Anthony K. Hyatt was born as Anthony Khumbanyiwa Hyatt. He is an actor and assistant director, known for Somebodies (2006), Three Can Play That Game (2007) and Angel Camouflaged (2010). He was most recently seen in Complications (2015) in the role of Ezera Tyler, leader of the Vine City Crew.
My interview with Anthony lasted twice as long as any other and for good reason. Anthony was so energetic and outgoing on the phone and it was really cool to go back-and-forth about the things that interested us – from superheroes to class clown childhoods to portraying gang leader, EZ, on Complications. I wish you all could’ve been there because everyone could see just how cool Anthony is as a person. It was like sitting in the bar chatting with a buddy. Absolutely surreal. It was quite the honor.
That being said, the interview has been posted for your pleasure. I hope each of you get the feeling of awe that I did while talking nerdy with Anthony Hyatt.
Thank you very much for agreeing to do the interview. I just wanted to start by touching on you – who is Anthony? You hold a degree in political science and government from the University of Georgia. You were a substitute teacher I believe for five years. You’re with Sonny Boy Entertainment as a producer and voice talent. How’d this all start? When did you decide that you wanted to be an actor, producer, director, etc., and where do you draw your inspiration for all of this from?
Anthony: When did I decide? Let’s see. It’s probably in college because I had been acting when I was younger, but I never considered it as a profession. It was a professor at the University of Georgia that kind of gave me the confidence that I could possibly do this professionally. That was back in 2000. I think 2000.
Glad he did. We’ve enjoyed having you with us during Season 1 of USA’s “Complications.”
“I appreciate that.”
I had the opportunity to go back and review some of your other works in preparation for this interview – Sleepy Hollow, Somebodies, etc. In true fashion, with our website being Talk Nerdy, I wanted to go ahead and take that opportunity to ask a few fun questions. To start, I’d be betraying my formative years if I didn’t bring up your work as the assistant director, almost 10 years ago, for the “Martial Arts of Samurai Jack,” which for me is arguably one of the best cartoons of the early 2000’s.
“[laughs] Yes, yes.”
What was it like working as the director for that, and what drew your interest to do so?
“Well, that was an opportunity that I had. I was an assistant director behind-the-scenes, we were shooting the making of Samurai Jack and the particular days that I worked on that project, we were shooting live-action martial artists. That was incredible. It was early on when I decided that I can’t just be an actor. I’m too nerdy for that. I know I’m capable of doing more than one thing. Back when I was young and I played sports, I was just as adamant about my academics as I was about the sports. Other than, I’ve always been nerdy like that, so I wanted to diversify my portfolio, if you will. I got an opportunity to do assistant director work, and producer work, and I rarely turned it down when I was coming up.”
Sweet! Turning to your work here as an actor, and more specifically, your role on Complications, what can you tell those who haven’t seen the show, which should be taboo by now, about who Ezera Tyler is and why they should check the series out.
“Who is EZ Tyler? Well, for me, when I read the pilot, I identified him as a father first before anything – before his profession. He’s a gang leader, essentially, and he’s imprisoned. While those are like the two glaring things about him, he’s most adamant about being a father. He’s most passionate about being a father. If I was telling somebody to watch the show, I would say you have to tune in because it has dynamic characters and it’s a medical drama that goes against the grain. I’ve never seen a medical drama like this. I don’t know if it exists or not, but I’ve never seen one like this where so much conflict happens outside of the hospital. There’s still quite a bit of medical stuff and scenes in the hospital, but the doctor, oh my God, he goes through it. He’s all over the place. Him and Gretchen. It’s just a really good story and each script that I read it’s like I loved it even more. It’s a blessing to be in this show that has such great writers, and then the actors. Don’t get me started on the actors.”
You’re all great actors. Every last one of you. It’s just an amazing all-star cast you guys have. With you mentioning your first reading of the script, a couple of days ago Matt Nix and yourself posted up a little exchange about that “Christmas miracle in Atlanta.” I was hoping you could expand on that and talk about what that first meeting was like.
“Oh, man. That was cool. I remember getting the audition and I was in LA. I got the audition from my agent and I saw that it had Matt Nix’s name on there as executive producer and writer, and that immediately piqued my interest. I knew his work from Burn Notice. I was like, “Oh, okay, this is going to be good.” This was before I even read it, I just saw his name attached. Then as I read it, I was like, “Oh, this is really good. I have to get this role,” and I filmed my audition in LA. A couple of days later, they let me know I had a call back in Atlanta and I had to take the job as a local hire. Actors have to sacrifice sometimes, but this was well worth it. I went, I paid my own way, went to Atlanta for the call back and meeting him and Craig Siebels, the other producer on this, was really cool.
I tried to go in character. I had my game face on, but as soon as I stepped in the room, I was all cheesy. It didn’t … I thought, “Oh, my God. I just ruined it now. They are going to see me smiling, and kind of cheesy and this is not going to work. It’s not going to work out.” But, I had a great read with Matt and it was a good audition. I was delivering the lines, but it was as if I could see it myself. I really identified with the character. When I did the audition in LA, my friend taped it with me and I just had a feeling that this was a character that I could definitely play. And I used to live in Atlanta. I grew up in the South. I was born in Alabama and grew up in Atlanta from the age of 10 to 18, then I went to the University of Georgia. It was a blessing to be able to come back to Atlanta to shoot. All of my family and friends are here and what better way to return to Atlanta?”
Absolutely. It’s always great coming home that way.
“Yes, it was. It was. You could imagine my parents were proud. They’ve been very supportive of my career over the years. When I was growing up, they really stressed the importance of education and after a while, it was like they really didn’t have to push me academically. I took it as a challenge. I love to learn and the same thing goes with acting. I learned so much being on the sets, particularly with Jason [O’Mara]. He’s a great actor. Great actor. I would say underrated, and I wish more people could see his work. Whenever I talk to people, I tell them about Complications. I tell them about the actors and actresses on this show and I’m proud to be a proud of it, truly.”
I can say I feel the same. Like I’ve been on tour trying to promote the show myself, trying to get my friends to sit down and watch it. It really is an absolutely wonderful show. Matt Nix is a creative genius, and the entire cast and crew, you guys are wonderful.
“Thank you. Let me ask you what do you like about the show?”
One of the things I like most about the show is, like you’ve stated, it’s differences. It’s not your typical medical drama. My wife loves shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy and so when I initially heard about the show, I was thinking, “This is going to be another medical drama. It’s going to be another ER or something.” I’ll be honest, sometimes I can’t stand the sight of the blood on some of her shows. I find myself queasy.
“And these are the shows your wife watches?”
And these are the shows that she watches, yeah. I’m the action-packed TV show, sci-fi nerdy guy. I had the honor, the privilege of watching the pilot before it aired, and that first episode blew me away. You guys were just absolutely amazing.
“Thank you. Thank you so much. I thought the same thing when I saw the pilot. I was just, like I’ve said it before, I was just so impressed with the show. Very proud to be a part of it.”
Definitely. Touching on Easy’s fatherhood, and as a father myself, I do find it hard to disagree with Easy wanting to do whatever it takes to protect his son, to protect Antoine. Granted, his methods are a bit extreme in several areas, that comes from his profession I suppose you can call it. He does just seem like a dad that wants to protect his son. What’s your take on Easy’s methods as a parent and his relationship with Antoine?
“His methods as a parent are definitely extreme. You touched on being a father, and I’m not a father, but I can understand that protective … It comes instinctually, to be protective of your child and then for it to be a male child, I think that definitely makes it different for this guy. Maybe it, he wants his legacy to live on through him, perhaps that’s what Easy is thinking, but he’s very protective and think he would do anything to save his son and in my opinion, he’s very apologetic about being away from him. The circumstances led him to jail, where he’s not able to be on the outside and take care of his own son. Really, Easy should be mad at CJ. Why did CJ run? Why did CJ run? But, he still in the family though. He’s still in the family. What was your second part about Easy?”
I’d like to touch on your dynamic with Chris Chalk. With Darius running things on the streets, how would you say that his leadership differs from EZ’s?
“I would say Darius is probably a bit more emotionally invested in his leadership because he has to be out with his actions, right? While, Easy, in jail, he can’t get his hands dirty so to speak. I think that Easy understands more, like he understands the doctor. He can relate to the doctor. He sits down and have a man to man conversation and relate to each other as fathers. Darius and the doctor, they don’t have conversations like that. It’s usually Darius telling him what to do, and not wanting to hear the other side of the story. You have problems at some clinic, I don’t care Doc, just we need to get this done. Yeah, it’s definitely a different type of relationship and so they have to lead differently. Yes, they definitely lead differently.
Then, let me touch … I’m sorry, let me touch on Chris Chalk as an actor. Oh my God, he is awesome. That’s an awesome young man right there. I’m glad to be a part of the cast that has him on it, I mean, because the guy is a phenomenal actor. I’ve never seen him on stage, but I can imagine that he’s an incredible stage performer because he’s a delight onset. Man, I’m telling you. This guy makes everything more fun.”
Definitely, the interview with him was absolutely awesome. Absolutely.
” I can’t imagine how that … I would love to have been a fly on the wall. He’s a ball of energy.”
Yeah. He was absolutely energetic. He was one of my first interviews I ever did and my heart’s beating, I’m nervous, the moment we got on phone with each other, Chris he just brought me up. Broke me out of my shell. We got there, we got it done and it was absolutely fun.
“That’s cool. Hey, and that’s how he is in person man. He’s a delight onset. For real, he really is. He’s on Gotham. He’s on Gotham too. Have you check him out on there?”
Yes, I actually watched all of the first season of Gotham. I had a couple of questions regarding Gotham for him during our interview and so, yeah, it was absolutely awesome. Both him and Jason O’Mara. Jason O’Mara is the voice talent behind some of the Batman movies, the Batman cartoons. That was kind of cool, you know? Okay, so in regards to, continuing to talk nerdy here and since we kind of transitioned quickly to superheroes, there is all the superhero movies coming out, you know? If you had that magic wand and there was one superhero role that you just couldn’t turn down, what do you think it will be?
“This is not going to make any sense really. I don’t think it’s going to make any sense, but this is all hypothetical, right?”
All hypothetical. Unless you want me to try to push it out there, but I don’t think I have that kind of pull.
“[laughs] No, nah, nah. This would be a ridiculous casting if they cast me in this role, but let me say, growing up I was in love with the Incredible Hulk. He could do no wrong in my book. Hulk smash, it’s like okay yeah, he destroyed that building, but deep down he has good intentions. I love the Incredible Hulk. If somebody asked me to play him, I mean probably any superhero I wouldn’t turn it down, but Incredible Hulk is the one for me. I loved Spiderman growing up, but he was just a little too soft. But, Incredible Hulk, yeah.”
Yeah, my sons a huge Incredible Hulk fan so I don’t think it would matter who was playing it, whether hypothetical or not, he’s absolutely a huge fan of it.
“Yeah, and some great actors have played that, man. Edward Norton, Eric Bana, Mark Ruffalo. Indeed, indeed. What about you? Who would you be?”
I think probably for me, I’ve always been kind of one of those … I think Spiderman was probably the one that kind of had the most effect on me because growing up, I wasn’t very athletic. I was kind of that more stay in the corner, quiet type, academic type, kind of like Peter Parker was and now as I slowly got older, I got a bit more sarcastic or as my wife says “Smartass.”
“Hey, I got that same nickname. Go ahead, go ahead.”
Yeah. I think a bunch of people do. But, yeah I definitely think Spiderman would probably be that one that if I could have his superpowers, or if I could have that role and go into the thing, I probably would. He was just one of the ones that kind of had the influence on me. Of course, I’m 26, I’m a 90s kid. Spiderman was hugely popular cartoon’s back then. That had the most effect on me.
“I grew up on the cartoons, I’m a bit older than you. It was cartoons and comic books. To me, he’s one of the superheroes who had the most personality. You know? He was kind of nerdy so yeah.”
Yeah, he had the most personality. Definitely, for sure. He was always out there and, but when the situation called for it, they always managed to give him that serious tone and he always straight-faced, okay we mean business now.
“Yeah, and I was a class clown growing up, but …”
Voted most wittiest, if I recall my research?
“Oh, yeah. Oh, look at you. Yeah, you’ve done your homework sir.”
I like to try and be prepared. Don’t suppose you remember that rousing acceptance speech?
“Yeah, I do. I do remember it and it’s been documented on video. It lives on. Yeah, it lives on.”
Would you like to recount it now for us?
“I don’t know. I got suspended for it man. I got suspended for giving the speech when I won the award. Yeah, it was just a suggestive joke in front of the whole superlative assembly and it was funny. I got a standing ovation, but I also got suspended the next day.”
Well, we don’t want to get you in trouble here. My final question that I have is we’re going into the finale on Thursday, that dynamic between John and Easy is kind of been escalating for quite some time now, and now it’s kind of come to a standoff. My silence for peace. How is that … And then we see how that dynamic effects Darius and John. What is your take on that dynamic now because Easy said, “Hey, back off,” and Darius is feeling, hey John’s a traitor here.
“Yeah, okay let’s see. I’ll talk about this as if I’m just an audience member who hasn’t read the scripts, who is not an actor in it. Really, I’m on Easy’s side. You have to do the smart thing, right, and let’s call a truce. This is all stupid. It started for reasons beyond our control, but my son got shot in turn. Let’s end this violence. Let’s end it and move on. Plus, the doctor has so much evidence, you know? If we want to persevere and make sure the business is still running, then we need to squash this. As an audience member who doesn’t know anything about the finale, what happens, I want to see what Darius does.”
Definitely. It’s going to be interesting, I think, to see.
“Yes, yes. That scene, I didn’t get to see Chris Chalk onset much. It was just the one time that we had the scene together, but watching him this season though, each time he’s on camera I’m like, “Okay, what is he going to say and when is he going to be back? If he leaves, when is he going to be back?” That line in the last episode, the last line that he gives, is like a cliffhanger really. I just want to know. It has me at the edge of my seat and I know what’s going to happen, but it’s as if I don’t know. It’s that good man.
No, he didn’t lie. That’s not an exaggeration. People that read this, they’ll be like roll their eyes, oh that’s a stock answer. Whatever. No, particularly episode 5. I was on the edge of my seat literally. I was watching it by myself, I was like, wait a second. Let me stop here. I’m at the edge of the couch. What am I doing? I already know what’s going to happen, but my heart rate was up and the suspense was still there for me.”
Definitely. The suspense is there for all of us. It’s exciting. I can’t wait to see what happens. I think I’ve taken up enough of your time Anthony. I really appreciate it.
“Are you sure Robert? Do you need to ask me another question? I don’t know if I answered these questions adequately. Feel free to ask another if you need to.”
Actually, you know what? I do have one question. Every interview I do I ask this and the answer is so unique yo everyone. I love it. What is one lesson you have taken from your work and experiences as EZ and what is one lesson you are hoping the audience will take away from your performances?
“Oh, man. That’s a good question and you ask everyone this? I know you’ve probably got some pretty eloquent answers. A lot of pressure Robert? For my performances, I want them to take away reality. This guy, the man playing this character is so into it that I can’t see anything but Easy. All I see is Easy. I want people that do know me, not to see me when I’m performing. Particularly, with this character. Yeah, just reality. You know what? I should have done some homework with you Robert. Then, I would have seen that you asked everyone this question and then I could kind of steal from their answers. I’m sure you got some great answers.”
It’s about the same. I’ve heard quite a few people talk about reality, and the hope of the characters and to see what they bring, you know? It’s beautiful. Reality is definitely one of those … It’s definitely one of those things that watching Easy on Complications, watching you play him, it definitely gets real for me because whether you said you weren’t a father in real life, well regardless, seeing you on-screen I feel … I almost feel as if you are. I feel Easy’s fatherhood there. You definitely make that seeing real, and emotional, so I appreciate that reality is there.
“Thank you so much. This is true, when I watch it, I don’t see myself. As an actor, I critique my performances, but all I see is Easy. That’s the only thing I see. Maybe I’ve done such a good job that I’m even fulling myself now. Well, there you go. Yes, and there’s Jason who when I was watching Terranova, I just saw him. I didn’t see Jason O’Mara and the same with this. Doing the scenes with him is so intense and sitting across from him during that jail scene , all I see was Dr. John Ellison. It was like I didn’t just meet this nice guy and we chatted up, this is John Ellison here.”
Absolutely. It’s like I said, it’s absolutely awesome getting to see you guys and again, I appreciate the chance to the interview Anthony.
“Oh, it’s a pleasure man. I appreciate the fact that you’re watching, and that you even wanted to speak to me and you know what you should do Robert?”
Go for it.
“You should change your number because I’m going to wake up at like 2 o’clock in the morning like, “damn that’s not the way I wanted to answer that question,” and I’m going to call you back. Go ahead and change your number now, or block me. [laughs].”