With the holidays comes family, gatherings, and a few days off from your regular schedule. That time off makes for a great time to binge watch those shows you’ve been meaning to watch. Crackle’s first original series, The Art of More, is definitely on our binge list for holiday break. We caught up with one of the show’s stars, Patrick Sabongui, to chat about The Art of More, playing dynamic characters, and online television series.
The Hudsucker: What drew you to The Art of More?
Patrick Sabongui: What drew me to The Art of More is that it’s a completely original drama. It’s not based on a book or a movie franchise, it’s not a sci-fi retelling of a million similar stories… It’s Chuck Rose’s totally original concept. There’s something exciting about truly originating a role – being able to infuse your unique creativity into the process. The show explores the dynamic between the high-end art auction world and the criminal underworld that provides wealthy collectors with forgeries, stolen works and smuggled antiquities. My character, Hassan Al Afshar, was particularly interesting to me because he’s facing life or death stakes. All of the art collectors and auction house characters have plenty of conflict and drama in their lives, but the character of Hassan really stood out to me. He’s a man who is in a literal struggle to survive the fallout of the wars in the Middle East and to help his family escape the atrocities of those wars. That was very attractive to me as an actor.
The Hudsucker: Your character, Hassan Al Afshar, is a bit of a departure from characters most viewers associate you with (such as The Flash’s Detective Singh) and he is definitely an important part of the story. How do you feel the character is different and what do you find most enjoyable or challenging about him?
Sabongui: I love playing Singh and Central City is certainly starting to feel like home. Hassan is a complicated character. Some will see him for the desperate family man he is—others will see him as a dangerous art thief. Do the ends justify the means? Can you really judge someone’s actions without first understanding their motivations? That is the line I get to skirt with the role of Hassan—and probably my favorite part of the character. He’s from a war-torn country; his family’s survival is at stake and he has no other options available to him. He smuggles ancient artifacts out of Iraq and away from ISIS and warlords and individuals who would otherwise have destroyed them, or used the profits to fund their wars. I think Hassan loves and appreciates those antiquities—and rescuing them from that region simultaneously serves a selfish and selfless purpose. With the help of his old friend, Graham Connor (Christian Cooke) he gets the items into the hands of rich westerners—where the items are not only safe, but where the profit of the sale can go to help get his wife and son safely away from war.
The Hudsucker: I read in an article someone refer to Hassan as “sinister.” Do you feel that this is an accurate description?
Sabongui: Hang on… I had to look up “sinister” to properly answer that question. Does Hassan portend threat and trouble? I’d say yes. Is he evil, wicked or base? Nope. He certainly has aggressive methods and doesn’t play by the establishment’s rules, but he isn’t a bad person. It’s all about perception, isn’t it? It’s easy to point fingers and call people criminals from the comfort of your living room or over a pint or a coffee in your trendy cafe. there are people in this world who are struggling with real life survival issues – adherence to the law may just not be an option. As far as I’m concerned, Hassan is a good man forced to do questionable things.
The Hudsucker: The show is the first original series offering Crackle has done. Was making a series in this format different than other episodic work like The Flash?
Sabongui: Overall it was pretty similar. However, there is a sense in the writing and as we started shooting that we didn’t have to repeat ourselves as much. You can move ahead with the story, you can afford to be subtle and drop nuanced hints because the audience probably watched the previous episode an hour ago. You can trust that they’ll connect the dots. Also, I think audiences are more sophisticated, more astute these days. I think these high-end dramas benefit from trusting that we don’t have to spoon feed plot points to the audience anymore; we know they’re paying attention, and that they’ll remember the subtle things we’ve introduced.
The Hudsucker: So the ultimate question: Should we binge watch The Art of More?
Sabongui: Hmm… That all depends on your own personal taste—and how much free time you’ve got on your hands. That’s the beauty of on-demand programming. Crackle has commercial breaks, so it’s kinda cool to get those little intermissions so you can go grab a snack or blast out a tweet saying how much you’re loving the show or whatever. It’s kind of the perfect set-up to binge a little [or] pace a little. This format is so new, though. It’ll be interesting to see how the audience consumes it.