From the time that he was a child, Tory Kittles was fascinated by film and the acting profession. However, it wasn’t until he was in college that he indulged his curiosity, answering a local newspaper ad searching for actors. He was hired as an extra on the comedy show Kenan and Kel. From there, Kittles began studying the acting craft with Rus Blackwell of Circle in the Square. Not too long afterwards, he was invited by casting director Mali Finn to read for director Joel Schumaker. Impressed by Kittles’ talent, Schumaker cast him in his critically acclaimed film Tigerland and asked Kittles to write a song, which he did. The resulting track, “Looking for Charlie,” ended up being featured as the film’s theme.
Since then, Kittles has enjoyed a lucrative career rich with film and television roles. His big screen credits include: Next, Against the Ropes, Get Rich or Die Trying, Phone Booth, Stop-Loss, Miracle at St. Anna, A Perfect Getaway, The Chameleons, The Sapphires, Olympus Has Fallen, American Heist and Man-Down. Recently, he played Clarence Smith in the Emmy-winning HBO film Bessie.
On television, he is best known for his roles as Detective Thomas Papania in the award-winning series True Detective and as Laroy Wayne on Sons of Anarchy. He also earned a NAACP nomination for his work on the television remake of Steel Magnolias opposite Queen Latifiah. Now, he is starring as Resistance fighter Broussard on USA’s hit sci-fi drama Colony. Talk Nerdy With Us recently had the pleasure of participating in a conference call in which Kittles discussed Broussard’s relationships and motivations, his own love for the sci-fi genre and what we can expect from the rest of this season. Keep reading to see what Kittles had to say!
How long in advance did you know that your character was actually a Red Hat as well as Resistance?
I found out about a week before everybody else did. I didn’t get that episode until we were already shooting number three. And I think we were about half way shooting number three when I read that and took me by surprise just like it did everyone else. One of the reasons is that I had to shoot the amazing (Kathy Baker) who had been so sweet and so nice. So that took me by surprise.
Is there anything at all you can kind of tease about the next episode with your character?
Yes, sure. I think, you know, there have been sort of bread crumbs and clues about Broussard and his history that have been sort of sprinkled through the episode leading up to episode seven. You know it finds (Broussard) at a very precarious place because in six, you know, it’s the first time really that (Broussard) and (Will) have come face to face. And there was a moment in episode six where (Broussard) had his gun pointed at (Will) and he doesn’t take the shot because of his relationship with (Katie). And because he doesn’t take that shot the story sort of gets flipped on its head and now (Will) is going to come after him. So it’s a very pivotal point within the structure of the whole season actually because everything sort of gets turned upside down.
But I guess since I was just talking about him and the things that have lead up to him this season, you know, there are some parallels that (Broussard) shared with (Will). Like the first time you meet (Broussard), (Katie) comes to him and she, you know, she’s asking for his help in finding in (Will). But he reveals that there’s some parallels because he says guys like me and (Will). So just looking at where he is now and where we’re going to find him in episode seven. There’s been all sort of clues that (Ryan) and (Carlton) have laid out throughout the course of this season to get us to this point. And in episode seven, it’s all going to come to a head.
The show questions do you collaborate or do you resist and, you know, who is your friend and who is your enemy. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, you know, what’s interesting about (Broussard) is that he finds himself very clear about what side he’s on because he is one of the leaders in the Resistance Movement but yet he’s undercover as a Red Hat. And he’s having to deal with seeing the things that the Red Hats do on a daily basis, you know, and he’s gathering intelligence. But I think that plays a big effect on his humanity. Like the opening teaser from episode four, you get a brief glimpse when he takes off the camera and you see sort of the weight that he’s been carrying just by being in the presence of these guys because it’s in direct conflict with everything that he’s trying to accomplish but yet he needs to do it accomplish. So it’s a lot of irony within that but it definitely weighs on him.
What’s also interesting about the series to me is the fact that you have this outside agency that’s always there. Can you comment on the fact that he has to keep his cool and not let his emotions get the best of him? I think his training comes into view there.
I think you’re absolutely right. His training, his background, his history and you’ll find out, you know, more this week. It’s been teased that he does have a government background. He was a soldier. And so all of those things have taught him how to survive in a war-time. So that’s essentially where the colonists are living. It’s war time and you have to choose what side you’re going to be on. Whether you’re going to, you know, comply with the occupation which is something (Broussard)—you know he’s very clear. He’s very clear about, you know, what he wants and I think he’s also he’s a person and a leader in that he would sacrifice himself so that everyone else can have the freedoms. He doesn’t want to give these freedoms and he’s willing to die for that.
You have a pretty extensive body of work. With so many choices out for TV, whether it’s conventional TV or Netflix or Amazon, what drew you to Colony and what was the audition process like for you?
The script drew me. The script, you know, it was something very different from anything I’ve ever done before. It definitely combined a lot of elements from things that I liked. You know? Like I’m a big fan of Sci-Fi. I’m a big fan of action. I’m a big fan of thrillers. And it had all of these elements. And at the very core of it though it was a family drama and I could identify with these characters. So it was the script. And then after I read the script because which was only the pilot episode that I read, you know, and I didn’t know what they were going to do with this character. So I had no idea that this character (Broussard) was going to become what it has now become. And so I never foresaw that. I just trusted that you know (Ryan Condal) and (Carlton Cuse) were involved and you had all of these other great people involved in this show. You know (Holloway) and (Sarah Wayne Callies), (Peter Jacobson). And it just felt like something that was very fascinating but something that I should do. I would be crazy not to do it. At least, go for it, you know?
(April Webster) was the first casting director that I met when I came to Los Angeles so 15, 16 years ago. She is the incredible casting director on this and she put me on the phone with (Ryan Condal) and I had the conversation with him. After talking to him for a few minutes, I knew I wanted to work with him. And so I went for a meeting the next day with (Ryan), (Carlton), and (Juan Campanella) who directed the first three episodes — the Academy Award winner (Juan Campanella). Then I read a couple of scenes from the pilot and I think I may have done it two times. But it was a very easy, very relaxed meeting and I think we just all, you know, it was a good fit. When I walked into the room, like, I just really dug the vibe. And I think they dug me obviously and they hired me which is great. It was a great opportunity for me.
Can you tell us a little bit more about (Broussard’s) relationship with (Quayle)? We don’t know too much about it yet.
Yes, we’re going to find out a bit more about the nature of their relationship in this coming episode because, you know, what happens at the end of episode six is where (Quayle) suggests that (Katie) is a double agent. And I don’t think (Broussard) feels the same way. So there’s a big conflict that he’s struggling with because here you have someone that’s a mentor that you have a history within (Quayle) and you trust (Quayle) but yet all of (Broussard’s) instincts are telling him that he can trust (Katie). So I think he’s struggling with himself and he doesn’t know whether he’s been manipulated or what at this point in the story. And I think in episode seven, he’s going to have to do some digging to find that out.
What’s your favorite scene from the series that you’ve filmed so far?
Oh, yes, the episode seven, you’ll actually get to see it this week. It’s a scene that we filmed up at the top of Griffith Park and it’s a beautiful scene. (Jeffrey Jur) the amazing cinematographer captured this incredible light. And it’s a scene where myself and (Sarah Wayne Callies) and we’re at the top of Griffith Park looking at over Los Angeles. And that had a very special meaning for me because, you know, there was a time in my career where I considered giving up acting because things weren’t really going too well. And when we were shooting that particular scene, I looked back across the mountain and I saw a place where I had actually driven up years before and made up my mind that I wasn’t going to quit. And there was sort of things coming full circle and being in that moment and shooting that scene that it had a deeper meaning for me.
I guess over the past few episodes, your character has been depicted as this tough guy soldier with a hard exterior and — I guess in some way — cold. I’m assuming there’s more to (Broussard), perhaps even an emotional side. And if so, any hints of when we’ll see it? Will we see maybe part of that in this week’s episode? Or what can you tease on that?
Yes, I think this week’s episode, you’ll definitely get more of his history. I think one of the things that I got and sort of digging into him earlier on was that I knew he had the background of military. I knew he had a history in dealing with the government. But he was a guy now that this new world order so to speak was in place where we’re having to decide whether you’re going to resist or whether you’re going to collaborate, here was a guy that has chosen to resist this new movement. But, yet, he was also doing things in episodes to maintain his humanity which I think really shows what he was really about. He was trying to reconstruct something I believe. Because there was some symbolism. And every time she would go see him, he would – the first time we see him, he’s fixing the roof. You know?
So there’s something about, you know, a soldier who now doesn’t have the fight anymore but yet he’s trying to hold onto something and he’s doing it by he’s going to fix up this house. He’s going to fix up this house. He’s going to restore this house and that’s I think that was him trying to not only maintain his humanity but also create something, you know, positive in this world where he’s just struggling to maintain that humanity. And, you know, in further episodes, you see him fixing the plumbing, putting bars on the window. So the house sort of to me was how he was trying to hold on to, you know, something special that connects to his past.
You mentioned being a fan of the Sci-Fi genre. How would you say that Colony is different from other sci-fi shows?
I think it, you know, it has so many other elements. You know at the core it’s a family drama. It’s also a spy thriller. And in a lot of ways, it’s an action movie. You know in terms of (Broussard) the character at play, you don’t know if manipulating people or whether he’s being manipulated. So there are so many different identities that the characters are having to take to survive this occupation. So I think that’s, you know, some of the ways it’s different from it being a typical sci-fi genre show. It just has a broader scope.
Yes, I can see that. Then as a follow-up question, what Sci-Fi shows, movies, et. cetera bring out the nerd in you?
I geek out over Star Wars. I geeked out when J.J. Abrams right before Star Wars was coming out because I was so excited about it. Star Wars was the first movie I ever saw in a theatre. And so Star Wars for me, I loved it.
What intrigued you most about this show and what intrigued you about the character (Broussard)?
What intrigued me most is how (Broussard) was going about getting things done. You know you don’t know a lot about him so there was this ambiguity in him early on and has been really. The big reveal came in episode four where you see that he’s now at a double agent essentially because he’s a Red Hat and he’s gone undercover to get information. So I thought that was – it shocked me when I first read it, you know? And that’s a credit to (Carlton) and (Ryan) and our incredible writing team. But it was how these characters go about getting things done. And none of the characters were two-dimensional. They were all fully flesh. You know they just revealed at a slower pace. I think (Broussard’s), you know, other faucets, you’ll get to see more of them in episode seven which is airing this week. But I was just fascinated with the character. I could identify with all of them. There was something about each character that I went, oh yes, I can completely understand why this character would behave in this way under these circumstances.
What do you think motivates (Broussard)?
Freedom. Freedom and maintaining the things that have been taken away from them. I don’t think he’s a guy who could ever be comfortable with living under rule of thumb. I think because he was a service man because he served the government and the military and he has that background, I think that he was hoping to come home and rebuild this house and, you know, take of his mom and resume a normal life and try to hold, you know, to that humanity. But, you know, once this occupation happened…
Would you say he’s a good guy inside?
Yes, I think he’s a good guy. I think he’s a good guy and I think his actions are justifiable under these circumstances. And I think you really can’t understand how deeply he’s a man of honor by the fact that when he has (Will) in his crosshairs, he doesn’t pull the trigger because of his relationship to (Katie). So I think that’s the big reveal. You know?
A lot of people seem to have a spot that there is something in the background between (Broussard) and (Katie). Does he have a background with her?
I think there is a history to their relationship that will be revealed as the season plays out, you know? But I definitely cares for her a great deal and he respects her and he understand that he’s a very important figure in terms of not only being a strong figure in the Resistance but someone who he can trust. Someone who has an intellect to be able to navigate this world. But mostly I think he feels she’s someone who keeps him off the edge. She would be someone who he can rely on, and in this new world, there’s not a too many people you can rely on.
Is (Broussard) going to come to the realization that (Quayle) is definitely not the man to be leading the Resistance? Aare they going to say goodbye to (Quayle)?
I think that the moment that (Quayle) plants the seed that (Katie) is a possible double agent, I think (Broussard) begins to suspect that his relationship with (Quayle) is going to change because it puts him in a precarious place in that (Quayle) is a mentor. He does have a history with (Quayle). I think he still has a loyalty to (Quayle). But at the same time he’s at odds with that loyalty because he feels that, you know, (Katie) is someone who he can trust as well. So I think, you know, what we will see in episode seven, we’re going to dig further into your question and some of those things will be revealed. So I don’t want to spoil it for the fans but I think those questions will be answered as we go along.
And it seems as if getting rid of (Will) would be the exact wrong thing to do whenever he’s so close to (Katie) and would be such a benefit to the Resistance. So why wouldn’t you want to turn him before kill him?
I think (Broussard) plays a longer game. I don’t think he’s a reactionary. I think that he’s experience and his tactical experience and his experience in gathering intelligence and in guerilla warfare have taught him to not make rash decisions. And I think that even though there would have been a benefit to pulling that trigger, I think in a longer game, you know, maybe there is a way that (Will) can be useful to him or he can be useful to (Will). You know? We’ll see that play out.
And finally have you or anybody in the cast been told anything about the hosts? And if you have or if you have not, how does that affect your acting around it?
I think I got about as much information about the hosts as (Proxy Snyder) last week in episode six, you know. That’s about as much information that I have on the host.
Well, you’re right where we are. That’s good to know.
Yes, it’s a great place to be.
A lot of people are saying we’re in a golden age of TV and I’m wondering if you agree with that. And also if there’s any or are there any TV shows that you’re particular enjoying or watching?
You know I’ve heard that we’re in a golden age of TV and I think there’s some really good television going on right now. But I don’t know. I think we’re still going further. I think Colony is pushing boundaries in combing genres. You know I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything in broad in scope as Colony is. While being, you know, while having all these elements in action, thriller and Sci-Fi but yet still remaining at its core a family drama. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. So, yes, I don’t know. It’s a good time in television for sure. It’s definitely a good time. I’m watching Colony like everybody else. That’s what I’m watching to be honest.
One of the things that kind of strikes me about him is that he’s had to kill including (Kathy Baker’s) great character. How does he deal with that morally? Do you think there’s any conflict in him taking a life?
Okay. Well, let me say this. Tory Kittles absolutely had a conflict with shooting (Phyllis) the amazing (Kathy Baker) because not only was she a sweetheart she baked for everybody. She actually brought cookies for everybody. The only scene that I had with her was, you know, when I had to shoot her. It’s a definitely conflict and Tory felt awful. (Broussard) on the other hand felt that there was a necessary tactical decision and I think he stripped the emotion away from it because she was somebody who was higher up in the occupation. And his objective is ruling the occupation, destroying the occupation. You know she’s a casualty because of that.
And I love the scenes between you and (Sarah Wayne Callies). They’re just so cool. Kind of describe what it is? To me, it’s like a spy thing but also she’s kind of begging to reach him for his humanity a little bit too.
I think she sees his humanity intact. I think that’s the nature of their relationship because he has all of these experiences and he is sort of a hardened guy. But underneath it all I think he has a huge heart and I think she keeps him close to that. She keeps him in a place where he’s able to not only make tactical decisions but also make sure he doesn’t get away from the humanity. And he understands the loss and the sacrifice and the ramifications of the decisions. It’s not only to just go ahead, we’re going blow up everybody. We’re going to destroy these people. I think she makes him understand that it’s not just doing it, it’s how you do it. You know I think she keeps him close to himself in that way. And, yes, it’s great to work with (Sarah) because she’s a fiercely intelligent, compassionate and smart actor so it’s a joy to work with her.
And real quickly do you think him working on the house is also a metaphor for him for rebuilding the world as well?
I think on a more intimate level, it’s him rebuilding himself, you know. You know we’re going to find out more in episode seven about the depths that he has been in the military and the depths of his connections within the government. We’ll find out more about that this week. But I think on a more intimate personal level, the house represents something for him to hold on because he’s been away. You know we know that from episode one that’s he’s been away. He says to (Katie) when she comes to see him that, you know, when I was overseas there was no need for me to buy a house. And now when I came back, all I wanted to do is restore this house, you know.
So I also think it gives him something to do, you know, something tangible that he can control. And I think that was his plan before the occupation was to come home and I’m going to restore this house. I’m going to get back to something that’s real and personal that’s going to get me away from all of the things that I’ve seen overseas that continue to haunt me. And I think the house is something very symbolic in that it grounds him. So I think it’s more intimate than rebuilding the world. But I guess you could look at it under that. You could look at it from that scope but I think to him it’s just more personal.
How much you’ve embraced social media? What it’s like to have a TV show that not really relies on social media but can you explain kind of the weaving of social media on television these days and what you think of it?
You know this is the first time I’ve ever really engaged in social media in this way and it’s truly because and the outpouring of love they’ve given us because of the show. You know we’ had the excitement of live tweeting together for episode one. You know we did a big thing and it was at (Carlton’s) house and it was great for all the casts and the creators and everyone to be together. So that was very special. And to be able to connect with the fans on that particular night, that was a great feeling. That was really, really great feeling and we really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun. Me doing theatre, you know, it’s something about exercising the instrument, you know, when you can dive into something and you prepare for something for months and then you get out and you can change it every night. And there is an audience there and you feel what the audience is doing. You know you can feel what they’re responding to.
There’s a difference because, you know, between television and theatre even with the connection we have with social media because, you know, we finished filming the first season back in October. So we’re waiting, you know, what the response would be all be and then there is a connection that you can obtain with the audience. It’s not as immediate but there is a definite connection and I think it’s a cool thing. I think it’s a cool thing for people to be able to reach out in that way if only just to say, you know, if we could say thank you, you know, for tuning in and thank you for enjoying the work. Because we felt good about it, you know, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. So when they reach out and give us that energy back, it’s pretty cool.
So I know that you were surprised and so were we when (Broussard) ended up killing (Kathy Baker’s) Phyllis but has there been anything else that surprised you either that (Broussard) has done or something else that’s happened during the season so far?
I was surprised when it was revealed that he was a Red Hat. I had no idea that was coming. I was also surprised when episode six came around I knew that they were planning something in episode three when we lose (Justin Kim), you know, when the raid goes bad an I shoot (Justin Kim). Those 98 seconds we were trying to figure out the response time for the drones to arrive. So I know that we were planning something. I did not know that the abduction it was going to be an abduction attempt on (Proxy Snyder). And I was very surprised when the door opened and it’s (Will) standing there sitting there in front of the gun. So that was a huge surprise. And also surprised that, you know, (Broussard) doesn’t pull the trigger in that moment. Because that’s a quick calculation that he makes. And so we’ll see how that all plays out.
What’s your favorite part of playing this character or what are you enjoying most about playing this character?
I’m enjoying the complexity of and his intellect while trying to get away from the emotion. You know there’s something typically where you can, you know, as an actor, you can get over into the emotion and that can drive you or that can drive machine. But in (Broussard’s) case, he has a lot of emotion. It’s just underneath. So to be able to place that nuance, you know, I was just finding a lot of things about them. And really it’s a credit to what they were writing. You know the response is that or the actions that they were giving them meant that he was a certain type of guy. That he would not respond in a certain type of way. So finding that within the pages was fascinating.
There’s something that you mentioned earlier today that I want you to kind of talk about because I think we all get to a point in our lives where we’re in the middle of something and it’s not going the way we expect and we want to quit. And you did that with acting and what do you think it was that just made you stay with it?
You know I think when things get down, you have to look at, you know, where you’re going. You know I think for me what I found in that moment is that this was for me. You know I get asked a lot of times by, you know, younger actors and they go how did you make it? And I think, you know, this is not only with acting. I think this is with any pursuit of something you love, any pursuit of a dream, you have to decide that this is for me. And you can’t give yourself an option out. So basically what I decided on that day, you know, when I was, you know, at Griffith Park is that I’m going to continue. And that’s not to say that you have a plan on how things are going to go and that everything becomes okay that next day or the minute after you make that decision. It’s just that you make a decision. You don’t let the decision make you. You make the decision to just stay in the game. And that’s the essentially what I did. It wasn’t like some grand thing. I just made a decision I wasn’t going to quit. And how I found that was just by saying that. I’m not going to quit. And that was it. It was just that simple. I’m not going to quit. And I’m glad that I didn’t.
New episodes of Colony air on Thursdays at 10:00 pm ET/PT on USA.