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It seems pretty odd to have survived a serious accident only to proclaim, “I cannot wait to do a superhero show,” but stranger still is the fact that that’s exactly what actor David Julian Hirsch is now doing as Richard Conrad/Blue-Bolt on Jupiter’s Legacy.
Born in Canada on October 26, 1973, Hirsch had every intention of becoming a lawyer, having studied criminology at the University of Toronto. Then he “foolishly” decided to perform in a New York summer acting workshop and found himself hooked. He made his TV acting debut in a 1998 episode of La Femme Nikita and became a series regular on such Canadian series as Leap Years, Naked Josh, Lovebites, and Hawthorne. Between 2001 and 2013 he appeared in about a dozen films. But it’s Netflix’s Jupiter’s Legacy that is the answer to his accident-inducing pronouncement and as you can tell from the following interview, it would be pretty difficult to match his excitement level about the show.
WHO IS BLUE BOLT?
NAME: Richard Conrad
ALTER EGO: Blue Bolt
POWERS AND ABILITIES: We don’t know yet!
NEED TO KNOW: A founding member of The Union and a neonatal surgeon when we meet him in 1929. In the present day, Richard is no longer part of the Union, and his fate remains unknown.
Den of Geek: What was the excitement level for you about being cast?
David Julian Hirsh: There were just so many interesting things going on in my life for the three months prior to being cast. It was the first time in my life that I said, “I cannot wait to do a superhero show.” It’s never something I’ve done. It hasn’t been part of the genres that I’ve worked with, which has been romantic comedy, or comedy, or basic dramas.
That’s pretty specific. What made you say “I want to play a superhero.”
Just like what Richard Conrad in a way goes through in terms of how they find him and how he hooks up with the rest of the team back in 1929, I had had an accident in my own life. Something had happened and saved me, and it was the first time I said, “I absolutely want to do something huge, something greater than me, something spiritual, something exactly like a superhero show.”
The next thing I know, this script shows up and I just knew right away, I said, “I’m going in and I’m just going to live this.” And it was just so beautiful. It was such an honor to be a part of that and it was so the perfect time in my life to receive this role.
What was the appeal of this superhero?
I was always very drawn to the power of superheroes, but also the double lives that they had to lead between their private selves and their public selves. You live as a human, but you also live as a powerful superhero. And not only is Blue Bolt living the life of a neonatal surgeon, but he also has another double life. There are many layers to him, and as an actor that’s what I dream of. The more layers you have, the more there is to work with. The deeper you go, the more you have to understand.
I know the first season doesn’t cover the entirety of the comic and I know it’s bouncing in and out of time, but how does he change over the course of this first season?
I don’t want to give away too much obviously, but…there is an evolution in terms of a lot of it is the origin story in terms of how we got our powers. We definitely are going to find out about all that in the first season. You’ll definitely see an arc and there definitely would be a change, but I just don’t want to give away too many of those details of what you actually see.
I think that what I love about it is when you have normal people who all of a sudden get these super powers…It’s not like Superman who came down and had them. To actually see people that we can all relate to take on these powers is really interesting. I think each actor and each character has a different way of what these powers are going to do to them personally, in terms of how they handle power, in terms of how much they believe, in terms of how much they follow the code, in terms of all those things.
Is it empowering wearing that costume? Exciting? Embarrassing? What is the feeling when you have to put on that spandex and be a superhero?
It’s pretty much everything you just said at the exact same time. I’ve never experienced anything like that so far in my career. And I have to say, I was explaining it to my little nephew, and he just is so excited about it. This is exactly how I felt on the first day that I actually got to go put it on. I think it was the third fitting and things were going well, I thought, and I was starting to look like a superhero and it was incredible….it was so much fun and it is so worth it. I cannot believe how good every costume looks. It’s just so much more beyond what I expected. The costume department did such an incredible job.
Is it empowering?
Yeah. I mean, the funny thing is though, you think, you still actually can’t fly. That’s the thing, you think you can when you’re wearing it and you think you could just do anything, but no you’re just a bit heavier. But it definitely feels wonderful. It’s great. Everyone should be able to experience it. I can see why it affects people because you finish the day, you’ve been training for months about how to do all these incredible moves, these martial art moves and how to fight and work with the wires. And you’re trying all these incredible costumes, and then you go home and you’re walking down the street and you’re still you’re nobody and it’s great. It’s a good feeling.
Back in your place.
The secret identity. Exactly. But yeah, that’s our job as an actor though is to constantly be put back in our place and remember who we are. That’s good.
You mentioned earlier this is your first foray into the world of superheroes. Are you ready for the scrutiny that these kinds of shows get online with fans and conventions? Because that’s like a whole new world.
Yes, it is. I’ve been to some of the comic cons. I absolutely love it. I just love the passion and absolutely, I love the fact that they’re critical of their heroes. Why not? I would be too. And I am. We should be able to handle the criticism, the good and the bad. I think it’s fun. I can’t wait for all that stuff. It’s exciting.
I think fans are absolutely, from everything I know and everything I’ve seen so far, I think they’re absolutely going to love this. If you love superhero stories, it’s just so unique. The fact that it shows the different generations and the epic span of it is just so exciting. I didn’t know how it was going to be done. And I was nervous at the beginning, and then I saw it and I just could not believe it, the sets, the costumes, and just the way the writers tied it all together. It’s just so good.
If you were to describe the power of this show for the audience, what do you think it is? What is the driving force of this show?
I love how it talks about America. We learn about the stock market crash in 1929. It shows how America evolves. It shows how these generations have changed, how America and the world, how morals have changed and values have changed. It shows these different generations of superheroes. By using such an incredible device as superheroes and so much action and so much entertainment, I think it’ll appeal to such a broad audience. And yet it’ll it’s not just action. It’s not just superheroes beating up bad guys. It tells a lot about what’s happened in this country and where we’ve come to, and the fact that they follow a code, but that the new generation has their own way of looking at things.
I think it really says a lot about where we are today and the different generations. I was talking to my elderly neighbor, she’s actually 89 years old, and she said she’s looking forward to watching it and she loves superhero shows, but she wants it to have some meaning. She wants to learn something from it about power. Anyway, we had a really good discussion. Honestly, I think she will love the show, just as I think a young teenager will.
We start getting into philosophical questions like what is good? What is evil? What a great entertaining way of looking at this, with those kinds of questions. That’s what’s great about it.
Fantasy and sci-fi has always been such a great prism to examine our world anyway. So it’s a wonderful opportunity to make comments as much as you want, and nobody’s going to judge you on it.
What do you hope the show does for you and your career?
I’ve always stayed away from social media, but a lot of people are saying, “Oh, you should get social media, especially now because this is the kind of a show people really want to discuss and you should talk to the fans about it.” I probably will because I definitely want to interact with the fans when it comes to this kind of a show.
The truth is I’ve always loved martial arts and I’ve never been able to actually use that stuff in any of my work. This was the first time I was able to train. We had training before we started filming. I’d love to do more of this kind of stuff, so if it opens doors for me into the sci-fi world, then wow, that would be incredible. I personally love this show so much that I just hope it goes as long as possible. It’s just been such an incredible experience to see how much fun it is to shoot something like this. I’ve never had more fun filming something. It was incredible.
Does it allow you to tap into your childhood sense of playing pretend at all?
If there’s one thing I felt guilty about it’s that I can’t believe I’m allowed to have that much fun at work. Now I’m not saying it’s not hard. Of course it’s hard work, but I haven’t had that much fun, just laughing and being physical. A lot of the work I’ve done, there’s a lot of sitting around on sets and all that stuff. But here I would want to go in an hour before just to look at the things that the crew has created, even the lighting, just, everything was so beyond the courtroom scenes or classroom scenes that I’ve worked on. That’s obviously a different world of acting, but this was just unbelievable. So yes, I felt like a child in awe of my surroundings almost the entire time.
And they pay you for it.
Oh, stop it. It’s just too good. May this go on forever.
Jupiter’s Legacy premieres on Netflix on May 7. Read more about the series in our special edition magazine!