Marvel Universe LIVE! Interview with Dr Killian (Exclusive)
As a cast member for Marvel Universe LIVE!, Nathan Spare has spent his fair share of time globetrotting as the show makes it way around North America. Originally from New Jersey, with a performance career beginning at age 15, Nate has evolved into both a tough professional and a super fanboy, making him uniquely qualified to be part of Marvel’s show. You can see him in the show starting fires as Dr. Aldrich Killian, an Iron Man baddie as well as the head of A.I.M.
This week, we were given the unique privilege of chatting with Nathan as the show prepped for its stop in Toronto.
GEEKPR0N: Your show is going to be hitting Toronto while we’ve still got the Pan Am games going on, so everything’s pretty wacky right now. But pretty exciting?
Nate Spare: I got the chance to see the torch for that, yeah.
GP: What do you think about Toronto?
NS: Actually I love it. It’s my first time here. It’s interesting, reminds me of home. I’m from the East Coast ‘States so it’s got a little resemblance to New York, it’s nice to feel that home vibe.
GP: So your character in the show, Dr. Killian, is rather formidable, he gets to take on Iron Man, which is pretty cool.
NS: Not as many people saw Iron Man 3 and are familiar with Killian. But it’s very interesting to play a villain against a hero a lot of people know. But the best part about that is I make Iron Man look better, with each performance and make it seem like he’s about to lose and get the audience on his side and against me.
GP: What’s it like playing the bad guy?
NS: A lot of my friends back home ask me that. Its fun, I do like it. You get to go into that weird, dark villainy world. It’s a challenge, but it’s cool, because it’s harder to be the character that people don’t root for.
GP: There’s something that happens to Killian during the show and you do a pretty intense quick-change. What was that like?
NS: Oh, that! That is one of the most mentally stressful parts. I have to come out of a wall when it falls on me and come out looking like I burned through my jacket and shirt. But the wall is just big enough to fit me, and it’s filled with the stage fog, and there’s a pyro cue right as I get out. It’s a tough change but I seem to make it work. It was a challenge when we first opened but I’ve got the hang of it.
GP: Speaking of, you get to do pyrotechnics in the show. What’s it like being on fire?
NS: It’s cool, because fire is very unpredictable. It’s not like I understand the fire, I’m just trying to work with it. I try to be comfortable with the fact that it is dangerous and scary, but one of the reasons I got cast in the role is because of previous fire experience. I also use fire whips at the end of the show and it’s awesome. I feel the heat from the energy of the audience, and quite literally feel the heat of the fire.
GP: Would you say that fire is the scariest stunt you’ve done?
NS: I’d say fire is up there, but I’m used to it now because I’ve been working with it for a while, so it’s not as scary. I do appreciate the fact that any mistake can happen, and I try to reduce the window for risk.
GP: There’d be higher intensity in theatre as well, because it’s all live and one take.
NS: Oh yeah. That’s the interesting thing with fire in a show, nothing is always the same. You can light it up the same and do the choreography the same, but you never know whats gonna happen. There could be a draft in an arena or something. But it keeps me aware and on my toes, in the moment of the performance.
GP: The idea with this show is that it recreate the excitement in the movies, and it goes to show that live theatre really can compete with film. Do you prefer film or theatre work?
NS:I haven’t done work in film, a lot of my background is theme parks and street performing, it’s where I learned some of the skills I’m doing now in the show. So I’m trying to find my own crowd. Live performance is what I’m accustomed to, but we do try to compete with the movies. I’ll describe this show to people by asking, “Have you seen Marvel movies like The Avengers? Basically it’s a live version of that.” And with each show we try to up the ante. There’s people sitting 15 feet away or 100 feet away and we try to give them the same show.
GP: Apparently you are a fanboy yourself. Was that something from before, or did it come with doing the Marvel show?
NS: Yeah! I started with DC heroes working at a theme park. I walked out as Green Lantern like, “look at how strong I am”. A guest asked me what the lanterns and emotions represented and to recite the oath, and I had no idea. My friends on set were kinda laughing at me and I realized, I don’t know how to bring this character to life. I went to a comics store for the first time and talked to the owner about it, I needed to understand. And he recommended a bunch of books for me. This was around when DC was doing Blackest Night, and that was a great time to get into the comic world. I love the battle between Marvel and DC, and how they revamp their characters. That’s when I got the comic itch and I started collecting. So it’s been like a dream come true, doing that and now doing the live Marvel show. I can go out and be this supervillain and know the background, so I can look into my character.
GP: It’s hard not to be enthusiastic.
NS: Yeah, it’s fun and it’s weird. As I’m doing my scenes, I’m in character but in the back of my head I’m thinking, “This is so cool, I’m fighting Iron Man!” It’s hard not to get this starstruck feeling as a fan. But I get to go in there and try to take over the world.
GP: So you’ve played a Green Lantern and right now you’re Dr. Killian, but are there any other superheroes you’d want to be if you could choose?
NS: I was always a big Batman fan, I grew up watching the stunt show at Six Flags Great Adventure, and that sparked my interest in being a real-life superhero. I also have a love for Marine life. I checked out the aquarium here in Toronto and I’m a huge Aquaman fan. My mom thinks I am Aquaman! She found out that he was in the new Superman vs. Batman, and that I wasn’t cast. She was almost more upset than I was.
GP: The really cool thing with the new movie is that they’re showing that Aquaman can be cool. They’re breaking the Aquaman stigma!
NS: Yes, thank you! It’s so hard sometimes to tell people he’s my favourite superhero. I used to have an Aquaman decal on my car in high school. And people say “But he can’t do anything” – and Family Guy definitely didn’t help, they rip him apart. But in the New 52 when he came out and was eating at the seafood restaurant, it was like finally! He is coming back, everyone’s going to see who he actually is. The old-school Aquaman was cheesy, but every superhero at that time was cheesy. He has stories with so much to offer. I’m 2 issues away from collecting the whole set where he lost his hand. People say “He just talks to fish!” – it’s so frustrating. I could get into a big, heated debate but it’s not worth my energy.
GP: So, if you had to pick between fighting a dozen zombies or a Great White Shark, which one would you go with?
NS: After the Aquaman conversation, obviously the shark. I’d try to connect with the shark. I have this fear of the apocalypse. With that whole Walking Dead scene, I don’t think I could compose myself and fight all the zombies.
GP: Anything else you’d like to get out there?
NS: Just to come check out the show! If you were a fan of any comic ever, or even saw the movie and thought it was cool, this is without a doubt a show to see. As a comic fan myself it’s even cooler to bring it to other fans in the audience.
You won’t want to miss Marvel Universe LIVE! during it’s Toronto performances. Tickets available through the Official MUL Website.