Interview: LaMonica Garrett talks becoming The Monitor for CW’s Elseworlds

LaMonica Garrett. Photo credit: Bobby Quillard, acquired via Persona PR
LaMonica Garrett. Photo credit: Bobby Quillard, acquired via Persona PR /

In an exclusive interview, LaMonica Garrett talks The Last Ship, Designated Survivor, and becoming The Monitor for CW’s Arroverse.

LaMonica Garrett recently took the time to share with us about The Last Ship, Designated Survivor, and his new role in the Arrowverse Elseworlds crossover as The Monitor from DC comics. He keeps popping up in roles that, seemingly, no one else could properly fill. LaMonica Garrett just isn’t your run of the mill actor; he really brings a powerful presence to the screen.

Those who have seen him act know this. Taking on The Monitor for CW’s Arrowverse, however, was new territory for the versatile actor. But it was a challenge that he, as a DC comic book fan, was more than ready to take on.

Here’s what LaMonica Garrett had to say about his career leading up to Elseworlds and his approach to bringing The Monitor to life for the first time.

LaMonica Garrett
LaMonica Garrett. Photo credit: Bobby Quillard, acquired via Persona PR /

Hidden Remote: You worked from the bottom up. You moved to L.A. You literally just went for it. You worked with FedEx and just made it happen. My question is, how did you keep positive in that huge pool of talent? How did you keep your eyes on the prize at the beginning of your career?

LaMonica Garrett: It is tough, but I was living and dying by every audition — whether I booked the job. And that’s not the way to go about it. The more you talk to people that are working in the business and that are successful, they’ll tell you that you have to take your wins where you can get them. So if I had a callback, if I got put on avail for something, if I got pinned for something, that was a win for me.

And that keeps you motivated. You have to find your wins where you can get them and celebrate them because if you just live on whether you got the job or not, you’re going to be in a depressed state of mood day in and day out. So that kept me motivated. And, you know, I worked here and there, but I got a lot of positive feedback and I knew it was just a matter of time. I just had to stay the course.

HR: You’re an athlete [former linebacker]. So you’re kind of used to pushing yourself harder than most people, I’d say. Do you feel like that affected your chances in Hollywood?

Garrett: That did play a big part — particularly with taking criticism. Some people get criticism and the world ends. And with me, criticism just means I know what I’ve got to work on and what I’ve got to get better at — especially with constructive criticism from people that you know are trying to help you. They’re not just saying this to be mean or just to have something negative to say.

It’s something that I could take as a note, go back to acting class, and realize, ‘This is what I’ve got to work on.’ And I’ve gotten that a lot throughout my career. It’s your attitude about it [that makes the difference]. Your attitude dictates your altitude. If your attitude changes in how you take criticism, then the sky’s the limit.

HR: I’d like to talk about a few things with your acting that really stand out. You have a real top-dog presence when you’re in a scene. Have people always generally seen you as the leader type? 

Garrett: You know, you see yourself a certain way, and you think you carry yourself a certain way, but that might not be how other people see you. Like what you see in the mirror — sometimes other people might see you as something else. I see myself as what you just described, someone whose presence is felt. But in the beginning, when I was going to castings, I was often the love interest.

I was always someone’s new boyfriend or the new husband — which is cool, but I didn’t see myself like that. I’m not a Don Juan kind of guy. But that’s where I was, the box they were trying to put me in. I saw myself more as the leader type. So, know your power, know what you bring, and just stick to it, and the right jobs will come your way eventually.

HR: I’ve also noticed that you’re dynamic in addition to that; for example, you can calmly advise Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) in Designated Survivor and then turn around and do a full out battle scene. How do you get that genuine feel? Do you pull from life experience? It doesn’t look like you’re acting; it looks like you’re really in it.

Garrett: I try to do as much research on the profession I’m doing as possible. I’ve never been in the military. My whole family, my dad, brother, cousins — almost all of them went to war. So I have that aspect at home, being able to pick their brains about what Vietnam was like, what the Gulf War was like. And I’ve never been a police officer. I’ve never been in battle. I’ve never fired a handgun other than going to the range, stuff like that.

But I’m not that guy. So I try to do as much work as I can in preparation, reading about what these guys go through and just trying to engulf myself in that world leading all the way up until when we shoot. And then after that, I can let my hair down a little bit and kind of relax. But yeah, it’s just studying the craft and doing the research about these people we’re playing.

HR: I know fitness is very important to you. What’s your general philosophy for working out and lifting?

Garrett: I’ve been doing intermittent fasting. I eat from 12:00 to 8:00. So I try to work out and hit the weights around four days a week. But the thing that’s really changed the dynamic I think for me as far as working out and staying in shape is hot yoga — the balance of just having that pliability. With weights, you’re tensing up everything; in yoga, you’re kind of letting it go. So those two together, to me, have been real helpful along with intermittent fasting.

HR: Yoga really does wonders. It’s pretty awesome.

Garrett: Yeah, I wish I would have done it when I played football. But, you think, yoga, I’m not doing that. That’s just a bunch of sitting around and breathing and all that. But it’s a lot more than that. If you embrace it, you really get the benefits from it.

HR: So, reflecting back on The Last Ship, how was your experience working on that show?

Garrett: I loved The Last Ship. I was a recurring guest star on there. And I would have been happy just staying on that show if Designated Survivor hadn’t come around. I was more than happy just recurring with that group of actors and producers. It was just a warm environment. It was a great working environment. It was right near my house, too. So that was kind of cool. But just being a part of that Navy experience was incredible.

My brother was in the Navy, and my cousin was in the Navy, so us going to the US Naval Base down in San Diego was a big deal for me. That was just — it was significant. It was weird being on the base and wearing full uniform being an actor; the real soldiers didn’t know that.

So I had a lieutenant badge on my fatigues, and they come and they’re saluting me. They’re dropping their phones and their food to salute me. I’m like, “No, no! I haven’t earned that!” But that’s how real the experience was. We were going on these US destroyers, and it was just awesome. What other job can you do where you get to experience certain things like that in the shoes and the skin of other people? It was amazing.

LaMonica Garrett
LaMonica Garrett. Photo credit: Bobby Quillard, acquired via Persona PR /

HR: I’m pretty sure your character in Designated Survivor, Mike Ritter, is doing wonders for Secret Service recruitment right now.

Garrett: Yeah, that’s what I was told from the Secret Service. And I sent them a thank you because the head of the Secret Service reached out to me and their reps that were on the set loved the show. They loved what I brought to it. You know, when they say things like, “You’re doing us a service,” and, “you’re doing it justice,” that means the world because that’s all you could ask for. We went to the White House when Obama was still in office, and I got to meet a couple of the guys that were the head of Obama’s detail and pick their brains. It was unreal.

HR: That’s incredible. 

Garrett: It was unreal. It was unreal. They invited me and Adan (Canto) to come out and do precision driving with them, you know, like training with those guys. Those guys are legit. We basically got to meet our real-life counterparts. Adan got to meet Obama’s Chief of Staff, and Maggie (Quigley) got to go to FBI headquarters to do precision driving training with them at Quantico.

HR: She’s awesome. 

Garrett: Yeah, she’s amazing. It’s easier to do your job when you get a firsthand account of what they go through — hearing stories from them. It makes it seem more believable when you’re on screen doing things. But I really loved that show. It was a great environment. Kiefer (Sutherland), Italia (Ricci), Maggie (Quigley) — we had fun. When we weren’t shooting, we’d get the group together. We’re all on a text group chain, and that doesn’t happen a lot. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and we would be out in Toronto like it’s us against the world. It was fun.

HR: Let’s talk about your new project Elseworlds. You are The Monitor. Can you share a bit about that and what fans can expect? 

Garrett: Yeah, The Monitor and him just being in Elseworlds opens up a whole new door as to where this universe can go. And I don’t know where it’s going. I’m a comic book fanatic myself, so as a fan, you know, everyone is talking about Crisis on Infinite Earths. I don’t know if that’s going to happen. I don’t know what’s going on past this Elseworlds, but that would be cool. I can say that The Monitor did give the book to someone else, which allowed him to cause this chaos in reality and all that stuff. I can’t say why he gave him the book, like, that’ll show out during the crossover event; but yeah, The Monitor is a big deal.

HR: What was your approach with crafting his personality?

Garrett: And that’s, I think, significant, too — he’s never been brought to life before. If you’re playing a Secret Service agent, you look at other movies and TV shows that have Secret Service agents, you do your own research, and you kind of mold together your own version of who this guy is. I couldn’t really do that with The Monitor.

The Monitor was in so many different issues of comic books leading up to this. He had a handful. Crisis was his biggest one, but there wasn’t a lot to work with. So being a fan of comic books and villains and superheroes, I just tried to figure out what his motivation was — what drives him — and let the rest fall into place.

What kind of person is he? I don’t think he’s an evil person. Some of the stuff he does might be looked at as bad, but I don’t think you can classify The Monitor as good or evil. I just think he sets balance and he does the right thing. He does what’s right. So you might look at him as a hero, but before that happened, he was dealing weapons. He was a weapons dealer to supervillains. It’s hard to classify him. But I just did my own homework and came up with what I came up with.

More from CW

HR: Man, that’s cool. That sounds awesome. Makes me excited to watch it hearing that. Definitely looking forward to it. The best villains are dynamic; they’re not like “the bad guy.” They’ve got their own reasons for why they do things. 

Garrett: Yeah, if you understand what their drive is, you see they’re just going about it in a bad way. But you understand where they’re coming from. Like with Thanos, I knew exactly what Thanos was trying to do, and it made sense. But you just can’t do that. You can’t just kill people. But I get it — less people means more for the people that are there. But you can’t just snap your fingers and just take everybody out. Like, I get his logic, but it’s just — you can’t do that. But he wasn’t evil for the sake of being evil. I get it.

HR: Right, right. Well, I’m looking real forward to it for sure. So I understand that you have a real heart for underprivileged youth and for charity. Could you tell me a bit about your message and your heart on that?

Garrett: I grew up fortunate. I had both my parents in my life together, growing up, and a lot of my friends didn’t. Some single-parent households are mothers or it’s just the father; they do a great, fantastic job, but it just helpful to have both in your life and there’s no way around that. And some people are just less fortunate and they don’t have anyone around.

And that’s just a tough way to go about life. Life is hard enough as it is without having mentors and people guiding you in the right direction. So you just try to help out. You try to be a big brother here and there. Like, just like this past weekend, me and a few of my buddies went out and we fed the homeless.

We got some food together, about six of us, and we hit the streets of LA. We had about 50 or 60 lunches and clothes and shoes, and we went out there. And there were kids in some of these tent cities, and it was difficult to see that.

But I’ve got to remember that I was fortunate. And being in the position that I’m in, it’s almost my responsibility to give back — to help out the less fortunate. To me, it’s not a charitable or a noble thing; it’s almost like a responsibility.

HR: I really appreciate your time, man. Thank you so much. I really look forward to seeing where your career goes in the future. 

Garrett: Hey, I appreciate it, man. Thank you.

Next. Sophia Bush on landing lead role in Surveillance and raising millions for #GivingTuesday. dark

Catch LaMonica Garrett in Elseworlds on CW December 9 on The Flash, December 10 on Arrow, and December 11 on Supergirl