Photographer Joshua Shultz
Stylist: Jenny Ricker
Bellus Magazine (BM): We have fallen in love with the show, “Manhattan” and your character, “Charlie Isaacs”. What can you tell us about your character?
Ashley Zukerman (AZ): The more I do the show the more I see this growing divide between who Charlie thinks he is and who he actually is. Charlie believes himself to be good, moral, the greatest mind of his generation, but has no evidence of it. The paradigm-changing paper which put him on the academic map – he plagiarized, and since joining the project he has done these horrible things he never thought he could do. This place has tested him, and he hasn’t always passed. So now, season two, we know how much he wants to be those things – moral, worthy, and isn’t always successful. And a man needing to prove his worth, is exactly who you don’t want in charge of creating the most destructive weapon in the history of the world. Or, perhaps, depending on who you are, he’s the perfect guy for it.
Check out the trailer for season 2 here…
BM: What is it like getting to work with such amazing writers, sets and crew??
AZ: Other than it being an incredibly enjoyable and inspiring place to come to work every day, it means that the challenges are there for all the right reasons. When working with minds like we get to, the challenges are of passionate and intelligent people butting up against each other – trying to make it work. Little politics, just enough ego. The show is where the focus is. It makes the whole experience very satisfying, very meaningful.
BM: Season one was so incredible! Can you tell us anything about season 2? What we can expect?
AZ: People are aware now of the claustrophobic, paranoid nature of this laboratory/town/prison. This place can change people. At the beginning of season two we flash forward to “the trinity test” – the culmination of the project itself, the first nuclear test in history. We now, admitting that history has been laid in front of us, explore how the characters defy and lead to this end. No character has a clear handle on morality. It’s war time, and there is very little that can be simplified to black and white. We really throw ourselves at the question of what good or evil is. That’s season 2.
BM: I see you are working on another show “Childhood’s End” What can you tell us about that and your character “Jake”?
AZ: The show is based on Arthur C Clarke’s novel. It’s a novel more akin to philosophy than what we know of science fiction today. A benevolent alien race occupies earth and guides humanity to the next stage of their evolution. They strip us of our attachments, first greed, war, poverty, pollution, religion. The world enters into a utopia, the “golden age of man”. Then finally, as the alien race moves the final pieces of their plan into place, they strip humanity of the attachment of love, family. That’s where Jake comes in. He along with his wife fight to hang on to those they love most, their children, never understanding why they need to let them go. That’s Jake, he’s a father who fights and loves.
BM: What is next for you?
AZ: I just wrapped on the second season of The Code, an Australian political thriller. So with the three shows back to back I’ll be looking forward to being quiet for a little while, read, write… But you know what happens when you make plans.
BM: What advice can you give the other artists out there working to make it as an artist?
AZ: Oh man, I don’t know. I have a bunch of thoughts but they’re thoughts that work for me. We’re all unique and part of the journey is figuring out what works for you. But I will say, picking up on your question, that there is a big difference between ‘making it as an artist’, and ‘making art’. The first seems a little more indexed by success, and the second is about expression. Focusing on the second may not get you the first, but it’ll make you happier.
BM: Bellus is latin for beauty. What does beauty mean to you?
AZ: Nature probably. Anything that’s real, honest. That probably works as much for wrinkles, faces, people, as it does for music, books, art.
You can currently watch Ashley Zukerman in season 2 of Manhattan airing now on WGN every Tuesday night 9/8c