Interview With Madison Smith, “Aftermath”

By Ruth on October 31, 2016 in Interview, movie, science fiction, television
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Who can forget Roy and Edith from season three of When Calls the Heart? Devoted Hearties never will, and I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Madison Smith during the time Roy was on the show, and I was emphatically impressed with him during that time (though I first noticed him on Garage Sale Mystery). Thankfully, Madison’s career has continued to swell, and he granted me a second interview in the wake of his appearance on the SyFy Network hit show, Aftermath. He first appeared on episode five, and as he will also appear on episode six (which airs on November 1st), it is the perfect time to share with you a masterful interview from a young person in the business who “gets it.” I will let my readers judge for themselves, but I challenge you to read all the way to the end and ruminate on the words that come from someone who is more mature and insightful than his tender years.

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RH: You have some incredible stuff coming up, but before we get to that, I want to ask you about Miranda’s Rights. I know you were doing the pilot for that earlier this year. I tried to find out what happened to it, but I couldn’t. Any word?

MS: So far, from what I’ve heard from my agent, Miranda’s Rights is not officially gone, but right now, it’s still shelved. This is one of the ones where it’s such a usable show, but NBC is doing a lot of these Chicago shows, and that’s taking up a lot of their prime time slots. As of now, they have a pretty full block, and they have a pretty watchable network. At this point, Miranda’s Rights is still owned by NBC, as far as I know, and they have it on the shelf and are able to use it as a mid-season replacement if they ever choose to. From what I’m hearing, I’m not sure if it’s gonna go any further.

Well, I am hoping that it gets picked up.

I hope so. It’s a great show. I love these legal dramas because I wanted to be a lawyer when I was a kid, but it turned out I just wanted to be a lawyer on TV. I like to watch every law show I can find.

Madison Smith (Roy)

Madison Smith (Roy)

What about When Calls the Heart? Do you know if Roy is going to come back?

So far, I haven’t heard anything. Obviously, they started filming season four, and I’m not sure where the season is taking the show. Me and Ali {Milner} just went out a couple weeks ago for a night on the town. She had a friend who was performing in Vancouver, so we went out and watched this person’s performance. We both took a photo and posted just so we could show the When Calls the Heart family. “Hey, Roy and Edith hang out, not just in When Calls the Heart.” The craziest thing is how much we both loved the Hearties and even how much traction that one photo that we posted got. Everyone liked the fact that we were out having a good time. It showed that the Hearties like Roy and Edith, and we wanted to show how much we liked the Hearties. Right now, we don’t know what’s going on with Roy and Edith. Either way, it’s a great show, and it will continue with or without us.

Are you thinking about going to the Hearties Convention in December?

I haven’t heard anything about that. Is it happening in Vancouver?

Yes, and I’m only saying this because lots of times, former cast members–even ones that are no longer with the show–have gone to the convention. You might look into it. 

It sounds like a good thing to look into especially because we love seeing everybody.

Last time, Jesse Hutch, another Hallmark actor who has not been on the show, went to the convention. 

I would love to do something like that. I have only done one other convention, and it was after I did Supernatural, and most people hadn’t really seen me in that. A lot of people only saw me for thirty seconds on screen before I met my inevitable demise. So now I could have the Hearties who actually know who I am. It would be a blast.

I don’t know how it works with getting the cast members to come. I know last year was the first year they had it. In fact, Marcus Rosner went last year.

Marcus Rosner went? Okay, I will definitely look into it. It sounds like a blast. I’ll tell Ali about it too. Maybe we could go together.

I know the fans would love to see you. Well, I’m glad I brought it up.

I’m glad you brought it up too.

img_0137.jpgI do know you have exciting things coming up. You are a part of Aftermath

Yeah, I am. It was a blast to work with Anne Heche and her husband, James Tupper–that was such a phenomenal experience. It was getting to be on set with people you grew up watching. Loving seeing them on TV and then meeting them in real life–it was really exciting. Kind of like a surreal experience.

Every time I turn around, it seems, I find someone else who has been a part of that show. 

Oh, yeah, it’s awesome. I got to work with Wayne Brady, who was one of my heroes growing up. I watched Whose Line Is It Anyway? every week. And then I got to meet him in real life. At one point, we were talking, and he asked if I had an XBOX, and I said, “I don’t, but I’m gonna buy one so we could play XBOX together.” I didn’t end up buying one, but I feel like I should have.

aftermath-2.jpg.jpgHow many episodes are you on?

I’m on three episodes–the fifth, sixth, and seventh episode.

So, will we recognize you?

You will recognize me. You won’t know that it’s me right at first. I come into the scene with another character, and our faces are hidden. As soon as my face is no longer hidden, you’ll know who I am.

I ask because sometimes with sci-fi shows, you might not recognize the person. 

It’s a phenomenal show. Filming it was a blast. Quite an interesting experience ’cause they were filming two episodes over the course of thirteen days which When Calls the Heart does as well. When Calls the Heart has a lot of person-to-person conversation, and they are not always easy to act in because of all the emotion that goes on.  But they are not as difficult to film because you film one person’s coverage, the other person’s coverage, and then you get to move on. It’s relatively seamless when it comes to filming it.

aftermath-photo.jpg.jpgWhereas Aftermath was shot in the same amount of time, but there’s a bunch of sci-fi things going on. There’s special effects in every scene. Some scenes we had eleven people in a big action scene. So there were people being filmed doing anything and everything, and it was sometimes hours to shoot these little scenes ’cause of how many people and how much stuff was going on. It was a great experience, and it was almost like acting on the fly. You had to be ready ’cause it’s a time crunch, and you gotta get goin’ the moment they call for you.

aftermath-1.jpg.jpgKeeping my Hallmark readers in mind, there are probably those in the community who don’t typically watch sci-fi. I know I didn’t used to. What might you say to someone like this to try to convince them to watch Aftermath?

Well, the nice thing about Aftermath is they concentrate on the family.  They’ve done a good job of it already in their advertising for the show. I also talked with the creator and writer, Bill {William Laurin}. He was one of the coolest guys, and he was nice to talk to since he was the person writing your words.  It was cool to explain your thoughts about your character to him and for him to say, “That’s what I was thinking when I wrote it.” The show is a family more than anything. It’s not about the Apocalypse. Don’t get me wrong. The Apocalypse is happening. It’s the first days of the Apocalypse, and it’s a different Apocalypse than we’ve ever seen on TV. But it’s really about a family and their closeness. Their drive and ability to stay together, stay alive and basically show how close they are.

aftermath-4.jpg.jpgAnd then when it comes to my stuff, my character comes in and he has a romantic connection with one of the family members. It was fantastic to go through ’cause he has a military background. He tries to be very proper, but at the same time it shows where your priorities are. My character feels the connection with somebody, and in the times of desperation that they have, it’s more than a connection. It’s the person you’re connected to in all of this chaos going around. I enjoyed working with this person who is my love interest so much ’cause we got to really explore how quickly love can enter your life and how important a person can become to you in such a short amount of time.

aftermath-3.jpg.jpgAnd I think that’s what I like about these newer sci-fi shows. Sometimes the older sci-fi shows didn’t have great stories like that. They were great for what they were, but I love that sci-fi shows are going more towards having those kinds of stories so it’s not just a bunch of action stuff. I like the family aspect to it. 

The big thing about the show is it’s about this family. It’s not about what’s going on in the Apocalypse. It’s a family going through the Apocalypse, which I think is much more interesting than just having things going on. It’s better to have things going on around a group of people that love each other and are trying to survive together. And it was so fun to be a part of ’cause the core cast–Levi Meaden, Taylor Hickson, Julie Sarah Stone, Anne Heche, and James Tupper–the five of them are fantastic together. They have like this shorthand already where it feels like they’re a family, and joining it was wonderful ’cause they were very open to my character. I’m pretty close with the family for the three episodes that I’m there. And it was such a cool feeling ’cause it was like a real family bringing me into their family.

Well, that’s great. I was already looking forward to it, and now I’m even looking forward to it more. 

I’m glad to hear that.

I know you also recently filmed He Loves Me Not

That one was a lot of fun.

wp-1477887795969.pngI was looking through the cast list, and it is like almost everybody has done at least one Hallmark thing. Not that you all have worked together on the same Hallmark project. It was something to go down the list.

It’s so funny ’cause Steve Bacic played the dad on Garage Sale Mystery, which was my first Hallmark gig. And now in this, without giving too much away, he plays my new love interest’s dad. So we made a joke that in every show, I’m just going to be going after his daughter. It was a lot of fun to work with him. I realized quite quickly that he and I are very similar in how we act and how we are on set. We sometimes have serious things to go through, but when it comes to being loose, it makes a lot easier to have fun on set. We were able to continue to be in the moment and laughing and keeping the blood flow ’cause as soon as you have to act, it’s go-time. There’s no warm-up needed because you’re already ready. And Steve showed me that what I do is done by others and is done with success. Without him even knowing it, he became a bit of a mentor to me as an actor ’cause of how much I relate to his process as an actor.

That is just great to hear. While I think Steve is awesome, I don’t often hear a lot about him as an actor and a person. You’re the first one to really tell me more about him. 

It was a lot of fun. There was one scene… Sometimes when you watch a show, there’s a scene that comes in as if there was a conversation already going on. Sometimes you have to be laughing and talking about something before the first line comes. We would play a game where we would have him tell us a story where we would give him a place like Uruguay and he would improv this random story about a dentist in Uruguay, and it would always get us laughing and all of a sudden, the scene would start, and we were already having a great time. It was such a fun experience just working with him.

wp-1477887956361.pngAnd then I got to work with Chandra {West}, who plays my mother in the show. She is just the nicest person. I couldn’t believe how easy it was working with a person while portraying a mother and son relationship. Thinking about it now, this is my first experience having someone play my mom in a TV show or film. You would never think that might be difficult, but at the same time, you need to have a different connection with your mother than you do with any other person. We needed to have a way of doing that. And she’s not only a mother, but a single mother who raises a single son. They have almost a shorthand relationship between a mother and a son who sort of grew up together on their own. They are best friends, and we wanted to make sure that we showed that. And I think me and Chandra found a way to make that happen.

An interesting thing happened with the script. Sometimes it says that I was talking about a girl with Chandra, and it says he was nervous talking about it.  And I said to the director {Scott Belyea} that it says he’s nervous, but I feel like my character and his mom talk about girls all the time. She’s the person I talk about girls with ’cause we talk about everything. And I don’t think I’m nervous about it. I’m embarrassed that I like this girl so much. But more than anything, this is me talking to my mom, who I talk with about everything. I don’t keep secrets from my mom. It’s not really a nervous talk. It’s more of a playful, fun banter between mother and son. The director was like, “That’s exactly the way I look at it,” and I think it’s really going to come off as a lot of fun.

That’s neat to hear your thought processes. You’re looking at the script and adding in another component to this character. What you said makes perfect sense.

wp-1477888096717.pngAnd I like doing that. You never want to step on toes when you have a thought where you think your character is coming from. It can be a team effort. You’re trying to do that, but there are times nobody else knows, and then I get directed a different way. But if I go to the director and say, “Hey, I’m wondering something. I feel like this is what the character should do.” And if the director says, “Oh yeah, you know what? That makes a lot of sense.” Now you’re both edging towards that, and you can get directed towards that even if you’re not certain it will come off exactly that way. The director can be on your team. And I really love that. And working with Scott as the director of He Loves Me Not was awesome because I went to him with every one of those thoughts, and he was open to every single one of them. He even called me the day before we started shooting to talk about the character, which was super exciting.

And it was also a lot of fun to work on because my character…. I like to refer to him as a puppy dog ’cause he had a great life. He went through some tragedy a couple of years previously. But all in all, he’s an athlete in school who’s popular. I would say good-looking, but that’s just me calling myself good-looking which is super narcissistic. I don’t want to do that. He’s a guy who just goes through life with a smile on his face. And he meets a pretty girl, and his mom meets a really nice guy, and everything is just fun for him. And so it was a lot of fun to play that character because it was just showing up and being myself, and I enjoyed every second of it.

wp-1477887427022.pngThat is just great. And honestly, you’ve matured quite a bit since the last time I talked to you. Not that you were immature before. But I can hear in the way that you’re talking about things–your approach to acting, characterization, all that–you have really grown a lot as an actor. 

Thank you. It was a very big year. I worked on a lot of projects last year, which was a phenomenal thing to get to go through. And this year I’ve only worked on three, four including When Calls the Heart, but I got to work closer with directors. I got to be a character on set a lot more days and really got to develop a person rather than just a scene. Which is such a crazy thing ’cause over the course of three episodes on Aftermath, so much happens. Then you have to think, “Okay, how would I be now as opposed to when you met me? How does this change me?” And then you work closer with a director too. I would just go up to the director and ask about my character if I needed to. You can say what you think the character really is rather than just what we see on the surface. Where is this person at his core? What’s going on with him even though he’s happy right now? What does he want?  It was a great year for that ’cause I really got to explore some characters that were so diverse and fun to work on.

wp-1477887859328.pngEven Miranda’s Rights. That was a very small role that has the potential to turn into a bigger role in the future. But on my first day when I went in for a wardrobe fitting, I went to the writer and director. My character was Paul the intern and at that point there were no other interns in the script. So I was thinking I was the only intern. They said that it turns out there are a few interns around the office, and even in some of the scenes while there were things going on, I would turn into more background more than I was a featured character ’cause the office needed to look busy. But I went out on my first day and I said,” I’m wondering if there is something I can put into my character. I like the idea that these are young, very personable lawyers that banded together to make their own law firm. Why did they hire Paul the intern? Maybe a thing that we can do is like Paul’s interview, maybe messed up and all of the sudden since he has screwed up in his interview, he sheds all of his layers. and you get to see the real him. And the lawyers really liked that.”

The writer and director thought it was a great thing to explore, and what they did is add a few more interns, but instead of making Paul the only intern, they made him the king of the interns. So I was in charge of all the interns. I was like their boss. But they agreed that what I said can still apply. I can be the person who is almost so himself that they hired him because of that. And that’s what brought him ahead in life. And it was a fun little moment to talk to the director and the writer and to add a piece of the story that wasn’t there yet.  Lots of times, there’s so many characters added in the show that you don’t know how Paul got his job. And it’s a nice thing to maybe bring up, and I’m glad I did because it added a little something extra to my character. If the show ever gets seen, I’ll be noticed even though I have a very small role in the pilot. But in the future, if the show was to get picked up, and if Paul was to be a big part of it, you might start to notice these things.

wp-1477888199965.pngAny other upcoming works that you can mention that we haven’t as of yet?

As of right now, those are the three that I’ve worked on over the course of this year. I don’t have anything coming up now. I’ve had a few auditions for some very fun projects that I’d love to be a part of. And that’s the best thing about being an actor for me is…I talk to some people and they tell me they auditioned for a show, went really far and didn’t book it, and now they won’t watch that show because they’re mad at it. I love auditioning, especially for shows that I can’t wait to watch. And when I don’t book it, I’m a person who still goes, “Oh, I can’t wait to see this show. I can’t wait to see who booked this role and what they did different than me.” What was the reason that they booked it?

And all of a sudden, you can look and see that maybe it was just as simple as this person was blonde. If that’s the case, you probably had no chance. Interestingly enough, I auditioned for Levi Meadan’s role on Aftermath. Levi does a phenomenal job. He’s a fantastic actor. I’m very happy, and watching him on set, it’s so clear why they picked him. I would never be mad at Aftermath for booking him over me for any reason. But at the same time, I’m gonna throw this out there. Levi and Anne Heche look very much the same. I think there’s so much more that goes into it than your looks. You have to definitely be the right character, and Levi definitely is. But at the same time, I don’t know if I have the looks to play Anne Heche’s son. So it worked out super well. I’m glad I got to play the character that I did. I’m glad I got to be on a show that I’m excited to watch, and I was going to watch it even before I got cast.

wp-1477887668917.pngBut at the end of the day, it’s awesome to audition for great shows. I mean, I auditioned for When Calls the Heart three times, and I loved every one of those auditions. And I knew eventually I was going to sneak in. I auditioned for Aren Buckholz’s role as Jesse, and he absolutely killed it as Jesse. I would not say I could do any better. I would be different, but Aren is phenomenal as Jesse. And I auditioned early in the second season for Daniel’s younger brother, Tom. Same thing, I would have been very different. It would have been a different relationship between the two brothers, but that’s the only thing I could ever say. I would never think I’d be better than somebody else. I don’t like it when other actors tell me they won’t watch a show ’cause they would have done better than the person who got cast. Or talking to young and inexperienced actors who again say they are better actors than some other person. It doesn’t matter if you’re a better actor. It matters if you’re a different actor. And I love that about the industry because there’s always gonna be a role for me somewhere. Somewhere there’s a role that wants Madison Smith more than it wants anybody else. And it doesn’t mean I’m gonna be better than anybody else. It just means I’m gonna do exactly what I’m gonna do with that role.

That is such a great way of looking at things. I don’t always hear that same mindset from other actors. But I think it’s great because if you don’t hold it against that show, that show may be calling you some time down the road to audition for something different. If you’re holding it against them, then you might miss out on booking that role later on down the road. 

Exactly. You might not know something about the show that if you watched it, you would know the tone of it. I watched Supernatural my entire life, and when I booked it, I knew what the show was about. I watched Psych my entire life, and when I got to audition for it, I knew exactly the tone of the show. And that’s my favorite thing about loving TV is that I watch all these shows that I could possibly audition for, and I love every single one of them. And now I know exactly how I want to go in for these characters that I get to possibly read for.

Are you looking at writing your own stuff?

There is a show I’ve been trying to develop. I have the idea, but I’d like to get someone to spearhead it. I would like to give the idea to a writer. I’d like it to be the case of, “Here’s my idea for the show, for the characters. Take this and meld it into a show that you think would be great.” And that would be absolutely the optimum for me. And obviously, the hope is that I get to play the lead in the show. {laughs} Otherwise I don’t know if I love writing enough to write something that’s not for me. I remember thinking that if I was ever going to try to write a novel as a kid that I would want me to be included as one of the characters.

wp-1477887470236.pngWell, I think that’s actually pretty common. Usually actors who end up doing some writing are not usually writing for somebody else. They’re writing with themselves in mind. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s giving you the chance to play some role that you’ve always wanted to play. Are you ever thinking about directing? 

That’s one of those things that I like the idea of paying attention on set, and you see some people who are on some long-time shows.. Tom Welling from Smallville eventually directed a bunch of episodes. Jensen Ackles on Supernatural directed a bunch of episodes. I know Stephen Amell on Arrow is talking about possibly directing epsidoes of Arrow  in the future. It’s one of those things that I’d like to be a sponge on set and learn as much as I can from the directors I get to work with. And if the opportunity ever came up on a show that I’m a big part of, then absolutely. But at this point, I’m really happy with just being an actor. It is a big feat all on its own. To add another little extra hat would be a little overwhelming.

I think again that’s very common. I hear many actors say like you that in the future, maybe, but right now, you’re gonna focus on acting. I think that actually makes a really good director. I hear a lot of people talk about certain directors and call them an actor’s director. If you’ve been an actor and then you eventually get to do some directing, from what I’ve heard, a lot of actors prefer those kinds of directors. 

Exactly. And especially when you know the tone of the show so well. I’ve heard even with Jason Ackles and Jared Paleski that even when other directors are brought in, they know their characters so much better than any one person. And when you do thirteen seasons of a show, it’s like playing yourself eventually. So directing an episode would be almost second nature because you’re pretty much a producer of yourself at all moments. It would be a lot easier to direct a show where you know the ins and outs of it so well. I have huge respect for the people who can come on a show that they’ve not been a part of. I worked with two directors on Aftermath that did a phenomenal job–James Marshall and Kaare Andrews. They came into a show where they got to read the scripts from before. They got to see the clips and dailies from the episodes previously, but they’re coming into a show not knowing how the fans even like it yet. The commercials aren’t out for it, and yet they come and put their stamp on it. It’s such a different animal doing that as opposed to directing a show you know so well.

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See what I mean? Madison is an extraordinary talent with pragmatic insight that he has gleaned from his relatively brief time in the business. While some young people may have more experience, Madison is one who has utilized every experience to its full potential. He pays careful attention to directors, writers, and other actors, and he values what they say, think, and do. However, Madison goes to the next step and actually applies what he has learned. Moreover, he doesn’t just pay “lip service” like some actors might be inclined to do. All that he does comes from deep within his innermost being. And Madison’s approach to auditioning is absolutely staggering. I have dialogued with so many actors who spend a significant amount of time down in the dumps because they didn’t get this part or that part. Some even lash out a show or a studio or possibly even a professional within the industry, and that bitterness derails them and keeps them from the potentially amazing opportunities that are just waiting to embrace actors who come into each audition with open hearts. And that is what Madison does. As to his humility, you might notice that he was quite hesitant to call himself good-looking, but I would say the camera doesn’t lie. There is abundant photographic proof that not only is he quite handsome, but he has a definite on-screen charisma that draws the viewer in and captivates them. Madison is kind, considerate, respectful, generous, gifted, and wise beyond his years. I was impressed last time I spoke with him, but he absolutely dazzled me this time. Be sure that you tune into Aftermath on the SyFy Network on Tuesday, October 1, so that you can see Madison in his second episode of the three episodes in which he appears (If you need to catch up, check out their website or watch on demand). Furthermore, if you’re going to follow a young actor on social media, consider Madison. He is extremely fan-friendly, and the content he shares is always informative and often times rather entertaining. And after all, don’t you want to keep up with the exploits of this talented guy?

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher

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