An exclusive interview with the star of the new Minority Report TV series

Before there was Tom Cruise in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 blockbuster Minority Report, there was Philip K Dick’s short story of the same name. Now the infamous precog characters are back, this time risen from the pages and descended from the big screen, for Fox’s new television series, which debuted last month.

Glass speaks with Minority Report’s star, two-time Tony nominee Stark Sands, of Broadway versus television, of his nascent relationship with social media, of empathy, and, amidst this all, of what’s finally propelled him into adulthood.

So you’re from Texas. Did you have to train away your “y’all”?
When I say I’m from Texas, [people] say, You have no accent whatsoever! But if I watch home movies of myself from when I was a little kid, I definitely have more of a drawl, more of a Texas accent.

I’ve always loved dialects and I’ve always been lucky to travel a lot as a little kid. I [also] always tried to imitate sounds of the people that were around, so [the drawl] sort of just went away.

Stark SandsStark Sands. Photograph: Drew Wiedemann

You bring up imitating accents as a child. Did you always have a feel for wanting to be a character? Did you always know that you wanted to act?
I guess so. I don’t think I knew it consciously till I took a theatre class when I was in high school. But my brother and sister and I, who are very close in age, made a lot of home movies.

Once we were allowed to use the camera, we’d evidently go on one of those trips to one of those places [and] we would make videos of ourselves, and make up stories and try to do Saturday Night Live-style sketches.

You’ve had a really impressive career for your age. You’ve done a mix of big screen, small screen, and stage. What’s most precious about the small screen, to which you’re returning for FOX’s new drama, Minority Report?
I’m so lucky to have had the experience that I’ve had on Broadway. Until this point, doing a musical was the hardest I’d ever worked. Eight shows a week and, you know, you can’t sit back and give a half-assed performance.

Everybody paid to see your performance and you want to give them the same show that everyone else got. [Broadway] was definitely demanding.

But this is insane. And it’s taught me again how hard I can work. Just from a career perspective, this is a show where more people – more eyeballs – are on me on a Monday night than everybody who ever saw me in [the Broadway show] American Idiot.

There’s a level of pressure that I enjoy. I like knowing that I better be good. There are new fans that I could make. At least in some small way, that is part of this business now—making the fan base.

You have noticeably good etiquette on social media. You re-tweet your fans, for example. Is that something you anticipated as being part of the project? That sort of digital interaction?

I mean, I didn’t join Twitter until I got this job. I joined it just to lock down my twitter handle, because I didn’t want somebody else doing @starksands and pretending to be me.

To be honest, I don’t love it. I don’t love that part of this, because I remember a time when it didn’t exist. When I started out, my job was to act, and to go in front of the camera or on the stage and just act. And to let everybody else decide if they liked it or not.

So I don’t know if I’m crazy about [tweeting], but I recognise it as a tool—[one] that needs to be used. And I am admittedly enjoying it more than I thought I would.

I thought twitter was just sort of a way for people to say, Hey, hey, hey! Look at me, look at what I’m doing right now, look at this, look at how cool my life is. I am awesome.

I’m not big on that self-promotion machine stuff, so what I try to do is create a balance between promoting the show, and pulling in observations that I see throughout my day.

You also can’t underwrite the pleasure that it gives to those fans that you are interacting with.
I was that kid. That [kid that] went to the stage door after seeing a Broadway show. I was the kid that saw the show and really wanted to tell the actors how great I thought they were. So this is that on a much, much larger scale.

Of course, I experience that in theatre. I can see it in their eyes—when people are waiting around and saying, “oh my gosh that was so, so great, I can feel how much it means to them to tell me. That’s why I do like to respond to those tweets that are kind of funny, or [are] asking questions, because I know what an amazing thing it is for a fan to connect with someone that they admire.

Sometimes people get let down when they meet their heroes—and I want to make them feel good.

Stark SandsStark Sands. Photograph: Drew Wiedemann

The calibre of directors that you’ve had the opportunity to work with in your career is mind-blowing. Clint Eastwood, Kathryn Bigelow, the Coen Brothers. It’s incredible. One thing that’s fascinating about television is the opportunity for actors to get to work with a diverse set of directors over a relatively concentrated period of filming time.

On Minority Report alone you’ve gotten to work with some amazing filmmakers. How does that exposure to different behind-the-camera talent shape you as an actor?
I’ve learned a lot about movie making and film-making, [and that] there is definitely a payoff to being bold. We had a director named David Straiton that directed episode five, [The Present]. It was exciting. Instead of doing the standard formula of set-ups, he would come in and say, Okay, I’m going to shoot the scene from way over here, [from] 100 feet away. And you’re going to do the scene from there.’

And I was like, Cool. That sounds like a neat master [shot]. And so we do that, and we do the scene, and we walk all the way across the lobby of this building and [my costar] Meagan [Good] and I have our scene from a deep, deep distance. And then that was it, and we moved on. It was inspiring!

You play two characters, the identical twin “precogs’ who, essentially, are haunted by visions of murders taking place in the future. Was it challenging to connect to that so unfamiliar trauma that your characters Dash and Arthur have gone through emotionally and psychologically?
It’s just daunting. This is a guy who, on a very frequent basis, is overcome by waking nightmares of people getting brutally murdered. And, at least when he’s getting these visions, he has to watch. There’s nothing he can do about it. So, if he’s going to have them, he might as well try to stop [the murders depicted in them].

So the main characteristic for Dash is a sense of responsibility to save lives. That’s the nuts and bolts of it. The hard part is setting [it all] in 2065. And setting it within a guy who doesn’t have a lot of social skills, because this power has prevented him from connecting with people in a meaningful way. Until now.

I’m constantly reminding myself, and leaning on my directors and writers to make sure that they remind me, of all the little things that I’ve got to include in every little scene of my performance. But at the root, it really is just about someone who wants to save lives. And that will be a challenge for the rest of the series. Because that’s not something that happens to me in my real life, you know? This is all imagined.

In [the Broadway show] Kinky Boots, at the beginning of the musical, [Charlie’s] father dies. And that’s something that has happened to me, when I was in my 20s. I know exactly what that is. That’s not hard. There’s no reaching for that. It’s there.

But this time, it’s not five years from now. It’s 60 years from now. That’s a long, long time, and it can be very challenging and overwhelming. But I just try to return to the basics—I want to save this person’s life.

You’ve recently become a father. Do you feel that’s changed your ability to empathise with your characters?
It’s changed my whole chemical make up as a human being. I have more empathy, for sure, towards people. Especially other parents. Because I feel like I’ve joined a club. When we’re walking around with our son and we run into other people with babies that look like they’re about the same age, we don’t even need to introduce ourselves. I can walk up to them and say, How are you sleeping? How’s nighttime for you guys?

We just sort of share war stories before we introduce ourselves. It’s completely changed me. I’m definitely an adult now. I’m a parent. It’s informed my choices, and it’s given me more things to pull out of my [acting] tool kit. I’m 37 years old. I’ve been a grown-up for a long time. But now I’m an adult.

Minority Report is only in its first season. Is it too soon for you to look toward the future? To look toward more stage work?
There’s no question. I love doing this, but I will always, always strive to keep the theater as a very active part of my career, if I can. If they’ll have me!

The things I love about this job are wonderful, but the things I miss about theater are the live interaction with the audience, the hours and days of a rehearsal leading up to a performance, instead of just being thrown in and reading [the script] once with your fellow actors and then taking a stab at it. Yes, I would love to do more theater. Soon. It would seem like a cakewalk compared to this.

You can watch full episodes of Minority Report on

by Emily Rae Pellerin

Photos by Drew Wiedemann 

Stark Sands is on twitter and Instagram