Nicholas Logan spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Alexi Ignatyev’s failed rescue of Jennifer Peterson in bombshell Netflix film, ‘I Care a Lot’.
Logan described crafting Alexi & the intricate attention placed on jittery body language, nervous tics, and abrupt facial expressions. A lost art. Transforming from timid wreck to a rage fueled outlaw on a dime.
This interview contains spoilers.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT [NIR REGEV]: Your character Alexi Ignatyev in ‘I Care a Lot’ really caught my attention. There’s something so shaky and unpredictable about him, the whole body language really. At the beginning he comes across like a criminal, then seems weak when he’s talking to his boss Roman Lunyov [Peter Dinklage].
When he gets to the care home and uses the taser on Sam Rice [Damian Young], it’s like a whole new character. A multi-layered transformation. The part that stood out to me the most is when Alexi picks up the gun once one of the henchman gets shot.
He doesn’t even look at him, he just picks up the gun. What was it like shooting this scene?
NICHOLAS LOGAN: Yeah, cause they’re dispensable, unfortunately… Even though both those guys are great guys! Thank you so much for your kind words. It was an honor shooting that scene with Dianne Wiest.
Just to be in the presence, the same room with Dianne, knowing that I was going to get to work with her was a huge honor. She’s an incredible actress and is incredible in real life too.
I’m glad you enjoyed the character and that you picked up on all that. Essentially, I love this character! He was a ton of fun to play.
When I sent in the first audition, I just kind of did a typical intense gangster. There wasn’t anything too special and they were like, ‘Hey, can you make him funny?’ And I thought, ‘Well, what if he has terrible anxiety?’
I knew Peter Dinklage was playing the role of his boss and I’m pretty big. I’m not massive or anything, but I’m a big guy. I was like, what if this big guy is just terrified and cowering in the presence of this great, killer mobster & leader.
But he also has horrible anxiety and that anxiety is what allows him to kill people. It’s what allows him to snap. It’s what allows him to have great fear.
It just creates a lot of pressure and a lot of different directions depending on the circumstances, It’s why it’s easy to leave people behind because it’s about getting Jennifer Peterson out of there and saving her. Completing the mission.
Because if I don’t, as you see in the beginning of the film, Roman is going to shoot me while he eats a bear claw… And no one wants to be shot while their killer is eating a bear claw! That is not enjoyable! (laughs)
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Alexi is the complete reverse of what you expect because when he comes into the care home, it’s like he’s transformed into a hero almost. You’re cheering for him to make that rescue of Jennifer Peterson the whole time even though he’s supposed to be a ‘bad guy’ per se. To the audience he’s really not.
NICHOLAS LOGAN: Yeah, he’s the only one maybe getting things done. It’s actually very disappointing that Alexi doesn’t get it done after everything. But I think that’s one of the great things about the movie that J [Blakeson] wrote in looking at it again.
I love that Rosamund [Pike], she’s so good, she’s amazing! She deserved the Golden Globe and we’re all so proud of her and it was amazing to get to work with her. But she’s almost like this fire-breathing dragon and it’s not the big, bad guys like me and Peter and Chris Messina his character Dean (Ericson).
We’re not the ones who can catch her. It’s the little guy, Feldstrom [Macon Blair], in the end who gets the dragon. She’s always got her vape and when she comes into the scene and hits you with the smoke… It’s like this fire-breathing dragon! I know she’s alive and there’s the lines in the lands and she’s a lioness, but I always viewed her as kind of a dragon.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Did you go through that scene where they put the shopping bag over Alexi’s head or was that a stunt man?
NICHOLAS LOGAN: No, that was me! (laughs) That was definitely me! And it got physical, I got a little banged up. I did have to go to the doctor. There was like a part of the gun that was really sharp.
When they hit me with the bat, my finger hit this part and I started bleeding. Rosamund was terrified and Dianne Wiest was like ‘Oh my gosh!’ They were all so caring and wanted to make sure I was okay. They’re all very sweet.
I grew up wrestling and doing karate & fighting. I was kind of a wild kid a little bit. I liked that stuff.
It’s fun! I’m like getting to play like that.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What did you think of the exploitation of the elderly presented in ‘I Care a Lot‘? I feel it opened new sets of eyes up to people who never realized any of this was happening. Especially, the targeting of cherries like Jennifer Peterson was perceived to be.
NICHOLAS LOGAN: Very angry! It makes me very, very angry. It’s real. I mean, I hope if anyone seeing this movie knows it’s real, this isn’t a fiction.
Oh, the mob stuff & Alexi and all that action stuff might not be necessarily but the circumstances are definitely real. It’s horrifying.
It’s funny, my parents, they’re in their sixties and seventies and when they saw this movie, they were just incensed & infuriated about the idea that some people get away with this.
I’m just so proud to be a part of something that’s shedding light on such a serious issue. It’s completely insane and despicable the idea that anyone would think to prey upon the weakest of our society like this.
I hope that this has brought some more clarity, more understanding, a bit of an awakening to this issue and that people will be on guard. I hope that authorities who deal with this or look into this, that they too will be on guard and that this kind of stuff will stop.
Can you imagine you work your whole life to get to a point where you can retire and relax & enjoy your golden years… And then someone takes you away & just drugs you up?
If it happened to my parents… I mean, I so relate with the guy [Macon Blair – Feldstrom] in the beginning who, ends up killing Marla Grayson. What she did was heinous.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Alexi gives the security/orderlies working at the care home, a choice. They can either back off or they can lose their lives… Obviously, they backed off. Do you feel most people in real life would in fact step away despite the appearance of authority? The moment Alexi points the gun it looks like it’s Game over.
NICHOLAS LOGAN: Oh yeah, if you bring a gun into a situation, you’ve won the argument! At least for the time being. I think no matter how tough the guys working at the care home might be, no matter how big, the gun is the great equalizer.
I’m not the biggest fan of guns but you bring that thing out in a situation like that… Honestly, I’m just amazed we didn’t get her out of there! This poor woman, that poor Dianne that had to sit there.
(jokes) I’m very disappointed and I’m very sorry. Dianne, I’m very disappointed in us, Mrs. Peterson, that we weren’t able to get you out sooner. We’re very sorry that you had to suffer for any longer than you had to.
What I find interesting is what Marla talks about, ‘If you go to someone’s door and you say, Hey, I have this legal document, I have the police, do you fight?’ And Damian Young, who’s also a wonderful actor and is fantastic in the film, he runs the care home and has this great line, ‘Oh, I would fight back.’ And Marla replies paraphrased, ‘You think so, but at the end of the day, most of us are just weak.’
That’s scary! I like to think that I’d fight. I don’t know, Nir are you going to fight? What do you do when Marla Grayson shows up at your door?
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I wouldn’t leave!
NICHOLAS LOGAN: (laughs) You’re not leaving! You’re like, ‘I got too many movies to watch!’
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I feel it’s the whole appearance of authority that pulls people in. You don’t really need to even inflict any kind of pain or aggression on anyone. Just the threat of authority or even litigation as we see at the beginning of the film in the courts. It’s cynical and dystopian but it exposes a fundamental aspect of society.
That there’s an unspoken rule about where regular people give up because something appears too strenuous, too big of a boulder to push uphill. They think they can’t fight back, even though they can.
NICHOLAS LOGAN: Well, it’s scary. What do you do? And do you get in trouble for fighting back? We’re not supposed to.
I think that’s what makes Rosamund’s [Pike] performance and the character of Marla Grayson so scary.
She’s kind of revealing herself to Dianne’s character, you’re seeing inside of her world. Is she ever not in control? She’s always using the right language and speaking appropriately & acting in a lawful manner.
I feel that’s what makes her so terrifying. When Marla deals in the courtroom, it’s all very reasonable and she sounds like a reasonable person. These are the types of sociopaths who can manipulate the system like that because are narcissists or have no empathy.
They know what they need to do to get what they want. For the rest of us who do have empathy, who are scared, and who want a good life & don’t want to break the rules too much… That’s a very horrifying position to be put in.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I thought they played around with the whole identity concept frequently in ‘I Care a Lot‘. With Alexi Ignatyev, it’s revealed the police thought he died in a fire in the past but he was actually alive the whole time. Which made me wonder how many people, especially criminals are out there like that.
NICHOLAS LOGAN: Oh yeah, absolutely! It was fun looking into this because something that Peter and I both did that doesn’t really show up in the film is how we kind of got into the Russian mob. How to tell that story. I kind of fell down a little rabbit hole with it for a while.
Underneath all of our crazy outfits, which were also like the most fun in the world! But underneath there we had some tattoos and these alternate lives that people live. I mean, talk about redemption. You know, people don’t always make the best choices and sometimes they stay in that lifestyle & sometimes they get out of it.
You think about these guys who’ve been to jail and who perpetrated really terrible crimes then maybe tried to turn their life around. But then they have these stars tattooed on their chest forever or until they at least have to work to get them removed.
But I think for Alexi, at least the way I viewed Alexi is that he wants to climb the ladder at his point of his life. You know, he’s scared. That’s why I wanted those crazy shirts. You don’t really notice it, but I also have a big Blingy watch.
I wanted to create a guy who even with all that anxiety and anger there would be ambition there. And at some point he wants to climb the ladder, be the top dog of his own family. But that’s just me having fun!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: When Alexi uses the taser, was that a post-editing sound effect or part of the prop?
NICHOLAS LOGAN: It’s just a sound effect. (smiles) Oh man, that was the most fun scene. Damian Young, when we were shooting gave us a tour throughout the care home and was killing all of us on set with these geriatric jokes.
Nothing too offensive, he was improvising and being hilarious. I was like, ‘Oh please use some of this because he’s a genius! He’s so funny. What a great day!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do you consider yourself a method actor?
NICHOLAS LOGAN: I do want to live in it. You know, the term method acting is always so funny to me. I went to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and I studied Stanislavski.
What some would call the Method. But I believe at the end of the day it’s living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
If that requires you to delve into some dark places or some difficult places, and sit there for a while… Well, then that’s just your job. That’s part of the fun and joy! So, I don’t know if I’d call it Method really, just acting.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: How do you feel the whole COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way acting is done? Do you feel it’s personally impacting your future jobs or working on set?
NICHOLAS LOGAN: I’ve been very lucky! I’ve actually been able to work pretty consistently during the pandemic. I have a really great movie coming out next year, called ‘Every Man For Himself‘ that stars me and Daniel Sharman (Troy Otto on Fear the Walking Dead) from Medici, another awesome Netflix show.
That’ll come out next year and we got to have a lot of fun working on that. I also just did a show called Dope Sick up in Virginia with some amazing people, Michael Keaton and some other fantastic actors like Kaitlyn Dever. I had a lot of fun working with them.
But I think the biggest thing is just the protocols. They’re so strict. Now you have to get tested like crazy, or you have to quarantine. I’ll be doing this scene with Michael Keaton, who’s a hero of mine and I’m shirtless, playing this drug dealer and it’s this intense thing.
Relatively high stakes stuff I’m in. We’re in between just the first take about to do the second take and I’m waiting, I’m inside this house and it’s their job. They gotta do their job! But the COVID people come in and they’re like, ‘Hey, you gotta put a mask on!’
Speaking of Method… (laughs)
And you’re like, ‘Okay, I’m sorry. You know, I get it but I’m looking at him like, are you serious right now? Like I’m in the middle of something! I don’t know if you see who’s out there but I’m trying to act next to this guy (Michael Keaton)!’
So I think that’s kind of been the hardest thing. But I do know that for a lot of actors, very good actors too, who have great careers, it’s been a real struggle.
I know a lot of people who’ve been out of work, there’s just not a lot of work to go around. It’s too difficult.
It’s too difficult to get things done. It requires too much money. So God willing, I know that we’re all starting to get vaccinated and hope we’re all vaccinated soon.
My thoughts and prayers are out to all those who have suffered through this & who have died, and those who are out of work.
I know our industry has lost plenty of people to this, and a lot of careers have really struggled. So I’m very thankful that I’ve been lucky enough to be able to get some work this time.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Thanks Nicholas!
NICHOLAS LOGAN: Thank you Nir!
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