***This interview contains major season two spoilers***
In season two of Locke & Key
Duncan, played by Aaron Ashmore, has his memories of magic returned to him, which include the ability to forge keys, which is what the antagonist of the season, Gabe/Dutch (Griffin Gluck), wants most.
This season, viewers get a lot more of Duncan’s story, including his relationship with Brian (Milton Barnes), explained Ashmore in an exclusive interview with Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision. “We sort of alluded to the fact that Duncan was in a relationship, or sort of mentioned that, but we never really got to see too much of his backstory. So, I think that's really nice that we get to see some of his romantic interest.”
A big part of Duncan’s story this season is when his memories are returned. “I think we just lay into a little bit more throughout the second season, of where Duncan's coming from exactly, the whole memory loss element, because it's not so much that he just can't remember magic, like the rest of the adults; there's another element to it, where pieces of his past have been removed. He's struggling not only with that, but also this idea of potentially seeing these magic things, and then that being erased.”
Ashmore found the memory loss a compelling part of the character to play and tapped into the trauma element of it. “I know that a lot of people who have had trauma, specifically childhood trauma, that's something that can happen, whereas your mind sort of shuts down on particular events, and that's exactly what happened with Duncan. That's sort of how I was looking at it, that idea of a traumatic past and what that sort of does to somebody when they grow up, if they haven't had a chance to process that yet.”
The actor said that he visualized his memories being returned as a “weight being off of him.” According to Ashmore, however, Duncan understands why his friends removed the memories. “I think it's upsetting, but I think once the whole picture is revealed to him, he understands why they had to do that. That was very specific. It was to protect everything.”
Ashmore enjoyed getting to play this new version of Duncan. “I was very excited to get to be part of a bigger part of helping the Locke kids fulfill their sort of destiny and journey in the second season. I really think that's what Duncan's character’s doing. The torch has been passed on to the younger Lockes, and he's just really there to mentor them and help them. That was a really fun thing to know that I was going to get to play.”
During the interview, the actor talked about growing the bond with the actors who played the Locke children, what key he would love to get to use in real life, and much more. Be sure to read the full transcript below and watch Locke & Key
, available now to stream on Netflix
SCIFI VISION: What I wanted to ask you first, is had you before getting the role, or have you since, read the comics?
Yeah, I had read the comics, probably right after they originally came out. I started to follow them. I don't think I've read everything up to the present, because I know that they've been putting some new stuff out over the past couple of years, which I haven't read, but, yeah, I was big fan before even they were gonna go put it into production for a TV show.Did you audition, or were you offered the part?
No, I auditioned. It was a really easy process. I just put myself on tape, not even with directors or producers up here in Toronto, and I got a call a couple of weeks later saying, “Hey, the role is yours.” So, it was a very easy casting process, actually.It was for Duncan? I was just curious, since you were fan that that's who you auditioned for originally was Duncan?
Yes.That worked out well, then. [laughs]
It did, yeah.So, this season, we get to see more of a backstory of your character. Last season, we didn't even really know much about Duncan’s boyfriend, Brian, and this season we get more. Can you talk about that expanded backstory this season?
We sort of alluded to the fact that Duncan was in a relationship, or sort of mentioned that, but we never really got to see too much of his backstory. So, I think that's really nice that we get to see some of his romantic interest.
I think we just lay into a little bit more throughout the second season, of where Duncan's coming from exactly, the whole memory loss element, because it's not so much that he just can't remember magic, like the rest of the adults; there's another element to it, where pieces of his past have been removed. He's struggling not only with that, but also this idea of potentially seeing these magic things, and then that being erased.
So, I think it's a really compelling story and character to play, somebody who is dealing with that sort of memory loss. I know that a lot of people who have had trauma, specifically childhood trauma, that's something that can happen, whereas, your mind sort of shuts down on particular events, and that's exactly what happened with Duncan. That's sort of how I was looking at it, that idea of a traumatic past and what that sort of does to somebody when they grow up, if they haven't had a chance to process that yet.
You’ve filmed season three already, and you made me wonder, talking about how he's lost memories associated to magic, [and I haven’t read the comics to know if it would], but Duncan getting his memories back, is that going to affect his relationship with Brian at all?
No, no, I don't think so. I mean, that is a very interesting thing. If you got all your memories back, and you were looking at the world in a slightly different way, how would that change how you're feeling about somebody? But it's really [around] his youth and growing up and his brother and Key House, those are the memories that sort of have been disturbed. So, when he's going to Key House, he's like, “I don't want to be here” in the first season. He just doesn't want to be there. “Sell it. Let's get rid of this place. I wasn't happy. I don't understand it.” But I think that as far as when he moved away from Matheson and was pursuing his life in Boston and falling in love and all that, I think all that stuff, nothing changes from that. It's really about all these specific key memories that were removed from him when he was a kid that really affect his understanding of things, not so much as an adult.Once he does get his memory back, was there anything that you did, sort of from an acting perspective, to kind of have a shift in the way you played him?
Well, I mean, I don't think that there was a big shift other than like, this weight that has been on him, this not understanding, that's just completely gone. So, to me, I just visualize it as this weight being off of him. He was always deflecting with humor, and that still part of his personality. He's still a funny guy, but, yeah, that's really how I just looked at it. As soon as this piece of information, this thing is removed from him, for lack of a better word, this weight is completely off him, and he understands himself; he remembers everything. That would be very freeing. Do you think that he resents his friends at all for wiping his memory and taking all that away from him?
No, I think he understands. There is a piece in one of the episodes where he is sort of seeing a flashback type thing of his youth and this happening, and he doesn't understand, and I think it's upsetting, but I think once the whole picture is revealed to him, he understands why they had to do that. That was very specific. It was to protect everything. So, no, I don't think that he resents them at all. I think he understands it once the whole picture is revealed to him.So, were you excited to finally get to play knowing about the magic and kind of everything that that involves?
Yeah, I mean, you can only play the confused, angry aspects of things for so long. There has to be a payoff to it, and I knew that it would be interesting, but I was very excited to get to be part of a bigger part of helping the Locke kids fulfill their sort of destiny and journey in the second season. I really think that's what Duncan's character’s doing. The torch has been passed on to the younger Lockes, and he's just really there to mentor them and help them. That was a really fun thing to know that I was going to get to play.You seem like you get along well with the Locke kids. Was it hard to relate to them, because they are, at least Jackson [Robert Scott], a good bit younger than you? Can you talk about just working with them and kind of curating that bond?
Yeah, I really, really enjoyed working with all the Locke kids. I mean, I think Connor [Jessup] is twenty-six. So, he's not really, really young, and he's a very mature, smart guy. So, as far as that goes, he was really, really easy to work with.
Emelia [Jones] right off the bat was so friendly and engaged and engaging.
With Jackson, I feel like it took me a couple episodes kind of figure out his vibe and sort of break in with him. He just didn't know me. I was like a strange guy that was just kind of popping in for a few days, but towards the end of the first season, we really sort of hit it off. I mean, I just I like working with him. They're all really nice people. They're all super talented, and in particular, Jackson. I mean, he's got that youthful energy, and I just think he's a really fun, talented kid to work with. Whenever I had a Jackson scene, when it was just [us], I thoroughly enjoyed it, because it always made me feel like a kid. I started acting when I was a kid as well around his age, obviously not nearly on the scope and size of projects [as this], but it sort of reminded me of being a kid again in the business, and I liked that.Is there somebody that you'd like to have more scenes with on the show in the future that maybe you haven't gotten a whole lot with?
Yeah, well, what I missed out on, is in the first season, I got to work with Darby [Stanchfield]. A lot of my scenes with were were with her, and I only got a few in the second season. I really liked working with her as well. So, I would have loved a few more scenes with her in the second season. And I didn't really get to have any scenes with most of the Savini Squad, and I love all their stuff. I love the their dynamics. I would have loved to do a little bit more with some of those guys, but all in all, I was really happy with all the all the scene partners I got along the way.Duncan gets to create a key, actually two keys. If you were to create a key to do something you wanted in real life, what would you make? If you could make anything?
I feel like this is like a Warehouse 13
question, where it's like, “If you could come up with any artifact...” I'm like, “I am not a writer.” I'm not great at coming up with those ideas, but I would tell you, if I could use a key, if I could take one of those keys, it would be the Anywhere Key, because I am sometimes a lazy person and the idea of being able to commute, especially during the pandemic, to be able to go see somebody on the other side of the world for the afternoon or something like that, just to check on them, I mean, that would have been amazing. So, I would take the Anywhere Key in a heartbeat if I could.
I want to ask you about a different key, because I asked some of the other cast members, and I’m curious, if somebody used the Head Key on you, what do you think the inside of your head with your memories and everything would look like?
I think it would look like a very comfortable living room with a lot of guitars and vinyl records and books, and that's all I can think of at the moment. Maybe almost like the Lockes’ basement in a way, but with more stuff in it, less kind of cluttered junk and more specifically music and books and guitars and stuff.Fair enough. Is there something from the comics that you would like to see on the show or, I guess, maybe even that is in season three that you can tease?
I mean, I won't give too much away, but I think that they sort of teased it a little bit in the trailer, and I know it's been out there that Kevin Durant is going to be appearing on the show, and we get to sort of delve into some more history of Matheson and of Key House and sort of where all of this stuff began. So, I think that's really exciting. I'm glad that they're doing that, they're going to get to, because that was something that I found fascinating, the idea of [there being] a history to this place, not just what's happening now. Some of these keys have been around for a very long time. This house has been around for a very long time, and what would that have looked like in a different time period? So, we get to see a little bit of that stuff, which I think is really cool.Do you have any other projects that you want to promote?
Sure, yeah. I mean, right now I am working on a new television show for called Skymed
for CBC and CBS in the States. It's like sort of a coproduction between the two, and it's about pilots and doctors working up in the north of Canada kind of living and working and trying to get by and get their hours and flying. So, I think that's gonna be a really, really fun show, and I've been shooting that actually right since we wrapped Locke & Key
. So, that's the the newest thing that I've been working on.The only other thing I wanted to ask you is if there is anything that you'd love to get to do that you haven't yet? Your ultimate dream role?
No, I don't think that there's something that I'm dying to do. I love finishing a new job and being like, “What is out there? What's next?” That's part of the excitement for me is just not knowing what that next role is going to be. Sometimes they're great, and sometimes they're not so great, but you just don't know what it's going to be. I also feel like I've been very, very fortunate to continue to roll into great projects that I'm proud to be part of.Is there anybody in particular that you're dying to work with, though?
No. I know it's like a funny thing. I mean, sure there are people that would be great to work with, but there's nobody that I'm like, “Oh, I would love to work with that person.” No, I really don't feel that way. I really feel like I'm just happy to work with the people that I get to work with, and, again, like the mystery of that, not really knowing who those people are, is exciting to me.