By: Jessica Nakamoto –
With television credits ranging from NBC’s Blacklist to FX’s Unforgettable and film appearances spanning the likes of Killing Them Softly and What Masie Knew, actor Trevor Long has garnered an impressive collection of noteworthy experience under his proverbial acting belt. However, it’s Long’s latest work on acclaimed Netflix series, Ozark, and his star role in horror film Seeds, that have truly catapulted him into the big-leagues of on-screen performance. Demonstrating a knack for bringing dark and sometimes villainous characters to life for viewers, Long thrives in expressing not only the complexity, but the humanity behind each persona he embodies on set.
In our new interview, Long discusses the much-anticipated second season of Ozark, the riveting psychological nature of Seeds, his upcoming guest-star role in Magnum PI, and more!
First off, congratulations on the new season of Ozark!
Thank you! Did you get to see any of it?
I did. Very exciting stuff!
Oh good! It was a lot of fun. We had a great time and I thought the season turned out to be as strong or stronger than Season One. So, I’m pretty happy with it!
In the series, you play Cade Langmore, a feared villain in the show. What did you do to get into the mindset of the character or into his head, so to speak?
That’s an interesting question! The words are the king. Everything’s that on the page just triggers my imagination. I take it all from what I’m getting in the script. And then, I let my inner, sort of consciousness or subconsciousness take over. I let the words fuel a lot of imagery and imagination and it goes from there.
Then, I’ll step outside it. I look at this guy and say, “ok. This is what’s going on”. I might try to pin certain things like, [Cade] he’s obviously an abusive father. So, I’ll look at fatherhood and what that means to me…I have a nine-year-old son.
I’ll just really try to connect on a very personal level and keep diving into it over and over.
I will do research as well, to get the outward rhythms and feeling of the guy correct. So, [for Ozark], I looked at a lot of documentaries and I read a lot of books from southern writers. I also watched movies and YouTube videos. I try to get as much information to color the reality of this guy. And then, I let the imagination, like a little kid playing in the sandbox, just take over.
Getting into the research and the script is almost like getting lost in a good book. That’s really neat!
That’s right! That’s why it’s so good to have good writing. If the writing’s not good, you’re kind of screwed! (laughs) You can’t really act your way out of bad writing! So, when it’s so good like this, I just let it take me. Every time you sit down with it, you’re discovering more and more things that come up. It’s great!
Are there any ways in which you think that Cade has grown as a character from Season One to Season Two?
Yes! A lot of people are responding to that. In the first season, he seems like this mastermind and a really calculating guy. In Season Two, we see a different Cade. We see…it’s funny because there’s nothing to indicate that he’s like that other than the viewpoint from his daughter, but Cade is really like his brothers. He’s just a petty criminal. He’s very narrow-minded. He’s focused on one thing and one thing only, and that’s getting that money and getting back at Marty Byrde [Jason Bateman].
Cade’s not always smart. I thought it was interesting and surprising to see this character grow in a way that showed he’s really not much smarter than his brothers. He’s not this big mastermind, and his daughter really does have a lot of power over him in a lot of ways.
You saw a lot of colors with Cade in Season Two that obviously weren’t necessarily there in Season One. There wasn’t as much [on-screen time for Cade] in Season One but I liked the aspect of getting out of prison and seeing who this guy is in his family environment. That was cool.
You mentioned Cade’s daughter, Ruth. I really like the sort of complicated relationship that the two have. You get glimpses of intimidation, but then you also get glimpses of the genuine love Cade has for Ruth.
Yeah! I’m glad you see some of that! You know, that was my biggest battle and interest. I really felt Cade loved his daughter. There’s no question. I didn’t want to play it like this guy doesn’t care for her. He really loves her, but he grew up in an environment of abuse. I think, obviously he killed his father. There was probably abuse there and that’s how I saw it. So, that’s all he knows. He’s very threatened by changing the Langmore name, style, and how they operate. And for her to go outside of that comfort zone, it’s very unsettling for Cade. So, I’m glad you picked that up!
I do feel he does love his daughter very much, he just can’t access it in a healthy way because he’s ignorant. He doesn’t know how to do it. Especially under these circumstances. Getting out of prison, he finds out his brothers have been killed by his daughter and he knows Ruth possibly has access to this money. So, he’s under high stakes right when he gets out. He’s not in a good situation just getting out of prison. It’s not like things are cushy like it used to be, just doing small crimes. He’s facing a whole different scenario. And with possibly losing his daughter to Marty, it definitely brings out the worst in him.
I agree! I think it’s interesting seeing the shift in dynamics between when Cade is in prison and his mysterious persona versus the out-of-prison interactions with the rest of the cast.
Definitely! In Season One, you didn’t see the power that Ruth had against her father. But in Season Two, she stands up to him and pulls a gun on him. She’s really defying and challenging him. It’s really exciting. I think it’s great that there’s this dynamic and she’s really pushing against him, wanting his respect and admiration and approval. She’s just not getting it.
Given this, how do you think Cade’s death in Season Two will impact Season Three and Ruth, in particular?
Well, that’s interesting. I keep thinking about that! I would guess, she’s going to find out, she’s not stupid and she’s going to know when he did it, or the Byrde’s did it. I think, it’s not going to go well. She’s going to be very conflicted. I think she clearly loved her father. You see it in the last scene with him. I think there’s going to be a lot of guilt, a lot of shame, a lot of anger.
And so, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a bumpy road for her in Season Three, with the Byrde’s. It would be exciting to see if daddy came back and haunted her at some level in her dreams! (laughs) That would be cool. Or it’d be interesting if you saw a nice version of Cade in her dreams.
I definitely think the backstory with Cade, we don’t see any of that [in the show], but I definitely think there was some very tender, normal, moments with her dad. Don’t forget, she was very young when he went to prison. So, I think he really had moments of being a loving dad, but definitely not now.
Speaking about your character’s passing and knowing that Ozark can be considered a pretty dark show in general, how did you and the cast keep things light and fun on set?
We had to [keep things light]. It’s funny, Julia plays Ruth and Charlie Tahan plays Wyatt Langmore, my nephew. We were like a very dysfunctional, fun, family on and off set! We were like little Langmore’s but harmless! (laughs) So, we would always crack jokes and keep it light. We just really tried to have fun off camera, even on set. And then, when we get ready to shoot, we would just drop into it.
But, you have to. It’s like policemen, when they go to a crime scene. It’s a horrible, brutal, murder, but they’re cracking jokes. And, so, you’ve kind of got to kind of keep it light or you lose it. It’s just too much. I think that’s just my experience. I like to have it prepared, be ready to go as soon as the camera’s rolling, but to be able to lighten up. You’re sitting around a lot, so you can’t be in this dark, dark, space twenty-four-seven. I find that’s not too good!
Yeah, you’ve got to have some fun!
(laughs) Daniel Day Lewis can do it, but we’re not all Daniel Day Lewis!
For sure! (laughs) So, in addition to Ozark, I’d love to speak to you a little bit about your lead role in the horror film, Seeds.
It’s a labor of love, this one! My brother directed it and it’s his story. We hired a writer and he wrote the part for me! We finally got this baby done and it’s on the festival circuit now! We’ve acquired a sales agent here and in the United States and Europe and so we’re trying to get it distributed.
It’s a very different character than Cade. This guy’s an intellect. He’s wealthy, he’s quiet, he’s introverted, he’s intelligent. So, it’s nice that this is coming out now because it’s a completely opposite realm from Cade. That was exciting to play. You know, I tend to play more of “the Cade-type guys”, so it was nice to play this [Seeds role] even though the character is very dark. It was exciting to take this challenge on and play a role that’s quite different than what I’m used to.
You get a change of scenery, almost.
Very much so. We like to label it as a psycho, sexual, fairytale! (laughs) That’s kind of where we’re going on the marketing. It’s dark, it’s very strange, it’s very cerebral. It’s definitely not a horror, “slash-em-up” film. It’s much more of an unsettling, psychological, disturbing experience, which is what we wanted.
I definitely got a sense of that watching the trailer! One trailer actually doesn’t have a lot of words, but it’s more about the imagery and the psychology behind it.
Yeah! We have two trailers out there. One we re-did with definitely more dialogue. But, I want to say, there’s only like twenty pages of dialogue for my character. It’s very internal. So, that was a big challenge to try to find the life of this guy with such few words.
Did you come across any other challenges, per say, transitioning between these two characters [Cade-Ozark and Marcus-Seeds]?
Well, I did Marcus first. We shot that about four years ago. I definitely think approaching Marcus was definitely one of the more difficult roles, more than for Cade. He was a very subtle, subtle, character. You didn’t have the physicality Cade had and the bravado that Cade had. It was a challenge.
I lost a lot of weight. I dropped about thirty to forty pounds! I was very thin because the guy [Marcus] is suffering. He’s weak and he’s mentally and physically falling apart. So, that was its own challenge as well. But no, once it’s done, I move on and get ready to take a shower and slip into the next one! (laughs)
You mentioned a little earlier that your brother Owen, wrote the Seeds role for you. In addition, you also had your nephew Garr in a supporting role and a sister-in-law as a producer. Was it a goal to bring the whole family together for this project?
It kind of developed that way! We didn’t set out with that in mind. We definitely knew I wanted to star in it and Owen was going to direct it. At one point, he didn’t know if he was going to direct it! (laughs) It evolved that way.
Originally, we didn’t know who was going to play Spencer. Then, he [Owen] had the idea not too far out from shooting, and said, I think [Garr] he’d be right. He’s the right age. So, Owen worked with him and put him on tape to see if he could do it. And he felt he could!
We also got my acting teacher from Brown [university] to help coach Garr and he was great! It kind of evolved.
We knew we wanted to shoot [the film] on our family home, but everything sort of evolved over time. It was a family affair for sure.
Knowing how well the movie came together, do you think horror is a genre that you’ll continue to pursue as an actor?
I don’t know! It intrigues me. I like watching films like Babadook and Let the Right One Inand stuff like that. They’re very dark and sinister. I’m not a big “true horror” fan. But, I like Cronenberg [David Cronenberg], I obviously like Kubrick, [Stanley Kubrick] and The Shining. I love stuff like that! Horror films are very popular right now, so if the role’s strong, absolutely!
I heard that in addition to your film and television credits, you also have a background in theatre!
Yeah! That’s where the bulk of my work and training came from. I was a struggling actor for many years in New York and was a member of LAByrinth Theatre Company with the late Phillip Seymore Hoffman, who was co-artistic director. I got my Equity Card through them and did a lot of my plays through LAByrinth.
I did a lot of Off-Off-Broadway shows for years. I even went to London and did a play! So, theatre definitely is where I started.
I trained at Mason Gross [School of The Arts at Rutgers University]. I did a lot of theatre work there. But now, I haven’t done a play since 2010! It kind of scares me to get back on stage! (laughs) Without sounding like too much of a wuss, it’s hard. It’s very draining. Clearly, there’s not really money in it and you’re on stage eight shows a week.
It scares me but I still love theatre! I think all the best actors come out of some sort of theatre background! A lot of them do.
Given the “grind” of theatre and the fact that it is so challenging, do you think this sort of background has helped your on-screen performances?
For sure! Theatre obviously gave me the skills to understand a script. It gave me the skills to approach a character. But, to me, acting is acting whether you’re on a stage or in front of a camera. The only difference is, if you’re talking to one or two people as opposed to three-hundred people.
It still has to be the same level of honesty, just technical differences. That’s it. So, yes! I definitely learned my acting from stage and it definitely translated into film!
Are there any upcoming works on-screen, or even on-stage, that you could give us a sneak preview into?
Well, I am set to leave tomorrow or the next day to go to Hawaii to shoot a little Magnum PI!
It should be! (jokes) I’m doing a guest star appearance there and playing a nice methamphetamine dealer! (laughs) So that should be fun!
(laughs) How did you originally find the Magnum PI role?
They gave me an offer. So, I was pretty happy with that! I think my agents or manager submitted me, and they came back and said “if he wants the role, it’s his!” That was pretty cool. It’s a good sign that Ozark’s getting out there and people are starting to see it and like it!
Definitely! Having a Netflix show is a big deal. Congratulations again!
(laughs) Thank you so much!
I’d love to wrap things up with a couple fill in the blank sentences. Would you like to give it a shot?
Sure, let’s try!
On a day off, I love to…
I love to hang out and read, or obviously, hang out with my son!
What’s a good book that you’ve been into lately?
Right now, I’m reading a couple of things. I tend to jump around. I’m reading some Eastern religious stuff but I’m also reading Steven King’s, Lisey’s Story. I’m in to Steven King right now. And, I heard he’s a pretty big fan of Ozark, which is pretty cool!
Yeah, he digs it! He even made a reference to it! I read his most recent book, The Outsider and it mentions one of his characters binge watching Ozarkin the book! I was like, yeah! Alright! (laughs) So, Steven King and just some heavy Eastern little religion non-duality stuff. I like to read and live pretty simply. I’ll go to the gym and work out too.
Excellent! Next one for you. My ideal vacation spot would be…
I would like to go again, which was on my honeymoon, to St. Martin. My wife and I went to La Samanna. I think it would be ideal to go back to St. Martin!
Beside Ozark, one show that I’m loving on Netflix is…
Maniac! I just started watching. Julia Garner is in it with Emma Stone, and she’s great! I’m digging Maniac!
Last one for you! My go to snack is…
My go to snack is any kind of nut, whether it’s almonds or peanuts, or cashews. That’s my go to. It’s nuts! (laughs)