The Strain's Richard Sammel Wants You to Know These 8 Things

by | July 20, 2015 | Comments

While Richard Sammel (Thomas Eichorst in The Strain) may play evil, scary dudes, he couldn’t have been more warm on the phone, talking with Rotten Tomatoes about the show, his career, and what to expect in season two. He’s been seen in Inglourious Basterds, Casino Royale, Life is Beautiful, and so many more contemporary classics. But with season two of The Strain having just begun, we wanted to chat about that. Here are eight things we thought you should know.

 


1. His Recent Proclamation “No More Nazis!” Brought More Offers to Play Nazis

Sammel is a strong believer in only accepting work that pleases the actor, once said actor is in a place to do so. “The older you get, the more you go for quality and excellency,” he said, citing Inglourious Basterds as a good film in which he happens to play a Nazi. But at some point, the copious amount of Nazi roles got to be a little much. He made an official announcement proclaiming that, with The Strain, he had “kind of peaked [with] what I can do with these characters — I’m talking about the Nazi characters, not about the mean characters. I don’t want to do any Nazi characters anymore,” he said. “The reaction to it is that now they want it even more. Now they know I don’t want to do it anymore, now everybody offers me.” He chuckled, ” I didn’t say that in order to get more offers, you know. ”

 


2. Playing a Bad Guy Means Not Playing a Bad Guy

Sammel is a pro all the way. And as a pro, he knows better than to “play bad” or “mean.” “I tell the man’s story,” he said, “Period. Every mean character — let’s say 90 percent of the mean characters — are pretty convinced that what they do is not mean. If they know it’s mean they have pretty good reasons to make you understand why they do what they’re doing.” He plays his characters from their point of view rather than the writer’s or spectator’s. “If the character plays it from the spectator’s point of view — ‘I’m the mean guy, I’m gonna do mean things to you’ — it’s completely done, you won’t be interested. If you find motivations, as hidden as they might be… then the character becomes sexy. Not that the character becomes sexy, but that the character becomes truthful. To me, a truthful character becomes sexy because he has motivations you want to find out about. You just need to have them, you don’t need to show them.”

He explained that Eichorst required more preparation than other roles because he had to delve into not only why this person is a Nazi (he was born into it), but also why he chooses to become a vampire. He did so by determining why Eichorst does what he does. “[A character’s] motivation is perhaps to survive, or to heal a wound of a lost love or greed. Every mean manifestation you might have has its roots elsewhere, and the root is never mean.”


3. The Show Will Need to Add Narrative This Season that Doesn’t Exist in the Books

There are newly introduced characters in the show who have the potential to become leads in the near future — characters who aren’t in the source material. Sammel told us these characters are fully integrated into the world of the show, and that he was surprised how thoroughly their stories were inserted. “They’re really completely integrated in the whole Strain story,” he said. “If those characters were to be discovered in the books now, it wouldn’t surprise me. It might actually be — for the first time — that the TV series influenced the books and they rewrite the books because of the series [laughing].”

The changes and additions to the source material were necessary to the storytelling, according to Sammel. The writers and producers had decided to make five seasons out of the trilogy of books (one season out of the first book, and two seasons each out of the remaining two). So the storylines are elongated. “Then the problem is,” stated Sammel, “if you put too much water in your wine, it’s not wine anymore. Either you stretch the existing stories or you add more stuff to it. One of the things I am most proud of — and quite amazed by the quality by the way — is they do not stretch and dilute the existing story in the books.”


4. He Naturally Has “Angry Face”

Perhaps Sammel gets cast so often as a villain because his face just naturally looks “tough.” “That’s the old story with my kids — my two kids, grown-up daughters now,” he reminisced. “When I turn completely relaxed, and I just let it go completely, and I drink my beer… and then my kids would say, ‘Dad, are you angry with us? Have we done something wrong?'” Knowing that his natural expression suggests such an energy, he makes a concerted effort to smile more “so that people know, ‘Oh, if the guy smiles, he’s in a good mood.'”


5. The Gore Even Freaks Him Out

Though he plays an immortal vampire immune to aging, Sammel isn’t immune himself to the effects of gore on his system. “It freaks me out,” he said. “I get a high blood temperature when I see gore. I can’t say I enjoy it anymore. My heart is too weak now.” But he does enjoy watching the show from a “professional point of view,” to gauge his fellow cast-members and his work. “I want to see how we do. How was my work? How was the work of my comrades? What can we improve? How was the dramaturgy? How’s the storytelling? How’s the writing? How’s the lighting? Everything.” And everything he observes is used for later shoots.


6. Eichorst’s Vampire Makeup Doesn’t Include Prosthetics, Though It Looks Like it Does

Most of the time, Eichorst is disguised as a human, with just some powder added to Sammel’s complexion. But for scenes when the character is to show his true vampiric traits, applying his makeup can take up to three and a half hours. He does get to avoid wearing cumbersome prosthetics, though the nose might appear otherwise. “My face,” he said, “even though it’s my face, should look like prosthetics. It’s a waxy skin. Stuff like that. The skin, the nose, it’s done in a way that it seems like not real skin.” Normally, he wears a wig as Eichorst, but in flashback sequences, his real hair is used to represent what he might have looked like in a different time period.


7. Fans Can Expect The Tension To Keep Growing in Season Two

When discussing where season two is heading for Eichorst, Sammel told us that the tension will continue to grow “on all levels,” he said. “Tension between Palmer and Eichorst, tension between the execution of our plan and the resistance of the humans on a bigger scale, tension between humans and vampires on a fighting scale. It’s all edging, edging, edging. It’s coming close to an edge where it’s not far away from exploding.”


8. Sammel is Also a Dancer, Mime, and Acrobat

Sammel began dancing when he realized how important body movement could be if integrated into his character work, but he had no intention of becoming a dancer. “I always was very much into body work,” he told us. “I think it’s necessary for my idea of an actor. He’s supposed to know and do more than a normal person. So I’ve trained, very much, my body, and I was a mime and I was an acrobat.”

He once founded a theatre-dance company, and he trained daily with the dancers, leading to dancing job offers. He insisted he wasn’t a dancer, but those offering the jobs thought otherwise. So he became a dancer “more randomly than intentionally,” he said. “[Dancing] helps [you] to feel good in your body and know what to do when you don’t.” Music also has helped him in the past, as he was a musician prior to becoming an actor. “I’m just a curious guy so I go into what I’ve never done before. Next thing might be skydiving, I just don’t know [laughing].”

Sammel also informed us that fellow villainous actor, Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) is a dancer too. Hmm. Do we foresee a villain-themed dance-off in the near future?


New episodes of The Strain run on Sundays at 10 p.m., on FX.


You Might Also Like:

Tag Cloud

Country Amazon Studios TCA Awards summer TV preview Election mockumentary halloween tv Legendary 2020 ID worst Fargo Pop wonder woman Marvel Television razzies child's play Mary Tyler Moore Summer composers asian-american boxing SXSW movies streaming game of thrones young adult Disney+ Disney Plus obi wan comic canceled TV shows Year in Review 2015 DC streaming service mob YA Action cops breaking bad science fiction Winter TV 2021 Spike kids based on movie Fox Searchlight mutant travel elevated horror DirecTV screen actors guild Thanksgiving indiana jones renewed TV shows TruTV National Geographic concert video Apple TV Plus Lucasfilm black high school DGA monster movies summer preview MCU independent 93rd Oscars Best Actor comic book movies Interview Western Superheroes cancelled TV series sequels adventure target crime thriller football Rock Columbia Pictures Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Masterpiece TLC Disney Channel free movies critics Cosplay book adaptation docuseries zero dark thirty Reality Competition Tubi PBS hist prank The CW Rocky dragons king kong Film cancelled Exclusive Video video on demand remakes a nightmare on elm street Disney Emmys king arthur superhero Photos trailers Box Office BBC America discovery royal family Trailer cancelled TV shows Lifetime sag awards Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ghosts james bond Paramount die hard lord of the rings spain FX historical drama space foreign Universal Pictures award winner Sneak Peek golden globes Epix Amazon Prime Video suspense Amazon Prime doctor who Adult Swim GIFs Rom-Com adenture television Hallmark action-comedy IFC Films YouTube richard e. Grant Fantasy biography Comic Book Warner Bros. fresh Drama Anna Paquin facebook Showtime dexter leaderboard Disney Plus ITV 71st Emmy Awards parents cooking Grammys boxoffice tv talk Classic Film Holidays nbcuniversal series jurassic park Oscars australia 90s Logo History christmas movies HBO Go DC Comics MTV Martial Arts VICE Travel Channel Nat Geo sitcom Avengers Peacock reviews Sundance TV CW Seed south america natural history Countdown AMC Dark Horse Comics popular criterion Turner Classic Movies IMDb TV Creative Arts Emmys sports spanish rt archives Pacific Islander Netflix HBO Pirates Turner CNN new zealand heist movie feel good slasher Red Carpet Crackle ratings The Walking Dead documentaries gangster TCM comiccon Captain marvel BBC ViacomCBS Sci-Fi 79th Golden Globes Awards streaming movies Valentine's Day cults dc NBC Song of Ice and Fire WGN best Spectrum Originals toronto Marvel Fox News festival HFPA franchise slashers Freeform romance FX on Hulu screenings mission: impossible spider-verse Emmy Nominations Lifetime Christmas movies DC Universe witnail A&E Ovation CBS Binge Guide 4/20 comics 2018 Mindy Kaling Tarantino Endgame PaleyFest Best Director APB TV hispanic heritage month documentary Kids & Family Horror nature obituary A24 hidden camera batman indie anime TNT Television Academy Marathons game show Opinion justice league blockbusters chucky Superheroe TCA Winter 2020 BET Awards nfl live event rt labs Best Picture The Academy scorecard USA Pride Month Universal finale MSNBC aapi Hulu kaiju 2017 2019 Film Festival Baby Yoda talk show women crossover Music joker E3 medical drama Instagram Live Mudbound comedies dark basketball children's TV CMT Walt Disney Pictures crime drama 2016 cats debate Tokyo Olympics TCA 2017 Mary poppins Rocketman strong female leads The Arrangement canceled SXSW 2022 directors pirates of the caribbean Hollywood Foreign Press Association MGM cartoon NYCC TCA Character Guide Comics on TV Ellie Kemper Esquire Women's History Month Writers Guild of America 24 frames jamie lee curtis Quiz SundanceTV RT History YouTube Premium worst movies kong San Diego Comic-Con supernatural anthology YouTube Red Apple Tags: Comedy international 99% werewolf rom-coms Bravo japan 45 Calendar Reality Mystery Academy Awards TIFF ABC Family biopic Podcast Lionsgate social media Stephen King art house emmy awards true crime theme song X-Men dogs laika 21st Century Fox E! OWN Family Hallmark Christmas movies harry potter Certified Fresh casting Ghostbusters Shudder Toys miniseries Nickelodeon cinemax vampires dreamworks Animation transformers Cannes stop motion serial killer hollywood disaster Spring TV cancelled television Britbox Watching Series BAFTA RT21 Crunchyroll adaptation TV Land Pet Sematary revenge rotten movies we love trophy Acorn TV Musicals zombies versus archives Elton John psychological thriller See It Skip It Best Actress genre 73rd Emmy Awards Hear Us Out Schedule superman spider-man psycho IFC VOD LGBT Oscar CBS All Access Christmas zombie saw singing competition political drama police drama Sony Pictures ABC war politics binge comic book movie Comedy 1990s olympics streamig Trophy Talk Set visit Broadway Image Comics First Look vs. universal monsters black comedy VH1 new star wars movies Fall TV romantic comedy The Witch GLAAD new york dceu HBO Max Syfy Musical Vudu Star Trek Winners ESPN blockbuster Chernobyl news The Purge stoner TV One Biopics USA Network Paramount Plus Arrowverse Infographic PlayStation marvel comics 007 Sundance twilight satire Holiday Discovery Channel FOX halloween mcc Awards Tour posters spanish language El Rey what to watch sopranos thriller Premiere Dates unscripted Brie Larson french classics docudrama Black History Month rt labs critics edition Paramount Network summer TV Alien italian period drama OneApp critic resources legend reboot Trivia Amazon green book WarnerMedia BBC One ABC Signature godzilla dramedy stand-up comedy TBS Sundance Now Star Wars 20th Century Fox TV renewals Neflix Nominations Pop TV name the review Video Games Black Mirror aliens LGBTQ films know your critic golden globe awards Wes Anderson toy story Disney streaming service Pixar diversity venice Best and Worst Starz Tumblr Food Network Super Bowl Marvel Studios 94th Oscars NBA sequel President Prime Video crime AMC Plus Polls and Games Netflix Christmas movies The Walt Disney Company Shondaland Cartoon Network Teen 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Comedy Central spy thriller Funimation scary movies Apple TV+ fast and furious scary latino TV movies BET 72 Emmy Awards scene in color festivals robots book deadpool telelvision Comic-Con@Home 2021 technology live action hispanic American Society of Cinematographers quibi New York Comic Con all-time teaser blaxploitation rotten Heroines FXX animated comic books GoT Tomatazos Mary Poppins Returns First Reviews Television Critics Association Awards Extras japanese cars spinoff South by Southwest Film Festival SDCC marvel cinematic universe movie