The CW’s broadcast premiere of Swamp Thing continues on Tuesday nights for the next few weeks, and to promote the show’s wider berth, we spoke with actor Henderson Wade who is no stranger to fans of The CW — you may have noticed him as Sheriff Michael Minetta on Riverdale. On Swamp Thing, Henderson Wade also is a part of the police force as Matt Cable Deputy Sheriff of the mysterious town of Marais.
We spoke with Henderson Wade recently for some insights about Matt as well as what it had been like to be a part of this popular DC Comics adaptation. He also speaks about one that he would like to make an appearance on!
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: What made Swamp Thing a special series to be a part of?
HENDERSON WADE: It’s a fun experience. It’s a ride, and the fact that the creative powers that be behind this show were able to fuse together so many so many popular genres, you’re gonna get a little bit of everything.
I’m a huge horror fan. I have been ever sunce I used to go with my my mom to her interior design practice and she would just give me like five bucks to go to the newsstand, and I would be sitting there flipping through Fangoria pages. Don’t give me too much credit, because I was I was too scared to actually see the movies, so I would spoil the violent parts myself by going to that magazine.
[Swamp Thing] has got horror; it’s got the melodrama that you kind of expect from one of the the CW shows. Obviously, it’s got Derek [Mears] in the in the suit, which is just as impressive as it is on screen. It was incredible to work opposite him in the full Swamp Thing get-up. It’s a creature feature. It’s a horror movie. It’s a small town drama. It’s everything, so hopefully when people tune in, that’s what they’re getting: A smorgasbord.
With what you just told me about flipping through Fangoria, is it surreal to see them writing about a project that you are in?
They did an article because of Fractured FX’s involvement and the fact that James Wan was really particular about wanting to do things practically, which to me, especially as an actor, enhanced that experience of working on set.
I’m also a huge fan of a lot of movie blogs, and so it was also super cool for me was that I’ve been following Dark Horizons since day one. It’s an Aussie film blog. I remember in the AOL dial-up days getting discs in the mail, and that was one of the first sites I was frequenting on a daily basis. When [my casting as Matt Cable] was announced, that was a dream come true. I had been reading that site for decades at that point, and I always dreamed that I’d be working on something of a large enough size that I would have my name and my picture mentioned on Dark Horizons, and here I was. And then, to have like a write up by Fangoria… it’s surreal, man. And then on top of it, we had our unceremonious ending and then all of a sudden the pandemic hits, and and here we are getting the victory lap that we never did we never got the first go round. I know it’s been a rough year, but not without a silver lining or two.
On that note, what was your reaction when you found out that Swamp Thing was going to be shown by The CW?
It was it was similar to getting the original news of it being canceled. It was disbelief, and I was just like “we’re gonna get another chance here and end with a much larger audience.” It’s really just kudos to Warner Brothers, kudos to the powers that be at DC for realizing like “hey, here’s a window that we can we can put this back out and get new fans that didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to tune in while we had our DC run.”
Is it your lot in life to play police figures on The CW?
It’s funny. I joke with with wardrobe people all the time. I’m just like, “okay, here are the Dickies slacks that you’ll be wearing. Here’s the polyester shirt that you’ll be in for every episode.” And meanwhile, I’m looking at the other racks for other actors, and they get a t-shirt and jeans and shorts and stuff.
I had this joke on Riverdale with the wardrobe department. I said “let me get this straight. So the first time Minetta is not wearing his uniform, that’s when he’s gonna die?” But I’m just happy for the work. Oddly enough, my, my dad was a retired police detective in D.C.. I’d like to think that this was kind of my homage to him. I know for a fact he didn’t want me to follow in his footsteps and become a police officer, but I figured, hey, you know, I could play one on TV and do his legacy justice.
What would Matt Cable have thought of Sheriff Minetta of Riverdale?
Oh, man. Matt would probably say “hey, man. It’s a small town, you don’t have to take it so seriously.” I don’t know. It’s funny playing both of them because as an actor, I have to figure out how much of myself I’m going to bring to them and how much I’m going to kind of withhold.
I would say for me personally, Minetta was a lot closer to my father, honestly. Whereas, Matt, I think is a lot closer to my version of what I would be as a as a small town police officer. But I’d much rather have a beer with Matt, than I would with Sheriff Minetta. So, I don’t know if the two of them with necessarily get along, but I do think that they are different sides of the same coin.
Can you talk about having Jennifer Beals playing your mother and what her influences on her son?
If you ever get the opportunity to meet Jen or just have a conversation [with her], she is such an incredible human being. Obviously she’s got a Filmography as long as my arm. But I remember the first time meeting her [in Vancouver]. I had been shooting either A Million Little Things or I was finishing off Minetta’s character arc. I met her at the hotel that I was staying at for a cup of coffee and breakfast. Me being such a fan of hers, I was so nervous that at one point that I had to excuse myself from the table just to go and breathe in my room for like five minutes.
You would think, like, “hey, Halle [Berry]’s played your mom, it would get easier.” No. She’s just larger than life, and then all of a sudden you start talking to her and you realize there’s this warm, almost like angelic human being underneath this immense talent and incredible beauty.
I’ve really been blessed, especially with the “screen moms” that I’ve had to work with. I’ve learned so much from them, and Jen was no different. She kind of takes the cake in that regard.
I remember a funny story [of us filming in Wilmington]. I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to prep, and I have my little Moleskine and things where I take notes, and I break things down, and all that stuff. And so, I showed up for our first day leading up to our first day together to run dialogue, with my notebook and my backpack, and she kind of starts laughing.
I got self conscious, and then she’s like “no, no. I’ve got to tell you how heartwarming it is to see an actor prepare.” I thought that notebooks were a thing of the past, and from that point on, we had this common ground of “let’s make the most of not only our respective characters, but their relationship.” Not only do we work really hard to have that mother son relationship on screen, which we hope comes through, but it started to translate off-screen as well. One of the things that I’m really proud of with the series is Matt and Lucilia’s relationship. because I feel as though we tried to add as many layers to it as we possibly could. We tried to give the two of them as as much of a colorful backstory as we possibly could, so that when we got on screen together, we could really imbue their relationship with with this history and this rich, personal life. And then oh, ahere just so happens to be a guy in a leafy green suit terrorizing [Marais].
On and off screen, it was, it was a dream come true working with Jen. And as far as Matt and Lucilia are concerned, Matt has always put his mom on a pedestal. He’s not resentful of the fact that he’s following his mom’s footsteps. In fact, that’s something that he’s very proud of. And so, when he does make the one critical mistake that he does over the course of the first season, he’s very quick to try to rectify it not only for his own personal sake, but also because he doesn’t want to bring any sort of negativity to her reputation, because he’s proud to be her son, and he doesn’t want her to think of him in any other light.
Did you ever see the USA Network Swamp Thing series?
I had familiarity with Swamp Thing from when I grew up, being the only person in my house with a cable television set in my room for the longest time. I remember watching the USA series late at night, not having any clue what the hell I’m watching but knowing that, hey, this is a comic book and there’s a guy in a suit, and that’s cool enough for a 9-year-old kid that shouldn’t be up at 2AM.
If you could see Matt Cable on any other DC series, which one would you want it to be and why?
Well, I know that they are they’re doing a Sandman adaptation, and knowing that kind of progression how [Matt Cable] essentially becomes the Raven and the Raven is involved in the Sandman [story], that was something that was in the back of my mind, like “maybe I could be the bridge between these worlds.” Even if it’s just in a voice capacity, I think that would be awesome. I know that Matt popped up in Doom Patrol issues way back in the day, more in a police capacity, and with that show, being one of our sibling series on DCI and now on HBO Max, I wouldn’t mind him popping up there. But I gotta be honest with you: In a perfect world, Matt would still be in Marais, dealing with the Swamp Thing out there in the water, and we’d be seeing where he goes in a Season 2 or Season 3, or however many we were able to get.
If you found out that there’s a possibility of Season 2, would you do it?
Yeah. Absolutely. It’s not something that the cast and crew that we hadn’t discussed, even before the word of The CW picking it up came. If the opportunity ever arose, and if it was unanimous, I would love to put the uniform back own in a heartbeat.
Since working on the show, I’ve gotten really tight with a lot of the writers and we’ve actually collaborated on some spec projects and, and one of the things that I’ve been made aware of was exactly where the show was going, and it was incredible. Even just the original 13 that we had… I’m really sad that the viewers won’t get an opportunity to see is how Mark Verheiden and the writers’ room had it laid out. Not only was it something where for there was plenty the casual viewer, but for the actual fans of the property, they incorporated every element from the Alan Moore series that you could have ever wanted in an adaptation of the show.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to be on The CW, but hopefully they circle back and say, “hey, you know what, let’s give them what you guys were planning on all along.”
I did read an interview with you where you said that episode 11 was supposed to be big for Matt, which is unfortunate that we didn’t get to see it.
It was. His relationship with Lucilia kind of hits this crescendo, and I think you would have seen Matt start to step out of his mom’s shadow a little bit. I think that’s part of the arc that Matt’s going through in Season 1; kind of figuring out how to stand on his own two feet, and by the end of Season 1, as it was originally written, he does that, You’re no longer saying he’s “Lucilia’s son.” This is Matt Cable, Deputy Sheriff of Marais County.
Swamp Thing airs Tuesday nights on The CW and is available Wednesdays on The CW app. Our thanks to Henderson Wade for doing this interview!