Damson Idris turns up the heat with ‘Snowfall’

Rick's Reviews

Damson Idris stars in the FX Network series “Snowfall.” (Photo courtesy of FX Network)

(KGET) — Damson Idris grew up in a poor area of South East London – thousands of miles away from the world of South Central Los Angeles that’s the setting for “Snowfall.” He had no problem despite the distance connecting to the ‘80s world of drugs, poverty and violence depicted in the FX Network series created by the late filmmaker John Singleton.

“A lot of the issues which happened in South Central – maybe not in the ’80s, but particularly now, definitely happened in my community,” Idris says. “I could relate to that side of it.

“I think the first time I watched ‘Boyz n the Hood’ I was too young.  I must have been about maybe ten, eleven.  And I was fascinated with the world.  I was, like, wow.  It was literally my first eye‑opener to America.”

His eyes were open enough to land the role of Franklin Saint, a young street entrepreneur during the crack epidemic in Los Angeles. New episodes of “Snowfall” will be available starting at 10 p.m. Feb. 24 on FX. If you miss the back-to-back episodes, they will be available on Hulu starting Feb. 25.

Idris guarantees the action will be more intense in the new episodes as the war on drugs has started to escalate in an attempt to stop the first crack epidemic in the city. Business is booming in season four that unfolds in 1985. The demand for crack cocaine is high and the crew of dealers led by Saint are benefiting greatly from the rising tide of addiction.

Realistically, this violent drug world is one that people should be running away from but “Snowfall” is one of the top series for FX. Idris explains the fascination as it all being part of him doing his job.

“The job of an actor is to show people different realities,” Idris says. “This show does that quite well as it shows the impact of this world on people. That is what intrigues us.”

The new episodes pick up after a near fatal incident that changed the character for Idris.

“At the beginning, he was very green but a horrific event has changed him. In the beginning it was all about him climbing up the ladder. He has reached a point where he could just run away but Franklin would prefer to just stay and fight. He also stays because he cares and that makes him both stronger and weaker,” Idris says. “There is also the fact that because of the bullet wounds he has gone through a lot of pain.”

The visual clue to how much pain the character is dealing with can be seen in the new episodes as he has been forced to use a cane to walk. There are times when Saint will ditch the walking stick because he doesn’t want to show weakness.

“The idea someone would look at him as being weak goes through his mind 100%,” Idris says. “When someone is trying to come into your area and take over, you want to look as tough as possible.

“You would not want to look damaged and that’s why he wouldn’t carry it at certain times.”

Idris found the cane to be so important to his performance that after he returned to England after the filming was done, he took the prop with him.

At the same time his character was going through the transformation from street punk to drug czar in the four seasons, Idris says the show has changed him as he went from being a relatively unknown actor to the star of a cable series.

The 29-year-old Idris was made on the stage but quickly made the move to guest starring on TV shows such as “Black Mirror” and “Twilight Zone.” He made his film debut with the 2016 release of “City of Tiny Lights.”

Starring in “Snowfall” required Idris to have an American accent. He finds that to be a big help in playing the role.

“The way I approach it is like putting on a costume and I become this person,” Idris says.

The fact he is becoming a person who exists in a time period before Idris was even born has not been a problem for the actor.

“The script does a fantastic job of creating this world,” Idris says. “There are also plenty of people on the set who can answer any questions I have.”

Starring on “Snowfall” has created an acting circle for the British actor. Idris was deeply influenced by Singleton’s movies and eventually became the star of his series. Now, Idris is being sent video messages from very young actors who are being so influenced by his work in “Snowfall” they are performing monologues from the show.

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