“Because it’s really a show about people. Tech is just the backdrop…”
The high stakes tech revolution is building to a fever pitch just as AMC’s respected drama Halt and Catch Fire is winding down. Currently in its fourth and final season, the show isn’t letting up on showcasing how the tech revolution all began.
Now in the early 90’s, actor Brian Norris entered the show this season leading the team developing a search engine for the internet backed Donna Emerson (Kerry Bishé). Of course, the fun begins when we learn that her team is in direct competition with her ex-husband Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy), Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) and presumably Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis).
This isn’t the first noteworthy role for Brian. Previously, he recurred as the brash waiter ‘Hunter’ in playwright/filmmaker Neil LaBute’s original series for DirecTV, Full Circle. He’s also appeared in Masters of Sex, Longmire, iZombie, Castle, Mad Men, Awake, Community, Lie to Me, and A Thousand Words with Eddie Murphy.
With Halt and Catch Fire now in full swing, Brian Norris took time for an interview:
For anyone who hasn’t started watching the new season yet, tell us about ‘Elliot’.
BRIAN: Elliot is a recent CalTech grad who’s working on a big project for Donna and her VC Company. He’s an overachiever and dreams of becoming a Silicon Valley legend, so he’s the defacto leader of the group. With his wife Vera and best friend Cecil, they are leading the charge to create the first internet search engine. Hopefully it works out as well as it did for the Google guys.
Did you do anything specific to prepare for the role?
BRIAN: Well, I definitely spent awhile on YouTube and Wikipedia trying to understand all the tech-speak. Besides that a lot of the work was trying to create a rich history with Vera and Cecil. We’re new to Halt and Catch Fire, but these characters have known each other for years.
Was it difficult diving into the intensity of this tech-fueled world?
BRIAN: We’d take turns helping each other out with all the tech-heavy dialogue. Everyone is in the same boat and so supportive, so it ends up being really fun.
Can you even remember a time before we could search the internet?
BRIAN: Oh yeah. I remember my first computer, an Apple 2C. It didn’t even have a hard drive! And then the years of dial-up modems… it’s hard to believe that we used to have to get off the internet to use the phone.
Why do you think this show resonates so well with audiences?
BRIAN: Because it’s really a show about people. Tech is just the backdrop. And the writers and the cast are incredible at finding and mining the humanity in these characters in each and every moment. Whether you know a thing about computers or not, this show will resonate with you because it’s about the most human things – connection, loneliness, legacy, love.
Anything surprise you while working on this acclaimed series?
BRIAN: I was always surprised at how much work went into creating the early 90’s. I remember looking at the magazines in the reception area of our set, and the cover was Burt Reynolds and Lonnie Anderson. It was fantastic to see all the little details.
What’s been the best (or worst) piece of advice you’ve ever received about your career?
BRIAN: The best advice I got was to stay flexible and roll with what happens. The actor life is so fun and rewarding, but it’s not exactly consistent. Being flexible keeps me present, something that’s so hard to do with our current culture.
Finally, we can’t let you go without asking — are you tech savvy in real life or was that just really good acting?
BRIAN: Ha! I knew nothing about coding before this job. But I did a lot of research on the flights to Atlanta to make up for it.
Keep up with Brian Norris at: ThisIsBrianNorris.com