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Krypton: Interview with Aaron Pierre who plays Dev-Em

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Tell us a little about Dev-Em – what’s his story?

Dev is a military man. All of his predecessors have been in the military. They’ve served the Kryptonian society – that’s been their whole purpose, that’s been their whole existence. He’s come from a long line of people of military prowess, people of dedication to where they were born and bred, and he’s followed in their footsteps effortlessly. He takes his work very seriously. As you see in the pilot, from the short look that you get, he takes his role very seriously. He tries his best to execute it as best he can. But there is also a massive part of Dev-Em that is not quite exposed, not quite seen by the audience initially. That’s a truly exciting part of the character.

Initially he comes across as a very closed book. There’s a bit more to it than that, isn’t there?

I always liken him to maybe meeting someone at work, but you then go out for a drink with them and realise there’s more to them than what you know in the office. It’s like that. You first see him in that formal context but as the series develops you get to be a fly on the wall and you get to see the intimacies of his character, the intimacies of the relations he has with the other members of the military guild as well as people outside of that. He really starts to unfold and reveal his vulnerable side. There’s a whole other side to this character. At first people put two and two together and think he’s quite villainous but there’s so much more to him, which is very exciting to play.

How much research did you do into Dev?

I did quite a lot of research, actually. I like to read a lot so I didn’t find it really work. I found it really enjoyable to delve into the different ways that he’s been portrayed. He’s been portrayed as a juvenile delinquent, he’s been portrayed as Daxamite, he’s been portrayed as a villain stuck in the Phantom Zone… all of these different perspectives on the character. What Krypton does so beautifully is give a nod to all of those incredible ideas and vision but in the same breath say, with that knowledge it allows us to go forward with our portrayal, how we imagine him. It’s really all encompassing and that’s what so exciting. We’ve had something to look at as well as something to create.

Why is it do you think that comic books are enjoying such a renaissance on the small and big screen?

I think although these things are set in a universe that is not our own, they come from mindsets we know. I think that allows it to be so inclusive, it allows people to connect with it. We are able to tell these stories that almost anybody can draw a parallel to in some shape or form. People can say, “That guy has a similar moral outlook to me,” or “It may not be as complex but I can see my problems in that”. Or maybe it’s a comment on society. It may not be our society we see on the screen but we can draw parallels. Just the way this genre of television and film allows us to draw parallels and connections, that’s what makes it such a powerful genre and allows so many people to be invested.

The sets on Krypton are amazing and the whole thing is beautifully realised. How much does that help you get into character?

So much, so much! I remember the first day when we all stepped on set. We couldn’t believe our eyes. The intricacy and the detail that the team had put into the design of these sets… what it allows you to do is to feel you’re really there because every way you look there are things that resemble the comics. It allows everything to feel truthful, valid and real. That allows us to not worry about our surroundings and instead focus on the truth of the story and just how best we can convey that.

A lot of your scenes are with Georgina Campbell. How did you find working with her?

Georgina is one of my best friends, so it’s just amazing to work alongside her. We became best friends when we started filming with each other. She’s super talented. She puts in so much hard work and it just comes off so effortlessly. It’s phenomenal to work alongside somebody that is just that talented. We had so much fun as well. Obviously there’s the very serious side of doing it – we want to do a good job, we want it to be truthful and resonate – and there’s also the part where you have to have fun and Georgina is the person to do that with.

Is it exciting to finally have the show come to the UK?

Oh my gosh, I can’t wait! It’s been so difficult not to talk about it with my friends and family. It’s nice to finally say to them, “Look, all those times when you asked me questions and I haven’t answered them, now you can finally see what we’ve been working on!” I’m very excited for it to come to the UK. I hope the UK will embrace it. It’s something I’m really passionate about.

In the meantime you’re rehearsing to play Cassio opposite Mark Rylance at the Globe. That’s a pretty major gear change!

Yeah it’s a completely different world. It’s an honour to work with Mark. He’s a master of what he does. Just to see and observe him working and working alongside him feels very surreal. I’ve learnt an immense amount. We’ve been rehearsing for five weeks and I’ve learnt more than I’ve learnt in my whole life. I wish I could work with him on every project!

Maybe you could get him a role on Krypton?

Oh my God, that would be amazing!

Lastly, have you ever met your ‘namesake’, the footballer Aaron Pierre? Does that ever cause confusion?

<laughs> You know what, I’ve never met him! But I’d like to. He’s had people confuse him with me or vice versa. A couple of people have mentioned that to me. We should definitely meet up for a coffee and have a laugh about it!

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