Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Interview: ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ Star Tyler Mane Talks Bringing Blackstar to Life & Joining the Millarworld

Tyler Mane (X-Men, Rob Zombie’s Halloween) is an actor who has played some very formidable characters over the years, and with his latest project, Jupiter’s Legacy, he’s finally returning to the superhero genre. Mane plays Blackstar, the series’ villain who is very comparable to a Thanos type of character. As the main antagonist of the series, he’s currently in a Supermax prison awaiting his trial for committing an act of genocide.

Jupiter’s Legacy, while it may seem like an ordinary superhero show, it isn’t — it focuses heavily on family and the code that the heroes must abide by. Sheldon (played by Josh Duhamel) gathers a best friend, brother, an ex employee, and and a few strangers and convinces them to join him on a journey to an island he has reoccurring visions of. On the island, they are tested beyond their limits but somehow prevail and prove that they are indeed the “worthy” ones. They return home with their new powers and use them for decades to serve and protect their communities. Now, it’s time for their kids to take on the mantle, and it’s safe to say they struggle to live up to their parents ideal and some want nothing to do with it at all.

That’s not all Mane has under his belt, though, because he’s also buckling down on his production company, Mane Entertainment, that he owns with his wife, Renae Geerlings. The couple has two films under the banner at the moment and are gearing up to release new projects in the future.

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(This interview has been edited for clarity.)

Nerds and Beyond: What attracted you to the role? Were you familiar with the comics beforehand?

Tyler Mane: I got the audition for Blackstar and of course it being Jupiter’s Legacy I knew it was a comic book property. I had my wife research it and order the comic books for me. My wife, Renae Geerlings, was the editor-in-chief at Top Cow Comic Books. So I had an in there and she got me the comic books. Once I had the comic books, I started doing the research. Luckily the series branches out and can take the comics to a next level because, in the books, Blackstar does not stick around too long. So there was talk of Mark Millar doing it as a feature. Luckily they decided to turn it into a series so that Blackstar could stick around a little longer because had it been a feature, he might’ve had the same fate as he did with the comic books.

Nerds and Beyond: Yeah. I think he’s a lot more complex than people give him credit for. So I’m glad that we kind of got to see it more expanded than like you said, if it would have been a feature.

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Mane: Yeah. The way I look at it is super villains or any character, they’re a product of their environment, and it’s what drives them to be what they are. For me, I grew up in Canada, I was a tall skinny kid with glasses and braces that was slightly dyslexic and picked on, so I developed this mentality that I’m going to prove myself and that’s kind of the same sort of mentality that Blackstar has. He’s gonna prove that the code is, frankly, a bunch of BS because morality is not black and white. It gets subjective, but Utopian believes it’s objective and that you’ve got to live by that code. That’s the only way you can do it. And that’s not the case in the real world.

Nerds and Beyond: What was it like, for you, to bring such an iconic villainous character in the Millarworld to life?

Mane: Well, luckily, the process was KNB Effects and they would glue eight different pieces onto my face and the process took two and a half to three hours every day. So I had that time watching it, watching Blackstar evolve into Blackstar every day. And after two and a half hours, three hours of sitting in the makeup chair, you know, you’re ready to get out of there and do something. When I finally got the final airbrush touches and I’d open my eyes, I’d see Blackstar. That was enough right there to put me in the mood and every morning I’d go, “Blackstar’s back baby!” because it just puts you in that cocky mood that Blackstar has, that snide character. I love playing the villain.

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Nerds and Beyond: I have to ask, what did wearing that suit feel like? It’s one of my favorite suits in the show actually.

Mane: Oh yeah. I mean, it looks incredible. It was huge. And like I said, you have the two and a half hours to put just the head and shoulders on. The suit was a process of putting on the pants, putting on the top, and joining them together, and then putting on the feet and hands. And it was so big when they got done with it I couldn’t even fit into the back of a van. They had to haul me around on the back of a Gator to get to where I had to go, and I’d say the suit was probably about 60 pounds, but it’s rubber so it felt like you’re pulling on one of those bands at the gym the whole time. You’re trying to walk and move your arm or pick something up. It was incredibly fatiguing, but the character is phenomenal and every time I’d see myself in the mirror to see a shot or video at video village, I was like, “Okay, yeah, this is well worth it. This is looking really, really cool.”

Nerds and Beyond: The hilltop fight between the Union and clone Blackstar in episode 1 was incredible. How did you all work on coordinating such a gigantic sequence like it?

Mane: We trained with that fight team for three months, and it’s basically Blackstar against pretty much the whole Union. Luckily I had a great stunt double Nate Andrade who helped step up. I’d do things and then get tired in the suit and have to go get plugged in. We had a cooling unit built into the suit that would keep us cool like they have in NASCAR cars. So one of us would go out and do some training or do a fight scene and then come and get plugged in. Then the other one would kind of tag in and go, “okay, now go, you go have some fun.” But at the beginning when we were first working out the choreography, I was like, “You guys haven’t seen the suit have you?” and the stunt coordinators were like, “No, is it cool?” and I go, “It’s cool. But you’re not going to be moving as fast as you think in it.”

Nerds and Beyond: You were a football player turned professional wrestler with WCW for years; does your sports background aid you in action-heavy roles?

Mane: Oh, most definitely. You know, I’d always gone into wrestling feeling it was going to be a stepping stone for me to do the film business. It helps immensely. Especially when you’re working with another actor and they know that you come from that background of a professional wrestler, they know and feel a lot safer. Like you’re not gonna hurt them because it’s the whole name of the game, protect your opponent, take care of them so they can go on to the next day.

Nerds and Beyond: In the finale, Blackstar escapes his cell at Supermax and has a stand-off between Sheldon and Brandon. What was your experience like working with Josh [Duhamel] and Andrew [Horton] on that scene?

Mane: Oh, I mean it was just incredible, like the way we did it was choreographed and set out and having the beginning where Josh is up on the second level and he jumps down and comes at me and then I’ve got his kid, I test him on his code, and it was fantastic the way it all came together. Blackstar is the one making them choose between the code or family — what is it going to be?

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Nerds and Beyond: How did you tackle playing two different versions of Blackstar?

Mane: I approached it as being pretty much one in the same except that when I was Blackstar, I was the snarky, cocky, Blackstar that I wanted him to be. Intelligent, reading the graphic and romance novels, things like that. If the clone Blackstar can take out three of the Union, what’s going to happen when the real Blackstar gets in there?

Nerds and Beyond: If a second season is ordered, what would you most be looking forward to exploring next with Blackstar?

Mane: I would love to see a little bit of the backstory of how Blackstar became Blackstar and kind of diving into why he has this grudge against the Union. And you never know, we’ll have to see who he teams up with. It’s like Brainwave and Blackstar kind of are on the same wavelength, so to speak, with wanting to take down the Union.

Nerds and Beyond: That’s definitely a team up that I would love to see on screen.

Mane: Ben Daniels is so fantastic to work with. One of my favorite things was the scene in the cell where he lets me out. Working with Ben was fantastic. I really hope we get to do it again in the future.

Nerds and Beyond: Blackstar spends a lot of time reading his romance novel in Supermax, whose idea was that?

Mane: You know, I’m not sure. They did let me pick the books! [Laughs] So I had a choice of several different romance novels or whatever you want to call them. And I picked them for the titles. So it was kind of my little fun thing to do and then you add the glasses on top of that. I knew I was going to have fun with those glasses when we tried them on. The hard thing was taking them on and off with those big rubber hands! The first few times I did it, I kind of poked myself in the face, but once I got the hang of it it was okay.

Nerds and Beyond: Lastly, can you speak a little bit about what’s next for you?

Mane: I have my own production company, Mane Entertainment. So far we’ve released Compound Fracture and Penance Lane and they’re both on streaming networks. With Renae being my wife and being in the graphic business, I’ve always wanted to do a graphic novel. So what we’re doing is I’ve optioned a book called The Last Spartan and we are going to be turning that into a graphic novel. I’ve just hired Christopher Priest to write it who wrote Black Panther and many other comic books. After doing several Zoom meetings with him, we figured it was the right thing to do. So that’s kind of like a Sons of Anarchy meets The Punisher meets a human trafficking ring.

To keep up with Mane, you can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook! All eight episodes of Jupiter’s Legacy are streaming on Netflix. To learn more about Mane Entertainment, head to the website.

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Haley
Haley joined the Nerds and Beyond team in 2019 and is a writer, editor, and Instagram manager. Her main fandoms are Criminal Minds, Wrestling, The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, and her favorite Chris in the debate is Chris Pine. You can find her on Twitter @haleyannemiller.

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