5 Questions with 'Under The Dome's' Alexander Koch
By Jarett Wieselman
The ratings were just as high as the tension in, and the concept of, CBS' Under The Dome (it snared more than 13 million viewers with its series premiere). And tonight's all-new episode continues to drop hints as to why someone might believe the world is safer having been cut off from the mysterious Chester's Mill and its even more mysterious citizens.
Particularly Junior Rennie, who went from doting boyfriend to disturbed kidnapper in record time -- although to hear Alexander Koch tell it, his character's reprehensible choices stem from a truly damaged and surprisingly compassionate place.
ETonline: What attracted you to Under The Dome?
Alexander Koch: It was so different from any pilot script I'd ever read before. I'm so hesitant to do leading man character roles because I think they can be a little boring in terms of needing to be the everyman who navigates the amazing stuff around them, but I just felt like Junior was this great, unique character that brings an unexpected element to the show. He's got all these secrets and all these mysteries that will be slowly revealed over the season -- having secrets the audience doesn't know about is like knowing you always having a card up your sleeve. It's fun.
ETonline: At this point, Junior seems like a nutbag. How do you view him?
Koch: You know, I think as the series goes on, people will start to understand where he's coming from. He had a really bad experience with losing his mother at an early age and it's tough living under Big Jim's roof -- he's not an easy dad to have, and they have this awkward relationship. I mean, that hug was one of 10 times his father has ever hugged him and, over the first season, you'll come to see why they have such a strange dynamic.
ETonline: OK, but you have to admit kidnapping one's girlfriend is not a very sane thing to do. What's your take on his sanity?
Koch: Junior is very much a person who craves love and attention from someone. He's trying to get the love back he lost when his mom died and something in Angie reminds him of that nurturing love that he craves. Once he loses it again, it's like going through drug withdrawal, so he does horrible things to get Angie back because she makes him feel so loved. He believes they're meant to be together. No one wakes up and says, "I'm going to lock my girlfriend up today." Something went wrong in his life and you'll see what that tragic past is and how it led Junior to this point.
ETonline: Junior also seemed to develop a really strong hatred for Barbie quite quickly. Where do you think that comes from?
Koch: Junior thinks all this dome stuff is getting in Angie's head and making her act in this crazy way. He believes it has something to do with Barbie. Junior sees this stranger as a harbinger of [doom] and the person who caused the love of his life to pull away. And I'll tell you, it gets pretty heated between those two. There's a situation coming up where Junior catches Barbie doing something a little bit iffy, and that only gives him more evidence that Barbie is the bad guy who not only caused the dome to happen, but also caused Angie not to love him. That cements Junior's need to rectify that.
ETonline: What are you excited for people to see in the coming weeks on Under The Dome?
Koch: You'll start to see more of the reasoning behind Junior's decisions -- he doesn't see himself as a bad person doing bad things. You'll see how he builds up these stories in his mind about what's going on. Some of them are true, some are not true, but he believes them all. I think there's a very sweet quality to Junior and even when he's doing horrible things, there's a sensitivity and calmness that makes him feel like he's doing the right thing with Angie. He believes they're going to be together, run off together, have kids and lead a loving life. But there's also this explosive element in Junior -- after years of abuse from his father and trying to fit into this town's idea of this high school jock/bully, he kind of doesn't know who he is anymore. He’s like the guy at the post office who just loses it one day. And Angie dumping Junior is what makes him lose it.