Exclusive Interview: Tom Felton on ‘Full Circle’ & ‘Murder in the First’

DirecTV’s new original series has a creative way to land an A-list cast. “Full Circle” features a new couple every week having dinner and discussing a different, though connected, dramatic issue. The actors sort of hand off to one another as well. 

In the premiere episode of “Full Circle, Tom Felton stars as Tim, a man who begs his lover, Bridgette (as played by Minka Kelly) to leave her husband for him. In the next episode, Bridgette dines with her husband, Stanley (Julian McMahon). Felton will return as Tim in the final episode of the series. At a publicity event in Los Angeles, we got to sit down with Felton one on one to talk about the new series, his next TV gig for TNT, and his movies in the Harry Potter series and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

CraveOnline: Between “Full Circle” and “Murder in the First” have you wanted television after your career in film?

Tom Felton: Yes and no. TV has come leaps and bounds since I started watching television, especially in the last five years. Bryan Cranston, Damian Lewis, these are all actors now that I think are the cream of the crop, the A-listers of their industry. If I could follow in their footsteps, I’d be very lucky and happy to do so. I think just because the quality has gotten so good and so engrossing that any actor would give their left arm for a chance to play some of the roles that are coming out now.

Now that you’ve done “Full Circle” and the “Murder in the First” pilot, how has television met or exceeded your expectations?

To be fair, “Full Circle” being the most unique, it’s hilarious how contrasting it is in regards to the Harry Potter script is 110 pages give or take, and it would take six to seven months to do principal photography. There would be days where you would literally shoot nothing.

Were those scripts really only 110 pages?

Well, give or take. Maybe some of the longer ones were maybe 120, 130. Don’t quote me, but just highlighting the fact that if you have all the time, it just changes the dynamic. The fact that we have such limited time really brought new emotions, hopefully ones that supported the performances of the characters. I’ve never had a day filming like I was completely exhausted and incredibly satisfied at the same time. If you did 10 episodes like this, you’d be on the floor. But we were all very lucky for our little interludes I think.

Tim is really the full circle, right, because you’re at the beginning and the end?

Yeah, that’s kind of the cool part of Tim’s character. He opens it and he closes it. I think he’s the first face you see and the last face you see so that’s kind of nice. I always think it’s quite nice to have the stories that are interlinked, the characters who are in episode two and three, it’s easier to follow their journey because they’re next to each other episodically but there is something special about starting and finishing a cool season like this, especially the way it does end because no one would predict how this does end so it’s kind of cool to be featured in that.

How much has changed when we do come back to Tim?

Quite a bit. That’s a unique thing as well. I don’t think many characters quite have the same arc because there is quite a time gap between episode one and 10. He really is a different character. Though he is Tim, he’s matured a lot in those months away. I think he’s come to terms with the fact that he’s not going to be with the love of his life. I don’t know, there’s definitely a more mature side of him and more accepting side. There’s a more volatile side in the first episode where he’s very indecisive about how he feels I think, whereas in the 10th there’s a lot more certainty and a lot more drive towards his performance.

He gets a text in the second episode, so are there more mentions of Tim peppered throughout the series?

I don’t believe so. I think it’s the second episode, that’s the only one. Don’t quote me but I’m pretty sure it’s just that one.

We know Hollywood tends to put people in a certain box. Is this a way to show them what you’re really made of?

If it does, then brilliant. That wasn’t the reason I did it to be honest with you. The quality of the project, the quality of the people that were involved with it and the concept were the things that lured me in. This idea of stories threading themselves through people’s lives who don’t actually know each other is kind of cool I think. There’s the whole butterfly effect thing where one decision not to do something can radically change someone else’s life, so I think people are going to really enjoy that. Hopefully the quality of the dialogue will really come out and it will make it really gripping television.

Is this your first leading man role?

Well, going back to what you said there, being in the first and last, obviously we were all listed with numbers so we’d know where we are in the characters. So being number one, I was pretty nervous about that but no. I guess so if you want to say that. I’ve never done that much dialogue, in an entire film, let alone in one episode. It definitely stretched me in a whole new way. I haven’t seen it so I’m nervous to be honest with you because it was a blur to me. The whole day was a blur. We were just in a strange place and we had to get through it all. I don’t really remember much of it. I know it got emotional and tempers were up at time and I’m really hoping that that supports the story and the performances.

Have you ever been Tim sitting at that table?

Thank God, no. No, I’ve got a girlfriend of six years so we’ve never had that incredibly awkward scenario that poor Tim has to face. 

One thing I always thought about the Harry Potter movies is that Draco works harder at hating Harry than he ever works at being a good wizard. Did you ever think about that?

It’s very true. He has a, what’s the expression, bee in his bonnet. He gets more frustration from seeing someone else do well than he has any desire to do well himself. It’s definitely a negative thing to have as a personality trait, right?

Right, if he just worked at being a good wizard, maybe he would be better than Harry.

Yeah, just literally tunnel vision and got on with his own stuff. It’s definitely a trait that I think maybe Jo [Rowling] was trying to highlight. Anyone that has that mentality is never really going to go that far in life because you spend more time hating on someone else than you do caring about your own life. 

Is it only because he was placed in Slytherin? It seems like Slytherin is where all the evil wizards come from.

I don’t know, I’ve heard lots of different fan theories. All the true fans, when I say he’s a villain, he’s a bad guy, they jump to his defense and say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. He’s a sweet guy. He’s misunderstood. He’s a product of his parents. He has the worst parents possible. He didn’t have a choice. He was kind of forced into this world that he doesn’t want to be in.”

The nice thing about his character is you see in the last two films that there’s a real indecision there, whether this is the life for him. He has a nice moment where he kind of saves Harry a little bit. It’s nice to see that actually at the end of it, oddly, excuse the pun, but it does come full circle slightly in his character. He’s quite an immature character in the best of times, but he does really grow up.

How did you like getting to say the classic Planet of the Apes line in new context?

That’s quite funny because although I had seen the films and I knew the reference, I almost didn’t put two and two together that I had this epic line. When we filmed it, I remember every producer, every executive producer came on the set that day so there was way more people than there usually were. They put this load of pressure on this line and luckily I didn’t go online and Google it, because that was the temptation, was to see exactly how Charlton said it and more or less steal the thunder. But it was as if I was saying that line for the first time.

It is the first time in that universe.

Very true, yeah. Very true and actually we did do several alternatives, actually dozens of alternatives in case it didn’t work. They were very precious. They didn’t want to step on the toes of anything previous. I’m glad they kept it there. I’m glad they used it. 

Have you shot “Murder in the First” yet?

Yeah, it’s all shot. I actually saw it last week. It’s incredible good, very different from this but I think American audiences will love it. I’m really hoping for good news so that we can come back and shoot the other nine episodes. [Note: TNT announced the pickup in September.]

When would you go back to shoot the series?

Keep your fingers crossed I’ll be back here in January for a few months. 

Then I hope we can do this again, thanks.

Yeah, thanks. I appreciate the questions, I really enjoyed that. 


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