Noah Taylor Isn't A Bad Guy, But He Loves Playing One

He's that guy from Game of Thrones and, if he's not torturing a hero, he's probably out of work.
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He's that guy from Game of Thrones and, if he's not torturing a hero, he's probably out of work.
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Australian actor Noah Taylor has starred opposite some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Johnny Depp (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Tom Cruise (Edge of Tomorrow, Vanilla Sky), and Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider).  These days, the actor has made a conscious decision to play the bad guy.  He’s currently fulfilling that commitment in the PlayStation-exclusive live action series, Powers. Taylor plays super villain Johnny Royalle in the 10-episode Season 1 of the comic book adaptation, which is available digitally on PlayStation Network (the first episode is free). 

Taylor spoke to MAXIM about why he enjoys being bad, what it was like to step into Game of Thrones, and the downside of playing Hitler.

Since you play a super villain in Powers, did you have a favorite super villain in the comics as a kid?

I was a big fan of 2000 AD.  What I liked about that comic is that the heroes were often villains in their own right like Judge Dredd.  He’s an appalling character in a way.

So you aren't exactly itching to play a typical hero?

I really enjoy playing bad guys.  I made a conscious decision to try and get those roles a few years ago because as a character actor, which I guess that’s what I am, playing a villain is almost like playing a comedic role.  You tend to get some of the best lines and you get some memorable little moments.  And it’s far away enough from yourself that you can go a bit over the top with the bad guy in a way that I enjoy.  You can ham it up a little bit, and I’m a fan of that sometimes. 

How do you make terrible me relatable?

I just try to make them human.  No matter how evil somebody is, unless it is some mythological creature formed from hell, they are still human.  I’m sure even the worst serial killer has some compassion for a pet, or a family member or something like that.  I like for the audience to see from the villain’s perspective sometimes, so I try to make some element of something that you can relate to in a way.  The trick is that the image that you project to the other characters is one of evil, but then when you’re playing it alone, you allow the audience to see something that the other characters don’t see.  That’s the special relationship you have with the audience, in a way. 

You’ve played a lot of bad guys. The worst, presumably, being Hitler. What was that like?

That was pretty disturbing, really.  Sometimes people decide to do things and it’s a bit of a gamble.  It’s not something I would do again, and it was actually a pretty depressing process.  And I felt pretty soiled after it, to tell you the truth. 

With all the big movies you’ve been a part of, where does stepping into the Game of Thrones phenomenon as Locke rank?

It was really interested because I came to the show late and then quickly. I wasn’t really aware of the show, amazingly, when I got it because I don’t really watch a lot of TV and I was working a lot.  Obviously, I had heard of it and I knew it was popular, but I hadn’t really delved into it and I wasn’t aware of how fanatical a following there was.  I’ve never been involved in something as big as that and it was fascinating.  It’s nice that a show like that means a lot to a lot of people.

Have you seen that follow you like fans of your portrayal from Game of Thrones potentially moving on and watching you in Powers and other projects?

I’m not even sure if I’m pronouncing his surname correctly because you only ever read it.  You hardly ever hear it, but Brad Durreth. 

He has a fascinating face and is a brilliant actor, but he’s one of those people who you know the face and you see him in lots of things and he’s always popping up. I’m one of those guys that you know the face, but you don’t know necessarily know the name. That's fine by me becauseI like performing, acting. 

So, you're not looking to see your name in lights?

I’m happy to be, you know, that guy on Game of Thrones. That’s perfectly acceptable to me.