'13 Reasons Why' star talks upcoming role on 'Manhunt: Unabomber' series

Brian d'Arcy James talks about his plethora of accomplishments, including starring in "Hamilton" and his upcoming role in "Manhunt: Unabomber" series.
23:50 | 08/28/17

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Transcript for '13 Reasons Why' star talks upcoming role on 'Manhunt: Unabomber' series
Hey everybody I'm on in the in New York we're really excited to bring you an ankle interview with someone we are so excited act here in studio that's. You seem to matter because if you've been in literally almost everything but hit the start stage. And screens big and small Brian D'Arcy James joining us here in new York and I think air them. So you're here because he's got some critical projects a lot of cool projects are working on. Undated let's look at resonate because if I do the whole thing able to be the whole. Paul pioneer with that open to you that of the more than a dozen Broadway credits to your name doesn't the TV appearances. The movie as well you basically work all the time it's I had. Okay I've had a good good good run. Stringing together some employment rates as an actor is always is a face the goal. You know to kind of key limit the times in between you know work which can be you know. Yet life and as as an actor. But very few people have liked the variety of work that you have in the range of work that you have a that's something you set out to doing your career sort of. Yes and the edge I I tend to the I try not to speak of streets that strategy. About these things because. You can only applies so much of that that kind of thinking that because there's a lot of luck involved in terms where the wind blows and where you know the things that come up you say yes I'll do that. But having said that I do remember making a very concerted effort early on in my career as. As an artist in New York. I always sang and so musicals were always the thing that got me in the door and got me jobs quite frankly and so. I knew that I wanted to try to do my best whatever I could do to beef up my resonate with things the didn't. Require seeing so. You know just the things I was taught in school and learn to become an actor in dispute cast and plays and do things that. You know were natural to me but but I didn't have as much experience doing professionally so. In that sense that the very beginning of my career was very conscious about that. Had it starts in the press I started as a kid my my older sister and was always singing and knew we had music in the house though is my parents loved music and they were they love going to see shows so my the touchdowns for me we're very. Readily available when it was an album Stevie Wonder album or going to see any in Detroit a group in Michigan like Victorian company and Annie. That improved was always very much a part of my child and so. When my sister started exploring theater. And I was watching her from two years behind thinking wow what is what's gone with her how did she get from here my sister to on a stage. It was that that the chasm between those two things was fascinating to me. Now I servicing homeland my high school friends and my upper classmen doing it it was just this thing I was intrigued by. And so. I guess being able to use my voice is a singer. I found home are placed of that you know on stage seat at the high school theater thing well into high school for anything musically it's your first musical I did was. Yet. Freshman year was by my very. I played Randolph McAfee. That kid and it was perfect casting has like two feet tell us and it worked out well. And you are not yet they had to make any constant neglect just read your clothes fine. We've that the court appearances crock and dozens of TV shows and movies as well you got very well project that should mention that actually premieres tomorrow. On Discovery Channel it's part of there are many theories man hunt the unabomber right Paul Bettany plates techies and that's right tell me about your well. Well I'm in one episode out of eight so this is the sixth I believe in it's kind of interesting stand alone episode in that. I play a professor named Henry Marie who was a real man who lived and was renowned psychologist at Harvard University. And in this case his actions are questionable if not completely immoral in he. Was responsible for a series of tests. Including 22 young students take as a -- being one of them. To basically stress tests to figure out how far the human condition could allow. Extreme stress in the way that he did it. Is that he would basically groomed these these men in this case Ted Ted is a sixteen year old kid because he was so bright he went to Harvard early. The sixteen year old boy basically. Espousing his views and being being asked to say what are your views in. Being applauded and lauded for such brilliant thinking and it only to have that information be turned upon him. And had to be ridiculed by law professors and people that would really we just kind of wrenches in the complete opposite direction. He would he would. To movies. While this is happening have them come back and watch them have them watch the movies of their basically their undoing. It is a very extreme process and in his own words basically via vehement and sweeping I believe Murray even use those words to. Personal abuse that that he would inflict upon needs people. It was all in an effort to understand what we could do in the effort of the Cold War and Cold War to. To protect our spies if they were captured right. And also to if we were two capture spy from the Soviet Union. Two we've replaced core beliefs with. Things it would be more amenable to our way of thinking right perhaps Alter their efforts. Espionage contacts so. It was all under the banner of making America better make making it safer and but. As everyone I think with the right mind concludes if you're asking someone participate. And it Spearman is one thing but to experiment on someone without their understanding what's guns cross the line. Right and for so many people were so young as well exactly as it usually takes an extra time. I mean you seem like such a nice guy I'm how do you think you get into that mindset how do you prepare to literally. Allegheny character especially when you play the bad guy it's it's always I think it's always a mistake to kind of to hold on tightly to the things that make them bad morning just in to figure out. What makes this person get out of bed and and make them believe that what they're doing is acceptable. And this case it wasn't hard. Because he's so propped up and he still informed by the institution. That he's a part so. And again he was a renowned psychologist who was he wasn't a fluke he fly by night character he was a very. Very educated influential man in but in this case you know it's interesting to figure out if you're portraying someone like this. You know how how his heart is like I say how does is that person justify what they're doing. And also the context of this story makes it easy for the actor because they. That the information that is true is so compelling. That's I find it's almost a mistake for the actor to get in the way of that and try to twist the most actual day it's RD dirty inherent. In the activity so. I think it's easier and more effective to get out of the ways with the story telling me to think that it. Forms the character and in this case talking about exactly happened this way that Jeremy that care that's I was reading through some of your work that you have coming up and I saw. It up. But it that you have been film. Coming how it's between this year and next I do you happen Phil yeah we don't have time to get into office. But these come back with each one OK great the the deal but you have one called Molly's game with Jessica Chastain as odd to you more. Molly's game is. Jessica testing and is plays a real character named Molly Bloom who. But the headline here I think is that Aaron Sorkin is the writer and it's directorial debut so that's fascinating and great for so many reasons. If you're a fan of the spoken word. And that he is obviously. He he's made his name on being excellent at. Writing. Brilliant. Drama so. This is his take on Molly blooms story she was a a successful Olympic skier. Who. And term event her life and and events in her life and went away looking for a different. Road travel perhaps she ended up. Being the gate keeper of the Perry high stakes Hollywood poker game and that. That. Position led to her basically running it and so the revolving door of interest and players that that went through. Her building or her her domain has if you will. Includes a lot of Hollywood stars and interesting ingesting hedge fund guys. Anyone who's willing to lose a lot of money and poker table. And so this is story about her rise and fall. And Jessica Chastain is a brilliant actors she's she's she gets portrayed as this really interest in character. It you're salvo Alba plays her lawyer because she gets into legal trouble. And likely one of the characters coming to play at the at this table like to work with parents are. It was fantastic fantastic it is there's a moment we've crossed that bridge when you're actually on set with this person and you use you have to. Reconcile your feelings about that iconic status of this person and also the fact they're standing very shaking your head telling you what to do Brett it or just being pleasant and funny and charming and Smart as soon as he is so. The good the good news about about being in this business that that that chasm gets. Smaller as you go along okay probably experiences as well when you're. When you're dealing with people that that you have to that are of iconic status you know whether their heads of state or whatever the case may be. The more time you do that the more you realize OK and in this I'm in this river first second and you can get on with the business at hand so. But I guess my my point is is that. You know I definitely felt. Wet when I was in the water crossing that river saying okay not just working with you as opposed to only guides parents or. Think if it fascinates me about you he still after all your accomplishments and all your awards and everything you've been in. You still have those moments where you bump up against people and you think Kimberly packet yet to work with this person. Yeah I think that's good I think what that suggests to be at least is that is that. I have such regard admiration for the people that do the things that I love. Artists and who do it so well. And you know. Work and impressions and offerings that they have contributed over the years that have been that absorb and had become part of who I now. And then. Tube to be able to kind of realize that. You're in the same sandbox is you know it's a great feeling because it makes you feel like a one I'm definitely doing something right thumb here for the time being openly say. For awhile but you know. I think it's a good thing because you know there's there's a lot of great people out there that that. That have contributed to you know who Miami is an artist's point these things in. No I've had a few chances many chances to you have that experience and so. As good a little bit of feeling like. Yet can earn your stripes with these people. I think it's great that I wonder if it ever goes away out. And now and I I I've I and my guess is that it's probably. As long as you love what you do. And you have regard and respect for the thing that you're doing. Then you know it can appreciate and admire and give proper respect that people were doing the same thing if that goes away it becomes a chore or something just do make money or. Whatever the cases. That might. Eliminate that factor perhaps at. Me for F. I quit. I don't that I don't know what but it's. It's not wisdom let's. I that lean meat and yes that they'll call the silent. Where yes it's I I think the title now is mark felt the man who took down the White House and the AA has it is at a series titles. Mark felt was. Was. Was for for the so called deep throat source in the Watergate investigation. Mark felt was an FBI. High up in the bureaucratic. Realm of the FBI. The fact was poised to take over for. And long story short is Hugh is basically providing information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Who were that the writers who cracked the Watergate story for the Washington Post. And he leads anonymously. Giving this information about what we're Woodward under the guise of a moniker that the Washington Post. Writers dubbed. Deep throat. And so this is the story of mark felt his life as a person not only as bureaucrat in FBI guy but also as a man. With a wife and a daughter's relationship to his family. And all the political ramifications not only of the Watergate break in and the cover up in the Nixon administration but also. Just politics at work and oh how the FBI. Was or wasn't being utilized properly. And it couldn't be more relevant to what's going on today you've DC. In the context of what's absolutely absolutely and fact I have a strange confluence of of that very thing where. I was I was just in 03 months to the Hamilton. Hurt playing became king George. And day games call me keen to see the show. That's my whole earth acting head of the FBI you know he knew he was in the what you find out sometimes you know if and when you know fancies are there the fancy people are here. That is so sometimes people don't like to know. I spent so little time I spent so little time on stage tonight they give me any time to absorb who is there you backed yeah Atlanta but it but he heat can be made himself very available to every when he came backstage and spent time with everybody to pictures. Lovely lovely guy I was really just an it was changed hands today. Hey I'm in this movie about about mark felt and he Brasilia. We talked about him meeting Peter lands in the writer director and now. He was helpful to Peter to kind of given tours of the FBI headquarters I was and you yeah yeah about it and but what an interesting. Have events to be able to tend to meet this man and wonder what his take on. On mark felt it is and perhaps does he have any feelings of recognize that story there recognize those feelings are recognized. How that we'll stands since. Half. Sure. What was that. I mean that you get them. Well I I originated it off Broadway shows they're the very beginning. And I was lucky enough to to have been asked to come back right and that span lovely wonderful magical three months back in the Broadway version that ships in the different islands well that's right yeah so. I guess the way act would put a is that. Being being in the off Broadway version was we knew was something special but nobody else knew what it was. And as the kind of did the thing cracked open and everyone was kind of smelling this beautiful aroma of what was going on there was. There there was a sense that people were catching on now horses different story everybody knows it most everyone's least heard of it but does it does a big big number of people of CN appreciate and love it. Said the difference for me being in it now was pretty distinct because every night felt like the Super Bowl. You know being back people are still poise they've been waiting two years to be there. And they are there expectations are surpassed. It did you feel pressure when you came back to doing what did occur in the yeah need to be ill but we yet the beginning yeah yeah I mean I had the comfort of knowing that I'd been there before and I Don and so you try to remind yourself I know what to do with this but you. There is a certain sense of being shot out of cans like any show but Allen particularly because everyone knows. Every. Iota of what's going on what you're wearing what you're saying how you're supposed to walk graduate fifth so the the expectation from the audience and what the actors do is is something that I felt very very keenly at the very beginning probably run. And when asked about another project lot of people are talking about and Netflix original series yet thirteen reasons why yes. And don't ask you in the context because you you have a teenage daughter that's right yes and for those who don't know it's a story of a young woman with a committing suicide and then lays out sort of a series of taped to the people that he holds responsible knew where the suicide after her death. And it is the quick tip was met with some criticism yeah right because some people thought it glorified suicide but this woman at the center of the story and I just wonder as a as a father processing that and can you play. The grieving father that's right in the Ceres how did you process that criticism was fair. I think so I think so because it's a it's a topic that is. Then that needs to be discussed a mere. Little things like like that that I learned about. About this from this reality. People who. In I don't mean to be disrespectful but he used a phrase that I used before committing suicide. That is not that is not a proper way of discussing once what that that's what I bring it went up only only. Only see my education was was it was it was a steep climb. Dies by suicide. This distinction being that the crime is not the did not commit crimes and crimes people they they died in this particular way and that means that lead to suicide RR many that there are many reasons mental health the huge huge issue. My my point is again note no disrespect that I I was very aware of very quickly. Of of the reality of the topic and so for people to have. A passionate view. With something that I was not dismissed I don't think it was dismissed by anyone where there was a net Netflix executive. Or certainly not ours are creative staff led by Brian York he art show runner. Very sensitive matter and been very necessary discussion to two to listen to the things that people were saying now. I think ultimately what I hope for is that. You know I'm not a health expert. But but what what I'm hoping that this series can do is is illicit conversation that that is helpful in that it to them. Is it takes away the taboo of even talking about it. My personal experiences and it was helpful for me in my own personal life because I read I would read what was going on in this show. And I'd be in my room and had read the script and I come out and saved my fifteen year old daughter. Okay this is where this is headed. What do you think about this in. This this this talks about rape this talks about sexual assault this talks about bullying this talked about suicide and are these things part of your world and and you know you brought this up I felt like he was. I was had to wait because might cop was running over of information in. And it just seemed like. It just it provided me an. Our opportunity I think to start discussing it I don't know that it would have before that and that may not be everybody's experience but that's my hope that. You know people don't. People won't feel alone or. I don't think it's that the show is out to it's not a magic. And magic you know elixir to take in and have a problem go away. But I do you think it is a necessary conversation. Sparking a lot of this yes it's moving into second yes that's right anything. Just generally speaking you know as you can imagine is that there's a lot to do with would win a suicide occurs let alone. The teens so. There's a lot of pieces to be picked up there's a lot of story wise there's also a lot of interest in points of view to explore as well so. I don't mean to be day but I mean to be today. But but needless to say. You know it's it's it's going to be it's going to be very compelling it's going to be very. Very good. One thing I would say about the shows that I love that I love is Brian York ER show runner has this uncanny ability to create young. People and and to. Get their voice right and have them be depicted in awaited action arising. And it's interesting in that neck culture I think is represented quite beautifully and compellingly. Buy it by Brian and his writers and how they approach so I think. Anyone who enjoyed the first news seasons connections bouts. You can't play so many different kinds of care what this all is playing on Portsmouth officials all innately good. A reporter and spotlight. The FBI agent coming up in the mark felt story. Track on Broadway yes I've always plane's track I mean aren't there. If there tight that you write to me that she means. It feels like home to me or to someone has yet to planes UV. I always find it interesting to be asked to do things that aren't that aren't your in your wheel house I mean that's totally it yeah yeah. I I think in the accuracy of the same thing. I. It I think it's natural for things to two to reoccur in terms of opportunities. Since you've done it people say that person can do that. Let's have them do it in this. Compartment. And that can be good it can also be. Not good. Depending and if you've had your fill of it. I think right now I'm interested in in trying to you know. Spin the wheel as much as I can hope for a new color to come out you know eyes as the realtors so. I'm always looking for things that that. That are are surprising to me I mean that's what's really sing about his character had primary on the unabomber's theories is that. When I started reading and now it's it's just. It's is that the drive professor type in an area while mopping up nuts not at all it goes way off into this this direction that is. Fascinating story wise and careful as well so that's how is an exciting to read your considering some thing. Well I thank you for coming by today and we do. Absolutely just started should I mean come at any hot humid few blocks away and India the gap grew more than welcome here and heat index is that you so much for being things. They acknowledge you for watching as well armed and covered Amy it dot com. Any time from our story all that for now I'm on an up enough you back here buried in.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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