From that heavy topic, we moved onto something different, yet similar. Having spoken to Lance Reddick about the relationship between music and acting, I was wondering if Mr. Augustus had managed to bring his experiences from football to his performances in television.
It turns out that, in addition to football, Sherman had some of his own musical experiences that have shaped his world: “Talking about music, back in high school I was doing little things, and the first instrument I started playing in junior high was flute. Then I moved onto trumpet and guitar and bass. And oddly enough, I had a brief sketch as a staff writer in Motown. And music motivates a lot of things that I do. Like, if I’m having trouble connecting with a character, there are certain emotional triggers, ranging from opera to hard rock ‘n’ roll. Acting is reacting and you can only react if you’re listening. It’s about enjoying the process. I deal with reality, I deal with fantasy: thinking about this and that keeps me present.
“Now, when you’re playing ball, you watch the tape, you go out and practice, you try and recognize everything. You’re starting out front. I played BB; even if you’re 10-12 yards off the ball, you have to react and know everyone’s position. It’s a thinking game. You have to start running the equations. You’re thinking to yourself it’s almost as if we were on the space shuttle and were having problems running to Earth. I basically have to fix this [laughs].
“With acting it’s the same. You can always read whether they’re present with you or not with you. In order for that scene to be really organic, you have to find a way to drive the scene in a way that is very effective and forces you to listen. And a lot of times I’ll see that in my head. Certain situations I was in as an athlete I can convey to this situation, especially the physical stuff. Another parallel is you walk out of your first college game and you’re playing against Michigan State and you’re like wow! Same thing on a film, you walk onto a set and it’s like wow, this is cool, so crazy! Working with Ed Harris, Brad Pitt!”
Moving onto Into the Badlands, one thing readers should be aware of is Mr. Augustus’s promotion to series regular in the third season of the show. With the series becoming famous for its fight choreography, I was curious as to how much freedom Augustus was given with regards to doing the fighting himself versus having a body double take the hits: “I wouldn’t have minded doing everything, but fortunately for us we have great people that match us now. I was fighting Tilda [Ally Ioannides] in the woods and Ally did that front parkour flip. Well, I’ll go up and do the movement too, so you can hardly tell they made a cut.
“And Vi-Dan Tran is one of the stunt guys, but he got promoted to stunt editor. And it lends itself another element where you have a real stunt guy doing the editing. And we were upset that certain categories weren’t even nominated at the Emmys. It was about all of the hardwork people put into the show, our show. And this relates to what you asked earlier; I remember the first episode I did. I walked onto that bridge and I was hearing a variety of dialect: Cantonese, Russian, Czech, Italian, French, I was hearing everything, and it blew me away. This is definitely the Rainbow Coalition of shows. So much diversity. I’m happy for everyone who got nominated, and eventually we’ll get recognized. Our costume designer certainly should have gotten a nod.
“Going back to the fight choreography, what we read in the script isn’t what we do. It gets changed during rehearsal. 30 minutes is like 30 days; if you get 30 minutes to rehearse, then you’re good. You can’t take up all the time. So you learn it and go shoot a piece.”
Following that up, I pointed out to Mr. Augustus how there seems to be a trend in cinema of audiences wanting to see older actors do action flicks, like Liam Neeson, Keanu Reeves, and Denzel Washington among others. As such, I asked him how he lives up to the fan expectations with this added demand.
“I love it. That puts the pressure on you as a performer, and I equate that to being an athlete. I equate that to training camp. We do three weeks of fight camp to get the actors in shape, though I do martial arts already so it comes easier. And I think it’s wonderful that we can do these amazing things. Sure you can fast cut it, but you can’t fool certain people, especially people who are in the stunt world. So the more you can do physically, the better for the character. And you can tell that that’s Denzel doing that, or Sherman Augustus doing that.”
My final question pertained to something all Into the Badlands fans are interested in, and that is of course a potential fourth season. While nothing has been officially announced by AMC, Mr. Augustus has some reassuring words for audiences: “We are doing it.”
“They’re going to step it up with Wu Assassins. Lewis Tan is going to do the show. Katheryn Winnick from Vikings is joining us. I really look forward to it doing very well. We’re the original, so in my point-of-view it’s going to help our writers. The acting is just as important as the action, and it just helps the narrative of the show.
“The first eight episodes are nothing compared to the next eight because they’ve revamped everything. When we knew that they were going to wrap up all the plots with Pilgrim and Sunny, it got a lot deeper and a lot more complicated because you have the Black Lotuses. And there’s an element of the show that started with season one and there’s another element coming in with season four. And everyone’s going to have their minds blown.
“We get two scripts at the same time because we’re doing two episodes, and it crosses over with the same director. And we don’t get the new scripts before we start the next block, so all this stuff you get you never know. They Game of Thrones us so we don’t know what’s going to happen next.
“It’s quite interesting when you find out where you’re character is going and everyone is eager to see who’s getting snuffed out [laughs]. The conversations are intense. It helps drive the narrative of the show. Fans are going to be upset, but it’s for the benefit of the show to keep things interesting and forward driving. There’s also going to be some unlikely alliances because of how they’ve revamped everything. I can say this- there is one episode they’re calling “The Magnificent Seven,” which makes sense since our show is Akira Kurosawa meets Sergio Leone. And that’s what makes it so fun to work with everyday.
“There’s going to be some real big surprises in the next eight episodes.”
Flickering Myth would like to thank Mr. Augustus for taking the time out of his day to speak with us. While a season 4 has not been announced by AMC, viewers new and old can rewatch the first two seasons on Netflix.