'Game of Silence' Interview: Star David Lyons Talks Dark Themes & Depicting PTSD & Sexual Abuse [EXCLUSIVE]
This week NBC debuted Game of Silence, its latest dramatic/thriller series. Based on a megahit Turkish drama (which itself was inspired by the 1996 American film Sleepers), Game of Silence tells the story of five friends (four boys and a girl) who cause an accident that lands the four boys into a corrupt juvenile detention facility, where they become victims of hellish abuse.
Now, 25 years later, the emotionally and psychology scared adults that were once those children find themselves brought back together and forming a plan against the villainous collection of guards and inmates (led by the warden) that tortured them. As the characters work towards revenge in the present day, the show flashes back to their experiences in juvenile detention.
The first two episodes have already aired and can currently be watched on Hulu, NBC will be airing all additional episodes on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. ET/ 9 p.m. CT.
Enstars chatted with David Lyons, who heads up Game of Silence’s ensemble cast as Jackson Brooks, the group’s reluctant leader, a successful lawyer who has tried to move past his trauma by trying to forget it...until his childood friends come to him for help.
I was surprised when I found out that you were Australian. I’d seen your work before and never knew.
Yeah, another one of the bunches.
It seems there’s a lot of Australian actors working on American TV these days, with these flawless American accents. Is there a reason speaking American comes easy to Australians and not the other way around?
I think it's much easier for an Australian to speak American simply because from the age of zero we have a lot of American culture...we grow up watching a lot of the shows the lot of American kids grow up watching. You won't find too many Australian shows that American kids watch, so they never have that kind of tacit understanding of how the accent and intonation and so on works...We have a much more a much stronger foundation simply because we hear the accent all the time.
Game of Silence is a show with so many elements that can make it addictive to watch. Is that something you look for in a project?
That's a really interesting question. I think the thing that you have to do is hook into your character and at the same time hook into the story, whether or not the audience goes with you is often relative to the extent to which you believe in your character’s actions and the story as it's told...No one knows what the blueprint for a successful show is. If they did, every show would be a success.
Have you watched the Turkish original, Suskunlar?
No...when I read the pilot I read it as a standalone piece and when I spoke to [Game of Silence showrunner] David Hudgins he said that we're looking at that as a template only, we're actually veering from the story in the Turkish version. So for that reason and also because I didn't want have a preconceived concept of where my character might go, I steered very clear from Suskunlar….I wanted to look at it from a very fresh perspective, as fresh as I could get it.
Your character is holding in a massive amount of trauma from a brief time in his childhood. How did that influence your portrayal of him?
It very much influences every character in the show. There are four boys that went to the juvenile detention facility and what I found fascinating is that different things happened to different kids in that moment...but they all went through a trauma and suffered in various ways from PTSD. So my character...has the effect of that PTSD and the effect of that trauma and him getting over it has meant that he has compartmentalized it...and pushed it down to his very core...His entire M.O. is about removing himself from every aspect that might create a trigger for what he's been through...So he spends a lot of that time in the pilot and throughout the season trying desperately to push these elements of trauma back into his bedrock so that he can function.
There are some REALLY dark themes in this show--the kind of that’s generally only done on cable. Do you think think network TV audiences are ready for a show like this?
I think that the way that David Hudgins is telling the story is sensitive enough that it will reach the audience and it's not excessive to an extent where it's going to make them feel anything but love for the characters. I think the audience is definitely ready...I think what's great about what NBC is doing is it they're taking the mantle of the more cable-watched stories and saying “we can create characters in a darkish world or that have a dark history and make them palatable and powerful for a network audience.” And so we're hoping this is a game-changer and might see much more complex storytelling coming from the major networks.
The big elephant in the room is sexual abuse, which plays a major part of this story. It seems like the show's policy is to address it but not make it the main part of the story.
Exactly, you don't want to make it the main point of the show. The essence of great storytelling, in my opinion, is to not show what it is the person actually went through--Because the imagination of the human is so much more violent than than any picture you can paint...And with this story...we leave it very much in the hands of the actors to portray the results the abuse as opposed to the abuse itself. And in doing so we allow the audience the ability to come with us on a story that...might get them to think about something which they might might not otherwise have thought about but not doing so in a way that is going to make it grotesque or too confronting.
You’re probably best known from your work on Revolution, which had a really active fan base. Are you hoping for something similar for Game of Silence?
If we could get the same awesome fans that we got for Revolution on this show, I would be ecstatic. Because the way that fan base supported our show was simply incredible...I'm hoping that those people that really loved Revolution will come with us on this journey...I wouldn't have gotten this job if it weren't for the people to have supported me in Revolution and the fervency with which they respected and loved that show.
This interview has been edited and condensed.