Levi Meaden is starring as Matt Copeland on the SyFy channel’s apocalyptic science fiction drama, Aftermath. Working alongside James Tupper, Anne Heche, Julia Sarah Stone and Taylor Hickson (who will feature in a Mike’s Film Talk interview shortly) Levi plays the eldest son of a family struggling to survive the “End of Days.”
Meaden is a pleasant chap who was fun to talk with and he spoke highly of his colleagues on the show. He also emphasized how much he and his onscreen siblings got on like a family off-screen
Levi has been steadily working since 2012 and has been a regular on The 100, The Killing, and Olympus. He completed work on Incontrol, which we mention later and is slated to appear in the Pacific Rim sequel Pacific Rim: Maelstrom.
Michael: Hi Levi. Thanks for stopping by for a chat today. I’ve got to tell you that I love what your character brings to the show. He’s had a very impressive arc in the series. So what drew you to the part?
Levi: Thank you! I grew up as a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan as a teenager. I always loved the apocalyptic/post apocalyptic genres; like Mad Max…So the chance to run around with guns and to fight monsters just seemed like a lot of fun.
Michael: Yeah. It looks a like a lot of fun.
Levi: So I saw that aspect of it and thought, “Yeah let’s do it.”
Michael: Brilliant! I’ve got to ask you. Are you anything at all like your character, personality wise?
Levi: Well, he’s certainly more of a football player/jock, which I certainly was not while growing up. He definitely has more of an affinity for guns and fighting than I do. Those are the differences, but, there is an intensity and an underlying “quick to anger” side to him that we both have in common.
Michael: Speaking of guns. Did you have to undertake any special kind of training?
Levi: Not really. I’m already pretty familiar with shotguns as most of my family live on farms. I did go to the shooting range to get familiar with the different weapons, like the Glock and the shotgun, just so I had it fresh in my head. Getting into the frame of mind of “fake shooting it for real.”
Michael: Well it worked. Your character seems very competent. You and Anne Heche looked quite proficient with the weapons.
Levi: Yeah, well initially we were very careful around the weapons but as time went on we got more relaxed as we got more familiar with them.
Michael: I know we sort of broached this briefly, but what is it like working on the show. The subject matter is rather grim…
Levi: Yeah. Well we shot at such a breakneck pace that we really did not get a chance to get hung up on the grim moments. There were a lot of them (grim moments) and sometimes it did take a little bit of a toll on us. We liked the fast pace as it got us past the “grossness.”
But it was kind of fun. There were so many stunts that we either took part in or watched and a lot of driving and shooting. Shooting the show at such a breakneck pace meant that things happened so quickly that the energy really translated to the screen.
Michael: Yes it very fast paced. I’m guessing here, but is a lot of the work green screen? Is that hard to work through?
Levi: Actually we were lucky. We didn’t have a lot of green screen. A lot of it was as practical as you could possibly make it. The Quetzalcoatl, or the dragon as most people keep calling it…
(Sidenote: Many of the creatures that the Copeland family encounter are from different cultures. The Quetzalcoatl is from the Aztec culture and it does indeed, look a bit like a flying dragon.)
Michael: Yes, I’m guilty of that. I keep calling it a dragon as well…
Levi: Well that bit was pretty well laid out. We had parameters set out and we had a mark to show where the thing might be. So it was not too difficult. I’ve done green screen before and while practical FX take the challenge out of it, the green screen does become an acting exercise after a while. It’s all about channeling your imagination to provide a realistic reaction to something like that.
Michael: Your character has actually evolved quite a lot in a short period of time. You mentioned it earlier when you said he (Matt) was a bit quick to anger. He does seem to be getting a handle on that. Where do you see Matt going next?
Levi: Well a lot of the storyline has him embracing that anger and the darkness allowing him to become a protector for his family. He also has to learn where to draw the line and not become like the evil he is fighting against. He’s already crossed that situation in the show and I think he is motivated a lot by retribution and getting revenge for what’s happening to his family.
The challenge for Matt will be getting back a part of himself that allows in some happiness which will make him less grim and allow him to stop beating himself up so much. He has to learn how to draw back that anger.
We’ll see him kind of embrace that a little bit more. Somethings will come in and allow him to alleviate his guilt.
Michael: I’ve got to ask you. I’m a huge fan of Anne Heche and James Tupper. What’s it like working with them?
Levi: Well, when they were together they brought this high energy to the scene, it was like that when they were apart too, but when they were together they really brought it. They also kept things simple and got the ego out of the way to server the story.
It was also interesting to see how they would work out a scene and kind of turn it. Making the most out of a scene’s impact and then watching them in the scene taking back and forth and creating the sense of a real partnership.
Michael: They have a splendid chemistry on screen, as do you all. The chemistry between all the characters is really impressive.
Levi: Thank you.
Michael: You’ve been working steadily since 2012. Most of your work has been in television but lately, you’ve started doing more films. Are you starting to have a preference?
Levi: You know it all depends on the project. They’re very different mediums, although they both involve storytelling. You know, working long term on a television show is fun because you get to work on your character for months. And that is such a blessing, it is so great.
In movies though, you kind of have the entire arc of the story and your character and where you’re going to go so you really kind of plan for that and build those moments in. And you then find the best way to tell that story and how to make that character’s journey more interesting.
They are both the same beast, so to speak, but I do love doing the indie film thing once in a while because you get to experiment and have some fun. You get to push things and kind of do your own thing a bit more. I miss getting to do that. Maybe after Aftermath is finished…
Michael: I see that you’re down for Pacific Rim: Maelstrom, the sequel. Have you started working on that at all?
Levi: Yeah, we’ve started a little bit. The filming hasn’t started yet but things are gearing up and getting ready to go. I’m still waiting for some small things to get worked out and if Aftermath is brought back for another season, that will keep me pretty busy.
Michael: Brilliant stuff, let us know how that all works out. Being a huge fan of the first Pacific Rim, I cannot wait to see what the sequel will do.
Levi: I know. It gsoing to be pretty exciting.
Michael: Have you heard about Aftermath being picked up for a second season?
Levi: No, we haven’t heard anything yet.
MIchael: I’m actually going to be talking to Taylor (Hickson) tomorrow. Is that anything you’d like me to pass on to her.
Levi: [Chuckling] Tell her hi and that she needs to give me back my Bowie t-shirt.
Michael: I have to ask you, in regards to the parents in the show. Joshua seems quite low key, although he is coming into his own as the series progresses, and Karen, the mum, is very “Rambo-esque…”
Michael: Are they anything like their characters when they’re not working?
Levi: Yeah, you know a little bit. Everyone was pretty much, I think, cast to type so that they are to a degree like the characters they portray. Like James is super insightful, quiet but direct and to-the-point. Anne is just a firecracker so yeah, they are similar to their characters.
Michael: Brilliant stuff. That has me pretty much wrapped for today. Is there anything you want to mention? Like upcoming projects?
Levi: Yeah. I’m in a film called Incontrol that will be coming out in a few months. It’s on the festival circuit at the moment. It’s a thriller about these kids who find a machine that allows them to enter other people’s consciousness and control them like an avatar. And they start getting addicted to it like a drug. So that, Aftermath and Pacific Rim II.
That concluded our interview with Levi Meaden. Incontrol is a Canadian film due out shortly and it does sound very good. Pacific Rim: Maelstrom has a projected release date of 2018 so keep your eyes peeled for the first one and pencil “Maelstrom” into to your diary.
In the meantime, fans of Levi’s can see him weekly on SyFy’s Aftermath. The series aries on Fridays and there are two episodes left in this season.
As mentioned in the interview Mike’s Film Talk will also be talking with Taylor Hickson, who places Levi’s sister on the show.
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