Will 'Alcatraz' Jack Up Its Team?
Fox spent a lot of its pre-premiere budget playing up the mystery of Alcatraz and J.J. Abrams' reunion with Lost's Jorge Garcia. But after watching the two-hour premiere, I found myself wanting to know more about the character of Jack Sylvane and the actor who plays him.
So I rang up Jeffrey Pierce, the man who brings Jack to life, to talk all about Alcatraz's unexpected breakout (no pun intended) character.
But how much will Jack factor into upcoming episodes? Well, Jeffrey was (as expected) tight-lipped about the mystery going forward, but if you read between the lines (something Abrams' actors have taught us how to do well over the years), I think you'll agree that it sounds like Jack isn't going away any time soon!
Insider.com: I've talked about this with a few people and we all seem to agree that Jack Sylvane is the best character on Alcatraz. Did you feel like this character was a potential breakout coming in?
Jeffrey Pierce: I knew as soon as I read the script that this was an incredible role. The creators gave me a backstory on Jack and it sounded more like a feature film that would have been made with Montgomery Clift or Marlon Brando. You just don't see anyone like him on television. It's the most fun I've ever had doing anything.
Insider: What I thought was interesting was the lengths Jack's episode went to in order to establish that this was a good guy who was forced to do bad things. Unlike, say, the shooter who returned after him who was pure evil.
Jeffrey: I agree. And tonight we'll start to see a pattern with the guys returning, which proves that Jack is an anomaly. The things he did were not necessarily driven by his own motor. Exactly how and why, we'll find out – hopefully – over the next five years [laughs]. He's different than the other prisoners. When he meets that prisoner in the hospital, we start to hear about the cells under the hole and what may or may not have happened there. The question becomes: Does Jack end up in there with those guys or is his journey very much separate from theirs? I still don’t know that answer.
Insider: When Ernest Cobb was brought to the new "Alcatraz," they shared a moment of recognition, right?
Jeffrey: I think there is a history – for me, Jack's journey is that if this were happening to you, how would you know if it was a nightmare or reality? If you woke up 40 years later, would you buy it or would you go along with the dream? That's one of the things Jack is wrestling with and when he sees Cobb come through, there's a connection there -- he knows, this is actually occurring.
Insider: The first two hours had to set up a lot of information -- how much exposition is there in subsequent episodes?
Jeffrey: The percentage of exposition drops exponentially as these guys continue to try and stop these men, prisoners, guards who are popping up in modern day. It becomes very story-orientated and as things reveal themselves, they'll start to crop-up more as story points. What's great is they make every prisoner's story interesting in its own right, while developing the larger mythology at the same time. I think the pleasure of the journey will be when this mosaic that you didn't expect from the get-go develops.
Insider: OK, level with me: I've heard rumblings that Jack eventually joins Hauser's team - true or false?
Jeffrey: There's limitations on what I can say and what I actually know [laughs]. I will tell you with certainty, he's not dead and I'm still going back and forth from here to Canada to film new scenes but beyond that, I can't get into too much detail. We know there's a 3 year window that takes place between Jack's wife divorcing him and his re-appearance. It's not a massive prison. These guys know each other; they're aware of the hierarchy within the prison system and how things operate so you don't get stabbed in the back or beaten by a guard. And as much as Jack feels he is not on the same level as these inmates, for his own survival, he's aware of who they are and what they've done. There are areas where that can be helpful in the future episode.
Alcatraz airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.