The first season of Limitless has been chock full of so many twists and turns, that even the cast didn’t know where the season would take them! Now that the two part season finale is upon us, we sat down with some of the cast to talk about what it’s really like to live in their Limitless world. Set your DVR for part one of the Limitless season finale tonight at 10/9c on CBS.
What drew you to this project?
I had seen the film and was fan, but for me the people involved in the project were a really big draw—not just Bradley [Cooper] but [director] Marc Webb. I was hesitant to do network TV, because I had just had a show I worked on be canceled, so to getting back on the horse was hard. You live in this state of perpetual fear for the first ten episodes that air because everything is dependent on ratings and numbers. But this was really the only network television script that I was looking at, and the script was so good and the people involved were so great. It was presented to me that Bradley had me in mind for the role, and I didn’t believe it—but I took the leap! It’s really cool to play a character that so much of the action revolves around. As seasons go on, if we do get them, I hope we tap into the power of the pill more and more.
Did you feel any extra pressure with this role since the Limitless world had already been introduced through the film?
No, not really. I just really wanted to do well the same way you always do with a new role, especially when people like Bradley are vouching for you. I think there would have been more pressure if this series was trying to reinvent the movie, or neglect some of the events of the film by starting over with no ties to it. The fact that we’re expanding on an existing world appealed to me—it just feels like an adjacent storyline. If we were recasting Bradley’s character with me, it would have been weird. But since Brian is a brand new character, that made it exciting and made it feel like a comic book or graphic novel.
Did you feel like you had the breadth and freedom to create your own character within that world?
It certainly got that way throughout the season! We established rules of the world but then we were able to expand on them. And I think we were able to tap into a lot of humor that I think has made the show special. That’s where I like to operate most—I don’t have to take myself too seriously. And I think it separates Brian from Eddie Morra, so I feel like I was really able to create something that was wholly my own.
Viewers are used to seeing you kick ass and take names, but what’s been your favorite part of playing Rebecca as opposed to Deb (Dexter)?
It’s funny because it’s definitely a double-edged sword, which I didn’t expect. I’ve really enjoyed the levity of this show. I think it’s something that my life called for considering I have so much waiting for me at home everyday, which is why I’m always in such a hurry to get there! So keeping it light, especially with my scenes with Brian and the way we relate to each other is so much fun. But I do long for the exercise of being tested like I was on Dexter. You know she was a character—you know I wasn’t aware of it at the time—but she rarely had cause to smile or say many positive things. So it’s not that I miss the weightiness of it, but I miss the challenge of: how does a person who’s had so many strikes, how can she hit a home run? I’m happy to be away, but I kind of miss that sometimes.
The relationship between Brian and Rebecca is special—sometimes they act like they’re brother and sister. How’s their relationship going to play out during the rest of the season?
I feel like calling it a brother-sister relationship is the most expeditious way of saying they’re not dating, and we don’t plan on them dating. It doesn’t actually feel familial at all, but it feels like from the instant I met Jake he felt like someone I had known for a while. And he has so many qualities that I admire, so when we get on camera together there’s a familiarity and shorthand that exists between us.
Your character has some pretty serious personal motivations around NZT—do you think these will cloud her judgment moving forward?
No, because it’s one of the only pieces of Rebecca’s back story that’s shared with the audience. When you only get one you attach all these worries and concerns around it. Yes, she has feelings around NZT, and maybe she’s not used to talking about those feelings with her co-workers… but I actually think that she received a lot of therapy about that, I mean it was free through work! So I don’t think she’s paralyzed by those feelings like maybe Deb was.
How do you prepare for a new role?
I have rituals when I start thinking of a character and I have secrets—I think every character that you tackle should have a secret. I mean these are things that I usually don’t share, because I don’t want people to know haha. But I think that every time you meet a new character that you’re going to play, you should have a secret about that character and not tell the show runner, the audience or anyone.
How has joining the cast of Limitless been?
I love it because the challenge of the character is so different. You know in CSI I was the guy that everyone came to for answers—I was the smart guy that everyone loved. In this case I’m the antagonistic character, so I like that!
Your character is definitely known for giving epic ‘side eye’!
Haha yeah, and I think the reason why my character tolerates so much is because his goal is to catch the bad guys.
I read somewhere that you made up a lot of your character’s background. Is this something that you’ve done for previous roles in other projects?
You have to fill in the narrative, and if you don’t you lose something. You have to know where your character is coming from. You know, why does he stand a certain wait or talk a certain way? Where is he from? I like that idea of filling in that narrative. You want logic—you have to decide why you’re making the choices you’re making to really make it truthful. Maybe people don’t notice the difference, but I can. You hope that it also gives the writers a few clues or something they can hang their hat on when they’re writing. Every actor wants to feel rooted because it makes you feel like you have context for what you’re saying, so creating a history does that.
What are you most excited about viewers seeing in these last few episodes?
To me, NZT has from the beginning always been the star of the show. What’s so interesting to me is that this is a glimpse into the future, because this kind of technology is coming. Who knows what’s being tested in private, but there are several nootropic drugs that exist today. What else isn’t currently available to the public but is being worked on in private? Marry that with implanted technology, and the possibilities are endless. So I’m so excited for viewers to see how NZT plays out in the last few episodes, and I’m excited for more people to discover the show. Word of mouth is so strong so I think that as people start catching up on their DVRs and talking about it, it’s going to have a really nice life all summer long. The show takes a lot of risk and people are really reacting to that!
Are you relishing your role as the resident bad guy?
Well, he’s a real sociopath and I just love playing him! I think he’s a symptom of the world we’re in. I think his genesis is so interesting having come from that punk background—which is actually my background—the fact that he’s been brought into this world of MI6 and made to become that operative. He’s just brutalized. He’s great fun to play because I always play good guys. But for some reason people think I play bad guys—people think I’m evil—so fuck it! This is proper evil. Brian brings out the humanity in him though—he gets darker and I get lighter. It’s great!
What drew you to this project?
I loved the movie and the premise was so fascinating. It really feels like the world of Limitless is a new universe, so I was really keen on that. I call this world pharma-fiction! You think of a piece of fiction like Alice in Wonderland—introducing hallucinogens to a narrative really changes everything—and I’m always drawn to unique projects.
The season is almost over—what are you most excited for viewers to experience in the last few episodes?
Well I think we’ve succeeded in creating the Limitless universe, which was really key for me. I’ve been getting stopped in the streets when I travel to places like Hong Kong, so the response from the public has been really incredible. That’s so exciting. It’s always going to take time with a new series but the network has been really supportive as well. But what am I really excited for? The beginnings of the nemesis—I think my character is now moving into a realm of danger, and every hero needs a good nemesis.