Playing the Bad Guy

Myles Clohessy of "Last Ferry" on finding connections through acting

| 23 Apr 2020 | 04:44

Myles Clohessy is one of television's biggest bad guys. The up-and-coming 26 year-old actor is making a name for himself in the entertainment industry by playing murderers and criminals on major TV shows such as "Quantico," "The Blacklist," "Blue Bloods" and "Bull." In his latest film, "Last Ferry" (currently streaming on Netflix), Clohessy plays Rafael, a gay ex-Marine who murders his fiancé while they are at Fire Island for the weekend. Clohessy's chilling and visceral performance jumps right off the screen. We sat down with the actor - who lives on the Upper East Side - to talk about how to play a bad boy, the gay community and what makes a great performance.

I have to admit: I am a little afraid of you after watching this movie.

(Laughs) That's what some of my friends have said. I'm like, "it's okay, it's okay. I won't kill you. Trust me."

This character you play is so different from your own personality. How did you step into the shoes of such an unlikable, evil character while playing this role?

I think with every character you kind of just have to find your personal connections. And obviously, I haven't murdered anyone. I think everyone has gone through traumatic events, or events that have been depressing or sad. You try to find personal connections where you can connect with the character. And obviously it's hard to connect with someone that kills their boyfriend on their honeymoon.

And other than that, with that sort of character, it's just playing off the other actors. The rest of the cast was just so good in it that it was just kind of easy to play off everyone else.

How do you play a character like Rafael without judging him?

Especially with "bad guys" or villains, you can never judge them. You always have to find justification for what they're doing. Every bad guy or killer, in their own head, has an extreme justification that they think is right for killing someone. Or doing something bad.

It's hard though— it's definitely hard. Because as a normal person, you're like, "I wouldn't kill someone." But there are people out there who do crazy things like that. And they think it's justified. So you kind of have to find that "in" with the character.

In "Last Ferry," you played a gay character. How did you approach the role differently with the character's sexuality in mind?

I didn't prepare for it in any different way than I would have a straight character. I think everything's the same: I love my best friend Cameron, I love my boyfriend. One thing I was able to play with a little bit was throwing a little sexual energy in there with my scenes with Ramon [actor Ramon O. Torres]. Other than that, I approached it the same way as I would any other character, really.

"Last Ferry" is an LGBT film. What did you learn about the gay community while doing this film?

I think what was important about the film was [how it] represented the wide array of personalities in the gay community, and representing everyone. I think sometimes in film and TV, the gay community is represented in one kind of way, as like, "the feminine man," or "the guy that's a queen," whereas I think there's a wide array of people in the gay community that's not represented in film and T.V.

What is the hardest thing about being an actor?

I think any actor would say the rejection's always the hardest part. Everyone from an A-list celebrity to people on the bottom of the totem pole says the same thing: Rejection's always the hardest part, because it's ninety-nine percent of your life. Imagine anyone else going into a job interview every day of their life, and they get rejected ninety-nine percent of the time. It's like a staggering amount.

So you have to have a really thick skin, I think. It's definitely tough. But it's always worth it in the end, if you persevere and stick to the craft.

What makes a great performance?

That's such a hard question. At least for a known actor, it's so transformative that you don't see that known actor; you just see whatever character they're playing. And I think in a broad sense of any actor, I think just someone that truly moves you. The performances where you make someone tear up, or you cry, or laugh, like really laugh. I think those performance are the best you can get, because you make someone else feel something else. The best performances I've seen, they've transformed me in a way while I've watched them. They've made me cry, they made me laugh, they've made me talk about it, think about it for days, weeks, years after. I think those are the types of performances that stick with me.

In college, you were a Division 1 soccer player. What did you learn about acting from playing soccer?

My friends all make fun of me, because there's this thing in soccer called "diving," where you fake getting hurt [while playing]. I would do a lot of that, so I think I was always acting on the soccer field. I think learning to work with a team in soccer went right over to acting: learning to work with all the different personalities you're going to find on a set. Or in theater, where people are totally bonkers, and [you have to] work with all these personalities. I think it's the same thing with soccer: you gotta work with all these different personalities as a team to achieve the same end goal.

And then the hard work and the training aspect of it: you have to wake up every day at five thirty a.m. to go train for two hours in the weight room, and then you go to the field to train for two hours. So it's the same thing with acting: you gotta wake up, you gotta study your lines, you gotta study your script, you gotta memorize your lines. It's all the same hard work and perseverance that you put into the field that you put on the stage or on the set.

Your father, Robert Clohessy, is an actor. What are some of the most important lessons he has taught you about acting?

He always just instilled in me to always have fun with it. Because like I said, you have to have a tough skin to be in the business, there's a lot of rejection, there's so much competition. His biggest tip is just have fun with it, do your work, keep your head down, do the craft, and not worry about everyone else and all the other things going on. Because you can't control anything else — you can only control what you're doing.

This interview has been edited and condensed.