CBS’ much-anticipated adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “Under the Dome” premieres tonight at 10 p.m., and we’ve got a whole series of interviews with the talented cast playing the unfortunate souls trapped by “The Dome” in the small town of Chester’s Mill.
Up first is Mike Vogel, a veteran of A&E’s “Bates Motel” along with such series as “Pan Am” and such films as “Cloverfield” and “The Help.” Vogel has one of the major roles in the book, of mysterious new guy in town Dale “Barbie” Barbara – who, like everyone has a few secrets of his own. We talked to Vogel about his inspirations for “Barbie,” what to anticipate on the show, and more.
MTV Geek: Mike, at drew you to the character of “Barbie?”
Mike Vogel: What drew me to it is that I have a lot of friends in the Special Forces, and I have the most respect for those guys. So to see a character with that background – aside from enjoying the storylines in this thing, and enjoying reading the script, I kind of wanted someone who would do it justice to play that part.
So I think that was the thing that drew me to him. I’m fascinated with the idea of a guy who is most at home in chaos. So in the scenario of this show, in that kind of chaotic situation, his talents, his skills, his training, the things he’s learned over the years, all serve him quite well to survive in an environment like this.
We’ve all the seen the story, a lot of times I think, of the soldier who’s reluctant and far from his experience overseas, and while that’s all very real and I don’t want to detract from that at all, I’m also fascinated by the guy who can compartmentalize so well that if he’s affected by it, you wouldn’t know.
Geek: So have you talked to your old friends for this role?
Vogel: Yeah. They’ve been very helpful in crafting things for the character, keeping things to a true form. Their greatest advice was, “Don’t make us look bad, don’t screw this up” [laughs]. But because I look up to them so much, and because I cherish our friendship and I respect what they do, there’s a little bit more responsibility to do it right.
Geek: At this point, you’ve had a few episodes with the character – without getting into spoilers, what’s been the most interesting thing about how the character’s developed so far?
Vogel: I think the most interesting experience, as we’ll see, is the nefarious situation that brought Barbie into town just before the Dome came down…things come home to roost. And as we’ll see, he wasn’t necessarily acting wrongly in what he did, it just looks that way.
I think that’s part of the fun of the show – you look at “Barbie” and go, “Bad guy, bad guy.” You look at “Big Jim” and go, “Good guy, good guy.” No. not the case at all.
Geek: So there’s lots of twisties.
Vogel: Lots of twisties. And where we’re at in filming is “Barbie” trying to run interference and keep his story straight and explain the basis of why he’s here in the first place.
Geek: With whom have you been doing most of your scenes at this point?
Vogel: I run the gamut! We’re stuck in a small town here; their paths are all converging. So there’s a lot with “Big Jim”/Dean Norris, and a lot of scenes with Rachelle [La Fevre, who plays Julia Shumway] – we’re kind of what helps draw each other out into the story – right down to Colin Ford’s character, Joe. I think in a town this small, everyone’s paths will cross constantly.
Geek: In talking with the cast, many people said they avoided reading the book so they could focus on the show’s interpretation of the characters. Where do you fall in that group?
Vogel: I’m going to have to echo the same thing. That’s what I did with “The Help” – I didn’t read the book, because I didn’t want to have a preconceived notion of what I’m doing. I know I’m going to get enough information to keep the character going, but the book only lasts like four days, while the show – hopefully – could last for years.
That being the case, we’ll pull a lot of scenarios from the book, but we’ll be going in a lot of new directions as well. But there’s still a lot to pull from the book.
Geek: I’ve also gotten that from talking to the cast – that there’s a lot of Stephen King fans in there.
Vogel: It’s hard not to be! The guy has such an amazing…I think what I like is that his subject matter runs the gamut of stuff. It’s not all horror; it’s not all thriller. It’s a great range of writing, and that’s what’s exciting about this project; it’s real people reacting to a real danger while you also have this fantasy/sci-fi element that they don’t understand, and the audience won’t either for some time.
His imagination’s unbelievable, and I think why this story is so relatable is that given a lot of the circumstances in our world today – the economy, global unrest – there’s a part of people who see a situation like this and go, “That could happen – how would people adapt?”
Geek: That echoes what some cast members were saying about the Dome being a great equalizer for socioeconomic divisions among the townspeople...
Vogel: The Dome is a metaphor that could mean anything – it could be nuclear fallout, terrorists – I’ve always been fascinated with stories where people’s roles are flipped on their heads, be it the Wall Street guy, the techno guy, etc. All of those things are only successful when there are people and money around. When something like this happens, when the world is flipped on its head, the farmer becomes king – the man who can work with his hands, the craftsman.
Geek: “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
“Under the Dome” premieres on CBS tonight at 10 p.m. EST.