Megan McLachlan speaks with Josh Blacker, who plays the Witchfinder Warrior on Apple TV+’s See, about getting into character, the show’s commitment to hiring visually-impaired actors/crew, and what’s really going on with Queen Kane.
The most bonkers, interesting show of the fall season is hands-down See on Apple TV+. Call it a cousin of Game of Thrones (sans dragons), See is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the earth has been nearly decimated by a virus, leaving the remaining population blind. Except of course for two people (because there’s always an exception), who Queen Kane (Sylvia Hoeks, who might be having the most fun on this show) and her Witchfinder Warrior, Josh Blacker, are in desperate search of.
Why is this show insane-fun? There are multiple time jumps, shadow people covered in white paint that do cartwheels around characters and photo-bomb the background of scenes, and of course a Queen who prays through. . .sexual stimulation. Ironically, See is hard to look away from.
I had a chance to chat with Josh Blacker, who plays the Witchfinder Warrior, about the series being renewed for a second season and whether he thinks his character is bad at his job.
Awards Daily: Congratulations on a second season! Was that something you all were surprised about?
Josh Blacker: Thank you! There were rumors of it, but you never want to celebrate it until it’s absolutely official. So now we can all properly celebrate.
AD: I have so many questions about this show. First of all, your character is pretty scary-looking, and I’ll admit, looks nothing like you in real life, which made it hard to spot you—probably a good thing. How long did it take to get into makeup/prep for the Witchfinder Warrior?
JB: So a total time in makeup was four hours every day, and sometimes a little bit longer. So about three to three and a half hours to get it on and about an hour to get it off. That’s a good portion of your day, and we shot a lot of early mornings, so you’re in the makeup chair starting around 2 or 2:30 sometimes in the morning. As soon as I saw the idea and the character arc art for what they wanted my character to look like, I knew this was going to be a killer show. The makeup and hair artists were so awesome. They worked hand in hand with us. The characters age 17 years during the first three episodes, so I had an idea of what I wanted his older look to be, and the makeup and hair artists were just phenomenal. I brought pictures of what I thought would be cool, hand in hand with what they already had, and we came up with that final look. I think they killed it. It’s not a fun experience to be in the makeup chair that long, but once you see the finished product, it blows your mind, and you feel like you’re literally ready to go into battle and do some damage.
AD: Speaking of the time jumps, what I like about See is that it’s really ballsy and does three time jumps within the first three episodes. It has such confidence straight out of the gate. Was that something that attracted you to this project?
JB: Absolutely. What it told me was two things: The first is that they’re just going to drop people into this world, and I think what it means is that it’s going to reward rewatching the show. I’ve rewatched Episode 3 a couple of times already this week, because there’s some stuff you can miss. The second thing it made me aware of is that there’s going to be some killer character work to be done. You really have to have an understanding of what your character is going through and what he’s committed to in order to do something like that for 17 years. I don’t think many of us have done one thing for 17 years straight. The level of commitment and loyalty that the character has and some of the decisions that inform him in order to go on this journey for this queen for that period of time made it exciting for me as an actor, cause it meant there was some really good stuff to dive into character-wise.
AD: Do you think your character is bad at his job? I mean, 20 summers without finding the twins!
JB: I think they’re [the queen’s team members] very skilled at their job. We are the queen’s elite soldiers, so everyone in that army is the best at what they do. So I’m the best warrior, our general is the best general, our ayura is our best ayrua. But you have to remember with only about 2 million people left on earth, they’re spread out over vast areas as well. And you have no sight. So considering all those things, the fact that they’re constantly on the tail of the kids and Baba Voss [Jason Momoa] tells you that they know what they’re doing and they’re being thwarted just barely. That’s why I’m excited for people to see where this season goes to see what level of success we have or don’t have. I’m not going to say more than that, but I think when you get to the final episode, or even Episode 4 and onward, there’s really compelling stuff that points to how good we are at what we do.
AD: Everyone is obviously blind on this show. How challenging was that for this role?
JB: When I first heard about the project and asked my agent to get me in the room for it, that was what attracted me to it so much, was that challenge as an actor. But my brother-in-law is legally blind, so I know what people with blindness or low-vision are capable of. He’s a mountain climber, he ice climbs, he does all this crazy stuff in the mountains. So I knew what was possible, and I knew what the story was, so I wanted to make sure how we represent people with blindness or low vision was truthful and authentic to their world. Fortunately Apple gave us every resource we needed for that. We had a two-month blind camp, which was a movement camp for how to listen, hear, and feel with blindness. But then we had some actors and crew who were blind and low-vision as well. So you could go to them and say, ‘What would you do in this situation?’ or ‘If I do this, does that make sense in your world?’ Because I think that’s the key thing, to make sure you’re telling their story and the world they live in daily in a truthful and compassionate and authentic way.
AD: Was there an active priority to hire visually-impaired/low-vision actors or consultants?
JB: Absolutely. That was one of the mandates Apple came into the show with. They said, if we’re going to do a show about people with a disability, then we have to make sure people with that disability [actors, crew, etc.] are properly represented within the show. I give them a lot of credit, because I think we need more of that in our industry.
AD: Yeah, that’s wonderful. The Witchfinder Warrior and the Queen have a very intriguing dynamic. What was it like playing opposite Sylvia Hoeks? She’s also so scary.
JB: Their dynamic is a really complicated one. I won’t speak too much to it, because I think some of it is revealed throughout the course of the season. I think it’s specifically diffused to keep people guessing. I think some of those are the best stories to be told, when you don’t know what’s going on. You see something there, but you don’t know what the ‘there’ is. I spoke to both Christian Camargo [Tamachti Jun on the series] and Sylvia Hoeks about their characters and their relationships, and I won’t reveal what they told me. I’ll let viewers figure it out and come to their own conclusions. But working opposite Sylvia was fantastic. She is one of the most committed actors I’ve worked with in a while. She just throws herself fully into what she does. I’ve loved her work. I loved her in Blade Runner 2049 and The Girl in the Spider’s Web. She is a chameleon and really puts on the skin of her character, and to watch that makes you bring your A game.
AD: She seems to be having so much fun with that role. For a variety of reasons. So I have to ask. What is with the Queen’s praying? Why does she pray. . .like that?
JB: (Laughs.) Yeah, when I read that in the script, it blew me away. I thought, ‘It’s a bold move.’ I love the way that she did it in the show. Her commitment to it is phenomenal. My belief and understanding is that when you lose your sight and you are 600 or 900 years removed from what we think is appropriate today, your senses are heightened and that orgasmic feeling is one that could be portrayed as a closer connection to God. The feelings associated with that during the communication are ones that are very intimate, and the idea of prayer and the infinite connection between her and God is revealed through that process of ‘prayer.’
Watch episodes of See on Apple TV+.