Lance Reddick Talks Netflix's Resident Evil, Albert Wesker, and More

Actor Lance Reddick has been tasked with embodying the role of Albert Wesker in Netflix's new TV series, Resident Evil. For those that have never played the games or seen the films, Wesker is one of the most iconic and formidable foes in the history of gaming. Thanks to his sleek look, cartoonish villainy, and some of his abilities, he's able to handle himself quite well against the likes of Chris Redfield. With that said, the new Netflix series shows us another side to Wesker by revealing his home life with his family. It's a rather unique angle, but it causes some tension as his family begins to see and unearth his sinister secrets and learn that their father may not be the nice guy he claims to be. got to sit down with Lance Reddick and talk about his role in the series. Although Reddick was unfamiliar with the games before joining the show, he had seen the films and used them as a reference. Once he realized what he signed on for, he also understood the weight of fan expectations and had to reckon with that. If you're interested in the series, you can also check out our review of Netflix's Resident Evil where we gave it a 3.5/5.

The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

I know you play Destiny and some other games. Had you played the Resident Evil games before joining the show or after you had gotten cast?

Lance Reddick: I had not played the Resident Evil video games, and I still haven't played them. As a matter of fact, when the project came to me, I didn't even know that it was based on a video game. I only knew the movies. And I was able to read the first seven episodes before I even had a meeting for the role. So I had a very, very clear idea of what the character was and what the story arc was, at least for the first season. So I really signed on for that because I was so excited about what I read on the page.

Did you have any trepidations about doing an adaptation of a video game series? I know from time to time that there's a conception that they don't always go super well. But did that cross your mind, going in?

Interestingly enough, it only crossed my mind, really, after. After the fact. When I was doing it, I was so excited about the character and the story that was written. As an actor, I wasn't approaching it as a video game fan, I was approaching it as an actor. And as an actor, that's the thing you're always looking for. So when something like this comes along, and you get that in spades, you just jump at it. Jump at it. And you'd kind of worry about that other stuff later. But the thing that you always forget is that later always comes. So yeah, then I became kind of nervous about, "Oh my gosh, what are hardcore fans, who want to see the game on screen, how are they going to feel about it?"

I'm sure, as you know, you said you were aware of the films. Wesker, in those movies and the games, is much different than what we see here. He's a family man in this show, as opposed to the cartoonishly evil guy he is in the movies and the games. 

Although you get to see some evil!

Yes, you do. You do get to see some evil. Was that what interested you about playing this role in particular?.

What interested me about this was that you got to see both [sides], because I don't think... I mean, I've been really fortunate that I've been able to play... I don't want to say morally, but kind of morally ambiguous characters before, not the least of which is the role that I just finished playing on Bosch. But this really took it to a whole nother level because you see a guy who truly is kind of, how do I put it? High on the psychopath scale, who actually loves his daughters, and in terms of his sense of morality and ethics, is actually trying to figure it out as he's going along. And he's having a hard time doing it because he's got a boss that's actually higher on the psychopath scale, by a lot.

I'm sure, as you know from the movies too, there are a lot of heroes in the Resident Evil series. And I'm not sure if you're familiar with Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy or anything like that, but are there any heroes or other characters that you're familiar with in the Resident Evil universe that you would like to see maybe in a future season, if you guys come back, and go toe-to-toe with? Because Wesker is a very formidable foe for those kinds of characters.

Wow. It's so tough because I haven't played the games, even though I actually did watch most of the movies. There was one summer when I had a couple weeks where, don't ask me why, but I was binging late into like 4:00 in the morning watching the movies. But honestly, the films are so action-heavy that Milla Jovovich's character is the only one that I really remember. And I feel that it would be really interesting to see if and how her character could come into this series.

That'd be pretty interesting. We do see some, like you said... I don't want to give the spoilers.

Yeah, it's tough!

It is very tough. I asked my coworker to write this question out for me because he could do it a little better than I did. But he wanted to say that your role in Resident Evil has some unique parallels to your role in Fringe all those years ago. How do you think your role in that show prepared you for the challenges of the role in this one?

Well... So first of all, what you're talking about, I feel that I can't talk about too much because I don't want to give spoilers. However, bringing up Fringe, I often thought while I was shooting, "Wow. I'm getting to play Walter," who ironically, even though Fringe was Olivia's story, he really became the breakout hit character of that show. And so, at least in that regard, I feel like, "Wow, I'm getting to play Walter in all his iterations."

Was it easy to tap into that, knowing that you had some history there?

No, because I didn't try to do what John did because I mean, it's like trying to, "I'm going to write a symphony. I'm going to do Beethoven." I mean, it's like, "No, no." So I just tried to be true to what was on the page. And the one thing I did was I had a long conversation with a buddy of mine from high school who's now a biochemistry professor. And so just kind of understanding kind of the science of it, not that he taught me biochemistry, but kind of the psychology of how that works was interesting and helpful.

Talk to me a bit about New Raccoon City. Where did you guys film this place? It is such a captivating location that I was just constantly trying to figure out how they built these sets and where this is.

Lance Reddick:

Well, interestingly, I mean, we shot it South Africa, in Cape Town. But perhaps... Man, I hope I don't get in trouble for this. Perhaps the coolest and the creepiest set was not a set. It was a neighborhood. It was where Billie and Jade and Albert live when they're in high school. And they just moved... This is a new New Raccoon City. Yeah. And they set it in South Africa so that they could explain that, and you wouldn't have everybody trying to change accents all the time. But all the houses really are white, and they're all kind of cookie cutter. And it's really in this remote location where it's like, you just look at this, it's just field, field, field, field, highway, and this development of all these white houses surrounded by electric fence, so that was weird.

The only other thing I'll ask then is, you know that Albert Wesker is a popular character in the video games. Did you do any research outside of the movies? Or did you mostly stick to that and try to build your own character?

Well, I really didn't use the movies for research. They just happened to be a reference. Most of my work was just done with the script. I did have to do, for reasons that I can't get into because it's spoiler territory, but I did have to watch some gameplay with Albert Wesker because there were moments where it was important to understand how he moves and what his attitude is, both psychologically and physically.