘Cause he ran out of pages for F*ckface in the graphic [novel] and had to do what he ended up doing. But this finale is every piece of what F*ckface would want to do. It’s fully imagined, fully realized, and it’s fully implicated.
Stevens also shared that the cast will be taking part in a “big live-tweeting event” during the 7:00 and 10:00 p.m. showings on SYFY, as well as an Instagram live Q&A before the airings for the fans, so be sure to get your questions ready and tune in!