Turns out Josh Blacker, an actor from the, has given some thought to such matters as who would win in a fight: Thanos from Avengers: Endgame or the Night King from Game of Thrones. I know that because he started our recent interview saying he’d read a . I didn’t expect a chat with the actor to include talk of my work, but I appreciated the personal touch from Blacker, a polite and intelligent guy who talks about his passions, geeky and otherwise, in a charming South African accent.
See takes place 600 years in the future. The world has dwindled to 2 million people due to a virus that left most of the population dead and those who remain without sight. But everything changes when two kids are born with sight.
“That throws a wrench into the works because sight is a myth. It doesn’t exist in our world,” Blacker over the phone. “Any books, braille and technology that may have let the current humanity know what happened in the past doesn’t exist.”
The villainous ruler, Queen Kane, sends Blacker and her army to hunt down these kids. Their father, played by Jason Momoa, wants nothing to do with that. I talked with Blacker about learning how to blind-fight, his brother-in-law who is a blind mountain climber and the first time he worked with Jason Momoa on Stargate: Atlantis.
Here is a transcript of our chat, lightly edited for clarity.
How did you develop your role?
My character is the right-hand guy. He’s called the Witchfinder Warrior. So in our world, we are sightless, but have developed other abilities. Hearing is enhanced, touch is enhanced, taste, smell — all of these senses are enhanced. My character has developed the ability to fight. He’s an incredible warrior and he was able to use various tools and his body to fight.
How did you handle the challenge of playing someone without sight?
I wanted to do justice to people who are blind or have low vision. People with blindness are able to overcome what many people see as a disability and lead very productive, fulfilling lives. I have a brother-in-law who is legally blind. He’s a mountain climber and he takes amazing photographs when he’s out in the mountains. I was inspired by his journey.
Apple did so much to help us really live in the world of people with blindness or low vision. We had about a month and a half of movement training and sightless training. Joe Strechay was our blindness consultant. He taught me various techniques in which a person with blindness or low vision is able to navigate through the world — whether it be echolocation or the feeling of the sun on your face, or hearing the sound of a car in the distance and various things like that.
We took all of those tools he provided us into movement training and did things like sightless fighting and hand-to-hand combat. We got to the point where it’s like that scene in Star Wars where Luke first learns of the Force. You realize you can really start to rely on your other abilities, even hearing for the slightest movement of somebody’s foot or the wind across your face as their hand goes by.
Working with Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard has got to be pretty cool, too.
It’s very cool. I worked with Jason a long time ago and on a small sci-fi show called Stargate: Atlantis when he was young, and I was just starting out. It was great to reunite with him. He’s a force of nature. And Alfre is just world class. To see what she’s able to do with just the slightest look of her eyes is really fantastic. Any opportunity to work with actors with that caliber is a great learning experience.
You started off as a lawyer, then went into acting. Why did you make that change? And do you ever miss being a lawyer?
I had always acted as a kid and I was a drama geek in high school. But I fell prey to the idea that you have to get a real job. And so I thought, well, I will be a lawyer because it’ll be like acting and I’ll be in the courtroom. But it wasn’t and I didn’t enjoy it. My dad gave me some great advice. He said, “Just do what you love, and find a way to make money doing it.” I knew my first love had always been acting and decided to pursue that. I’m grateful that it’s been pretty good ride for me.
Your production company Viewers Like You Productions released a comedy you co-wrote and starred in called Focus. What’s it like going from a big-budget production on Apple TV Plus to a small indie film?
Whether it’s aor a high-budget TV show like See or even … you know, I’ve helped some friends out making short films and showing up in those. You’re there because you love storytelling and you love working with creative people. The budget just affects the environment that you’re able to work with. It’s obvious if you don’t have the money, there’s less you can do. So you have to be more creative when you do the indie, the low budget stuff. But you’re doing it for the love of it. I think that’s the truth of what we have to do as creators. And then the budget just helps you make it look a lot fancier.