When last we laid eyes upon Daniel Holden as the second season of SundanceTV’s Rectify drew to a close, he was sitting pensively in the hallway of the Paulie County Courthouse, awaiting the final word on a plea deal he had just signed that would see him banished from his hometown. Season 3 of Rectify returns to SundanceTV beginning Thursday, July 9.
Brilliantly portrayed by Aden Young, Daniel is a man who has been grappling with lots of demons since his release from prison, where he spent 19 years after having confessed to the rape and murder of his teenage girlfriend. Released after DNA evidence showed he had nothing to do with the rape, Daniel has spent most of his time since then trying to adjust to life on the outside, surrounded by the loyalty of his family and the distrust of others still convinced of his guilt.
SundanceTV’s first original series, Rectify won a Peabody Award last year for its slow but powerful depiction of Daniel’s tortured journey. “We’re all very proud of it,” the 43-year-old Young says of the series over the phone from New York City. “To be a part of something that, I think, is very special, it’s a great honor.” And, as Season 3 gets ready to roll on July 9, there will be plenty more in store.
Born in Toronto, Young moved to Australia with his parents in 1981, when he was 9. He landed his first role back in Canada, in director Bruce Beresford’s acclaimed 1971 movie, Black Robe. Now a married father of two sons, Young admits he likes to immerse himself in his roles. He recently spoke with us about his work, his life and even offered up a few special revelations:
What can we expect from Daniel in the upcoming season?
Aden Young: The show begins, literally, an hour after Season 2 finishes and he’s got 30 days to, you know, get out of Dodge. And he’s confronted by the reality of what he’s just done. It isn’t just, “OK, I did this and now I get on with my life.” He’s re-entering the institutional world. He’s now on parole, he’s on probation, and he’s got to deal with all those very restrictive authority scenarios once again. And the one thing we know about Daniel [is] authority has never been his best friend. There’s a lot going on, you know, before Daniel can walk away from his life in Paulie. That is still yet to be explored.
It seems that Daniel is not a role that you can just shrug off at the end of the day.
It’s a bit like he “lives out in the guest house” while we’re not shooting. But he’s constantly at the door, knocking. He wants to come in, some days more than others. He might bring a pizza by or my favorite drink or whatever and try to entice me to “sit down with him” and get back into that world. But, really, for the most of it, I have to let him sort of sit out in the guest house until it’s time for me to go over and say hello again.
If your TV carried just three shows or networks, what would they be?
I guess, you know, you couldn’t go past The Wire. That was one of the most remarkable shows of all time. From the first or second episode, I was absolutely hooked. I would love to see a channel of Dennis Potter’s works – you know, Pennies From Heaven and The Singing Detective. And on that channel, you could show Twin Peaks as well. That was a game-changer. Maybe next to that, you could have a channel completely composed of silent films — or Richard Pryor!
What has been your strangest fan encounter?
I did have a girl come to me at a party once, saying “I wore this for you,” and then opening her coat to reveal that she hadn’t worn much at all. But, recently, I had one in Griffin [the Georgia town where Rectify is shot]. I was at the supermarket, shopping, and I noticed this lady kept peering around every aisle that I was in. She was saucer-eyed and she said, “You’re Daniel, aren’t you?” And I said, “Well I know him, but I’m not quite him.” She went on to say how much she loved the show. And she was sort of standing there, shaking, holding this piece of paper until, finally, after this moment of awkward silence, I just took it from her to write my name on it like I thought she wanted. And I realized it was her shopping list! Which we both laughed about.
Tell us about a time when you were starstruck.
Gosh, I had known Cate Blanchett for years in the theatre circuit and the film circuit. Then, Bruce Beresford called me and said, “Would you like to play a character in a film that I’ve written [Paradise Road] and you’d be playing opposite Cate Blanchett. It’s not many scenes,” and so forth. And I knew Cate as this frizzy-haired girl with an extraordinary amount of promise. And she was very warm and almost like the girl next door. I immediately said yes to Bruce. I turned up for some classes. We had to do a scene where we were waltzing together and they’d arranged a class for us to do that together. And I could barely breathe when I saw her. She had grown up into the most fantastic, beautiful creature that I had ever seen up until that point in my life. And I had a great deal of trouble being able to say more than two words!
What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
Well, you can’t get by without olive oil. I mean, that’s just a given. Sea salt, olive oil, and, you know, strangely enough, I always manage, somehow, to find escargots! So, I’ve always got snails, sea salt and olive oil.
What’s a movie you can watch again and again and never get tired of?
I’d have to go back to Never Cry Wolf. It was a Canadian story by Farley Mowat that was directed by Carroll Ballard, an American, for Disney, believe it or not. It was Charles Martin Smith who played the lead role. That, to me, is a film of extraordinary patience and breadth. Exuberant storytelling. It contained so much and there is so much depth to be found within it. The isolation of this man in the wilderness … it’s a remarkable film. Everyone, I think, should see it and, once they’ve done that, should show it to somebody else.
If you weren’t in this profession, what do you think you would be doing?
Oh, gosh, you know, I’d like to say I would have been an artist. But that’s such a hard job to support yourself. I probably would have gotten sick of it. I’ve always thought about film. Luckily enough, I’ve never had to have another job because I’ve always managed to find work within the film industry.
Where is home now for you and your family?
We don’t know at the moment. We’re very nomadic. We’re in New York now and they put us up at the NoMad Hotel. I thought that’s very apt, considering we’ve pretty much been on the road for three years and haven’t really made a base yet in that time. It’s time to find a place to live. Canada might be an option. Australia might be an option. But, at the moment, there’s some fruit to be picked, and if you have to move around to get to it, you know, that’s a father’s job, in a way. You’ve got to go where the work is, and so it might be Los Angeles. It might be New York.