"We recycle everything we can, we're careful to monitor our miles and share cars when we can. My wife is a member of a lot of ecology groups and is especially mindful in that area," says James Frain ("The Tudors," "True Blood"), whose latest role is Jarvis, henchman to Clu, Jeff Bridges' character Kevin Flynn's evil young doppelganger, in "Tron: Legacy," opening Dec. 17. He'd never seen the 1982 "Tron" prior to getting cast, but points out, "You don't need to know anything about the original" to appreciate the souped-up new version.
As Jarvis, Frain sports a bald head and "a floating kind of visor, like a glass Mohawk — or sneeze guard, as [director] Joe Kosinski called it," he says, noting that it took an hour and a half to get into costume and makeup each day. Since Clu, a younger version of Bridges, was created with motion capture and CG, Frain had to interact with both the actor in a rigged helmet and a body double. "The challenge was trying to stay consistent while not knowing who I was in the scene with," he says. "You have to work off your imagination and you don't know how it will turn out until you see it, like two years later."
The role is the latest in a string of villains that includes the nemesis in the NBC midseason series "The Cape," premiering Jan. 9, in which he plays a billionaire with a secret life as a maniacal killer. "He's a rather charming rogue, very sociable and witty and debonair kind of guy who has the unfortunate habit of dressing up in the evening and being rather psychotic. We all have our flaws," allows Frain, who made a chilling impression as vampire Franklin this season on "True Blood," a role he calls "a gift" and his favorite to date.
"I think I'm kind of on a roll right now, on the evil tip. That's what's coming my way, and that's fine. There's lots of ways of being bad, I've discovered. It's kind of fun." He also plays the villain in the crime drama "Transit," opposite Jim Caviezel (with whom he'd worked in "The Count of Monte Cristo"). Not surprisingly, Frain, who also has a small role in April's "Water for Elephants," would like to play a good guy next for a change of pace. Off camera, "I would like to have more time to devote to drawing," he says, though doesn't call himself an artist. "I wouldn't use the A-word, but I love it."
Tune in: Is the rise in cancer linked to environmental toxins that find their way into our food? The documentary "Our Daily Poison" takes that stand, illustrating the journey of carcinogens to our plates — and showing how we can protect ourselves. It premieres Dec. 18 on Planet Green.