Boyd Holbrook spoke to CBR about playing a man on the run in his new Quibi show, a reimagining of The Fugitive.
Boyd Holbrook has had an eclectic career with roles in everything from Hatfields & McCoys to Narcos to Logan, in which he was responsible for hunting down an aging Wolverine. His latest role is as the title character in Quibi’s reimagining of The Fugitive. More of a spiritual successor to the 1993 film and 1963 TV show of that title than a reboot, the series centers on Holbrook’s character, Mike Ferro, who goes on the run after being wrongly accused of a subway bombing, only to be doggedly pursued by Kiefer Sutherland’s counterterrorism investigator Clay Bryce.
Holbrook spoke to CBR about his perspective on this version of The Fugitive, what it was like to work with Kiefer Sutherland and his thoughts on performing stunts for the action-packed show.
CBR: Were you a fan of The Fugitive before you got involved in this project?
Boyd Holbrook: You know, I was. I hadn’t seen the original TV show from the ’60s. I went back and viewed that before filming. And obviously, of course, I think the two iconic performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford should go down in the books, as they have. But with this one, we’re not trying to fill those shoes. I think we’re trying to just make our own footprint through a narrative on the brand or the theme of The Fugitive and what that means. I think, for me, it’s a really cool underdog story where a guy kind of goes against impossible odds if he can clear his own name.
Your character has to be both sympathetic to the audience while also establishing that he could easily come under suspicion for a horrible crime. How did you build the character to account for those two things?
Well, I just looked at Mike from a really empathetic point of view. I’ve been around a lot of prisons in the last couple years and working with those inmates to be able to perform for feature films. So I just really understand the intimacy of what it means to be a felon, what it means to be in prison. I’m a father now so I [drew from] that.
And I was also really attracted to a character that was not what I’ve done recently…. Mike’s the anchor of the story. I haven’t played a lot of those characters, where he is, I guess, the moral compass. That was exciting, that was different for me. And, you know, I thought the material was spot on, spot on for the commentary that’s happening today with social media.
Did the original performances, especially those iconic performances from the movie, influence your performance or how you understood the character?
I think every film I’ve ever seen has somehow influenced me in a way, and I think it all kind of boils into the performance….
[But] yeah, you really have to take your own reins on this. It’s a different time and era. So, not really, other than the fact that we’re just dealing with an innocent man.
This is for Quibi so each of the segments is 10 minutes or less. Did knowing you only had 10 minutes in each episode to draw in the audience affect your performance?
You know, thank God, I had a really talented writer, Nick Santora, to do that for me, rather than having to come up with that on the spot — that’s a lot of pressure. But a lot of the scenes are constructed in that way. Basically he took a 144-page script that you would read from start to finish and not miss a beat, but within that, every 10 pages or so there was this crescendo or… sort of climactic exit on that tenth page. And then it’s up to [director] Stephen Hopkins and the editor, I’d imagine, …to push it into the [Quibi] format…. It gives you: these are your outbound, inbound areas that you can go in and out of. It gives you parameters, is what I’m trying to say.
What was it like to work with Kiefer Sutherland?
I mean the guy is, he’s focused, man. He shows up to work and gets it done. It was nice to see someone that I grew up watching in film, and in some way probably inspired me to become an actor, …show up and be professional after all that he’s done. That was inspiring.
The show is super action packed. Did you enjoy tackling all those stunts?
[Laughs] I don’t know if I could enjoy being tackled so much. But, yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever have a role that will be as marathon runner-y.… It was fun. I had a good time.
Did the action sequences inform the way you performed this particular character?
Yeah, I think in a way. I think I’ve been a lot more in shape probably for other roles that I’ve done. You know, but Mike’s an average, everyday normal guy. He’s not out there in the gym running or crushing weight and stuff like that, so there’s some humoristic moments there where he’s not performing like a superhero. He’s just not that guy.
Technology plays a big role in the show both in terms of getting the word out about your character being a suspect and then also its use in hunting the character down. Has that changed your perspective on technology in your daily life?
Oh, I’m fully aware that the government can track me everywhere I go. And we’re two pages away from 1984. It can be a terrifying thought. Some people see it as more safety. But, yeah, I was for sure aware before [The Fugitive], and after… playing in that sort of theater, it’s all the more concerning.