The Tempest

A Conversation With Harold Perrineau, Jr.

What attracted you to this role?

I get to look like a big action hero. At least I feel like one. I don’t know if I look like one. I was really excited when I heard that I could turn into a raven. I like that I could be out here in the wild and could turn into a raven and a crocodile and all this other cool stuff. And, I get to mess with snakes and crocodiles, and so all that stuff made it an adventure.

Would you describe "The Tempest" as a drama, adventure, love story, action, magical or a combination of those things?

I’d describe it as all those things. I’d describe this piece as magical and romantic and mystical and adventurous and spine thrilling and chilling.

Describe your character.

I play Ariel in this play is not a fairy, but a slave. But, he does do a lot of cool stuff like fairies and gets to fly around. I turned into an old man, and I help Prosper with his plan of revenge. In return, he’s going to free me. Prosper lets me go and I live my beautiful life, which parallels the play.

What is your character’s relationship with Prosper?

Prosper and Ariel have almost a father and son kind of relationship. Even though he is technically the master and I am his slave, he’s taught me to read and write and has even taught me magic! He’s actually trying to protect me, except I don’t want his protection when it is time for me to go out, live in the world and be a part of the world. And so, right now we’re at odds because I really feel like I have to go fight the Civil War, and he really thinks I should stay on the island where everything is safe.

How was it to work with Peter Fonda?

Working with Peter Fonda was far out. I liked working with him. He’s a really groovy man, he’s cool. He’s Peter Fonda and I was so excited.

Describe the location of your filming.

We were in South Carolina and it was a perfect setting for the movie because both the location and the scenes took place in hot, sort of humid conditions where emotions were high. So, it was really great. And it was really a beautiful part of the country and very interesting with the swamp area.

Have you seen any gators while you’ve been out here?

Of course. I’ve seen tons of gators. There are gators out here all the time. I’ve seen gators and snakes and more bugs than I ever wanted to see in my life.

You played Mercutio in Baz Luhrman’s "Romeo and Juliet." How would you compare that Shakespeare adaptation to "The Tempest?"

In "Romeo and Juliet" we used the actual text. In it we were introducing people to the real text and putting it in a modern setting, which is a really great thing for young audiences. In "The Tempest" we’re taking the idea of the story and setting it during the Civil War. And still get the spirit of the story. If you like the story, then you will want to go back and read the original play. People will be saying, "Oh yeah. I saw that on TV. What’s the deal with it? Let me go check it out." Hopefully, they will check it out.

What will make this unique and different from other television movies?

We have a great story, and we have some really great visual effects people who have done some interesting things. We have some really great actors and a marvelous director that is going to make this whole thing a great two-hour spectacle. I think that is what’s going to set it apart from everything else. People will want to tune into this for a good time. They’re going to have a lot of fun. They’re going to go on a long ride with us and, at the end, hopefully they’ll be really happy.