Talking fear and myths with Nathan D. Simmons in MGM+ series FROM

FROM - Courtesy MGM+
FROM - Courtesy MGM+ /

Nathan D. Simmons plays Elgin, a newcomer to the mysterious nowhere town in the MGM+ horror series FROM. He is a Canadian actor whose credits include legal drama Diggstown and comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

In the first episode, Elgin comes in on a bus that’s carrying around 25 people. When he wakes up from his nap he stands and immediately, loudly begs the bus driver to turn around, declaring that he’s had a premonition of awful things coming if they stay on course.

He gets progressively more agitated, with the other passengers trying to stop him, until he throws up and the bus is forced to stop to deal with the ruckus and the mess he’s caused. But by then it’s too late to turn back or do much of anything since they have stopped at the town diner.

Harold Perrineau From MGM+
FROM – Courtesy MGM+ /

Night is coming down quick on the town and everybody who’s watched season one will be familiar with the murderous grinning creatures that come out in the darkness. Elgin and the rest of the bus passengers don’t know it yet, but this mystery town is now their new home.

Like the rest of the town’s residents, they’re trapped and must eke out a life while being hunted at night by nightmarish things that can mimic humans but are most definitely not people.

In episode one of FROM’s second season, titled “Strangers in a Strange Land,” we find out how fast Elgin and the others from the bus can wrap their heads around what’s happening, at least to listen to the longtime residents and survive the first few nights.

From – Courtesy MGM+
From – Courtesy MGM+ /

Especially since it looks like Elgin, like a few characters we’ve seen in the previous season, has a special connection to the place. He sensed a danger that led to his breakdown in the bus. Throughout the rest of the second season, Elgin forms connections with the residents and has his own discoveries regarding the mysteries of the creatures.

In this interview, Simmons and I talked about the mythology of the series, how he approached his character introduction in the first episode, and some techniques he’s taken from theater in portraying fear, so it looks like one is legitimately scared on screen.

The following transcript has been edited for clarity but is otherwise verbatim. You can listen to excerpts from the interview in the link below.

Canadian actor Natahan D. Simmons stars in season 2 of MGM+ horror series FROM
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 20: Actor Nathan D. Simmons special screening of “From S2” at The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever on April 20, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images) /

Chatting about fear and FROM’s wicked mythology with Nathan D. Simmons

1428 ELM: Going into this series and having read that opening scene on the bus that introduces your character Elgin, was there nervousness or anxiety coming in because obviously nobody was going to believe him. He’s a bit like Cassandra from Greek myth where he needs to say the things he’s seen with that sort of oracular sight, yet nobody’s going to believe him.

NATHAN D. SIMMONS: Yeah, there was a lot, there was a lot of fear. That was like my second day and it was a hot day, the bus was burning up. I was meeting a lot of the cast for the first time, like AJ [Simmons, who plays Randall], for example.

It’s a scene that I liked a lot and it’s actually one of my audition scenes so I really wanted to hit it on the head. Overall once it got going, it was like just so fun. The bus was actually moving as well and the stakes were just high. It was a really fun scene to shoot and it really did remove all anxieties that I had as I was moving through it.

1428 ELM: This is currently one the best cult hit shows and it’s absolutely gory, which I love it. Having seen season one and knowing you booked the role, what did you think of the level of gore and the depth of the mythology compounded with how the stakes are really high? Hey, anybody can get killed over here!

NATHAN D. SIMMONS: Oh, my God. Oh, jeez. Honestly, I got so mad at the show when I was watching it before I got on. When they killed some characters I don’t know why, I didn’t even love some of them but I was so mad. But that’s part of it.

I didn’t think they were going to be hitting characters off like that and it really does cause this fear because you have developed connections with certain characters. They don’t use a lot of jumpscares in the show but more like tension. And so adding that fear in the suspense of, oh, shoot, is my character on the line right now? That really does adds a lot to the show.

1428 ELM: The mythology, like in Lost, goes really deep. What are your thoughts on it and where they might lead Elgin and the others characters?

NATHAN D. SIMMONS: There’s a lot of mythology that goes on, I’m trying to think me and it’s funny me and one of my cast mates Pegah [Ghafoori] had long conversations about this. There was one, I think it was a video just explaining some mythologies about it that I thought was interesting. And it was the gist about Norse mythology, and how certain characters tie into that.

What that will mean made me really start thinking and as I ponder my mind and going on to like, oh, shoot, okay, add this together, you know, the Ragnarok and all these other things, where’s the show going? And that, but that’s just one piece of mythology. And then there’s some other artistic things he was talking about too.

It’s like, there’s a lot that adds to it, but it really it can go anywhere. That’s what makes it so exciting is that there’s so much mythology and you can it helps you create assumptions with where the show is going to go based on what you research. I don’t even know what’s going on in John’s [Griffin, series creator] mind but that’s something

1428 ELM: We would love to know as well!

NATHAN D. SIMMONS: I tell you every time I see him, I pry. I pry. But it’s such a great experience watching it, right?

1428 ELM: Absolutely! So I am currently looking at your Instagram and correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve done quite a lot of work in theater, too?

NATHAN D. SIMMONS: I did quite a bit of theater, here in Novia Scotia and in Canada I’ve had opportunity to work across the country. Which is great and I love theater! It’s like an addiction, you get that instant response. You do something and people react immediately.

I did FROM last year and only now am I hearing people say, “oh, you know, good job!” Which feels really good! But theater is, like, if you mess up you feel it, they feel it. They really liked that performance? You feel it, too.

1428 ELM: That kind of instant feedback you get from there is obviously so different from working in TV now as you said. Especially in horror, it’s such a different discipline, and portraying fear on-screen can be such different level of difficulty that seems simple, but actually has levels to it. What is your process or personal tricks with portraying emotions like horror or fear so it doesn’t some across as caricaturish or cartoonish to the viewer?

NATHAN D. SIMMONS: I work with one director named Philip Aiken and another one named Nigel Shawn Williams. They said, for example, anger and fear, that no one’s just ever angry, there’s always reasons why they build up to that.

Even with fear, like, I don’t think I’m just scared right away, I build to it. What’s making me scared? What is my internal monologue? That brings me to what’s triggering me to get to that emotional state from a logical stance. I find that if I go that route—what’s triggering me and why is it triggering me—then I’m just there.

It’s a lot easier and a lot less exhausting. I want to feel it in my body. So if I can say: “This triggers me because of this.” And now this made me think of this. Now it’s in my body more than just being “I’m scared all the time.” Because it doesn’t feel as natural for me.

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