Published: Thursday, 21 March 2019 | Written by SciFi Vision
Tonight Syfy aired the season one finale of it’s series Deadly Class. In the episode, while Lin (Benedict Wong) runs from El Diablo (David Zayas) with his daughter, the students raid the manor and carry out their attack on Chester, aka F***face, played by Tom Stevens. A huge battle ensues, and not everyone makes it out alive.
Stevens recently talked to SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about working on th the series, creating an insane character like F***face, and more.
***Interview contains major spoilers for the season one finale, 1.10***
SCIFI VISION: First, can you talk about the makeup process and the physicality of creating the character?
TOM STEVENS: It kind of started when I booked the role, that I knew that I was going to have to change my physicality. I went to my trainer, my kickboxing and jujitsu coach, a dear friend, Roy Duquette, and he looked at the picture, the original frame that you see F***face when I’m just post f***ing the goat, and I’m patting it on the ass going like “good girl,” and I went, “I’m playing this guy.”
He looked at it and was like, “That looks like a grappler, like a wrestler, a jujitsu grappler. So, what we need to do is start working that upper body and we need to get the arms big, the back big, the shoulders big, slope the posture.”
So, everything became kind of this gorilla posture that I started to just really overexaggerate when I was working out in my time off, and I was finding the way he walked, with a really collapsed chest.
Then I knew that I was going to be wearing this prosthetic, and they showed me a picture of it, kind of a reference Photoshop of what my face would look like. I saw that it was on the right side of my face, so I started to train my musculature to speak out of the side of my mouth, the left side.
Then I went and got fitted for the face a few days before I actually shot, and they put it on the left side of my face. And I went, “Okay, so it’s going to be on that side of my face, not the right side, so I’ve got to start training my mouth to speak the other way.”
I was going to say, I thought it was on the other side, and that maybe I made a mistake.
I did like three weeks of talking out the left side of my face only to have this thing be put on my face on that side, and I went, “Oh shit, okay, I’ve got to start talking out the right side.”
And I was watching a lot of films and trying to find a performance that spoke to me for the voice, for the F***face accent, and I ended up going with Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers, what she did for her accent. That’s what I based the F***face accent off of.
And then you get the face on, you get the wig on, you get the costume on, and then you end up on set, and you’re just playing the guy. It’s amazing.
Had you read any of the comics, either before or after getting the part?
Yeah. Actually, when the offer came in, before we actually signed the contract and everything, I ordered the comics. Just being a little proactive. I read them back to front. Everything with F***face in it, I just read and read and read, and I used that as reference for everything that I did for him. I thought the comic was an amazing piece of source material to have just to be able to make choices.
Other than the material you were given and the prosthetic, is there anything else that you took inspiration from, a movie character or something like that?
I like to say that F***face has a God complex, so he is, in his mind he’s a - well, he’s a megalomaniac. I started going, “If F***face was a god, thought he was a god, what would he be the god of?” And I went with chaos and trickery, so there was a little bit of Loki. I saw a lot of Two-Face, like the Tommy Lee Jones's Two-Face. Obviously, Juliette Lewis for her mania.
I loved watching Rob Zombie’s film Devil’s Rejects. Devil’sRejects was a really good reference for that level of violence that you can go to and the way you can make someone feel they’re in danger just by stepping into their space. And that was really fun. And actually, funny story, Brian Posehn, who plays Shandy, is in Devil’s Rejects and get killed. I hope I didn’t give him flashbacks or something. [laughs]
Obviously, this guy’s really dark, really evil. Is it hard to connect with that part, is it something you find hard to step into?
No, I like having to find characters that are outside of the social norm of things. I mean, obviously, I’m not a serial killer; I’m not a violent person.
One of the things about getting a character like that, is you go, “Okay, I’m going to be given permission to do stuff that’s outside of my personality, and if I don’t stretch it to the degree that it needs to be stretched, stretch my own personality to play this character, I’m going to be doing the character a disservice.”
So, I’m sure there’s fear involved, but I didn’t look at it as fear. I looked at it as excitement, and I was able to do stuff. And obviously it’s always done in a safe environment, so I’m never actually hurting anybody, and it’s all just filmed for TV, and we’re just acting at the end of the day.
But I did a lot of research on serial killers in general, and there’s something terrifying about these people, because of what they’re capable of doing and what they’re capable of justifying.
Is there any part of yourself you do see in him? I know how out of the norm he, is but is there anything you connect to?
Yeah, I connect to his want to be accepted. I was home schooled until I was in grade six, and I remember going into a school, to public school, and feeling just like an alien. I think everybody feels like an alien at some point in their lives, but that has always stuck with me. It’s one of the reasons I push myself so much to work and to be in front of people. It’s because I want acceptance. I know at some point you just have to, like, go to therapy and admit that’s just something that’s in your head. But ultimately, I can see that part of Chester that just wants to be appreciated. And in a weird way, Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth) and Chester have a very similar storyline, they’re just completely different circumstances.
In the finale, when Marcus starts to trick him by pretending he wants to be his friend, I think most of the things Chester says are genuine, but do you think he actually would have, not changed his lifestyle necessarily, but stopped and maybe not killed the rest of them and went with Marcus as a friend? Is that actually possible? Do you think he would have stopped if Marcus accepted him?
And gone to Kings Dominion and be a trained serial killer? All that sounds pretty great to F***face. I think it definitely would have been - Chester is, at his core, an eight-year-old boy who is still at a moment before his father ruined his life. But F***face is the personality that he developed to protect himself from the monster that lives in his head that is his father. And at the very end of the show you see just Chester fully released. There’s no F***face on it anymore, and when Marcus promises him to be able to come to this school, that’s not a lie; that’s exactly what Chester always wanted.
I look at that line; there’s a line in the scene, and it’s not a very heavy line or anything, but he says, “You’re broken.” And Chester kind of stops and looks at him and says, “You think I’m broken?” Which is exactly what Chester feels; it’s exactly what he thinks he is. He thinks he’s broken. He uses F***face to defend his actions, to stay away from admitting the truth, but that is the truth. He thinks he’s broken, and all he needs is love.
This is something that me and Adam Kay talked about a lot. We really got into the core of F***face, finding the little boy underneath it all who just wants to be accepted. So, yeah, I think that he wholeheartedly wants to be Marcus’s friend and wholeheartedly wants to go to the school.
Do you think then if things had been different and he had been invited to the school, do you think he never would have become the way he was?
This question has been coming up a fair bit, and I just have to say that there’s no way of seeing Chester, like F***face, at the point you see him at the beginning of the show, not wanting to kill Marcus, because of the events that happened at the school. But imagine that the school burning happens, Marcus gets pulled into Kings Dominion, so does F***face at the beginning, and they’re able to connect as two people that come from a similar path and bury the hatchet and realize that they are both on the same trajectory to become serial killers, assassins. And I think that F***face could have become a protector of Marcus. He would have been King of the Rats. Nobody would have f***ed with F***face. You imagine him in those scenarios where it’s like, like F***face doesn’t just kill people, he hurts people, he ruins them.
And I think if F***face was in Kings Dominion? Ultimately F***face is a very intelligent human. He doesn’t come off as being very smart, but everything he does is planned; everything he does is very calculated, and he’s a very intelligent, bright human underneath the crazy weirdness and the accent, the way he speaks. He’s very smart, so if he had Lin sitting across the desk from him going, “I can teach you the skills to use what you have to do better and take down those monsters that have ruined your life,” he would have been like, “Yes, please.” You know what I mean? Bombs, poison, hand-to-hand, weapons, all of that stuff would have been perfect for F***face.
Can you talk about filming this final episode? There’s a lot of action going on.
The big house sequence? Crazy. Shooting that sequence with the hillbillies coming out of the effing walls attacking Marcus and Lex was nuts, because we shot that over a few days. It was just the biggest stunt piece that I’ve ever shot. I think it was like three days total, and then they did some little pickup shots. So, we shot all the stuff upstairs, and then we went downstairs and shot all that stuff together and had to come back and do some pickup stuff from the dog attack sequence.
But I don’t know, there’s just something when you kill a character, when you play a scene that you have to kill the character, it’s not usually done like, “Okay, we’re going to kill you now, so everybody say goodbye to the character, and this is your only scene of the day, because we don’t want to completely sap you emotionally.” We ended up shooting all that basement stuff pretty much in one day, and so I was just gutted, gone. I had left it all on the table. I was crazy. It’s what you do this for, it’s why you’re an actor, to have these incredible days when you’re on set shooting everything that matters, and you get to walk away feeling completely satisfied. That was my final experience of shooting that episode.
What has been your favorite crazy moment or scene since you started the show?
The Donahue one [from the finale] was fun. Also, the toilet scene was crazy. I have never authentically wanted to vomit shooting something, because it’s always like, “Oh, it’s just TV; we’re just making this shit up, and it’s fake,” but that was legitimately a moment where I almost threw up on set, and I have thrown up probably five times in my life. I don’t throw up, but I had a moment there where I was almost gonna go. So, that’s amazing.
And then the song was really fun, because it was a joke. It was hilarious, and we committed so hard to the joke that we ended up - I went into a professional recording studio and recorded scratch tracks of the song. And the way that the song came together - have I told you that story of how the song came about?
The script came out, and I read the scene. F***face comes walking down the stairs in the spotlight, in his underwear, playing the guitar. And I’m like, “that’s hilarious.” And then it was just the words: “Kaloo, kalay, kallora, a fella came to me, his legs were orange and hairy, as big as a tree.” And I’m laughing. The whole song is written by Rick; he wrote all the words. And I’m laughing my ass off, and then I say to my wife - because my wife actually worked on the show as well, she booked all our background. She was our background casting director, built the style of our show with the background. She hadn’t read the script yet, but she was going to read it that day, so I went, “Baby! Baby, you’ve got to hear this. F***face comes walking down the stairs with a guitar in his underwear. Kaloo, kalay, kallora, a fella came to me, his legs were orange and hairy, as big as a tree.” And she went, “That kind of sounds like this would be the melody,” and she just hummed me this melody. And I went, “That’s hilarious.” So, I picked up a guitar, and I figured it out on the guitar, and then I recorded a little voice memo version of it, and I sent that to Rick. And then Rick came back with, “This is amazing! This is perfect, man! Good job!”
And then a few weeks later, I’m in a recording studio because he had been going around with this voice recording of mine to Sony, to NBC, showing the big, head officials the voice memo that I recorded literally within fifteen minutes of receiving the script.
And the joke was that F***face, at the core of all this, has this sweet singing voice. And that’s it. Had he gone in any other direction, had he not been tormented by his father, had he not dropped a Trans Am on him, had he not ended up in this boys’ home, had he not had his face blown off, he’d have been this beautiful artist. And that’s what I thought was the funniest punchline of F***face.