Clarke Peters On His Role In Showtime's The Man Who Fell To Earth - Exclusive

A native of New York City, Clarke Peters was a young actor when he crossed the pond to establish himself in London, making his mark in the thriving West End theater scene. In the 2000s, he shifted his focus to include television in his repertoire, and ultimately became involved with some of the finest, most critically acclaimed TV series in recent memory. Following his celebrated performance as Baltimore PD detective Lester Freamon in "The Wire," Peters has been seen in a string of top-tier series, including "Damages," "Treme," "His Dark Materials," and "Foundation." 

Peters can currently be seen as Josiah Falls in new Showtime drama "The Man Who Fell to Earth," a reboot/sequel of the 1976 sci-fi cult classic starring the late David Bowie; the new iteration features Oscar nominees Chiwetel Ejiofor and Naomie Harris.

In an exclusive interview with The List, Peters shares details about his latest role in the intriguing drama.

Clarke Peters avoided going back to the 1976 film

Clarke Peters plays the character of Josiah Falls, as he described as "an immigrant from The Bahamas who was of high academic achievements and was brought in to America to help with some top secrets." While there, he married and he fell in love and produced a child named Justin, played by Naomie Harris. Added Peters, "Over the course of the years, he contracted an illness that has left him incapacitated. Although his body is crippled, his mind is still very active and it is very much alive in his daughter."

Peters also revealed how he unwittingly helped shape "The Man Who Fell to Earth" with producers. "I received a call from the producers and the writers, and over maybe two or three calls, we talked about the philosophy of what's happening here actually on Earth," he said. "We shared our concerns with the way the Earth today is being managed. I didn't realize that the script was what it was. I didn't realize that our conversations were actually feeding into the development of that script and the point of view and the things that needed to be said."

Peters also deliberately avoided the 1976 movie and the novel that inspired it. "This was a continuation of that, and as we were talking about the issues that deal with today, I wanted to deal with what's happening today and bring as much of what I'm feeling about the way we manage the Earth today to the piece," he explained.

Clarke Peters is keen to appear in projects that provoke conversation

In "The Man Who Fell to Earth," Peters saw a series that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. "The medium[s] of television and film [are] not just there to entertain, but also to educate ... I really don't want to use my craft in a way that's going to dumb people down. Neither am I just trying to chase the next dollar, but I feel that if I have this type of profile, let's apply it to projects that are serving as well as entertaining, rather than pure escapism," he shared.

Also starring in the series is Bill Nighy as Thomas Newton, the alien portrayed by David Bowie in the film. Asked if he and Nighy had worked together previously during Peters' years in London, he said they hadn't — although they had crossed paths. "We always encountered each other when we were nominated for things. We're probably the most nominated actors in England without ever receiving an award," Peters joked. 

New episodes of "The Man Who Fell to Earth" air on Showtime Sundays at 10 p.m. ET. Episodes are also available to stream for subscribers.