SYFY’s Deadly Class is just wrapped its first season, and we had the opportunity to talk to Tom Stevens, the actor who plays the show’s primary antagonist, Chester “F***face” Wilson.
Stevens is already a familiar face in genre television, having played Jason Higgins on Wayward Pines, for which he won a Leo award in 2017.
This interview does contain some spoilers, so proceed with caution, especially if you haven’t seen the season finale!
Tom Stevens:Hey how’s it going?
Bleeding Cool:Good! How are you doing, Tom?
Tom Stevens: I’m doing good, Leigh.
Bleeding Cool:It’s fantastic talking with you. I just watched the season finale last night!
Tom Stevens:I just did the ADR* on it! And man that Donahue scene is crazy. (both laugh)
Bleeding Cool:Yeah. That must have been a blast! Now, Chester’s a pretty unconventional character to say the least… even for a serial killer. What brought you to that part?
Tom Stevens: You know, as as an actor you kind of get things put in front of you all the time; you’re auditioning for things constantly. And you’re reading different scripts, and F***face was was just another audition.
I saw it and I just was blown away. I was just like immediately “Chester “F***face Wilson”… I’m like “what is this?” I knew a little bit about Deadly Class because my wife worked on the pilot, and did all the background casting on it. So I knew the story, I knew that it got picked up for a show and everything.
So when this one came in I texted her, I was like “hey baby, I’m reading for F***kface, he’s a guy that f***s a goat.” I’m thinking, like, I’m going to be reading for the show all season and hopefully getting something on it.
I actually taped for it, because I was working, and I came for it and ended up getting another tape, and they gave us the scene with Marcus (Benjamin Wadworth) in Vegas in the elevator and I did that one, and then I ended up getting a callback with Adam Kane and Mick; and I did just the elevator scene in my callback.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been in an audition but there’s like a little piece of tape on the ground you stand on that tape.You create the world; if you’re in a tight space even though there’s like 20 feet between you and the reader, but Adam encouraged me to just walk right up to the reader and play it inches from her face.
Bleeding Cool: You’re in an elevator threatening a kid who’s on 7 hits of acid…
Tom Stevens: Adam encouraged me to kind of go that way with F***face as a character. That’s exactly what I had to do every single time there’s a scene, I had to just like step off the mark and go further than I’ve ever gone before.
Bleeding Cool: I can’t even imagine! I mean he’s an intense character, and you had a lot of makeup to wear. How long were you in the makeup chair every time you shot?
Tom Stevens: Two and a half hours every day.
Bleeding Cool: Well, that’s that’s not too terrible! I’ve heard much more harrowing stories!
Tom Stevens: Yeah! When I was first setting up to do it they were saying “hey this guy’s got prosthetics, you’re gonna have to go get your face mold done”… So I had to be like buried in silicone for like 20 minutes, just having the mold that my good friend Tom… Now he’s my good friend… I met him through the production line. He did my face mold so that he could build the whole silicone pieces that went on me for F***face.
When I found out that I was going to have to do that there was like a little part of me that was like “You gotta be careful. I don’t know how I feel about this. I don’t know if it’s going to be strange if it’s going really get into my head, like maybe I’m claustrophobic and I don’t even know.”
I felt a little claustrophobic sometimes but I would just think of Doug Jones, the man that would go through anything.
I was watching this interview with Guillermo del Toro and he was saying Doug will never say no, he’ll never say stop, he’ll never say that’s enough. When they were doing the Angel of Death for Hellboy 2 somebody was putting something on his back, and they noticed there was blood on the back of the apparatus- And (Del Toro) said “we put blood on the back of the Angel?” and they went “no, I think that’s Doug’s blood.” And he and he just went “Stop stop stop” and they pulled this thing off and the wings had literally gouged into his back and he’s just sitting there, he’s like the the biggest bad ass in TV because he can he can literally meditate through anything.
Bleeding Cool: I we can talk Doug Jones for 15 hours if you want… Trust me. Especially considering his work on Star Trek: Discovery right now.
Tom Stevens: Oh, yeah! That was my thing. I was like “I’m not getting the worst of it. People have done much more than me.” I have no reason to complain and then I can be part of a team effort.
Bleeding Cool: You see some of the stuff that Lon Chaney Junior went through you in the in the ‘30s and ‘40s…
Tom Stevens: Oh yeah..
Bleeding Cool: One of the coolest scenes I think that I’ve seen- not just on Deadly Class, but in television in general- was the sixth episode where Chester and Chico (Michel Duval) are basically having a heart to heart. And it’s Chico’s head in an ice bucket and you’re taking a bath, having a hard time just coming to terms with your place in the world, and with Marcus stealing your thunder. And Chico gives you this pep talk, and I swear I watched that scene about six times in a row… mostly because I was laughing the first couple of times- but that was an exceptional scene!
Tom Stevens: Thank you! Yeah, that was actually a funny story! I was a little surprised that they gave me that, that was the first time that you see the reason why F***face does what he does… And and I was actually totally resolved with playing a character that had no redeemable quality.
You know I was like I’m totally cool with being just the bad guy the bad guy who is like horrible and a monster and you never see why, and like that that scene in the bathtub was actually all stuff that Miles and Rick told me about that was never written into the comic.
The story with my dad taking me out behind the shed, putting a gun to my head and forcing me to make a choice. That was all in my backstory, and that was all in my prep. And then they gave that scene and I was like “oh s***, okay, we’re going to actually address this.”
Specifically, we talked a lot about it. And one of the things that I realized was F***face was using Chico, who was a decapitated head… who wasn’t speaking, so who was speaking? F***face was speaking. So what he was doing was giving himself a therapy session.
I like to say that F***face has three faces; so he’s got F***face, the face that you see; he’s got a personality in him who is rage, serious anger, and a monster, and that’s his father. That’s the damage that his father has done to him and F***face stands between that rage monster and the little boy that is Chester.
Chester is this little scared boy who has a gun to the back of his head from his father, and will never let go of the fear that his father put on him, and F***face stands in the middle protecting him from that.
And so in that scene I take off the F***face, and I put that on Chico and then I get to just be Chester in a bath talking about my scary father.
Bleeding Cool: To Rick and Miles credit, and your credit as well… you have the only musical number on Deadly Class. And that was also an extraordinary scene!
Tom Stevens: So the funny thing that came about was we got to episode 109, we got that script… I had just gotten it and I read it. And obviously the top of the episode was like… a Hillbilly hoedown, and then spotlight on Chester- in his underwear strumming a guitar as he descends the stairs. He sings a song and it said “Oh, Kallow, Kalay, Kolora, a fella he came to me, with legs so orange and hairy, as big as a tree” and I’m laughing; I’m laughing so hard!
I said my wife worked on the show so she had gotten the script before me, but she hadn’t had a chance to read it yet. She was doing the last episode, and I went “Oh baby you gotta hear this! This is hilarious!”
So I just start saying these words to her, like F***face descending stairs saying these words. And she goes “that sounds like this!” and kind of hums the melody to me. And I went “holy shit!”
I picked up my guitar and started playing it, and I played the whole thing in like in ten minutes… I picked up my voice recorder, I hit record on a voice memo. I recorded that and I sent it to Rick within 15 minutes of getting the script.
And Rick comes back like “this is brilliant! This is exactly what I wanted to hear, Tom! You’re f***ing amazing!” And he’s like “let me use this voice memo. This is great. It’s perfect.”
Little did I know Rick was going to like NBC and Sony meetings with his phone going “This is the song…” and like playing that voice memo that I sent him that morning, and that we ended up taking to a studio and recording it so that there was like the band… I don’t know where the band was. I think it was in L.A.- The backing band to play that crazy hoedown music. They had my voice and everything, and we recorded it professionally in studio, and then we ended up like using that on the day… that was just like a dream come true because that punchline is with Fuckface… is that as big of a monster as he is, if he never had what happened to him he could have been this beautiful musician, like this sad poetry with the character where he could have just been this beautiful, beautiful soul that could have traveled through life and done amazing things as an artist.
But he got scarred by his father, then he got scarred by Marcus, and then he got scarred by the world and then he became this serial killer.
Bleeding Cool: Well,if those terrible things hadn’t happened I don’t think you would’ve had Dwight Shandy (Brian Posehn) as a backup dancer…
Tom Stevens: No no no! Brian Posehn did a really good job, didn’t he?.
Bleeding Cool: It was it was amazing! I mean just the interplay between the two of you for all the episodes you guys had together!
Tom Stevens: “Please tell them to stop stabbing me? Mister Face Sir?”
Bleeding Cool: So one last question… I know I’m running out of time! With the last episode, we get that intense Donahue bit. And then you have a big fight with Marcus… The last time we see Chester, he is being mauled by a dog, and I think they’re implying that he’s done… But I kind of think he’s not. Do you think that’s the last we’re going to see of him?
Tom Stevens: I think that this show is breaking barriers pretty regularly, and if you notice that Ryan Robbins played a few different characters in the show, that might spark something in your mind. I think that flashbacks and drug hallucinations are definitely going to be a thing… now that Marcus has killed F***face, or or I don’t know if he has… I’m still not sure now that he’s done what he’s done… I think that F***face carries an even bigger part in his mind now. If you get another acid trip by Marcus, I wonder who’s going to show up?
Bleeding Cool: I don’t think anybody would want to do acid after that experience!
Tom Stevens: No way, man! It was was amazing! It was great!
Bleeding Cool: Well Tom, I appreciate your time and everything you added to Deadly Class! When you first showed up I thought, “okay, well, here’s a crazy goat loving hillbilly…” but you definitely made it something special!
Tom Stevens: Thank you. Thank you so much Leigh!