Malcolm Barrett Talks NBC’s Timeless

Comments Off on Malcolm Barrett Talks NBC’s Timeless

Malcolm Barrett Talks NBC’s Timeless
Posted by Imani Cruz

August 31, 2016

Timeless poster

Comedian and actor Malcolm Barrett joins NBC’s the latest fall series, ‘Timeless’. The sci-fi, action show is set in modern day, as the cast travels back in time to save the future of America as they know it. Barrett plays an unwilling traveler, Rufus, whose presence is necessary as he is the only one who knows how to operate the time traveling ship. With his comedic background, Barrett entices audiences with improvisational lines and lots of humor.

As the only African American character on the show, as the crew travels back in time, they often are forced to confront the fact that African Americans had a significantly more negative and abusive experience in comparison to their White counterparts. Barrett tackles the topics head on with jokes and innuendos, while still remaining informative. At NBCUniversal’s press day during the 2016 Summer TCA Tour, Black film.com spoke with Barrett about what being the only actor of color on show means for him and where he sees himself evolving to as an actor.

Malcolm Barrett

You’re the only African American character on ‘Timeless’ and at a press conference, a journalist asked if every episode will have a racial focal point. What are your thoughts on the show tackling the topic?

Malcolm Barrett: No one says “Roots, is every part of it gonna be slavery based?” Yeah … That’s part of the thing that you have to deal with. What these guys are smart about is dealing with those obstacles that we’re gonna have to deal with and also measuring against all these other human aspects. It’s not like black people never smiled until like 1998. There’s a bunch of things that happen between that, which were both negative and positive. So, you want to deal with that. That’s the beauty of the writing. They understand that conflict is what makes writing great. Steadily dealing with White people that are easily able to blend in is not the same as having a character like me going through these things. Every week I’m not gonna have a great speech about how this is happening, but I think we acknowledge and respect certain things and we also uncover certain things . . . Aside from being an African American traveling through time, you’re also dealing with a socially uncomfortable individual who never expected to have to go through any adventure of saving someone’s life.

(L-R) Actors Matt Lanter, Abigail Spencer and Malcolm Barrett from NBCUniversal's 'Timeless' pose for a portrait at the 2016 Summer TCAs Getty Images Portrait Studio at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Maarten de Boer/Getty Images)

(L-R) Actors Matt Lanter, Abigail Spencer and Malcolm Barrett from NBCUniversal’s ‘Timeless’ pose for a portrait at the 2016 Summer TCAs Getty Images Portrait Studio at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Maarten de Boer/Getty Images)

So, the show is fairly serious and you bring in the comedic aspect. Moving forward, where do you see yourself evolving to?

MB: It’s interesting because TV wise, people know me for comedy. From my angle, comedy is easier. It’s harder for people to make people look funny than it is for people to look dramatic. It’s harder for people to nail a joke. In terms of my general career, I’ve ranged from all of it. What was amazing about doing this show is that I got to bring it all together. I got to bring sort of comedy and improv elements to it. They’re not precious about the dialogue. They’re open to input and we’ll talk about it. They heard me talk one or two times at dinners and was like “Why don’t you improvise more?” and I’m like “Because you wrote a show…” *laughs* I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do and I have an opinion on this. They respect my perspective. I’m probably the one that changes lines the most. Some of them relating to me being Black and whether I would say this, others just general character stuff. They (the producers) respect my opinion and my perspective and that’s part of why they brought me on.

Timeless - Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett and Matt Lanter

Do you have any upcoming projects that we can look forward to?

MB: I’m in a movie called ‘War on Everyone’, by Michael Mcdonagh who did ‘The Calvary’, he did ‘The Guard’, with Don Cheadle.

‘Timeless’ premieres on NBC Oct. 3 at 10/9 c.

“Change Time, Make History” Promo


Comments are closed.