Jack Reynor Says Levon Helm Inspired HIs Performance in The Peripheral

Jack Reynor has a lot in common with his character Burton in The Peripheral, a new sci-fi series on Amazon Prime Video based on the best-selling novel of the same name by William Gibson. The Midsommar star resonated with his character in The Peripheral so much, in fact, that he decided to infuse him with a little bit of the personality of one of his favorite musicians — the late drummer and singer Levon Helm from The Band.

Produced by Westworld’s creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, The Peripheral takes place in the future when technology has dramatically altered society. A young woman named Flynn Fisher (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her brother Burton Fisher (Reynor) discover a secret connection to an alternate reality. 

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“There are things about Burton that sort of resonate with my own life in certain ways,” Reynor told MovieMaker.

“When I’m not working, I’m spending my time in my workshop building things, doing some wood work, whatever, and I like my own space. Not that I’m a totally insular person, but I like to spend time on my own tinkering and just doing things. Burton seemed to me to be very much that kind of person,” he said. “I also liked the fact that he was somebody who seemed to have strong values that he adhered to and that were important to him. He has a loyalty to his family and a love of the people who are close to him in his life, and that’s very, very important to him. And he obviously doesn’t take it for granted.”

Once he realized how much he and Burton had in common, he realized that Burton, who grows up in a rural American town, had some things in common with Helm, who grew up in Arkansas. In The Peripheral, Burton is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Haptic Recon force, while Helm played a U.S. Air Force test pilot in the 1983 historical drama film The Right Stuff.

“I thought about the cultural context of Burton, and Levon Helm from The Band kept popping into my head. I’m a big fan of The Band and particularly Levon. So I started to watch a load of interviews with Levon Helm, and I just thought about the way he would carry himself and I thought about the intensity of how he would speak and engage with people, but also the kind of honesty that he had. It just kind of came out of him, whether it was through his performance or whether it was the way he would talk. So I tried to inform the character of Burton with a little bit of that.”

The first two episodes of The Peripheral are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Main Image: Jack Reynor as Burton in The Peripheral. Photo Credit: Sophie Mutevelian/Prime Video.