A Blog for Fans of the 4400

Monday, September 11, 2006

Kavan Smith talks to 4400fans.com!

Last weekend at DragonCon, I got a chance to meet and interview Kavan Smith, who plays Agent "No First Name Yet" Garrity on The 4400, among many other "Hey, It's THAT Guy!" kinds of roles.

He shared with me a little anecdote about a technical SNAFU on the set of Smallville - something about a car not starting when it was supposed to, trust me, you don't care - and then we talked about how amazing it is that The 4400 is so popular in other countries like France and Germany. I told him that nearly 70% of the visitors to 4400fans.com are from countries other than the US and Canada and that one week I'd gotten a lot of hits from Sri Lanka. He was all, "I didn't even know they had TVs in Sri Lanka!" Hee.

He graciously agreed to be interviewed, and it went a little something like this. There are no spoilers until the very end, where he drops one (IMHO) major one, so if you want to stay 100% spoiler-free, stop reading at "they tell you nothing."


ANDIE: If one were to look at your IMDB listing, which one totally did, one would notice that the bulk of your work has been in Canada.


ANDIE: Has that just been a happy coincidence, or has that been on purpose?

KS: Well, at the beginning of my career, I did spend time in Los Angeles and... I guess my small town roots kind of stuck with me. So while I liked LA, and I was excited by it, I just kept working back in Vancouver and in Canada, so there was no real need for me to make the leap to Los Angeles, which I am – I'm doing more concertedly now. I've been – I have my papers and everything like that – so I think most of the stuff is Canadian because it just kept coming. There was just no reason to leave.

ANDIE: I ask because I know a lot of Canadian actors who make a real effort to stay and work in Canada just to support the industry up there.

KS: No, I mean, I totally do, but it's been less of that for me, and more that just the work has been there and it's just worked out that way.

ANDIE: There some major changes in the show this season in terms of cast and plot... how did the returning cast adapt to that? Was there a period of mourning, or was it more like – the show must go on?

KS: Well, I think there was a lot of – well, maybe not confusion. There were definitely some big changes that weren't expected at the end of – technically the end of last season. So coming into this one, it's not that we were worried, but for the first few episodes, everybody was a little trepidatious, perhaps, and wondering where they were going to go with this. But as soon as we saw that nothing was really going to change, the characters were going to stay solid, the scripts were going to stay solid, the ideas were going to stay solid – and then we.... I guess by episode three or four we had heard where the season was going to go, what the intentions were, and so a lot of those things were going to come full circle and work it out. And also, this past season had just been so good, so we knew that was was what it was leading up to, and we were just like – "Ah, well, let's just go for it."

ANDIE: It was a very powerful season finale for season two.

KS: Yeah, it was awesome.

ANDIE: So, the writers so far have created some pretty ambiguous characters.

KS: [laughs] Uh, yeah!

ANDIE: Who do you think is the real Big Bad there? Jordan, Isabelle, Ryland, the future people – who do you think is gonna be the one to beat at the end of it all?

KS: Well, I'd like to see where they finally decide to go for the end before I say who the ultimate bad guys are, because we don't know who's really controlling who. But there's been some really interesting twists with Tom in there, just being sort of the Chosen, and all that kinda stuff. But we were working with Peter [Coyote] just before, I guess it was the last episode, the second to last episode, and - he's just such a great bad guy! I love him, just – even if he's not the bad guy and he's just the representative of the government faction that may or may not know what's going on –

ANDIE: With the really dehumanizing view of the returnees –

KS: Yeah, exactly! And he's just got that voice, that vibrato thing. He's so cool. He's my choice for The Bad Guy.

ANDIE: Yeah, mine, too, actually.

KS: I think Billy can play the bad guy, but he's got so much nice guy behind the camera, I'm just like – "Naaaah, I don't buy you as the bad guy! You're too nice!"

ANDIE: And Peter's got that amazing strength of his convictions behind his actions. He totally thinks he's doing the right thing, even if he's doing something monstrous.

KS: I was just gonna say - and those are the scariest people! The people who control everything because they think they're right and justified and nothing's gonna sway them. And he's totally got that commitment. Absolutely.

ANDIE: Now to flip the switch a little, out of all the groups and factions in the story – NTAC, the Nova Group, Jordan's cult, Ryland's corporation, who are you rooting for to win?

KS: I guess I'd have to say NTAC, because [coughs] I am part of NTAC. [laughs] But I'd also like to think that I'm part of a faction of NTAC that represents the innocence of the show. Because a lot of us, we don't really know what's going on, but we're out there on the front lines trying to make a difference anyway. So I think that to some degree you want to see the innocence win out. And in a day and age where the stories you see [on TV] are so often dark and –

ANDIE: Cynical?

KS: Yeah, cynical, which I love, but in this one, I'm thinking, "You know what? It'd be nice if the good guys pulled one out." And I am part of the NTAC, so – let's go with that one.

ANDIE: There is a lack of cynicism on the show, and I think that resonates with a lot of people.

KS: I think so, too. I agree. I agree.

ANDIE: So. [Your character, Agent] Garrity is very serious. Are we ever gonna see him, you know, smile... be happy...

KS: Well, what they've been doing is –

ANDIE: And he's nothing like your personality!

KS: I know! He's not at all! But they've made him this kind of complaining... whinery guy that just comes up with – I'm like the Doomsayer! I come up with some lines and I'm like, "Ohmygod what's gonna happen with this! And what's gonna happen if– "And I think their intention now is to give it some kind of comic relief. Not that I'm gonna [he makes a rimshot noise] with the one liner thing, but a bit more of – he's just the real guy, he's like, "Fuuuuck this! You go get him! I'm not going out there and getting my ass shot!" So... I think they want a bit more of that.

ANDIE: [cracks up] The everyman! Oh, my gosh, Garrity is the Everyman of this show!

KS: Yes! He's like one of those stabilizing characters that makes it – because the leads are always in deep drama or in this or that – when you have some periphery guys on the side that are just everyday people, it makes everything a little more buoyant, it makes everything feel a little bit more real. But [at the same time] it takes a few years to give those characters some depth. So I think over time if we can give Garrity some – slowly start building his character there, then I think the audience will start to anticipate those responses and think – "Oh, here he comes with more cynicism, 'cause, ehhh, that's just Garrity."

ANDIE: I noted that on my site, that a lot of times you were just running into the room and being all [throws up hands] "Well, that's it. We're doomed!"

KS: [laughs] Yeah, that's basically what he is, though. He's a doomsayer! But I think that over time, that could actually add some levity to it, you know what I mean?

ANDIE: Oh, yeah. He fleshes out their universe. There has to be someone there backing up Tom and Diana.

KS: Yeah, I mean, Tom is always so, so tense on the show, and I mean, he's always in the midst of all this drama –

ANDIE: And he cries so much... [laughs]

KS: Heh, yeah! And Diana's always trying to save the world, and do what's right, and Jarvis is always so business-like, so it's nice to have a couple of people in that same office that are a little more real. Or... balance out that serious nature with a little bit more of – either it's complaining, or superfluous or whatever.

ANDIE: So do you think your role's gonna expand next season from what it is right now?

KS: Well, one can only hope. I mean, I was in, what, eleven out of fifteen episodes this year? And everybody was very pleased and said nice things, so as it continues, it'll be interesting to see what happens.

ANDIE: Soooo my last question is: What's gonna happen in season four?!?! [Everyone laughs] I totally won't tell! You can tell me! This isn't really being recorded!

KS: [rubbing chin] Well, since I've written all the episodes myself...

ANDIE: [cracks up] Right!

KS: No, no, you know, one thing about [The 4400] is that each season – because they've been fighting for their survival, because it's such a quirky little show and is only now starting to develop that cult following, it's now starting to give it some legs. and I think at the end of every season it's been like – not that they weren't expecting to get picked up, it's just been, "Maybe we'll see you next year! Let's keep our fingers crossed!" So I'm sure that Scott and Ira have plans about where they ultimately want it to end, but with television, it's really hard to say.

ANDIE: So in other words, they tell you nothing.

KS: [laughs] Exactly! Exactly! I mean, but look at Stargate[: SG1] – they were on for ten years. If after the fourth season they knew exactly where they were going to end it, they're only gonna make it to the end of five or six. Although it's a rarity for a show to go for ten seasons. But I do know that there's gonna be a lot more to do with Billy [next season]. And I know that Ryland's not going anywhere. So it should be very interesting. And as long as you have 4,400 people out there, with 4,400 abilities, there are always going to be a lot of interesting stories.

ANDIE: Yeah, y'know, I was wondering, because the promicin kills off half the people who take it, if it was originally 8,800 and half of them just didn't make it?

KS: Very possible. Maybe there's another 2,200 running around out there!

ANDIE: Maybe!! Well, that's pretty much it for the interview - thank you so much for your time!

KS: You're very welcome, and thanks for coming by so early in the morning! And that someone thinks I run the show! Seriously, I just do what I'm told!


Special thanks to Edie22 for her technical help, Nici of KavanSmithFans for the picture of Kavan at the Stargate Atlantis panel at this year's DragonCon, and Kelex for help with the transcription.