Joivan Wade Talks About Doom Patrol’s Cyborg, Being A Zombie, And His Doctor Who Inspiration – Exclusive Interview
Is there anything off the table for the cast and crew of “Doom Patrol?” Over the course of three seasons, the show explores some very strange ground. At the close of Season 2, the entire crew finds themselves covered in wax because of an evil (as far as we knew) creature called the Candlemaker. However, Season 3 dispenses with that plot quickly, and a de-candled Doom Patrol quickly takes on everything that included the afterlife, zombie-hood, time travel, meeting their own greatest regrets, and were-butts.
Even though the Doomies are arguably more connected this season than they ever have been before, they still each get their own unique journeys. Vic Stone, AKA Cyborg (Joivan Wade), in particular, has a radical transformation. After seasons of assuming he must be Cyborg, Vic discovers that he could’ve always been outfitted with realistic, synthetic skin instead.
Looper sat down with Joivan Wade to talk about how challenging and exciting it was to explore this new side of Vic Stone. We also found out how much Wade loves being a zombie and what he thinks is the weirdest thing to happen so far this season. Because Michelle Gomez’s introduction to “Doom Patrol” means yet another connection between the HBO Max series and “Doctor Who,” we asked Wade which “Doctor Who” actor he’d like to see appear on “Doom Patrol” next.
How Doom Patrol changed in its third season
Shows always change from season to season, often in imperceptible ways. How did you find “Doom Patrol” Changed for you in Season 3?
I think what changed for me, there was a lot of change with the arc for Vic. I think that this season there was definitely a stronger hold on what we was going to be exploring for Victor. And an actual factor that the whole of the season for all of the characters, I think one of the big things that changed was the gang was together a lot more. You see things like that just on screen, seeing how much the gang is together, notably the fact that we had a whole episode with every single person, including Brendan Fraser and Matt Bomer in the same scene.
But then we see these things even from schedules and realizing, oh, hold on a minute, I’m in same day as April and Diane and Matt and everyone at the same time so much more. So you start to see that from before we even get things on camera. So just the whole band of togetherness was so much more in Season 3.
Also, I felt like there was also a new big bad almost every episode, which was really exciting. It really felt like the episodes, although it was all kind of tied as a series is, there were really some big individual moments that allowed every episode to just keep going, boom, boom, boom, the Dead Boys and the zombies and then the Sisterhood of Dada. There was a huge kind of bang. So yeah, those are some of the things that I personally felt as real big shifts and changes between Season 1 and Season 3.
That must have been hugely important and probably really helped [for you] as an actor.
Yeah. Oh, for sure. It was just the energy, getting Brendan and having him on set, having Matt on set. There’s a real boost that we get. And then on top of that, having Michelle Gomez come in and just join the family and the way that she did so seamlessly, so incredibly. And you see that not only do we experience that as actors and as a family, but on the screen when I’m watching these episodes, I’m like, wow, this integration was seamless and such a great job at it. And she’s just phenomenal.
I learned so much, especially from the veterans, from the likes of Timothy Dalton, from Brendan, from Michelle, from Matt. It’s just amazing to be able to have everyone together. And hopefully we’ll see more of that.
How Cyborg gets more like Joivan Wade each season
Something that happens after actors are on a show for a while is that the writers start to incorporate an actor’s personality into their character. How has Vic become more like you in Season 3?
I think one big thing this season has definitely been some of the comedy aspect. As much as this season was very thick with an arc, which was probably the most serious and heart wrenching arc that Vic’s experienced, there was also a lot of comedy and a lot of lighter moments and just kind of living in his skin and just kind of being more relaxed, being more cool, shaping in that way.
I feel like our writers are writing for us the more that they see us on screen, the more that we’re on set. They definitely have those experiences. We sit and we sit with a team and we say, this is what it’s going to be the season. They ask us, is there anything that you want to build on or et cetera, et cetera. And we get to have those conversations.
I think one of the biggest things for me would be Vic’s swag. I think that I get to get with the team with the costume designer, LJ [Shannon], and Sarah [Jeanne Mgeni], and the rest of the supervisors and look at what Vic’s going to wear. Since Season 1, as time has gone on, it’s just got better. The tracksuits have got cooler, the swag has got more impactful. That’s definitely one thing that I’ve really wanted to push because I see Vic being at the forefront and him being Cyborg is him being Cyborg. We see that, but him being the human and being Vic at the forefront is what’s most important to me. That’s where the relatability comes in. That’s where you really connect. Vic’s cool, man. He’s a cool kid. And before he was Cyborg, he was the kid jock. And so, let’s see that. Let’s show that.
It’s always exciting to hear about how an actor and the costume team work together to put together a season’s worth of wardrobe. What else can you tell us about that?
I haven’t always had that opportunity in the past. And naturally when you’re integrated into such a world and a family, we want to do that. The team are so flexible and they, and everything is picked out. Now they just know your swag, they know the style, they know what’s working for Vic. They know what I’m going to like.
And so, when we get the bunch all the racks of clothes that we end up looking at, and we even have a bunch of things where it’s like, look, this is cool, but if this was like this and that was like then I would rock with it, but it’s not. And then LJ would be like, okay, cool. Well, that’s great. We’ll just make that. We’ll make our own version of that with the tailor that you want it to be.
It’s like, here’s all of the sneakers that we found that we think that you’ll love. And then it’ll be like, pick your favorites. This could be one of the top three that we wear consistently, this tracksuit.
It’s really collaborative, and that’s what’s beautiful because the more integrated and the more part that you feel is the more you own the character, the better your performances will be because you’re more you’re living it. Yeah. All of these things that people don’t really look into have a big impact on you as the character.
Being a zombie and the weirdest creatures on Doom Patrol
You got to be a zombie this season. How was that?
[grunts like a zombie]
Good answer. Excellent. Well spoken.
It was definitely my top two episodes of the season. I loved the zombie episode. It wasn’t just being a zombie. It was the fact that I am Vic and Cyborg, and on top of that, layering that with being the Cyborg Vic version of a zombie. And we all had our own different zombies. We even had a conversation before we went to set. We’re just like, okay, all of our zombies are going to be like us and be slightly different. What’s your role going to be like? What’s your stance going to be like? What’s your whole energy? And we’re talking about these things and we’re working out exactly what zombie is going to be what.
One of the biggest things that I connected with was just, I found that episode so funny, like the subtitles, when we’re saying what we’re saying and we’re seeing what we’re seeing on the page, and we’re learning these lines and we know what we’re saying, but then we’re transforming that into just physicality or some kind of grunt or zombie sound. It all came together so beautifully.
That episode was maybe my favorite episode of the season bar of a couple of others because it was so weird, so wacky, so different. I just remember being on set and then the producers coming up to us and being like, yo, we watched episode four. That gave us a real boost and we was like, okay, cool, yeah, zombie for the win.
That episode included some very weird stuff, including the return of the were-butts and even a zombie were-butt. Was that the weirdest thing this season?
Oh, yeah. It’s got to be the butts. It has to be the butts. There wasn’t anything that was more wacky than the butts because we’ve experienced the butts in Season 1, but this time how the butts were represented, [Darren Jones] pulls down his pants and the butt just cut. It was just magical. And obviously, when we’re on set and we’re seeing it in real time, we don’t get the joy of seeing the actual butt. So seeing it on screen, we knew it was going to look like some crazy s***, but we didn’t know it was going to look like this. This is wild.
The butts was the wackiest. Also, it was great to be able to band together and fight the butts. That was a real kind of “Doom Patrol” superhero team moment that brought us together and fighting these weird and wacky things. It just made me feel like, more of this, please, more of us banded together and actually fighting some … I was going to say, it’s fighting crime because that’s the usual, but no, fighting butts, fighting whatever the hell it’s going to be. There wasn’t anything more wacky or wild than that. That was the wackiest part.
The Doom Patrol that dances together, stays together
One of the other best parts was the synchronized dance scene. What was that scene was like? Was it fun?
Yeah, it was one of the most euphoric moments of the season. The reason why was because we had all been in this place where all of the Doomies were in their own elements, were all going through what they’re all going through. And the dance was so symbolic and was so metaphorical to making up of coming back together to then only be zapped and turned into zombies. It was so euphoric.
The process that we go through for that, we have the rehearsals in which we have, this is the dance that we’re going to be doing, where we’re learning the dance and we’re coming together. And then when we get on set and we see how magical that moment is, and we felt it at the time, we was like, yo, this is so beautiful. It kind of reminisced for me moments in Season 1 where Negative Man, Matt’s on stage and he’s singing and we’re in the cabaret just before the ghosts come out.
Those euphoric moments that we get are beautiful because they’re just kind of stepping out of the world a little bit. And they’re just kind of like, what is this? This is so wonderful and so weird and so beautiful. It almost puts you a little bit of a trance. Yeah, man, it was just as magical for us to create as it was to see it when we saw it on screen.
The evolving relationship between Silas and Vic Stone
Speaking of really incredible scene partners, you and Phil Morris got a chance to do such incredible work together this season. How did you two work together to perform the scene when Vic wakes up without all the Cyborg gear?
I just got to give kudos to Phil Morris on that. Our chemistry is next to none, and it’s beautiful because you don’t often get the opportunity to really connect in the way that we connect. Hopefully, it comes through on the screen because we really feel these moments and we are really living these moments.
I think that for Vic experiencing what he’s going through and not having the choice, that’s the biggest thing for Vic. The biggest thing for Vic is all right, yada, yada, yada, I hear what you’re saying. You’ve gone through this. He pressed down on you, you almost couldn’t breathe. And so, you did this to protect me, but you created me out of fear. I am the monster in which you tried to run from. You basically created what you tried to run from.
That’s when he says, I am the STAR Labs security guard. I am who you are so afraid or were so afraid of at the time he created me into being that. I understand where you’re coming from, I understand it was done from love and to protect me, but you’ve been lying to me this whole time. I didn’t have a choice. That was the most important thing for Vic. You didn’t give me a choice and now I’m going to take that for myself and I’m going to make the decision. That’s where he’s coming from. And that’s what he feels.
We’ve gone on this journey back and forth between Vic and Silas from Season 1. But it really felt like a level of a crescendo that was hit when he gets to that moment to really understand where his dad’s coming from. But at the same time, it’s just not good enough. And you’ve done what you’ve done. Now it’s my turn. I’m about to take matters into my own hands and experience what it’s going to be like to be who I could have had a choice to be. And who knows, maybe I would’ve picked Cyborg. Maybe I would’ve been cybernetic, but I didn’t have that choice. And now I’m going to have the choice to experience it, and we’ll see what I end up, but it’s going to be on my terms, not yours.
Joivan reacts to fans support of Brendan Fraser and the show
Something beautiful is happening between the fans and the cast, too. Brendan Fraser has seen an outpouring of support this year. What kind of support have you and the rest of the cast seen from fans?
Yeah, I think what’s so beautiful is that it’s such a different show. It’s not your typical when it comes to a superhero show. I no longer even describe it as a superhero show because it’s not. The only thing that is superhero about it is maybe that there is a superhero in there. Other than that, this show is quite the opposite. It’s very character driven. It’s very emotional. We get to touch on a lot of different subjects, and you relate to these characters in a different way outside of them being superheroes.
And so, when we find an audience, and our audience has been a very strong cult following that has really grown to who love the show and support the show. We get countless tweets or Instagram messages and posts and Reddit communities that support us. We went to the Comic Con in New York just a few weeks ago. And just seeing these supporters in person and hearing their love for the show and what they love so much about the show is just amazing. I feel like they really champion us as a family and understand what we’re creating, and they love it. They love it in a way that it’s different from other shows in how they express that.
And so, seeing what happened with Brendan wasn’t surprising because it was a marriage. It was what Brendan has and is doing for our show. It’s also what the show is doing for him. It’s such a beautiful experience and something so different that you just have to commend it on both fronts. And so, yeah, man, there’s complete love and support. I haven’t personally heard or experienced any negativity from the show. It’s just complete love and complete positivity, so it’s beautiful.
The Doctor Who actor Joivan Wade wants for Doom Patrol next
One last thing: you and quite a few other cast members on “Doom Patrol” all appeared on “Doctor Who” in the past. If you could have one more cast member from “Doctor Who” appear on your show, who would it be?
One other person from “Doctor Who,” it would be Peter Capaldi for me. That was my Doctor. That was who I got to know and love and spend the most time with. “Doctor Who” for me was a real integral part of my career and my introduction into the world of sci-fi. Since then, I haven’t left it and I’ve grown to love it all so much. It was a real turning point for me as an actor.
He was a real figure for me on set, and I learned so much from him. I’d love to work with him again, and I’d love to work with him again in this world. Yeah, for me, it would have to be Peter Capaldi, but I’m blessed to have Michelle Gomez and everyone else, Mark Sheppard and everyone that has been a part of that world.
Doom Patrol is currently available to stream on HBO Max. The Season 3 finale premieres today.