Marcus LaVoi is starring in Chambers, the new Netflix series that drops at 3am ET Friday morning.
LaVoi plays Big Frank, the uncle and parental guardian of Sasha (Sivan Alyra Rose), the young Native American teenager at the heart of the thrilling drama that brings not only mystery, but family dynamics, a dash of the supernatural, and some horror, to boot.
Below, LaVoi offers his thoughts on Chambers, how his Native American heritage helped him prepare for the role and much more.
Can you give our readers a synopsis of Chambers?
Yeah certainly. Well, basically it's a young adult horror series. The show is primarily horror but, there are still strong elements of drama and romance, there's some humor in it and particularly my family is surrounded in cultural awareness.I play Big Frank on the show and my niece is Sivan, Sasha on the show.
You said that it's considered a horror; is that how Netflix is shopping it?
Yeah, I think it's an adult, a young adult horror series. I think that's how they're shopping it, supernatural, as well.
Right. So, whenever you first start watching it, there are none of those elements in the first episode so the mystery builds.
And I think that's another good thing they've done here is they've encompassed so many different elements in there. There's two fathers, myself and Tony Goldwyn, kind of father figures, there's a king element, there's a horror supernatural element.
I think at the center of it all is love for family, you know. His family and my family, just loving our families.
Who is Frank, and what is his relationship to Sasha?
I am Sasha's uncle and Big Frank is kind of a rough around the edges, kind of a gruff guy but, he's lovable, he's loyal, he loves his niece, he's the kind of guy you want next to you in a bar fight, but then again, he's a big teddy bear, as well.
And what can you tell us about the other half of Chambers, the Lefevre family?
Yeah, that's Tony Goldwyn and Uma Thurman's family, and yeah, they're kind of the rich people across town, and we have a encounter with them and they surround the heart. So, I guess I'll probably leave it at that.
And I'm wondering, are we going to get more back story on Big Frank and Sasha's family if the series goes on?
Oh absolutely, yes definitely. I think that as the series goes forward and possibly into season two we're definitely going to get more in depth in the background of our family, our heritage.
That's one great thing about this show is that I was honored to be a part of something where Native American culture was respected and honored and showed in a positive light. I was real proud of that, to be a part of that.
Frank, Big Frank seems very proud. Are there any secrets coming out about how he wound up raising Sasha and also running a fish store?
Yeah, I don't know if I can ... I don't want to give any secrets away but, Big Frank was a Marine Corp veteran who served his country, has combat experience and then he went into law enforcement working in the prisons and he just took over raising Sasha since she was very young, almost a baby.
So, his trajectory isn't really all that different from yours coming from law enforcement and stuff like that.
Are you going to get to use any of that?
Absolutely. Oh absolutely. It was all part of my preparation for the character. That's one thing I do on any role I take is I get really in depth in the character, and I do a complete and total background on my character. And this guy lines up; it wasn't a far stretch from who and what I really am.
And how did you get from that background in law enforcement to acting?
When I was in the law enforcement I would do off duty security work on local sets down in San Diego at the studios and just do security work out there and then it kind of started one thing was like hey, you want to do a little stand in, a little background work?
I was like, yeah sure and one thing lead to the next. I loved it and finally resigned from law enforcement and moved up to LA to pursue my career in acting.
That's awesome. And so, you grew up on a reservation, the White Earth Indian Reservation I understand?
And how does the setting of Chambers and what they're doing compare to your experience as a young adult?
I think what they did, and once again, that's what is cutting edge and pioneering -- this cultural awareness -- and they wanted to pay attention to details, and I was honored to be apart of that.
It wasn't stereotypical Native Americans, they really brought in elders and people who truly know the background of Native American and they were pretty exact, they were really accurate on clothing and hair styles and language, and they really studied the backgrounds, and I was really impressed by that.
That's great. And what is your ideal role?
My ideal role.
Well I mean, I love action, I love action roles but, at the heart of it is kind of like my character Big Frank. I look to be kind of a action kind type figure but at the heart of me is at the core of me is my heart you know, and I am a father and I have a good heart.
I mean, I'll stand up for what I believe in and I'll stand up for my rights, but I'll be there ... I'm the kind of guy who will go leave the 99 to go save the one. So, I guess action roles are great, but I also want to do roles that show the sensitive side of me, as well.
And what have you heard about a potential second season for the series?
Will I just, I haven't heard an official, nothing confirmed yet. I mean, they never give that out but, everything I'm hearing is looking very positive. I know they're pouring a lot of energy and effort into marketing and usually when I see that, they know what they're doing. And that's what it seems like they're doing.
They're a trusted company, and they are where they are because they know what they're doing. So, I'm pretty confident that we're going to see a second season.
Well we were given the first four episodes in the press and there are two of us on staff that have access to those and we ate them up as fast as possible.
You liked them? That's good to hear, that's good feedback.
Yeah, yeah and I thought it was so cruel that they left us at only four episodes.
It's a start.
I'll tell you what, I haven't even seen the four yet so you're among the privileged.
Oh really? Wow. Yeah, you should ask for those.
Yeah, I definitely will. It's been done. The work is done. I'm going to just sit back and enjoy the ride now.
Good. Yeah, it says it's in post production, so I figure as they get more episodes finished that they'll put them out there, but I mean what is showing so far is really, really good.
Good, I'm super glad to hear that. Thank you so much.
I think you have a hit on your hands.
Yeah I believe we do too. I really do. And I'm not just saying that 'cause I'm a part of it. I mean, standing back and just looking at it as a whole, being on the set and watching everybody come together, I've never been a part of a set where everybody gave 100%.
Like no one held back and I think I can speak for the rest of the cast that we gave it our all.
We can tell. And what can you tell us about your co-star Sivan Alyra Rose?
Sivan Rose, she's new to the industry, and I think she just went out to impress everybody out there. She is a natural talent. Some people train their whole lives and others are gifted; she's just gifted. She was a joy to be around.
Since we were outside of our environment and we were in a different state, we became a family out there, and we hung out together; we ate dinner together sometimes. We became a real tight-knit family, and I was just really impressed by her.
She had a lot on her plate, and there was a huge mountian ahead of her, and she overcame it; she conquered it.
Can you describe your character in three words?
Let me see, I would say big, strong, and loving.
Now describe the series in three words.
Let me think here. Three words would be amazing, surprising, and heart warming.
And finally, if you could make your pitch to potential viewers, which is essentially what you're doing, what would you say about the show to get them to watch?
I would just say be ready for a roller coaster of emotions, be ready for thrills, chills, and excitement, and at the heart of it all is love.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.