We had the chance recently to talk with actor Adam David Thompson about his career, some of his recent roles, and the direction television appears to be heading. He has recurring roles on WGN’s Outsiders, Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle, and recently starred in an independent science fiction thriller Here Alone, which is available on multiple streaming platforms found here and Amazon DVD.
First, the question I always love asking because I’m a big fan of stories: how did you get here? What led you into acting and what did your career trajectory look like?
Adam David Thompson: Wow. How did I get here? I always liked inhabiting characters and investigating the human experience, so it felt like a natural progression into acting. After almost throwing up from stage fright before my first play in high school, I fell in love with the stage. After graduating from FSU with a degree in acting I moved to NYC. I began my career doing mainly commercials, then made the transition to film, then eventually into television.
Do you have any specific future dreams/goals?
ADT: I would love to do more theatre. I long for the immediate actor/audience connection. The feeling of being able to inhabit a character for two hours a night through an entire emotional journey, then pack up your things and hop on the subway. I miss that feeling of completion.
I am most familiar with your work on Mozart in the Jungle, which happens to be one of my favorite shows right now. What have you enjoyed about being on the show and how is the energy on set?
ADT: There is not one single thing that I don’t like about being in Mozart in the Jungle. I love the cast, crew, and creative team behind Mozart. After three seasons, these people feel like family. The energy on set is always creatively welcoming. No one is trying to top one another, rather giving each other the opportunity to be a creative partner. The series regulars and creators of the show really cultivate that atmosphere.
Mozart in the Jungle is an Amazon original series. What differences, if any, have you noticed between working with a streaming platform and working with a traditional network or cable show?
ADT: The one thing that comes to mind is the difference with working on a show that you know comes out weekly, as opposed to a show that you can binge. The shows people are able to binge feels more like shooting a long film, whereas the weekly episodic shows feel more fragmented in a way.
One of the coolest things Mozart in the Jungle did last season, in my opinion, is film at Rikers while legitimately playing music for inmates who got a chance to participate in the show. What was that experience like for you?
ADT: It was one of the most eye opening experiences of my career. Being at Rikers was entering the unknown. We had been informed of all the ins and outs of the jail, but had no real idea what we were in for, especially because that episode was unscripted. Watching the inmates being moved by the music of Messiaen (who was a prisoner himself when he wrote the piece) affected me deeply in ways I never could have imagined. I am grateful to have been a part of that.
Do you watch your own performances and/or enjoy watching the shows/movies you’re a part of?
ADT: First of all, I never do shows/movies that I wouldn’t watch. When it comes to performance, I usually watch it once, then try to never watch it again. The more I watch, the more I nitpick, so I limit myself to one viewing.
From your perspective, what is the most exciting thing happening in television right now?
ADT: I think that the volume of television is unlike anything we have seen before. With the growing popularity of streaming, there is a ton of programming available. This allows for exciting new voices to be heard that wouldn’t necessarily have had that opportunity before.
I want to transition to talk about your latest film, Here Alone. Who is your character and what is the challenge he is facing?
ADT: My character’s name is Chris. The main challenge for all the characters in the film is surviving. But what sets Chris apart is that he chooses to cope with his situation in a more optimistic way than his counterparts. That is what drew me to him. I always look at Chris and hope that if I were in a similar situation (god forbid) that I would handle it similarly.
What did you most enjoy about the process of filming Here Alone? What did you enjoy least?
ADT: I enjoyed the people I worked with the most. Everyone on set got along and worked hard. We knew that what we were making was bigger than us as individuals. What did I enjoy least? That it had to end.
If you woke up tomorrow and were faced with the post-apocalyptic scenario in Here Alone, what is the first thing you would do?
ADT: Let’s hope that doesn’t happen! I would make sure that my family was safe and move them far, far away. I would also raid a sporting goods store and arm myself for the mobs of zombies. Baseball bats are always a requirement.
Final question: if you had 30 seconds in an elevator to convince a complete stranger to see Here Alone, what would you say?
ADT: It’s unlike any zombie/genre film you have ever seen. It is a story about three people trying to cope with tragedy, and each other, set in the post-apocalypse. It is a human story that is amplified by the infected world they find themselves in. But it also has heart. I lovingly refer to it as a RomZom.
Our sincere thanks to Adam David Thompson for sitting down to talk with us! We hope you’ll check out his latest film, Here Alone, and catch some of his other work on the small screen.