Colin Salmon Discusses The Character Of Sands And Tonight's LIMITLESS
Colin Salmon, known for 3 Bond films and as Arrow's Walter Steele, plays the ruthless Sands on Limitless. In this interview he discusses tonight's episode, which reveals his past through comic book panels.
Interview Conducted by & Copyright Edward Gross
Limitless, based on the feature film of the same name focuses on Brian Finch (Jake McDorman), who discovers the brain-boosting power of the mysteriuous drug NZT and is coerced by the FBI into using his extraordinary cognitive abilities to ssolve complex cases for them. Working closely with Brian in the major case squad in New York City is Agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter), a formidable investigator with a dark past, and Agent Boyle (Hill Harper), a former military officer and Rebecca’s confidante. They report to Special Agent in Charge Nasreen “Naz” Pouran (Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio), a canny manipulator of the reins of power. Unbeknownst to the FBI, Brian also has a clandestine relationship with Senator Edward Morra (Bradley Cooper, in a recurring role, reprising his role from the film), a presidential hopeful and regular user of NZT who has plans of his own for his new protégé. Fueled now with a steady supply of NZT that enables him to use 100% of his brain capacity, Brian is more effective than all of the FBI agents combined, making him a criminal’s worst nightmare and the greatest asset the Bureau has ever possessed.
One additional element is Jared Sands (Colin Salmon), a former intelligence officer who now works as a fixer for Morra. In tonight's episode, "Sands, Agent of Morra," when Sands enlists Brian's help to eliminate an immediate threat he needs to keep secret from the politician, Brian learns Sans' dangerous and shocking past - which is cleverly revealed via a series of comic book panels that effectively encapsulates his history.
Fans will no doubt recognize Salmon from his role as Charles Robinson in the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films Tomorrow Never Days, The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day; and as Oliver Queen's stepfather Walter Steele in Arrow.
In the following one-on-one interview, the 53-year-old British actor discusses his role of Sands and the impact that tonight's episode has on the character and his relationship with Brian Finch.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: How much of a relief as an actor is an episode like this for you, considering how enigmatic you’ve been since the beginning of the show?
COLIN SALMON: I think one of the most heartening things about this for me is how this has all evolved. We've worked hard, I worked well with Jake the crew, and we started to see how it was going. What's so hard for actors is that all you can really do is show up and do the best you can do, but you don't really know what other people are thinking. But when that script came through the door, it was like an affirmation of what the optimum situation can be in the business where you show up and it gets recognized. So I’m very excited and humbled, really, but I had so much fun.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: What does the episode do for Sands as a character, what does it do for you and for the audience that's been watching him?
COLIN SALMON: In the beginning, when Sands first appears, he’s on the dark side. He’s a sociopath, is the way I see it. It’s sort of learned behavior and that’s the way I’ve been playing him. And then when you get to the back story and you see the tragedy of his initiation into Mi6, you discover in retrospect that he does things many of us would do if we’d walked through that door. So I think, I hope, what happens is that the audience is going to see a good man who can do bad things, and also a bad man who can do good things. That to me is the pathos of Greek tragedy; it’s not just simply good versus evil.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: But now that we’ve seen this more human side of Sands, is it tough to go back to being the ruthless son-of-a-bitch that we’ve known him to be?
COLIN SALMON: No, it’s not difficult at all, because I think ultimately with a man like that, the one thing you have to be is absolutely honest. That’s the mistake a lot of people make. I know some hard men from the past and they’re really great; they love their kids and they love their wives, but if you cross them, oh my goodness. That's the line, it’s as simple as that. And that’s interesting, because the hardest thing in life is to be honest and to have integrity, but that is the requirement. And the Brian character, he brought me through that evolutionary path but he had to be absolutely honest with me, and if he hadn’t we would have had massive problems.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: It was nice seeing Sands and Brian operating on a different level – the interplay being more than, "You’re going to do what I want or you’re not going to get your NZT shot."
COLIN SALMON: Absolutely. I think that’s been generally moving along anyway ever since the episode where he crosses the line with the girl and kills her. You see a warmth and understanding or empathy come towards Brian. Sands isn't stupid, but I think he may have underestimated Brian.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Although I feel the word warmth may be overstating it.
COLIN SALMON: Fair enough.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: One of the amazing things about the show is its evolution. The first couple of episodes were so procedural and kind of a turn off, but then it found its own identity and it's now one of my favorite shows.
COLIN SALMON: Excellent, excellent. Obviously this comes from a different place, but I saw Deadpool over the weekend. I was so happy; it was so irreverent. It's like a whole new vocabulary is coming into the game, and I'm so happy about that. We're bright, we can handle it. We can go backwards and forwards, past, present and future can all be at the same time, and that's one of the things I love about Limitless - we never underestimate the intelligence of the audience.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: And they constantly are pushing the format – like this episode, going to comic book panels for flashbacks. But most of these episodes have had unique storytelling tools that they’ve used really effectively.
COLIN SALMON: That’s nice to hear. Everybody’s working hard. And I’ve got a massive shout out for Jake, I mean Jake is just —he has such an incredible understanding of human nature, plus day in and day out he has a lightness of being. I always know my shit big time, so he’ll always come in and we have the opportunity to play. We’ve had so much fun. Jake really allows you to fly, and Pierce Brosnan did that on the Bond films, too. I think all the great actors do that; they allow the people around them to be great. It’s been fun working with him. He’s a good man.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: When you first started reading the scripts were you surprised at how quickly the show evolved?
COLIN SALMON: Surprised? I was aware of conversations between the writers and the crew, conversations that were being had, and it’s an incredible ensemble where everyone is watching the show and giving their thoughts on it. In the early episodes people talked about what they liked and didn’t like. In the beginning, it started down that procedural road and then very quickly shifted and now we’re free of everything. There’s no holding back. The universe has blown up.