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Dallas Roberts plays Miles Fiedler, a member of Will's analysis team with a genius-level IQ. In an exclusive amctv.com interview, Dallas discusses what qualities he shares with his character, his love of gaming and computers, how he gets his hair to have that perfectly messed-up look, and more.
Q: James Badge Dale said you would make a good, real-life intelligence analyst. Do you agree?
A: That's intensely flattering. I would like to believe that I would be good at a job like that. I think the work load would completely drive me bonkers, just all the sort of speed reading required. But yeah, as long as it was like the TV show where I was pretending to speed read. [Laughs]
Q: Do you see any similarities between a career as an actor and one as an intelligence analyst?
A: I do take the printed page and attempt to draw some life out of it, and that seems to be similar to what they're doing in the office.
Q: In episode three, there is talk at API about the meaning behind people's names. Are you named after the city Dallas?
A: I'm definitely named after the city. I'm from Houston. I think I was thirty-seven before I ever set foot in Dallas and that was just in the airport. So I've never really been there. Dad grew up in Port Arthur, Texas and all I can ever get out of him is, "I wanted my first son to be named Dallas." There's no family history around Dallas. Something about Texas dad wanted a son to be named Dallas. So I got it, happily. Often when I show up for work the AD's will sing the theme from that television show in the '80s.
Q: What qualities do you share with Miles?
A: His heart is open, sort of vulnerable, gullible and available in a way that I hope that I allow myself to be in life. I think he operates with the heart of an eight year old boy and everything great about that and everything horrible about that. I'm not sure he's in touch with what other people are feeling or thinking so I would hope that is not something we have in common. Certainly, his attention to detail and his love for what he does, I would probably share.
Q: Do you think of yourself as being brainy?
A: When I sit down to watch Jeopardy, I'm going to get most of the answers, but if you asked me five things to describe myself as, I wouldn't lead off with that, and certainly I'm not on the same level that Miles is. I think Miles got out of college at nineteen.
Q: You've been described as video game junkie.
A: That's absolutely true. Red Dead Redemption has my full attention these days.
Q: Do you write video games?
A: No. I never have been a coder, outside of when I was twelve or something, like on the Atari 1200 XP or whatever I had. I remember sitting with my brother and figuring out how to make this turtle draw a flower if you input the (x,y) points on the curve. That's as close as I ever got to creating any sort of game or animation.
Q: After your break out role in A Home At the End of the World, you said you could always go back to your computer job, if acting didn't work out. What was that?
A: I like computers as a tool. I like them as an instrument. I think they're just pretty. And so I was waiting tables, the way actors will, and that one more person dropped one more fork on the floor that I had to go get another fork for and that was it. I went for an interview at this sort of boutique Mac agency and got hired. Hyper-nerdy stuff. It must have lapsed by now but I used to be a Certified Apple Technician. I could crack your machine open and pull the guts out and put it back together without voiding the warranty.
Q: Do your friends call you for computer help?
A: Absolutely. And they're always so shy about it, like. "Hey man, what's going on? Just calling to check in. Oh I did have one question." No one will go, "Hey man, I'm calling you about this computer thing." They try and couch it in the call and then it reminds them there is this computer thing going on, which I find funny.
Q: How long does it take for make-up to give your hair that perfectly messed up look?
A: It depends on how perfectly messed up it is when they get in. One of the camera operators, Peter, when it's last looks and the make-up people come and make sure you still look good, he was like, "This is my favorite part because it's messy and she adjusts it and it's still messy." It's pretty quick. We've cut it to a length that makes it easy so it can stick up. If there weren't all these rules, I wouldn't touch it all. I don't think Miles touches it. It would be plastered on one side from getting out of bed. My hair would be leaving the frame it would be so messy, I'm sure. But they have to match stuff and that makes their job really hard.