Q&A with JC MacKenzie on starring in Netflix’s October Faction

Photo: October Faction key art.. Image Courtesy IDW Entertainment, Publishing
Photo: October Faction key art.. Image Courtesy IDW Entertainment, Publishing /

JC MacKenzie recently spoke with Hidden Remote about how he landed the role of Fred Allen in October Faction on Netflix! We also chatted about how the series’ monsters are a metaphor for the literal monsters we face in the real world, and more.

JC MacKenzie has pretty much done it all. His credits include television (Hemlock Grove, Madam Secretary), and numerous films for big names like Aaron Sorkin and Martin Scorsese, to the point where he has been described as “one of Martin Scorsese’s go-to character actors.” The actor now stars as Fred Allen in Netflix’s adaptation of IDW’s October Faction.

In the series, Fred is raising 17-year-old twins with his wife and fellow monster hunter, Deloris (Tamara Taylor). With both the supernatural/horror element and a strong family story, this is one series you won’t want to miss!

In our exclusive interview with JC MacKenzie, the actor shares the very interesting story of how he earned his leading role in October Faction. He also discusses everything from how the series tackles homophobia and racism, what it was like to see the unfinished monsters on set, the show’s family element, and much more!

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Hidden Remote: You’ve starred in a little bit of everything. How did you come to October Faction?

JC MacKenzie: I originally came to the project through an individual named Charles Eglee (DexterThe Shield, L.A. Law, Murder One, Dark Angel) He’s a guy that continues—and has continued—to hire me throughout the years, both as a series regular and just anything he does. There are very few people who are that kind of loyal in this business, and he’s one of them.

He calls me up…and says, “listen, I’m pitching you to a friend of mine for the lead in a series.” And I said, “I don’t do leads. I’m the ugly character actor, ‘third guy to the left,’ normally.” But he told me, “let me do what I do,” and he pitched me to [October Faction creator and showrunner] Damian Kindler.

Damian had a conversation with me. We had seven subsequent telephone conversations, or FaceTime meetings, and we talked about everything, running the gamut from politics, to family, to horror, to sci-fi, to relationships, xenophobia, racism, and everything.

I still don’t know where it’s going, and then, he says, “would you be willing to put yourself on tape?” I said, “I’ll put myself on tape for all of these things if you want.” So, I did. I put myself—I had my son and my wife help me—and I did it a couple of different ways. I sent it to him.

JC MacKenzie
TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 08: J.C. MacKenzie attends the “Molly’s Game” premiere during the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at The Elgin on September 8, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images) /

He got it, and I think he was getting a little pushback from Netflix because I’m not famous. Because I’ve worked with some big directors, like Scorsese and Aaron Sorkin, he said, “could you get me a letter of recommendation from both those guys?” And I said, “well, how?” He said, “just ask.” And I said “…ok.”

I didn’t think I’d get it. So, actually, I contacted Martin Scorsese’s editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, who I’m friends with through all the work contact I’ve had with her…I don’t usually do this, but if it means me possibly getting this big job….

So I got this unbelievable letter, both from Scorsese and Aaron Sorkin. They were so kind. I don’t even care if their assistants wrote it. I’m just going to blow it up and put it in my living room. It’s just so glorious. And yeah, I can easily die now and be fine with it…And with that, the next day, I got a call from Damian at midnight. I was in London at that time—I sound like I’m bragging, but I’m not—and he…offered me the role. He said, “let’s jump on this ride.”

HR: I believe you hinted at this a little bit in discussing the casting process, but one thing I noticed in the October Faction trailer is that we’re focusing on  an interracial family. How does that get dealt with in the actual story told?

JC MacKenzie: Obviously, it’s never an issue with the [characters] because we know one another, love one another, and we’re a family. My wife and I are on missions, often, in these huge cosmopolitan centers, where racism is…It’s not that it’s not an issue, but it’s less of an issue than it would be for a small, rural town—for instance, the one that I grew up in.

Tamara Taylor plays JC MacKenzie's wife Deloris in October Faction
October Faction on Netflix, image courtesy Netflix /

Tamara Taylor’s character—we went to high school together, but we certainly never dated. She was way out of my league. She was this beautiful African-American woman; and I’m, like, a nerdy white dude. But we hooked up afterwards, and it’s when we come back that we encounter—quite quickly—a lot of judgment along those areas. It turns out to be a little bit of a red herring, which I can’t get into without having Netflix breathe down my back about the spoiler alerts.

So, the kids certainly deal with that in school, as biracial. And so, I mean, the monsters are —I think—a metaphor for the xenophobic paranoia of others that is rampant today, especially with what’s going on in the Trump administration. So, it’s an interesting piece.

[The series] is both a supernatural thriller and a character-driven family drama about a marriage—really, the ups and downs of marriage. And homophobia and racism. Homophobia: My son (played by Gabriel Darku) is gay on the show.

And the racist stuff that we mentioned because of the nature of this town.

HR: I’ve asked people this before, but I’m going to go ahead and ask you, too: Do you feel like supernatural-type of television shows allow us to have more commentary on some of those issues, like racism and homophobia?

JC MacKenzie: Absolutely! They always act as an allegory on race. Or, they have been used as an allegory on race for years. I mean, it’s an obvious connection. So, yeah, I think it’s a perfect venue for that—a perfect world for that to live in.

And at the same time, it can be entertaining. I’m not talking about racism being entertaining; I’m talking about the show being entertaining. The show doesn’t spoon-feed you lessons. It’s not like a platitude-of-the-week that you learn from.

[October Faction] is like a lot of the things we deal with in life. But we just happen to have monsters on our show. It’s pretty interesting. It’s compelling, and interesting, and nuanced. It doesn’t sugarcoat sh—.

It’s good. It’s really good.

HR: It looks good. Are there any particular monsters that you enjoyed working with?

JC MacKenzie: There’s a lot of special effects involved, so we don’t see the monsters, really. So, the first day I got on set, and I saw a monster, there’s this little guy—about 5’6″. And he’s in a, kind of a…rubbery outfit? I swear, he looked like a Teletubby.

I turned to Tamara Taylor, and I went, “what?! Is that the monster?” She goes, “I don’t know. I’m confused, too.” He’s literally, like, [imitates eh-eh-eh monster sound] making these noises.

Now, of course, none of the special effects had…You see this creature bend over one-hundred and eighty degrees backwards, like right away. Now, that’s not what I saw on the day. So, the monsters were all different. And they’re all—I don’t see the final product. I’ve been told, vaguely, what it’s going to look like so know what to react to.

Yeah, that was a trip for me. It was so different when I finally saw the final product. It was a terrifying creature!

There are all sorts of different monsters. There are fish monsters, and there are warlocks. There are demons, and there are werewolves. And they’re all after us!

HR: Sounds like fun.

JC MacKenzie: Very cool.

HR: Is there anything in particular that you want to make sure that potential October Faction viewers are aware of, to make sure that they watch this since there’s so much out there right now?

JC MacKenzie: It’s so difficult to know, given the streaming markets now and the different platforms. There’s so much content right now, so getting eyes on a project is challenging in a sense.

JC MacKenzie
PARK CITY, UT – JANUARY 25: Actor JC Mackenzie (L) and son Liam Wilson Mackenzie attend the “Share” Premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival at Library Center Theater on January 25, 2019 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images) /

I have my son, who’s 15 years of age, as a barometer of sorts. He watched the pilot and was like, “this is good.” And he tells me all the time, “this is bad. This is not good. My friends won’t watch it. These are the reasons why they won’t watch. These are the reasons it doesn’t work.” I have him to go by, and he thinks it’s going to be good.

So, from his mouth to God’s ears. We’ll see.

It’s not The Crown. It’s not Picard. We don’t have the budget that those guys have.

[October Faction’s crew] did a remarkable job given the budget they had; but check it out. I just encourage people to check it out. If you like it, great! If you don’t like it, that’s ok.

HR: Sounds like a good pitch to me. Is there anything that you take from raising your own teenager to playing a parent of two 17-year-olds in October Faction?

JC MacKenzie: Absolutely. It all comes together. Dealing with my 15-year-old boy…it seamlessly affects your work, particularly in a series like this. And the relationships are very real.

They’re dealing with real issues with their parents. They’re not cute; they’re not coy. They’re just kids.

Now, they happen to have their own secrets in this, which I cannot reveal—which are huge. They were a surprise to my wife and I, as well. The series goes, and everything is kind of…you really don’t know what’s going on. There’s a lot of stuff that’s very surprising toward the end of the first season and seamlessly bleeds into—hopefully—a second season and where we’re going with that.

Obviously, I can’t give you the ending at this point.

October Faction on Netflix, image courtesy Netflix
October Faction on Netflix, image courtesy Netflix /

HR: Yeah. What would be the point then, even if you were allowed? “Here’s every single plot point. Goodbye!”

JC MacKenzie: Yeah. “Your guy told me! don’t have to see it!”

HR: In terms of the relationship dynamics on the series, are the kids closer to each other? Are there any kind of parental favoritism? Is there any kind of dynamic that sets this family into a struggle outside of “hey, I just found out my parents hunt monsters?”

JC MacKenzie: Well…It really does delve into a marriage. And not in a way I’ve ever seen a sci-fi show, sci-fi-slash-horror show or supernatural thriller. It doesn’t sugarcoat the marriage.

It’s also very playful and comical; there’s humor involved. And thank God I worked so much on this series with Tamara Taylor; and she couldn’t be a better partner for me. I can’t speak more highly of her, as both a human being and an actress. She’s just a gem to work with; and as a result, humbly, I think we have really good chemistry together. She’s a pro. She doesn’t complain. She shows up, knows her lines. She takes chances; she experiments.

I had more to do with the kids toward with the end of the first season. At the beginning of the season, Tamara’s character and Fred Allen are dealing with their own issues on establishing a completely different life in this small town that we both grew up in. Which is littered with baggage and complicated by the fact that there are monsters in town that we have to fight.

So, we’re dealing with both literal monsters and the monsters within the town—the human beings. Again, that’s the allegory or metaphor for people. There are all sorts of people in this world.

Damian has covered a lot of territory with this series. It’s certainly something I’ve never done, like this. I do a lot of straightforward procedural dramas, or I do a lot of small bits or eccentric characters in movies.

I’ve got to tell you: I loved it! I really loved it. I’ve never done this—I’ve never kicked the sh*t out of monsters!

HR: Did it feel good?

JC MacKenzie: It felt great! All it is, is play. I just had the time of my life doing it.

JC MacKenzie stars in October Faction
Photo: October Faction key art.. Image Courtesy IDW Entertainment, Publishing /

HR: That’s great to hear, and I think that’s a good place to begin wrapping up. I do want to make sure to give you a chance, if there’s anything that we didn’t touch on that you really want to make sure is out there, please go ahead.

JC MacKenzie: Well, I’m coming out in a bunch of different stuff this year. October Faction drops January 23. I just had a film come out right before Christmas called Share, which was directed by Pippa Bianco for HBO. It’s a very nuanced take on sexual assault. I played the father and loved doing that.

I’ve got Aaron Sorkin’s new movie coming out October 22. He wrote and directed The Trial of the Chicago 7. I play Thomas Foran, the prosecuting attorney. Eddie Redmayne is in it, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance…it’s just a who’s who of character actors.

The Hunt, written and directed by Craig Zobel, which was to be released September 27, 2019. But the Trump administration got word that this movie was coming out, and they started to…I don’t know…tout it as being a potentially incendiary product that was going to cause violence. It’s a satire—nobody’s ever seen it!—this is just the word on the street. But because there was a mass shooting two weeks prior to the opening of the movie, Universal canceled the film. Now, I heard through the grapevine that it’s going to be released in 2020. It’s a really cool project.

I have an eight-page scene with Hilary Swank. I saw it, and I usually hate everything I do. But I think that’s going to really good.

I have another movie called Target Number One. It used to be Gut Instinct. It’s written and directed by Daniel Roby, starring Josh Hartnett. That’s coming out in April 2020.

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Catch JC MacKenzie in October Faction, now streaming on Netflix!