As a child actor Tom Felton was seen in Second Sight with Clive Owen and Anna and the King with Jodie Foster. But it was his role of Draco Malfoy, in the Harry Potter franchise, that brought him international recognition.
Now Felton starts another chapter in his career, guest starring on the new drama series for TNT, Murder in the First, produced by Steven Bochco and Eric Lodal, which premieres on June 9th.
Set in San Francisco, the show stars Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson as homicide detectives Terry English and Hildy Mulligan, and will follow a single murder case per season. This year the case spotlights two seemingly separate homicides, until the detectives discover both are related to a Silicon Valley whizkid named Erich Blunt, played by Felton.
Tom came to the TCA critics tour to talk about his new role on American TV.
How did this come to you, was Steven Bochco a fan of Harry Potter or did you audition?
I think I was more of a fan of Steven’s than he was a mine. I was in London when they were doing auditions, so I had to Skype auditions, unfortunately. It was pretty tough actually. Both Steven and (director) Tommy Schlamme did various Skype calls about it, which was great.
I was initially intrigued by the character, as it’s hard to know what’s going to happen.
Do you know the end now?
No, they won’t tell me anything. At Steven’s Christmas party I thought after a few drinks he might get loose at the lip, but quite the opposite.
And now I’m actually excited about not knowing. It’s great to know one chapter at a time and I’m really excited to see where this is going to end.
Isn’t that hard to play?
In an odd way, not knowing makes you believe what you’re saying that much more, even if it’s a lie later on. It’s kind of similar to the Harry Potter films, where every year we got a new book. This just happens a lot quicker, every week we get a new episode.
When you do a film you have lots of time to rehearse a scene. What’s it like doing American TV?
I was very nervous about it, because I didn’t know what to expect. It’s such an exciting atmosphere, the crew’s a lot smaller, the turnaround time is a lot quicker, so the energy is much more vibrant.
To me it just flows a lot better and what I was use to achieving in a month [I achieve] in a few days with this crews and talented cast. I find it a lot more exciting.
You’ve spent a number of years playing a horrible, entitled rich kid, and this character is a horrible, entitled rich adult. Do you see any kind of through line?
Personally, I think that’s where the similarities end between Draco and Erich. The fact that Draco’s a wizard and Erich is kind of a tech genius makes them two very separate entities. But I hear what you are saying, definitely. I feel like they are completely separate characters, internally.
Drago was certainly more of a shaped individual, someone who was sort of bullied into being who he was. I feel like Erich is a very focused individual, and he hasn’t had the influence of his parents to craft him into who he is.
Did you base your character on Mark Zuckerberg?
He’s the obvious one. I didn’t particularly base him on anyone. Eric and I had a lot of fun e mailing various Silicon Valley protégés.
The names escape me now, but companies like Snapchat and Instagram, all these young CEOs, just to try and get into the mental aspect of what it is to be one of these young adults. Tommy Schwamme and I talked a lot about it as well.
There’s a certain element of a psychopath with an individual like this, I think, a sudden ruthlessness that only comes from someone who has those tendencies.
Was the fact that you were only in this first season something that you liked, that it wasn’t a seven year commitment?
Yeah, I was very new to this idea of signing up for potentially seven years based on one episode. That was kind of daunting for me. So the fact that it was for one year was the cherry on the top for me. It gives me a chance to dip my toe in without having to dive into the deep end.
Would you like to work here in the future?
I love America. I’m a big fan of the States, especially California, so the fact that they were filming here was a big bonus. My girlfriend’s with me, and I brought my dog with me, so we re-homed ourselves.
If it’s up to my puppy she’d stay here, she’s enjoying the warm weather and the canyons. She loves running, swimming and hunting.