Accomplished actor Mark Hildreth is gearing up for big things in 2014. Viewers will most recently recognize Mark from his recurring roles on The Tudors and ABC’s V, as well as several guest appearances throughout the years. Mark is now about to debut in the lead role of Pastor Tom Hale in ABC’s new fantasy drama Resurrection. Produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, Resurrection is sure to be a hit among viewers. The good news doesn’t stop there as Mark will also be starring as Lorne Hanley in the world premiere of Bernie Weinraub’s “Above the Fold” in Los Angeles.
We recently had the pleasure to chat with Mark about his upcoming role in Resurrection, working alongside Omar Epps, Frances Fisher and Samaire Armstrong, and continuing to pursue his musical talents.
Read on for our interview with Mark Hildreth:
Pop City Life: Can you tell us a little about your character on Resurrection? What sort of struggles will he face?
Mark Hildreth: In Resurrection I play Tom Hale, the Pastor of the local church in Arcadia and the spiritual leader in the community. Tom, like everyone, is looking for meaning in his life. When Jacob, his long-dead childhood friend, returns to him it makes Tom question everything he believes. Tom is a man of faith, he believes in a higher power and that there is more to this world than one can see with the naked eye. But he is, like all people religious or non-religious, a human being with human shortcomings and a very human struggle. That is the level I connected with Tom on the most – what makes a man who devotes his entire life to the service of others and the study of the human spirit tick? Here’s a guy who loses his best friend at age 8, becomes a Pastor, and is preaching the miracles of God for a decade. Suddenly, when Jacob returns and Tom comes face to face with a real miracle, he has trouble believing it’s true. This sends Tom into a total crisis of faith and he must rediscover who he is.
What attracted you to the role? Are you like your character at all?
Mark: I was very sensitive about representing Tom’s religious faith in a way that was respectful and accurate. I spent many hours in the homes of Christian pastors in Atlanta, playing golf together, discussing and questioning the nature of belief and the deeply personal meaning of faith. Because there is so much fervor over religious beliefs in our world, I felt uniquely qualified to play Tom because I don’t personally subscribe to any particular religious faith. I find meaning and truth in many different perspectives, religious and non-religious. Because of this, I felt I could approach the role without a vested interest in making one religion right or another wrong.
Resurrection is really not about the dead or what happens in the afterlife – it’s really about what it means to be human, and to struggle with the ethical and moral questions that life throws at you. Jacob becomes the foil for each character’s deepest fears and greatest joys. And because of Tom’s vocation, he is able to emerge as a leader for his ruptured community. But through this, he still has to personally struggle with his own demons and find his own answers to the questions. I hope that one of the things people get from Resurrection is that, religious or not, nobody has all the answers. And that no matter our religious or spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof), in times of crisis we must all learn to come together as a human team and struggle through it together.
As a lead role in an ABC series, how did you react when you got the part?
Mark: I felt deeply honored and grateful to get to play such a meaningful role on such a quality production. Tom Hale was one of those roles you wait a lifetime for. We have some of the most amazing people working on TV creating Resurrection. People from Breaking Bad, House Of Cards, The Killing, Damages, The West Wing…the lists goes on. It’s very rare to get to play a character who is so much like you, but is at the same time going through an incredible journey of crisis. Not that I’m a Pastor, but I’ve been working with and helping people for many years in a number of different capacities. I care deeply for the struggle of the human spirit. And that’s what’s so great about my character Tom – he cares so much about doing the right thing for himself and his community, yet at the same time he’s human like everyone else. He has problems like everyone does. And when he gets thrown in the middle of this looming crisis as people long-since dead start to return to the living, he has to become the leader he has always wanted to be but was never sure he could pull off. I relate to that deeply.
What would you say sets Resurrection apart from similar series out there?
Mark: It’s the heart and soul of the show that makes Resurrection special. It’s the way we treat such sensitive topics like the loss of a loved one or the loss of a child with respect, honor and love. Resurrection is going to take the audience through such a range of emotions, and it will show people that we’re all in this together, struggling to answer the questions about life that we all must inevitably struggle with.
What can you tease about what viewers can expect from the first season?
Mark: There are so many unexpected plot twists and revelations over the course of the first season of Resurrection I couldn’t possibly list them all. And we have intentionally left the promos for Resurrection vague so that you’re asking questions when you watch it. Because that’s what Resurrection is all about – the most important questions in life that all of us have to deal with. But I will tell you that, along with some pretty happy reunions for my character Tom, there are also some moments when those happy reunions make things pretty difficult between Tom and some of the people who are still alive in his life!
Were there any particular challenges that you faced while filming?
Mark: The takes are so high in every scene, it was emotionally draining and I found myself exhausted at the end of it all. This is a very well written show, and that means that it pushes the actors to places they may not be used to going. Keeping that level of emotion up for months and months can be a real challenge.
Have there been any memorable moments on set for you? While filming such intense scenes, are you guys able to keep it fun and light-hearted?
Mark: There are some very intense scenes, especially toward the end of the season, that required all of us to really go for it on set. We have such an amazing cast of actors, and while we did keep it light when we had the chance, we also created a bond that held us together while we shot such grinding emotional scenes. Of course, there’s also lots of comedy and laughs in the show, but really Resurrection is a drama about what you would do if someone you loved and lost came back to you. We had a great time and became a family, but it really pushed us all to the limit.
I thought you were fantastic on ABC’s V as Joshua. Because you’re also an accomplished theater actor, do you prefer the more dramatic and mysterious roles? What do you enjoy most about stage acting and acting on screen?
Mark: I come from the theater. My first job when I was 5 years old was in the opera Madame Butterfly at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in my hometown of Vancouver Canada. So in acting terms, theater was my first love. My favorite thing in the world as an actor is that moment in a play when someone forgets a line, or enters from the wrong side of the stage, or a pigeon flies down from the rafters or something. It is the most loaded, the most alive moment in acting, when the unexpected happens. It’s the kind of moment that I live for as an actor. And when it happens in the theater, as they say, the play must go on! You just have to deal with it and it is the best training for an actor. So when I knew I had a little break while we wait for Resurrection to premiere March 9 on ABC, I decided to go back to my roots and get back to basics for a while. To keep myself fresh. Because we all believe Resurrection could go on for a long, long time. What was great about working on V was that in some ways I got to co-create the role as the show went on, because it really was a mystery where the show was going to go. That’s something you get to do on screen that isn’t always the case in theater. They are equal and opposite in many ways, and I love them both dearly.
How did you get into acting? Has anyone influenced or inspired you as an actor?
Mark: When I was 5 years old, I was in the car with my Dad and an ad came on the radio. It was an open casting call looking for 5 to 10 year old blond haired boys to play the son of Butterfly in the opera Madame Butterfly at the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver Canada. I said to my Dad “I want to do that!” Even though I think my parents were a little hesitant at first, they supported me 100% because I was sure of what I wanted. I went in and I got the part, and spent the next few months having an Italian soprano scream at me for three hours a night in front of 1100 people. Who wouldn’t fall in love with that!
The cast of Resurrection is a great one. Is there anyone at all you would love to work with someday?
Mark: The list is too long to print! But if I had to pick a few off the top of my head, they might be Dame Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Daniel Day Lewis, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Ian McKellan or Ralph Fiennes. The actor whose career I most aspire toward is Ralph Fiennes, I think he’s fantastic.
You’re also an incredibly talented musician. What inspired you to pursue music?
Mark: I taught myself Beethoven when I was 10 years old an have always had an ear for music. My grandparents on my mother’s side were both born deaf, and for some reason I was born with a natural musical ear. I love music so much. I play as much as possible here in LA, places like The Viper Room and The House Of Blues. I have a couple of albums that I’ve recorded, both available on Itunes and at www.markhildreth.com.
Do you have any plans to continue your music in the future?
Mark: Of course! I will play music for the rest of my life. I’m already working on a third album.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We wish you best of luck on your new projects!
Mark: Thank YOU!
We’d like to thank Mark for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We really appreciate it.
Stay up to date with Mark Hildreth by following him on Twitter @HildrethMark.
Don’t forget to tune in to Resurrection on ABC when it premieres March 9th at 9/8c.