Dominic Sherwood on doing ‘Penny Dreadful’: ‘It was a no-brainer’
British actor Dominic Sherwood is no stranger to the supernatural.
His career has involved vampires (“Vampire Academy,” 2014), angels and demons (“Shadowhunters,” 2016-2019), and now Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,” an ensemble period piece drama about murder and the occult set in 1938 LA, with Natalie Dormer co-starring as a shape-shifting demon.
Sherwood’s character, Kurt, is a regular human — although the show (Sundays at 10 p.m.) has revealed that he’s an American member of the Gestapo with shadowy motives.
When he’s not in fantasy stories, Sherwood, 30, has also rocked out playing a young Mick Jagger (in the 2012 movie “Not Fade Away”) and has starred in a 2015 Taylor Swift music video (for the pop star’s hit “Style”).
Sherwood spoke with The Post about “Penny Dreadful,” spending his quarantine doing archery in his backyard and more.
What attracted you to “Penny Dreadful?”
I wanted to stretch muscles that I hadn’t really stretched before. When “Penny” hit my desk, it was a no-brainer. At the time, I knew Nathan [Lane] and Natalie [Dormer] were attached — two fantastic, world-renowned actors, and the opportunity to work with them was invaluable. And of course [creator] John Logan as well. The man wrote “Gladiator.” What more needs to be said? I wanted to come on and learn as much as I could and absorb everything around me.
I’ve also never really played sort of a bad guy, properly. So the concept of doing that was interesting. Kurt is this duplicitous character that could be actually quite soft and gentle and heartfelt, but is also such an evil person in his bones — he really does have a level of intolerance that is so disgusting to view and be a part of as an audience.
Since you’ve now done several supernatural projects, is this a genre that interests you?
It is more of a coincidence. I adored being in the supernatural world; there’s something really special about taking what’s completely imaginative and throwing that to an audience in an elegant and spectacular way. That being said, it was something I wanted to stray away from when my last show “Shadowhunters” came to an end. It was amazing, and I had a really good time doing it, but I had just done it for four years. When this came about, the interesting part for me is that as far as Kurt knows, he never interacts with the supernatural. Of course, we know as an audience that he does but for me, as an actor, I’m treating [this role] as within realism, because he’s completely unaware that the supernatural exists.
What kind of preparation did you do?
I did a huge amount [of research], especially with a lot of the way the Gestapo were trained and why they would have been sent back to America. So much of what our story is is based on surrealist reality. A lot of this stuff happened. There were Nazi American sympathizers in that time [and] it was sort of Hitler’s idea to try and infiltrate Los Angeles. I didn’t know that the German American Bund would have marches all over America, and I think that’s because history is written by those who win the wars. Something that’s obviously very embarrassing is kind of written out. I’m not sure that’s something I agree with — I think history is something that we need to learn from, so we don’t make those mistakes again.
Although the show initially makes it seem like Kurt might be German, he’s revealed to be American. Did you model your accent off of anyone in particular?
John [Logann] and I were talking about the iterations of what an American accent in the 1930s would have been. It is sort of like a quasi-mid Atlantic.
How are you spending your time during the quarantine?
I have a tomato plant that’s not doing great, if I’m being completely honest. I have a dog and a cat — it’s a very strange phenomenon when a dog is bored of going on walks before the human is. The dog is like, “Ah, really, do we have to? We just came back from one!”
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