Jason Butler Harner stars in the all-new series ‘NEXT.’ The actor spoke with HL EXCLUSIVELY about Ted’s complicated dynamic with his brother, the villain of the show being a computer program, and more.
NEXT makes is grand TV entrance on Oct. 6. The show follows Silicon Valley tech wizard Paul LeBlanc (John Slattery), who has built a fortune and legacy on world-changing innovations he’s discovered. When he becomes convinced that one of his own creations — an artificial intelligence called neXt — could be dangerous to mankind, Paul seeks to shut it down. However, he ends up being kicked out of his own company by his own brother, Ted, played by Jason Butler Harner.
HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Jason at the 2020 TCA winter press tour in Jan. 2020 about the sibling relationship between Ted and Paul. “What I can say is it definitely doesn’t go down the path of evil brother and good, crazy brother,” Jason said. “It definitely doesn’t do that, which I’m very grateful for and which to be honest, was like my biggest concern for signing on.”
That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be tension and fighting between the brothers, but the relationship is so much more than that. “It was never going to be brother against brother only, but it definitely was going to have family dynamic stuff in the same way like Shea and her family has that kind of stuff,” Jason continued. “Ours is that we built this company together, and he’s much more agile in a specific way Paul isn’t. John is much more agile with computer language than I am, but I made a business and knew how to push it forward where we went from basically being in a garage to being a multi-billion dollar company. I don’t know if at first how much they really wanted Ted to be skilled, but it was important to me. Just because it makes your hero better if you have an estimable person to bounce off of in the same way. If you do have a villain or whatever, you don’t want to discredit your hero by not having the people around him be pushing buttons for valuable reasons.”
Jason stressed that while Ted and Paul’s roads may “diverge,” they do “care for each other.” However, a lot of the season is how neXt “infuses itself into that dynamic and makes things better or worse.”
The main foe of NEXT isn’t actually a person. The villain is not someone you can see or touch. “That is the big challenge that obviously they [the writers] gave themselves, which is your villain is a computer program,” Jason told HollywoodLife. “So how do you dramatize that? Because you’re not ever looking at an actual face of a person, which is the scary part. I think it’s similar to how we all know that all of these devices and things are keeping track of us. It’s logging somewhere and can be pulled up at a seconds notice to be interpreted in any way it wants to. We’re all vulnerable, but it’s too much to think about.” NEXT will air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX.