Mido Hamada has played many tough, badass characters in his career so far, but for him one of his most vulnerable is Eamonn, the Wizard's loyal right-hand man who's been on the hunt for Dorothy in NBC's Emerald City. Well, according to Hamada, you can get ready for much more vulnerable badassery ahead as Eamonn and the gang dig into the Wonderful Wizard of Oz of it all in the final six episodes of the season.
For the actor – who's appeared in 24, Terra Nova and Homeland – this new series offers a true re-imagining of L. Frank Baum's Oz and one he hopes "this generation will remember." Hamada chatted with Syfy Wire about his role as Eamonn, why he think Emerald City reflects what's going on in today's world and why he still believes in magic.
You've been involved in a lot of terrific TV shows. What was it about Emerald City that made you want to do this series?
It's a genre that I really love. I'm a huge fantasy genre fan and so to be able to create this fantastical and magical and enchanting world of Oz with the help of a visionary director like Tarsem Singh, to see this world come alive has been a real treat.
It's the story of The Wizard of Oz. I mean that in and of itself, everybody knows it. Everybody has a very clear idea or a childhood recollection or a memory about it, so to be able to give it a completely new look and a complete new re-imagining was a great challenge and also a great privilege.
The old version, the Judy Garland version, everybody was who they were from the beginning. Everybody was their character from the get-go, so the Scarecrow was Scarecrow, the Tin Man was Tin Man, Lion was Lion, Dorothy was Dorothy. But in our show everybody becomes their character throughout the process of the journey of the show. We've now discovered who Tin Man is. We've discovered who Scarecrow is, and Dorothy is really on her journey this whole season trying to discover who she really is because she doesn't actually really know and so she's going to find out who her mother is. Those are those are quintessential questions that we all ask ourselves. You know, Who Are We? The next question would be Why Are We Here?
Your character has been a pretty driven badass. Tell me about him.
This character has a lot of secrets and he isn't everything that he first appears to be. And as you get to know him ... you really start to see how much he disagrees or agrees with the Wizard. They're not always in unison. There's a lot more to him.
I think for me as an actor it's always interesting to find the vulnerabilities of characters that are outwardly these tough badasses and tough guys, and to find his weak spots. He's got quite a few of them. In fact, I think he's probably one of the more vulnerable characters that I've ever had a chance to play and certainly that's going to surface in the upcoming episodes.
The real challenge for me was just finding the core of this man and finding his weak spots, his vulnerability -- to me that's always what makes a strong man so interesting. It makes them human and I think that real power comes from vulnerability. It's easy to pretend to be strong and to act in a tough way. But the real strength, the inner strength that most of these characters tend to have or characters that I like to play, comes when they become vulnerable. And then the audience has a choice to make: do they connect with this person because of this vulnerability or not? So we'll see.
In the last episode, we did find out he had a wife who he seems to care about, and that he wanted to protect Lucas, who was his friend.
He's not as single-minded and as ruthless and as horrible as he appears at this stage, but he certainly has that in him, which is clear to see because we've seen it. But there's more to him. He has secrets. Let's just say that ... he's got an interesting journey.
You spent a lot of time on a horse, didn't you?
Yes, yes. I did. It's a good thing that I'm quite comfortable on a horse and I enjoyed it. And chasing Dorothy, she didn't make it easy on me, even though she was on foot and I was on horse. I still didn't get to catch her until a little bit further down the road.
And then she shot you! But luckily you survived.
It's not as if she's a really good shot. Or she is a really good shot and we're taken some artistic license there.
It's magic! In fact, Emerald City has a real mix of science and magic.
The whole theme of the first season is science versus magic ... I think it's just something that the audience can lose themselves in. With everything that's gone on in the world today this is exactly the kind of fare I think that people want to watch, to escape to an enchanting land, to this beautiful magical land of Oz.
I have this discussion whether to tell my children that Santa Claus is fiction or not, and why take away that enchantment for the children. Why take away this magicalness of what we live in. To me, life is magical. And I think if you believe in magic then magic will appear in your life and then magical things will continue to happen to you. So I'm not always all about facts and stuff. It's good sometimes not to have the answers and to just be enchanted and to go along for the ride.
If only we all still believed in Santa Claus.
Wouldn't that be nice.
It would. When it came to Eamonn, what other challenges did you have as an actor?
I think one of the hardest things is we shot it like a ten-hour movie. So normally a movie lasts for, let's say, ninety minutes to two hours. We shot this like a ten-hour movie. So on the first day of shooting I was shooting scenes from Episode 10 and Episode 9 and episode 2. That, just as an actor, is a challenge because you're still trying to get to find your feet, get to know your character. And to already start at the end of the journey, which is such a long journey ... in a movie it's okay because it's only two hours of the journey and it's much shorter. This is a very, very long journey and so we had to map out that journey from beginning to end and then shoot back and forth the whole time.
The setting seems like it's out of another time. What was the shoot like?
We were very fortunate because we had Tarsem directing all ten episodes and he insisted on using as little CGI as possible, so we were able to go to these sensational locations. We started our shoot in Barcelona and then moved on to three, four, five different more locations in Spain, and then moved from Spain to a national park in Croatia, and then from Croatia we went to Budapest, where our main studio was. And then shot in Budapest and in the surrounding areas. So we really shot this in three different countries and it was just a stunning shoot to go to because we were really blessed with going to some amazing-looking locations.
We we were just amazed every time we'd step on set. The set design was just sensational. The costumes by Trisha Biggar are just amazing.
I think it's a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful world with wonderful, wonderful characters, especially wonderful female characters. I mean the female characters in the show are so strong and so enchanting and different and wicked and every other adjective you can think of you'll find. And I think that that's a sign of the times. You have an imposter who is pretending to be something that he's not, so I think it's very relevant to this time, without saying any more.
You've finished filming?
We finished it already, and I'm already on to the next show.
What's the new show?
At the moment I'm shooting a new series for Starz called Counterpart with J.K. Simmons in the lead. Absolutely fantastic human being and actor. I'm shooting that to til the end of May. It's an espionage sci-fi thriller that takes place in Berlin and it's about a world that has been duplicated by a catastrophic event 30 years earlier and there is a cold war going on between these two worlds.
Cool! When will we see it?
I'm assuming it will come out toward the end of the summer, maybe early fall, I think. But we don't have any dates yet.
Back to Emerald City. There's some amazing actors, like Vincent D'Onofrio and and Joely Richardson, who play the Wizard and Glinda. What was it like working with this cast?
I remember sitting at the first read-thru and having a look around the table and seeing all these beautiful faces sitting there from all over the world and saying that this is Oz. This is the world. We are giving a fair representation of Earth with all these wonderful faces that come from all over the globe. And that was wonderful to see and that's been the most pleasant surprise for me, just the diversity and being a fair representation of the world.
I love working with my fellow actors and Vincent is an incredibly generous actor. Obviously his credentials speak for themselves and he was wonderful to work with, as well as Joely. We created a really good atmosphere. We created a nice family atmosphere where we all came to work and did our best ... and I think that's really what it's always about. Are we going to be able to share moments and space with each other? And I think we really did that, and I think you can see it on the screen.
You have a very unique, strong Dorothy, played by Adria Arjona.
Yes, she's taken the bull by the horns and she's given us a Dorothy that, I think, is completely different and much more ballsy, much stronger and with an attitude. It's a modern version and I think that speaks for the show.
Any word on a second season?
That is really up in the air. As of now we don't have an answer to that. We would all love to shoot another season but it is really up to the network.
Will we be satisfied if there's only one season and then Emerald City vanishes forever?
I think so. I think it will be satisfying either way. I think people will derive great enjoyment from it and I think it really will be enjoyable all the way to the end. Hopefully the network will renew it for another season and give the audience what it wants, so to speak, which is to follow the journey of the characters and see what happens next.
Why should people who haven't seen Emerald City yet tune in?
I think people should tune in because if they want to be enchanted, if they want to be taken on a beautiful journey, if they want to see images and a story unlike they've never seen before, then they should tune into Emerald City. This is Oz like you've never seen before. And hopefully this will be the Oz that this generation will remember. We're trying to establish something new. We're trying to create a new world for what people already know of the L. Frank Baum novels. So hopefully people will tune in and derive as much fun from it as we did making it. We think that it's a wonderful show that is beautiful to look at with some fantastic characters and some really stellar performances. There's a great, great cast. There is a lot to like about this show, so please tune in every Friday!
Emerald City airs on NBC on Fridays at 9/8C. Here's a look at this week's episode.