Interview: How Derek Mears navigated the role of Swamp Thing

1 of 2

Swamp Thing – Courtesy of DC Universe

Derek Mears talks to 1428 Elm about how amazing it was to work with talented artists like James Wan, Crystal Reed, and more on season one of Swamp Thing.

Derek Mears has played his fair share of monsters over the years. From the classic Predator in the 2010 film, Predators, to Jason Voorhees himself in the 2009 Friday the 13th remake, Mears knows his way around special effects and prosthetics. His latest project is one of his most daunting, yet rewarding, projects as he takes on the iconic mantle of DC hero, Alec Holland, also known as Swamp Thing.

Mears shares the title role with Andy Bean, who portrays the human side of Alec, while Mears dons an elaborate (but practical) suit to play the guardian of the green. We had the opportunity to chat with Derek Mears about his work on season one of the DC Universe show, Swamp Thing. He tells us about his work with the cast, his process for getting into character, his hopes for the series’ future and much more!

1428 Elm: What were your initial thoughts when you first read the script for Swamp Thing?

Derek Mears: I get to be part of something super cool. When the writers and showrunners came up with this idea for Swamp Thing my jaw just dropped. I was so excited. It’s magic. I was eager to jump into it as soon as possible.

1428 Elm: So far it’s been amazing. I wasn’t sure how Swamp Thing would translate to a television show and I’ve been impressed. 

DM: That makes me so happy. Thank you so much for checking out the show! I was similar in that when I was first told I was short-listed for the character, I had a little bit of trepidation. Like how are they going to do a watered-down, all ages, Swamp Thing show? And then I was told it was gonna have James Wan, be hard-R and follow Alan Moore’s run. I was like “what!? I’m on board.” I’m very happy to be a part of the project.

1428 Elm: Were you familiar with James Wan before you got the role?

DM: Yes, James and I met when he was doing Saw. He was one of those guys who stood out because he was so honest and vibrant. All these years, seeing him blow up and prosper, makes me so happy that a good guy is winning. I will support him because I know his heart in the right place.

1428 Elm: He’s basically a horror icon at this point between Saw and The Conjuring. He definitely brings an interesting take to Swamp Thing.

DM: For sure. I was so happy early on when we were talking about the show because the word “superhero” was never really mentioned. It was more like, “we want to do an adult horror drama.”

More from 1428 Elm

1428 Elm: Swamp Thing is a unique role because you have to share it with Andy Bean. What was it like to share the character with someone like that?

DM: Andy Bean is a prince of a human being. He was so open to sharing his process. At one point, Andy offered his journal notes for the character or anything I needed. We had a beautiful collaborative dance. We would discuss all the aspects of the characters and go down all these crazy existential rabbit holes. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.

1428 Elm: Did you have a certain process for getting into the mindset of Swamp Thing?

DM: “Don’t pass out,” was the first thought in the suit. But absolutely, with any character you have your own breakdown and research, you have your own bible going into the character.

After a while, my body kind of morphed into the right mindset when I would get the make-up and suit on. My speech would automatically begin to slow down. It’s like my body remembered what it was supposed to do on a subconscious level.

Were you surprised by how much of the costume was practical?

DM: I wasn’t surprised so much as I was excited. I think it’s a fine point in modern filmmaking where you can marry the practicality with the CGI. I love when you can’t tell either way.

There was so much TLC and thought put into the suit. Knowing I’d be wearing it for eight months, I have nothing but respect for the geniuses who designed it. I can’t thank them enough.