Six Questions with 11.22.63 Star Daniel Webber
If you could go back in time to change history, would you? That’s the question at the heart of Hulu’s new sci-fi miniseries 11.22.63, which premieres on Presidents’ Day.
Produced by J.J. Abrams and based a book by Stephen King, the show stars James Franco as a teacher who gets the chance to travel back in time to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but his adventures may not lead to a bright and sunny future thanks to unforeseen repercussions.
While many people would jump at the chance to change the past, Daniel Webber, who plays JFK’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, doesn’t think it’s a great idea.
“I feel like the premise of the [series] kind of highlights some of the issues with changing time,” Webber says. “I don’t think I would change time. There are definitely things that would be great if they turned out differently, but they got us to where we are today.”
Check out what else Webber had to say about playing the infamous killer, what it was like to work with Franco and King, and more.
Considering how much baggage there is for a character like Oswald, how do you add a human element into the role so it doesn’t come across as a caricature of a villain?
I think you have to go back to those primal needs of feeling accepted, feeling like you’re not alone. I watched all the interviews and did as much research as I could at the time. One thing that really did jump out at me was this image of a man who was very much alone and very much independent, a man unto himself in a sense. I think the innate quality that we all understand is being alone and feeling like we’re being attacked and confronted by other people, so I kind of went from that sort of place.
So you did a fair amount of research going into this project.
Absolutely. I did lots of research on Lee. There’s so much information out there about him, so it was a case of learning his social context and also learning about himself. Really, I think it kind of boils down to his childhood. A lot of it had to do with his mother and upbringing, being moved from place to place and school to school. Going back to the earliest times in his life was kind of crucial to understand him.
How was your experience working with James Franco?
James is one of the guys that I grew up watching, fifteen years of watching and admiring. He’s so good at what he does, so it’s really great to work with him and working on set, just being out. I came to this project with such a huge amount of brilliant talent around me. People who have been working for a long time, everybody had been working with phenomenal people on phenomenal projects, so I came to this I guess really admiring everybody.
Of course Stephen King is the man behind the series. What was it like working on one of his projects?
It was absolutely incredible. Two of my favorite films are The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, I think they’re absolutely stunning pieces of cinema. To be working with Stephen who’s the mastermind behind those stories and bringing that magic and reality, drama and history—being a part of that is as good as it gets in my view. I was really thrilled to find out that he had written it and that he was going to be part of this production.
If you could go back in time, is there anything in history you would want to change?
If I could go back in time I would change nothing. I actually don’t think I’d change anything. I feel like the premise of the [series] kind of highlights some of the issues with changing time. I don’t think I would change time. There are definitely things that would be great if they turned out differently, but they got us to where we are today.
Is there a time period you’d like to visit, though?
I’d actually say the ’60s. It’s such an amazing time period. There’s so much happening there and so much going on, so much movement and change. Technology was really coming out. I’d think the ’60s would be a pretty great time or the ’20s, they’d be pretty great too.
11.22.63 premieres on Hulu Monday, February 15.
This interview has been edited and condensed.