Netflix's freshest superhero drama, Jupiter's Legacy, is a realistic look at complex family dynamics and the cyclical nature of history, but with capes. Leaping from the pages of Mark Millar and Frank Quitely's "Biggest and best superhero story of all time", Golden Age heroes The Union must now struggle with the next era of supers in a world that has somewhat outgrown their antiquated ideals. This story is about super-powered children struggling to live up to the legendary feats of their parents. Imagine your relationship with your parents, now add superpowers.
The catalyst for the generational conflict is the monstrous villain known as Blackstar, out to destroy the earth. The anti-matter battery buried in his chest is symbolic of the explosive damage his battle with The Union does to the status quo. Filling out the battle armor and make-up is the man behind so many gruesome onscreen murders, Tyler Mane (X-Men, Halloween).
As a child, Tyler would drive his parents crazy jumping from couch to couch recreating moves he learned watching his favorite wrestlers on Canada's Stampede Wrestling. It was around the sixth grade that he decided 'I'm going to do that someday.' A twenty-year career in pro wrestling eventually led to Hollywood and playing iconic bad guys on the big screen. Recently Tyler took time out from slashing through Haddonfield to sit down with Bleeding Cool to discuss wrestling, hanging up his wrestling boots to acting, and the challenges of playing Blackstar in Netflix's Jupiter's Legacy.
Bleeding Cool: What wrestlers did you grow up watching? Who was your favorite?
Tyler Mane: I would watch the Harts. The Hart Family or Stu Hart and that was right at the beginning of the Macho Man and guys like that. Bruno Sammartino, Harley Race, Oh my gosh. It was so intriguing to me, and it was a lot different back then than it is now. Growing up I didn't even really realize that there was a WWF at that time, because all we got was the Stampede Wrestling. Bad News Allen and all these guys.
BC: After wrestling professionally, all over the world, for the WCW and the UWF, as "Big Sky," do you ever miss wrestling? Would you ever make a return?
TM: I will watch, every now and again, and I go 'Ah man,' and then I go 'Nah.' I've been dropped on my head enough. I'm done with that.
BC: So it was an easy switch from wrestling to acting where you are getting hurt a lot less on a daily basis. ? Was it X-men that made you decide to leave wrestling?
TM: Right. And you get to stay in the same place. Life on the road wrestling, people don't realize, you know you are in a different city every night. And you have ten minutes of stardom and then you got 23 hours and 50 minutes of total boredom trying to figure out where you are going to go next and to what town and where are you going to sleep. Where are you going to eat, where are you going to work out? So, It's not what people think it is. And I tell you if I wake up in the morning and something isn't hurting, I'm going to be dead. But it was a stepping stone to where I am today. I've got no complaints.
BC: Your character Blackstar plays a very pivotal role in "Jupiter's Legacy" story. He is only in three or four scenes but two of them are the biggest of the show. Episodes one and eight feature fantastic fight scenes, what's it like training for and fighting in the costume and makeup?
TM: We rehearsed that hilltop fight scene for about three months because that is basically Blackstar against the whole Union, so it was just my stunt double and myself going against all of these guys. My stunt double was Nate Andrade which I got to take my hat off to him. It was a blessing to have him there.
That suit was so heavy it was probably about sixty pounds or so, and then when you sweat in it your sweat adds to it and it will end up being close to a hundred pounds by the end of the night. You're pouring sweat out of the gloves and the boots, but it was great. It was just such a fantastic character to play.
BC: How does all that makeup help you slide into that character?
TM: Oh, That helped so much. I'd like to take my hat off to K&B Effects. To put the head on was eight different glued on, tight to my face. And it would take two and a half hours to glue that on. Of course, you do the airbrush touch-ups at the very end. Then I would be able to open up my eyes and I would see Blackstar. And I would say every morning, 'Blackstar is back, baby.'
…When you see those effects from K&B- the suits and just being able to wear the suits did -I was even a little nervous. Because I've done a fair bit of that stuff and sometimes they don't pick up the facial expressions as much as I wanted the character to have. Then when I went in to do the makeup test we glued the pieces on and I could just see how much, I mean I could smirk. I could wink, I did pick-ups all with the facial expressions. That helped bring Blackstar to life.
BC: You are still asked to do a lot in that equipment.
TM: You're still physically draining yourself. They had a cooling suit that I would wear underneath the Blackstar armor because it was just so hot. You couldn't survive in it without it. So after we would do a scene, they would sit me down and plug me in and I would have to stay cool that way. Literally, everything except for my lips was covered in silicon rubber, whatever it was.
Just getting to set in that outfit was a challenge… I couldn't fit into a vehicle or van. That's how big this guy was. I'd have to turn sideways through doors, it was amazing.
BC: Which episode do you think fans will love the most?
TM: they all kind of touch on different things. At the beginning of episode two That scene with Ben Daniels [Walter Sampson] in the cell. Which shows that Blackstar he's got a sparring partner. An intellectual sparring partner with Ben Daniels as Brainwave. So you are seeing all the different sides of Blackstar in all the different scenes that he is doing. And it was fantastic to be able to do that. Of course in the end where I am having Utopian decide whether it's his kid or 'The Code.' I put his little code to the test, you know? Just being able to do all those different scenes that set up so much for the series was fantastic. So I guess I'd have to say I hope people enjoy them all.
BC: In the final episode of "Jupiter's Legacy," you are taunting the Utopian about The Code, putting it to the test. Tyler, what do you think of the code?
TM: Morality isn't black and white, it's subjective. And the Utopian believes that it's objective. That you can only do one thing, live by that code. That's the way you have to be. You know? Sometimes you've got to break a few eggs. And the ends justifies the means.
BC: The whole series -especially the final battle – really challenges all those morals and the possibly antiquated values of the golden age.
TM: I kind of like that Blackstar is kind of the only physical match for Utopian, but he has all these other superheroes that come in and stop him. Had Flare II [Tenika Davis] not come in it could have ended up a lot differently. So she was even tested. Was she going to do the right thing, she was thinking about leaving. I think a lot of superheroes in the Union were thinking it's time to analyze the code. And that the code might need a little updating… Think about it. If your family is being threatened, I'd protect my kids until the end. It's what we do you know?
Tyler also focuses his attention on his production company Mane Entertainment (Compound Fracture, Penance Lane). Along with his wife, Renae Geerlings, is turning The Last Spartan, by John Saunders, into a motorcycle club graphic novel written by Christopher Priest. Tyler invites you to scroll through his socials over on IG @therealtylermane, FB @Tyler.mane.9, and Twitter @TYLER_MANE Check out Fighting with Fire re-releasing this summer with John Cena. Jupiter's Legacy is currently streaming on Netflix.