Check out our exclusive interview with Denis Shepherd on “Paradise Lost”!
Denis Shepherd is staring in the new Spectrum original series, “Paradise Lost” as he plays the young Yates Forsythe. The series is set to debut on April 13th, 2020. We recently got the opportunity to talk with Denis as he breaks down his character, along with giving us a background on his sports accomplishments in this exclusive interview!
The Knockturnal: You grew up in California and you played sports in high school. What are some of your best memories growing up over there and what were some of the sports that you played?
Denis Shepherd: Growing up in California was pretty awesome. I was playing sports my whole life, and some of my top ones were basketball, baseball, football, and soccer. That was pretty much all I concerned myself with when I was younger because I was very determined to try to be a professional athlete. Then when I got a lot older, my interests and passions started to change a little bit, that’s when I started to shift towards other things I was passionate about like movies and television shows, and things like that. So that’s when I started to make the shift in the entertainment world.
The Knockturnal: That is really great that you have played in all of those sports. I couldn’t even do different ones when I was in high school.
Denis Shepherd: Yeah, it was a wild time, but I loved it. In fact, I remember when I was in middle school, at one point, I had four different practices for four different teams in the same night. Like it was a basketball practice, then a soccer practice, then a basketball practice for a different team, and a national practice. I played all year round with these sports when I was in high school, and I kept switching between basketball, baseball, soccer, football, and track, and field. Normally, the kids were supposed to take one sport seriously to get like a scholarship or something like that. But I was doing it for fun. I really enjoyed playing those sports. When I got to college, I played intramural flag football and took it very seriously. We actually went to the West Coast Regionals and won from flag football. That was pretty awesome! I never thought flag football would be taken so seriously until I got there.
The Knockturnal: On “Paradise Lost”, you play as the young version of Yates Forsythe, What can we expect from him on the series?
Denis Shepherd: Yates is kind of like the golden child of this very powerful, southern family. His family owns the newspaper outlet that controls the media for all of the south. They are a very influential family, and he’s the poster child. He’s also played sports and is well-liked by his friends and the community. He is also raised to be a very respectful young man with him upholding his family’s reputation. But at the same time, Yates has a big heart. He’s very empathetic to those around him. He’s always trying to do the right thing and unfortunately, due to a turn of events, he’s really had to question between right and wrong. And also holding up his family’s reputation at the same time.
The Knockturnal: Since you and young Yates were both involved in sports, can you relate to the character in that way?
Denis Shepherd: Oh yes! I was amazed by how much I related to the character and how much I was really able to tap into my own life. It was almost like I really feel like there are some roles out there that people are just kind of meant to play. When it comes to acting, it’s like they tell you ‘Don’t worry, there’s a roll-out there for everyone.’ When I found this project and learned more about this character, I really felt like this was the one for me. And like in the show, he’s very close with his sister and I have a twin sister and my family has a family-run business. I was in the student council when I was the captain of the sports teams. I was always trying to be a role model to those around me. So it’s just the parallels are just so it’s similar and it was pretty crazy.
The Knockturnal: You know, I love mysteries and it seems to me that Yates will also go through a lot of them. What are some that he will find without giving too much away?
Denis Shepherd: Long-story-short, when the older Yates moved back home to his hometown with his now-wife that he meet in California, it is like everything that you left before you left home is waiting for you. And that can either be a good thing or a bad thing. And in Yates’ case, that was a very bad thing. And now that he is back home, all of these things that he tried to leave behind, are now kind of coming back from the dead to haunt him in a way. And his wife really sees him for the first time in that way. So for my character, that’s when we flashback to all the things that happened and it is also my take on my version of his character. It’s kind of the storytelling part of that dark history that is waiting to be revealed.
The Knockturnal: How much input did you have when it came to developing the younger version of Yates?
Denis Shepherd: I had a lot of input! Our showrunner Rhodes Fishbourne, and writer Arika Lisanne were so open to us to bring ourselves in shaping these characters. They actually sent me this packet that had all kinds of things referencing movies, articles, documentaries, and books for me to watch and listen to and read. And there’s like a timeline and backstory just to kind of get the basics of the character down. But when it came down to doing the scenes, they really gave us a freeway and let us have control and make our own choices and use our real-life as a reference to make it more relatable. It was a very collaborative process.
The Knockturnal: Do you have any great stories with Josh Hartnett since he plays the older version of Yates?
Denis Shepherd: That was a totally surreal moment meeting Josh because it was someone I grew up watching as one of my favorite actors. I have always watched all of his movies and it was an ongoing joke with my friends growing up telling me that I looked like Josh Hartnett. I told him this when I first saw Josh and then to find out that I’m playing the younger version of his character, that just kind of blew my mind. It was like ‘wow, I can’t believe this is happening.’ When we first see each other, I was working out in the hotel gym that we’re staying in. I got in there, I was on the treadmill warming up for a couple of minutes and then maybe two minutes later, I turn around and Josh Hartnett walked in there and I kind of did a double-take and he looked at me and he was like ‘you’re playing the younger version of me’ and we both laughed. We took about twenty minutes to get to know each other and he is a very cool and very nice guy. We got along like family after we first saw each other!