One of several major casting “gets” for Doom Patrol which premiered today on DC Universe, Timothy Dalton, perhaps best known as being one of the iconic actors to play James Bond, brings gravitas and mystery to the series as Dr. Niles Caulder a.k.a. The Chief.
The Chief is the man who organizes this band of misfits and takes care of them in his home, a “Dad” to the group in a way who has helped them overcome their personal challenges. In some versions of the story in the comic books, Caulder himself was responsible for the accidents that created the Doom Patrol; when asked about that during our recent interview at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, California, Dalton was unable to talk about that speculation, though he’s heard it himself.
“There’s a long way to go on this show, so we’ll see,” he says.
Dalton — whose initial response to Doom Patrol was that he had “never read anything like it” – is attracted to the complexity of the Niles Caulder character, and he promises that the complexity will drive a lot of the action of the story. He also acknowledges there have been some surprises within the character for him.
“I love the fact that he’s such a coward, which wasn’t as apparent,” he said. “I don’t know whether I put that into it or if it was already there, but I like that. He’s certainly not two-dimensional; he’s not like a comic character, is he?” Not knowing where everything will go is also a part of the show’s appeal.
“That’s one of the things that makes it special. I mean, there is an insane logic that works its way through it, if you want to be bothered with trying to understand that. Otherwise, just go with the flow! Don’t try to make it fit or be logical. It’s fantastic, and it’s wonderful,” Dalton said.
Long time fans of comic books have often pointed out comparison between Professor Charles Xavier’s X-Men over at Marvel and Niles Caulder’s Doom Patrol at DC, both of which premiered on newsstands at around the same time. Mr. Dalton, however, sees the two as “completely different.”
“The whole nature and the set-up is completely different. Those people were dangerous people. I mean, they grow knives and slash people, and ours don’t. Ours are dangerous to themselves. Ours are a group of complete screw-ups. They’re messed up people that Caulder is shaping, helping, and mentoring,” he said. And this team might not have been Caulder’s first band of misfits — and it sounds like Mr. Nobody may have been involved in that previous team’s “war.”
“He does not like Mr. Nobody. If you’ve read the comic book, I am assured that there has been a previous war, as it were, where everyone got destroyed,” Dalton said about why the team going out in the series premiere would be so dangerous. Could this be where we may see characters like Celsius and Lodestone in the series, in flashback? After all, Executive Producer Jeremy Carver did refer to those characters as being from the “Silver Age” rather than the “Bronze Age” which is when they came out. In any event, Dalton promised that he is “sure there are” many people with rare qualities that Caulder has known over the years that we haven’t seen yet, starting with Cyborg (Joivan Wade) who makes his first appearance in Episode 2.
“[Niles] worked with his dad, so he knew him growing up,” Dalton explained.
And on the subject of other characters, might we see Niles Caulder’s ex-wife on the series? (It is assumed the answer is “yes” as Celsius was previously mentioned.)
“I think there might be more than one [ex-wife],” Dalton teased. “I say ‘might be’ because it’s a question of whether you’re truly married, or whether your marriage is a figment of someone else’s imagination.”
Ultimately, doing a project with lesser-known characters seems to be an appealing one for Dalton. “I would say it’s much better to have no preconceived notions,” the actor said.