A veteran of both the DC Comics live-action and animated worlds, Phil Morris plays another iconic character starting with today’s new episode of Doom Patrol on DC Universe, where he plays Silas Stone, father of Victor a.k.a. Cyborg.
We spoke with Mr. Morris earlier this week about his return to DC TV and what we can expect from Silas Stone as Doom Patrol Season 1 goes on. Enjoy, and if you haven’t subscribed to DC Universe already to see this great show and other exclusive content, you can do so here!
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: When you were cast as Silas Stone, did they come to you, or did you have to audition like everyone else?
PHIL MORRIS: I had to audition like everyone else, which in a way I like, because then you are tested, and they have certified you, and they know that you know their words, and that you know their universe as opposed to prior experiences. It’s great to be offered, I’m sure… I haven’t been offered a lot… but this method seems to me to be the most salient for all involved.
Can you talk about the relationship that Silas has with his son, Victor?
I have a son as well, so I know it pretty well and pretty organically. Silas Stone is bound to help his son because he lost his wife. Obviously he loves his son very much, and in losing his wife, he realizes that he just can’t go through that again. So when his son had this horrible accident and he goes to help him with this alien technology, he kind of foregoes his fatherly duties emotionally, and goes straight to survival, to try and save the last member of his family that is alive.
I think that creates a sort of distance between he and Victor that is difficult for Victor to understand. Silas seems to feel like he understands it, because he has a mission that is greater than what his son sees, which is just kind of the traditional father-son relationship. And it’s very difficult. It makes Silas a little cold, a little distant, not as engaged with his son emotionally, because I think he’s really in a survival mode, and that’s hard for a son who doesn’t understand why his father isn’t as emotionally connected to him as he would like. It makes it very difficult. Silas doesn’t quite see that.
Do you think Silas is like a stage parent, living vicariously through Vic in helping people?
I don’t know if that’s necessarily true. I think it really is a sense of that Silas doesn’t want to lose his son, and he will do whatever it takes — and he knows a lot, obviously — he’s a brilliant scientist, and he knows a lot about terrestrial science and extraterrestrial science — and he uses those methods to keep his son safe beyond maybe the rationale of a father-son relationship. So I don’t think Silas sees it the way; I don’t think Silas is living through his son vicariously. I think Silas has his own incredible journey that he has been on since before Vic was born, and his association, through STAR Labs, with so many different groups, pre-existed Vic’s birth. So I know that Vic is working with the Doom Patrol, and I think his father has opinions about that, but I don’t think that his father lives through him vicariously.
Do you think that Silas is familiar with any of the earlier ill-fated incarnations or moments in Doom Patrol history before what we’ve seen on the screen?
I think so, because he has a relationship with Niles Caulder that’s quite extensive. We touch on it in [Episode 2] but we don’t get into great detail. I look forward to what that detail is. But they did set it up that we do have a pre-existing relationship, and that we’re old compatriots. So, yeah. I think that Silas has definitely known about the Doom Patrol and various members, and he has an opinion. He thinks it’s bogus. He thinks it’s bogus science; he thinks Niles Caulder is a bit of a – I don’t want to say “charlatan” but Silas believes that he is dealing in scientific arts that aren’t proven, that can’t be substantiated, and that are downright dangerous. That’s doesn’t say that Silas isn’t involved in that, but he looks at himself as a more disciplined scientist.
Can you talk about your exposure to Cyborg and his father from the comics?
My first exposure to him was probably through the Justice League comics, and then they spun him off into his own series which I have almost every issue of. As I read the backstory and the inner life of Victor and Silas and how that worked out, I thought “wow! How interesting. How unique. What a dysfunctional family.” I was taken in by the interpersonal relationships more than I was taken in by the visceral run and jump of the whole comic.
Do you personally have a favorite character from the Doom Patrol, from the comics or from this TV series?
I’m kinda digging Robotman. He handles his dilemma with such great self-effacing humor, that it’s refreshing. I don’t know how they got the Doom Patrol off in 1963, because at the time, the comics were so primary-color oriented. Even Marvel was doing a lot of primary-color superheroes. And the Doom Patrol was just so dysfunctional and so fringe. I was surprised that DC made the decision to go with that kind of a superhero team, but it was the 60’s and there was a lot of “outside the box” type thing. But yeah, Robotman was this point is probably my favorite. Again, it’s almost like John Jones. Even though he’s not human other than his brain, he is very human, and he has such a connection to the human condition, probably because he misses it so much. He misses the sights and smells and tastes of the world, and so he craves it, and it makes him ultra-human in my opinion.
Do you think that Silas learned from any of the technology used to save Robotman in order to save his son?
I think quite the opposite. I think Silas feels that he could have implemented the technology into Robotman that Niles didn’t see, and that could have helped Cliff be more whole than he is. I think that Silas feels that he could have given Cliff more than Niles was able to give him, and that Silas has an opinion about that. He has an opinion about everything.
Beyond Episode 2, what else can we expect to see from Silas as the season progresses?
I don’t want to really peel back those layers of the onion, because it’s such a great storyline, and as I read the scripts, I am taken by it. As the cast read the new scripts that are coming, they’re taken by it, and I want the audience to be taken as well. I don’t want to put anything out there. I want them to see it and experience it the same way that I did when I read the scripts, and the same way I am as the character. I think they will be wholly fulfilled.
For those who may not have checked out Doom Patrol yet, why should they tune in?
I’ve watched the first episode, and it was like I would watch this show even if I wasn’t on it, and I can’t say that about a lot of shows. This is a show that’s different from [anything else] — since I saw the pilot, I’ve been watching a lot of the comic book TV offerings since, to see where it’s different, how it’s more unique, and it’s a complete departure from what I see and what’s being produced. The psychological underpinnings of these characters is as important if not more important than the visceral run and jump, the CGI, the special effects, the special abilities… I think it goes hand in hand. And the style of the show… the actors are so immersed in this universe, and in these characters, that I find it refreshing. It’s a departure, like I said, from most of what’s out there, and I think it really stretches the audience’s intelligence and imagination, and gives them stakes that they hadn’t even thought about.
So for me, even fans that aren’t comic book fans — just movie fans, just people who like good entertainment are going to be taken away by this show. I was thoroughly impressed, and I’m a tough critic. So I think the fans will love it.
Doom Patrol Episode 2 “Donkey Patrol” lands on DC Universe today.