Wesley Snipes may have been on hand to promote his new NBC series The Player, but the actor gave Comic-Con fans something to chew on when he discussed the possibility of bringing Blade back to the big screen. During the brief discussion it was revealed Snipes had recently talked with Marvel about the day-walking vampire’s future in the MCU, but that was essentially as far as things had progressed on that front.
This being Comic-Con, and with the discussion set around a once-lucrative comic-based franchise that is ripe to be revisited, such comments were bound to be scrutinized and poured over. So while Snipes and his co-star Philip Winchester answered questions about The Player, it will perhaps come as no surprise that the once and possibly future slayer of vampires was asked to elaborate further on the future of Blade.
During the press room interviews, Snipes’ comments didn’t deviate too drastically from what was said during the panel, but in a certain light it does sound as though he is ready to move on to the as-yet unnamed character he has waiting in the wings, should Marvel decide to go in another direction with Blade. In answering whether his future as the character was over Snipes had this to say:
“I just said that if we don’t do another Blade, we have another character that’s a hybrid action/comic book character that, I think if we pull that off…I don’t know, he might put Blade to sleep.”
It’s certainly understandable that, from an actor’s point of view, touting the next thing as being capable of eclipsing what came before would be in his or her best interest. After all, if Blade 4 never comes to fruition – or the series is completely rebooted without Snipes’ participation – then having something “better” to fall back on certainly assuages any notion of hard feelings and gives everyone the opportunity to save face. With so few details regarding who or what Snipes’ potential Ambien-like character is the conversation quickly turned toward the character he’ll be bringing to life in The Player.
According to writer and executive producer John Rodgers (Leverage, The Librarians), the action-drama from the producers of The Blacklist was inspired by his love of pulp novels, and was initially designed as a way to bring that kind of pulp sensibility to network television. For him, the idea is to keep audiences guessing as to what the show is going to be like from week-to-week, while as the same time surprising them in a way that will leave them entertained and coming back for more.
“We don’t really do that anymore. Where’s TV like that? Remember The X-Files, where you didn’t know what kind of show it was going to be every week? I just want you to be surprised. I want to make a show that surprises you.”
Part of what will keep viewers surprised and guessing as to what is really going on is the series’ high-concept plotline, in which a clandestine group of wealthy individuals gamble on all sorts of criminal activities – everything from a “30-year cold case” to “an armored car heist.” According to Rodgers, the group has been around for a long time and is part of the “secret history of the world,” a surprising notion that raises the stakes and sets up a familiar but potentially intriguing mythology for the series to explore as it progresses. For Rodgers, the series can be boiled down to: “Sometimes you feel like you live in a world where no one told you what the rules are. You’re right. Nobody told you what the rules are.”
Caught in the middle of this surreptitious crime wagering and the world’s secret history is Philip Winchester’s character Alex Kane, a former military man who is now working as a security expert in Las Vegas, where the series fittingly takes place. Rodgers describes Kane as a “moral man” who despite being up against a powerful organization literally gambling with people’s lives, may prove that “they just picked the wrong guy to play the game.”
For his part, Snipes plays the mysterious Mr. Johnson, a pit boss whose job it is to make “sure the game is always played, the house never closes, and the casino’s always open.” One of the appealing aspects of the role was the fact that Mr. Johnson appears in many different guises throughout the season, giving Snipes the chance to work with different accents and styles, which he calls “a nice set of ingredients for a repertory actor.”
According to Rodgers, Mr. Johnson’s many talents have seen him rise to a unique position. “This is a guy who moves amongst the most powerful people in the world,” he says. “And they’re kind of scared of him.”
That means Mr. Johnson and Alex Kane will share a special relationship throughout the run of the series. As Snipes puts it:
“It’s going to be a love/hate relationship and a relationship of necessity at some point. They’ll both realize that they need each other for some very intriguing purposes … Alex might have a whole agenda that we don’t know about … he may know things about Mr. Johnson that we don’t know about yet.”
Aside from setting up a complex mythology and premise designed to keep the show’s storylines feeling fresh from week-to-week, putting Snipes and Winchester – best known for his role as Sgt. Michael Stonebridge in the Cinemax buddy action-drama Strike Back – together in a series means fans can expect to see plenty of action. “The fact that we have actors who can do all of their own stunts makes a big difference,” Rodgers says. “That’s Philip on the motorcycle … that’s Philip rolling off the van.“
Winchester is quick to point out that his work on Strike Back was “notorious” for its stunt work and sometimes-hazardous commitment to delivering convincing action sequences that put the actors front and center in some controlled but still dangerous situations.
“I want to bring that element back out in The Player.” Winchester says. “I want network television to have that taste of ’80s-style action. It’s just having our guys and our girls right there doing it the whole time. I think NBC wants that, I think we just need to loosen them up a little bit and go, ‘It’s okay, we want to do this too. We’re not afraid of this, just let us do it.'”
The Player premieres Thursday, September 24 @10pm on NBC.