Wesley Snipes brings a lot of legacy to the San Diego confab today and not just because he was here last year as one of the ensemble of The Expendables 3. The actor debuted as Blade back in 1998 when some of those in the current crop of Marvel movies were still in short pants. That vampire hunting character and the trio of pics that Snipes fronted as Blade will certainly be on the minds of many fans in Room 6A of the SD Convention Center for The Player panel this morning.
Before today’s SDCC appearance, Snipes chatted with me about his new NBC series from the team behind that other Comic-Con regular The Blacklist as well as the possibility of more Blade, other potential Marvel opportunities and some more action he has planned.
DEADLINE: This is your first time back doing TV extensively in a long time, how is it?
WESLEY SNIPES: Well it’s a team effort and I’m not carrying the whole thing. Philip Winchester and Charity Wakefield are just as prevalent in the show. It came to me after I was in conversations with about another television show and I guess the word got out that I would be open and willing to consider doing the TV series. And this was one that they sent to me. The script was very good. Actually it was better than some of the feature film action scripts, that have been sent to me.
DEADLINE: How do you think it will go over in front of the Comic-Con crowd?
SNIPES: I think it was kind of interesting that a drama like this, a high-concept drama, would be even considered to be represented in Comic-Con, so it should be interesting. I just hope that we don’t have all the questions centered around if I’m going to do Blade Four or not.
DEADLINE: Well, will you be bringing the vampire hunter back?
SNIPES: The project is controlled by Marvel and we did have a really productive and a wonderful meeting and we discussed a number of things. I don’t know where it’s on their schedule at this point, that hasn’t been decided. I guess it’s still up in the air.
DEADLINE: Could we see you going the ever expanding Marvel Universe in another way?
SNIPES: That’s a possibility too. I’ve always been a fan of these pieces and adaptations and I’d be nice to be a part of the family again. But if we don’t to a Blade 4 or something else with Marvel, we’ll do something else. We have some other characters and some other concepts that are going to be just as exciting and hopefully just as successful. The first season of The Player will be interesting as well because we have drama and action, which is what I like. It gives me a chance to do a number of different things.
DEADLINE: Marvel has the Black Panther movie moving forward and the Falcon character has become part of the Captain America and Avengers franchises, do you think the tide is turning to finally have more African-American superheroes?
SNIPES: I don’t know. It’s takes more than one situation to make it a trend. One wouldn’t qualify it as a trend or a real shift in the tides yet. We’ll have to see how well the films do and how well the characters are presented. Clearly there’s an audience for it, both domestically and internationally. And I know that only a few guys can do this, so it’s kind of hard. Not everybody can do the comic book adaptation thing and make it believable. It is challenging.
DEADLINE: Having been primarily a feature actor for most of your career, did you have concerns about the challenges of doing a weekly 1-hour network TV series?
SNIPES: Not so much about going to…well, okay Yes, I did. I was about to say no, but there are a lot of thing different about doing television that I had to consider. It connects to your audience’s households weekly and I think that changes your profile, your ability to stay somewhat private and anonymous, which film offers you. But then again, the idea of doing television just seemed like it’s the right time. There’s a lot of great stuff on television now and that’s very appealing to actors who want to work, who do good quality and high quality work. So maybe the whole situation made it quite, quite attractive, but you’re always concerned that the time demands on television will interrupt or interfere with your film work and that was a big concern, so we kind of tried to structure things in a way where I can still do feature film and still do the series.
DEADLINE: As an actor how do you find the feature and TV differ?
SNIPES: You have to wait around a little longer on TV than we normally would to even get the scripts to know what’s going on than we would in film. In film you have the script months ahead of time often, for a good film, but in television it seems like you might not get the script until a week or two weeks before you’ve got to film it. It’s a little weird, but also quite challenging. It reminds me of repertory theatre. That process where you’re doing the show, you’re prepping for another show, and you’re in pre-production for another show all at the same time and thinking about another show, all in the same week.
DEADLINE: Besides the mix of drama and action it allows you that you mentioned, what else attracted you to The Player?
SNIPES: Honestly, I think the concept is pretty interesting – the idea that there are a group of super-wealthy individuals set up around the world who create a system to predict crime and then also establish a virtual gambling house for their amusement. They bet and gamble on the outcome of these criminal activities. I think that’s a heck of a concept, so it lends itself to a lot of possibilities and I hope that we’ll have some really dynamic acting and great plot twists within the story as well as some awesome action. That’s the name of the game. We want to bring some of our film level, film quality action, to the series.
DEADLINE: Speaking of film, you reunited with Spike Lee for Chi-Raq recently, what was that like?
SNIPES: It’s always a joy to work with Spike. He creates an environment that’s wonderful for creativity. People leave their egos at the door and just we all come from different genres and different levels within the business. It’s kind of exciting to finally meet people like Common, John Cusack, Jennifer Hudson and work with them, and see what the flavors are. You know the most seasoned veterans, we always want to see what the young guys, the young crew, has to offer. If they learn something and if they bring something to the table or if they should just be written off.
DEADLINE: Doesn’t sound like you were writing anyone off on Chi-Raq?
SNIPES: The cast in Chi-raq is astonishing That’s the beauty of art, when you start to work with an ensemble of really talented people it forces you to up your game. It’s unbelievable all of the people and the talent that Spike’s been able to amass and bring together, and once again, that’s the kind of experience that brings joy to the artist’s art. When you can work with extremely talented artists in an ensemble way and it pushes you to see where you can go. I like that.