Exclusive Interview: Edi Gathegi On StartUp And The Blacklist Spinoff

Depending on your fandom, you know Edi Gathegi from something. If you’re a Twihard, you know him as Laurent from Twilight. You may know him from X-Men: First Class, Beauty and the Beast or The Blacklist, for which he will star in the Blacklist spinoff The Blacklist: Redemption. I of course know him from House.

You’ll see a new side of Edi Gathegi in the Crackle original series StartUp. He plays Ronald Dacey, a Haitian gangster who moves in on a digital currency startup. I met Gathegi at a Crackle reception for the Television Critics Association where we spoke about StartUp and the Blacklist spinoff. StartUp is now streaming the entire first season on Crackle.

Edi Gathegi at the premiere of StartUp

Edi Gathegi at the premiere of StartUp

Dacey is a very smart gangster, isn’t he?

Edi Gathegi: Yes. It was apparent because of how the first episode ends. This is a guy that wants to get involved in something that could change not only his life but the life of the community around him, which is like a bigger picture mentality to have. That was exciting for me. This guy is not just thinking for himself.

Is he equally as deadly as he is smart?

Edi Gathegi: That’s exactly correct. He is equally as deadly as he is smart which makes him a very dangerous character, but a fascinating one.

How much did you know about the tech world yourself?

Edi Gathegi: You know, rudimentary understanding of Bitcoin and crypocurrency. They hired a consultant that sort of gave us all the information we could handle but it’s a very complex concept, cryptocurrency.

Is it something you can learn as you go, because you’re character is too?

Edi Gathegi: Yeah, absolutely. You can learn as you go, but to learn it to the extent that these characters actually know it, that’s not going to happen. Otherwise we’d be able to create this algorithm that could change the world. That technology is apparently at our fingertips. It just takes the right person to spearhead that.

Did you get all 10 episodes from the beginning?

Edi Gathegi in StartUp on Crackle

Edi Gathegi in StartUp on Crackle (Photo: Francisco Roman/Crackle)

Edi Gathegi: I got the pilot at first. Then I talked to Ben [Ketai] and he gave me a broad stroke of the character arc. Actually, it was interesting because we had to block shoot the entire season. The second half of the season wasn’t complete so we were block shooting while still writing episodes six through 10. Hopefully we pulled it off but it was a very interesting exercise. It was fun.

Were you looking for something in television?

Edi Gathegi: Yeah, this pilot season I wanted to get on a show. I actually wanted to get on Blacklist and they weren’t ready to use my character. So we found this and I jumped on this. During that, they were ready to use me on The Blacklist so they spun the character off to a new show. So I get to do The Blacklist as well.

Is the Blacklist spinoff on NBC?

Edi Gathegi: Yeah, it’s going to be on NBC. The first season will be eight episodes. We start shooting this year. I think the show will be available early next year.

Where do we pick up with Solomon in the Blacklist spinoff?

Edi Gathegi: If you’ve seen the embedded pilot episode, my character gets shot. I assume they’re going to pick it up from him healing from that gunshot wound. I don’t know.

When you finally got the second half of StartUp episodes, did they surprise you where Dacey was going?

Edi Gathegi: Because Ben and I had talked about it, it wasn’t terribly surprising but I loved it. I remember talking to Ben about how there’s nothing more that I want in this character. He gives me so much to do and the arc is so lovely that it was just satisfying to play around with.

Edi Gathegi in StartUp on Crackle (Photo: Francisco Roman/Crackle)

Edi Gathegi in StartUp on Crackle (Photo: Francisco Roman/Crackle)

We meet him out in the jungle with his gang. Will we see him handle the corporate world?

Edi Gathegi: Your’e going to see him try. What this character does in that scenario, which is what I love about the show is that all four characters are so complex and multi-dimensional. They’re real and organic. So them in each scenario is them in each scenario. I think that’s a testament to the writing. It really captured the humanity of these people so you can put them in certain situations and see how they navigate their way through each situation.

Is he able to keep the upper hand over Nick and Izzy?

Edi Gathegi: You have to watch, but nobody has power all the time. I think that’s kind of true in life. You get the presidential bid. After eight years, if you’re lucky, your time is up. It’s a roller coaster and I think the show is a roller coaster.

What was your take on Dacey when you first got the part?

Edi Gathegi: Well, I read the pilot episode and Ben Ketai introduced Ronald into the series in such a dynamic way. It was a oner. It said in the stage direction, “This will be shot in one.” That was so cinematic to me. I’ve always wanted to be in a shot like that. It’s difficult to pull off and you learn so much about him in that one shot. You see him in different environments and how he reacts to these different environments. So I knew the character. It was just complex from scene one. I’d be lucky to do just that one scene in a TV show or that one scene in a movie. That was just the tip of the iceberg.

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