2016 is turning into a rather busy year for Owen Harn. The actor is currently in the midst of an arc as the ever-so-wonderfully-named Kill Face on “Devious Maids,” and he’s got both an arc on HBO’s “Vice Principals” and a spot on Cinemax’s upcoming “Quarry” on the horizon.
Earlier this week, we had a chance to speak with Owen about what went into creating such a memorable character on the Lifetime drama, getting to take on more humorous roles after playing serious and/or terrifying people for many years, and why working with “Vice Principals” co-creator Danny McBride was one of the biggest thrills of his career to date.
CarterMatt – What did you think about the idea of Kill Face when you were first cast as it? How was he pitched?
Owen Harn – I got a call saying ‘here, I got an interesting role. If you want it, you can take it.’ told him ‘okay.’ I’ve seen every episode of ‘Desperate Housewives’ with my wife, and I was familiar with the comedy. I just hadn’t seen the show. But I said ‘absolutely.’ I wouldn’t mind having a kill tattoo above my forehead. (Laughs.)
How long did it take to get that tattoo applied every time?
Probably about ten minute. They don’t usually put too much makeup on me; they like me rough.
As you’d seen every episode of ‘Desperate Housewives,’ is the experience of working on the show reflective of what you thought it’d be?
Yeah. Everybody was nice and excited about my character. The cast had read all of the episodes and thought he was a funny character and they were excited to meet Kill Face. They were great to work with.
Most of your scenes so far have been with the Spence character. How would you describe that relationship?
Kill Face is a huge fan of Spence Westmore. He and the other inmates watch him playing Dr. Lance on ‘Love Affairs.’ He’ll do anything for him, but at the same time he doesn’t want Spence to piss him off [thanks in part to] the play.
I know you can’t really talk about if the play happens or not, but when you were reading the scripts did you start to wonder what this sort of play would look like?
Oh absolutely. I was getting all of these ideas in my head! They kept writing me into more episodes, and there’s a couple of more the rest of this season. I can’t give it away, but there are some funny scenes in there for sure.
Would you like to know any more of his backstory? Obviously he did some very bad things, the guy’s name is Kill Face, but do you think there’s something more to him, a good heart somewhere underneath all of that?
Oh yea, I think he’s killed over 70 people but he’s a good family man. Eventually got caught for more than five of those murders and got put away. Who knows how people he’s shanked already in prison?
I think he’s got a good heart deep down, but I think he’s got a short fuse.
What was it like shooting that scene with Spencer and shiv? It obviously had some larger implications for the story in this past episode.
Grant [Show] was worried about ‘okay, where are you going to hit me with this?’ (Laughs.) He wanted me to be cautious and of course I was, always am. But it was fun to do that, and we did it differently every single time. We had to keep each other from laughing a lot of the time.
I know you don’t get to interact with a lot of other cast members on-screen, but were many of them around during your scenes? Did you experience a little bit of the rest of the world of the show?
Yeah, they’re all there because they shoot multiple episodes at a time. They do the block scheduling that way. I got to do a table read so I was there with pretty much all of the cast except for one person.
You mentioned you were going to be in a little bit more of this season. Is this something you’d want to play again down the line? Let’s say season 5 happens and you’re asked back.
Yeah, absolutely. I loved working in Atlanta, they’re out in Stone Mountain and it’s nice. It’s nice to do comedy for a change because I’m always playing the bad guy, either killing people or getting killed. It’s nice to not be doing stunts all of the time.
It’s a great transition over to ‘Vice Principals’ since it’s another comedy, and I know you’ve done dramatic stuff. Is there a different preparation for you doing comedy, or do you view it as the same thing, only with a different script and environment?
I prefer comedy, because I got into this business to do comedy. I’m tall, so they wanted me to put on weight and muscle. I put on like 40 pounds of muscle and the hair and beard, and then just played these bad-guy roles and then all of a sudden with ‘Vice Principals,’ I actually booked [it] before ‘Devious Maids.’ We shot it last year, and it was perfect for me, and it couldn’t have been written any better. I threw my audition on tape, and they immediately got back to me and signed me on.
It was a dream come true, because I’m a huge fan of Danny McBride. ‘Eastbound & Down’ is my favorite comedic series. Getting to work with him was just amazing.
That’s great, because that was going to be my next question, if you were a big fan.
Oh, I was a huge fan. I’ve watched every episode three times, and when I first met him he was like ‘dude, your f—ing audition was amazing dude,’ and I was like ‘holy s–t,’ because it was great to hear that from him.
Did you get to watch the first episode?
Yeah, I watched it when it hit. I thought it was hilarious. It’s not going to be ‘Eastbound & Down,’ but I’ve read some of the episodes and it crosses the line. I love that type of humor, shock humor, and it’s not your average sitcom, which is great because I’m not big on sitcoms at all. I like the crude humor, the vulgarity.
Was there a different sort of energy on set because this is kind of a weird show? Usually there’s that sort of wondering whether or not you’re coming back, but here they’ve already decided to do [just eighteen episodes] and that’s it.
They didn’t tell me that when I got there, they just told me that they were filming seasons 1 and 2 back to back, and HBO believes in Danny so they knew right away that the show was going to be a hit. They were looking forward to it. I figured that it would be 1-3 seasons; I figured that it wouldn’t get past three, because that’s not really his style to keep it going. ‘Eastbound & Down’ ended at four.
Is there anything you can say about the ‘Vice Principals’ part in general terms?
I’m kind of a racist bully, but I really get into it with the guys, both Walton [Goggins] and Danny. We get to have a lot of fun on-screen. (Laughs.)
What was it like getting into it with Walton, a guy who like you has done a lot of work in dramas before this?
He was a blast to work with, he was so funny — I couldn’t believe how funny he was until I saw him in person and saw his character. He said to me (Note: Owen does amazing Walton Goggins impression) ‘you know Owen, if we were working on any other show, my character would have killed your character by now.’ There was one scene where I said ‘can I spit on you in this take,’ and he was like ‘Owen, I don’t give a f–k, f—ing spit on me, man!’ (Laughs) It’ll be interesting to see if they use that take or not.
Is there anything else you have coming up that you’d like to promote?
Yeah, I’m guest-starring on episode 2 of Cinemax’s ‘Quarry.’ That’s coming out in September. That’s going to be a really brutal show. ‘Banshee’ really set the tone for Cinemax. It lured people in, and they’ve added more shows over the years. This is the same executive producer of ‘Banshee’ [Greg Yaitanes] but he’s also directing the entire series. I’ve never been on anything that brutal in terms of graphic violence. Any film or any show. I couldn’t believe it.
Our thanks to Owen for chatting with us about his experiences on “Devious Maids” and “Vice Principals”. If you do want some other news right now when it comes to “Devious Maids,” be sure to head over to this link right now. Also, sign up over here to score some other TV news on all we cover, sent right over to you via our official CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: Lifetime.)