HitFix Interview: ‘Harper’s Island’s’ deceased Nerd speaks

05.05.09 9 years ago

Chris Helcermanas-Benge/CBS

CBS’ “Harper’s Island” may have moved to Saturday night this past week, but that didn’t halt the rising body count. 

In fact, things are so deadly at this destination wedding that even though the show’s mysterious killer didn’t even strike during Saturday’s (May 2) episode, there was still another casualty. 

Groomsman Joel Booth (Sean Rogerson), not-so-charitably described as The Nerd by CBS, was out in the woods burying a bag of unclaimed, blood-splattered cash when he was surprised by increasingly desperate, money-hungry buddy Malcolm (Chris Gauthier). Booth was so relieved that it was just his friend that he waved a gun wildly and shot himself in the leg, presumably hitting an artery. He bled out out, leaving Malcolm with a body and the dough.

As “Harper’s Island” deaths go, this was a pretty humiliating way to go, but Rogerson still talked with HitFix about becoming the show’s latest corpse.

HitFix: So how’d you watch your episode on Saturday?

Sean Rogerson: You know what? I just sat and watched it on my own. I sat and sulked. I was just chilling by myself at the time, no big party.

HitFix: And did you get any reactions from friends and family subsequently?

SR: It was pretty immediate, actually. I was chatting with some friends on Facebook at the same time and as soon as it happened, I got a bunch of Wall posts of “Oh no!” and “Really? Is that how it ends?” There was a lot of shock and a lot of sadness from people who I guess were expecting I’d be around a little longer. It was nothing I didn’t expect.

HitFix: What was it like watching yourself die on TV?

SR: I’ve done it many, many times in my career. This was one of my favorites, also because I got to do the scene with Chris Gauthier, which was awesome.

HitFix: So where else might we have seen you die?

SR: “Stargate: Atlantis” I died. I died on “Supernatural.” I died in this show called “The Collector.” I don’t think I died on “Blood Ties,” so that might be it. In the other two shows, I supposedly kill people, so either way I’m either killing myself or somebody.

HitFix: What do you think casting directors are trying to tell you?

SR: I don’t want to know, man. I think it’s because I have the Booth side of me, that innocent, trustworthy part of me, but I think maybe I’ve got a bit of that edge where you never really know. I think people find it more interesting when you have somebody that you don’t really suspect to be the killer, but he has that edge about him that he very well might be. I think that’s what casting directors are saying? Maybe I’m edgy? I’ll just go with that. That sounds better than “killer-ish.”

HitFix: Killer-ish, or Easily Killed?

SR: Exactly. Dispensable. Is that what it is? Disposable?

HitFix: The problem is that there’s a killer on the loose. He’s offing people in these really creative ways. And your charact? He shoots himself in the leg?

SR: I know. Trust me, that was hard for me to swallow when I got the script myself. Hey, I wanted just as much as anybody else to see myself get chopped directly in half or lose a limb or get caught in a bear trap or something. I don’t know. I was initially told that I’d trip and fall and shoot myself in the face. So I was thinking, “At least it wasn’t that.” This was a little bit more heartfelt, a little more sad. I though, “You’re either going to freak people out or you’re going to make them a little sad.” If I’d just tripped and fallen and shot myself, I think that really would have sucked.

HitFix: What was it like shooting the day of the death?

SR: It was awesome. It was such a family atmosphere. One of my friends was directing the episode also, so it was like a big good-bye at the same time. It was very somber. It was very quiet. There was a very serious tone on set, just the way it was all handled. It was very ominous outside. The light was shining through the trees, the fog was out there. It was awesome and I haven’t had a cool day on set like that ever.

HitFix: We didn’t really get to learn all that much about Booth. Tell me some things that might not have made it on air.

SR: There was a lot more stuff between the groomsmen, just a lot of banter between friends, how they like to razz a little bit, things that I think would have antagonized him a little bit more. There wasn’t any of that. People were still like, “He’s hiding in the back, taking it in and he might be the killer,” stuff like that. I think there a lot more poking and prodding at Booth, about how weak and feeble he was, that maybe would have added to the point of him shooting himself. I think not having it in there just added to the mystery of Booth, that you just didn’t really know who he was capable of, who he really was.

HitFix: And how did the producers break it to you that your run on the show was over?

SR: It was directly after the scene with Sully running by covered with feathers and we were all sitting on the spa bench and we finished shooting. We just finished the day and we were walking back to the transpo and [producer Karim Zreik] just walks by and taps me on the shoulder. He’s like, “Great day, man. Can I talk to you for a second?” I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.” It didn’t even cross my mind and he walks me around the corner and he’s taking me away from everybody, slowly. I could just feel it rising and I’m like, “Oh no!” He turns around and he had just a look on his face and it basically went with me going, “No, no no, no.” And he said, “I’m sorry, buddy.” That was pretty much it. I was left to go break it to the other boys after that. 

HitFix: And did they make fun of you or were they sad for you?

SR: Oh no, man. There was no making fun of. I was the first to break up the group, so it was disheartening. You’re sad to see your buddies go no matter when it is. I know we all knew we were going to go eventually, but it was sad. It was really sad, just because we weren’t going to get to do what we’d been doing for the past couple weeks. We were having the times of our lives.

HitFix: This thing with the bag of money, it can’t end well, can it? Haven’t these guys seen “A Simple Plan”?

SR: I think that’s kind of the point, the point of all these murder-mystery shows. Things happen. You know, you hear a noise in the room? Well don’t go in there. If you find a bag with money and a gun in it? Well, leave it alone. Come on! It’s pretty obvious. But where would the story be if we didn’t have it? Honestly, I think it gave the audience something to focus on, because there are so many people in the cast and there’s so much going on, but I found that having that to focus on in the episode, it gave a little bit of a focal point, rather than just the fact that somebody was going to die.

HitFix: At a certain point, somebody has to suggest that postponing this wedding is a good idea, right?

SR: I think you will have that question answered pretty soon. Again, with my death, it signifies a little bit of a change in the pacing of the show. People are dying with nobody knowing about it, but now somebody’s aware and they’ve covered it up. Now you know that anybody’s capable of it. It’s not going to be long before it starts moving ahead.

HitFix: With other cast members, I’ve asked them to guess who killed them, but I guess I can’t do that with you?

SR: Here’s the thing for me: There was all this talk with Cassandra about all the spirits and stuff like that. I’m just wondering if that had a part in it, because I don’t know if Booth would have had his finger on the trigger. I don’t know anybody about these spirits that she’s talking about, but just as an audience member, I’m starting to freak out. I’m thinking maybe they had something to do with it.

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