Mark Hildreth: rediscovering Tom Hale in Resurrection


What would you do if those whom you love who were dead and gone came back to you? That is the main premise in the TV show Resurrection.

Mark Hildreth portrays Tom Hale, a pastor, who wants to do the right thing, but who is conflicted about himself. His life changes when Jacob, his childhood best friend, who was dead, returns. This sends Tom into a total crisis of faith and he must rediscover who he is.

In season 2, premiering September 28th, we are going to see Tom facing some of his demons and struggling between the two women he loves.

In a conversation with The Outsider Argentina, Mark spoke about how he prepares himself to portray Tom from Resurrection, his music career and the new album he is working on.

How did you start acting?

When I was 5 years old, my dad and I were in the car and an ad came over the radio, an open casting call looking for blonde haired, 5-10 year old boys to play the son of Pinkerton and Butterfly in the opera Madame Butterfly at the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver, Canada. I said to my dad, “I want to do that!” He hesitantly took me to the audition and I got the part. I spent 3 hours every night having an amazing Italian soprano belt out the opera at me in front of 1100 people and my little 5 year old brain thought “this is it! I’ve made it!” That’s how it all started.

How did you get the opportunity of being on “Resurrection”?

I was asked to audition by our amazing casting director Deborah Aquila, who cast the pilot for the show. It was a crazy time in my life, I had just come out of a long relationship and here was this character, in utter confusion and disbelief at the circumstances of his life, who wants more than anything to do the right thing no matter what the cost and I related deeply to that. ABC, our incredible pilot director Charles McDougal, and the team at Brillstein and Plan B took a leap of faith on me (pardon the pun.) It’s pretty cool to be able to say that Brad Pitt is your boss.

How can you describe your character Tom Hale?

Tom Hale is a guy who deeply values doing the right thing. But he is conflicted about himself, and is trying to find out who he is. He finds a lot of answers in his faith, and has taken on a leadership role in his community because of it. He has a past, though we haven’t yet seen the depths of Tom’s psyche in the show. And although he is striving to be a good human being and to find some kind of humanitarian altruism in his life and not just follow the impulses of his body, he is human and he struggles just like everyone else.

In which way did Tom’s life change, when he saw Jacob again?

Resurrection asks the question: what would you do if those whom you love who were dead and gone came back to you? Tom, like everyone, is looking for meaning in his life. When Jacob, his long-dead childhood friend, returns to him it makes Tom question everything he believes. Tom is a man of faith, he believes in a higher power and that there is more to this world than one can see with the naked eye. But he is, like all people religious or non-religious, a human being with human shortcomings and a very human struggle. That is the level I connected with Tom on the most – what makes a man who devotes his entire life to the service of others and the study of the human spirit tick? Here’s a guy who loses his best friend at age 8, becomes a Pastor, and is preaching the miracles of God for a decade. Suddenly, when Jacob returns and Tom comes face to face with a real miracle, he has trouble believing it’s true. This sends Tom into a total crisis of faith and he must rediscover who he is.

How was it like filming the scene in which Tom gets reunited with Jacob?

It is such a treat to work with Landon Gimenez, because he is so young and so natural. We were like best friends as soon as we met, so it was easy to shoot those scenes because I felt like I knew him. I also had all these memories of best friends I had when I really was 8 years old, and in a way I’ve lost many of them (because we’re not in touch any more). So it brought up all kinds of emotions to remember them all and put them all into the character of Jacob and play those scenes with Landon with all that emotional baggage attached. We have such great writers that it made my job easy.

 How did you prepare yourself to portray Tom?

I was very sensitive about representing Tom’s religious faith in a way that was respectful and accurate. I spent many hours in the homes of Christian pastors in Atlanta, playing golf together, discussing and questioning the nature of belief and the deeply personal meaning of faith. Because there is so much fervor over religious beliefs in our world, I felt uniquely qualified to play Tom because I don’t personally subscribe to any particular religious faith. I find meaning and truth in many different perspectives, religious and non-religious. Because of this, I felt I could approach the role without a vested interest in making one religion right or another wrong. Resurrection is really not about the dead or what happens in the afterlife – it’s really about what it means to be human, and to struggle with the ethical and moral questions that life throws at you. Jacob becomes the foil for each character’s deepest fears and greatest joys. And because of Tom’s vocation, he is able to emerge as a leader for his ruptured community. But through this, he still has to personally struggle with his own demons and find his own answers to the questions. I hope that one of the things people get from Resurrection is that, religious or not, nobody has all the answers. And that no matter our religious or spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof), in times of crisis we must all learn to come together as a human team and struggle through it together.

What is coming up for Tom in season 2?

We’re going to see Tom have to face some of his demons. See him come face to face with his religious beliefs and his sense of himself and he’s going to have to make true sacrifices in order to do what he believes is right. We’re also going to see Tom have to struggle between the two women he loves, and to try to do the right thing even though it may not get him what he really wants. And all hell is going to break loose, you can bet on that.

You also had a strong connection with music since you were very young, how was it like following that path too?

Music is a kind of language that can’t be spoken in words alone; it has to be sung because there’s too much emotion in it not to sing it out loud! I taught myself to play Beethoven when I was 10 years old and music became an essential way to experience myself and my feelings and to express what was inexpressible. In that way, it’s the same as acting (or any art form) in that it tries to be an avenue for something that is truly a secret for all of us – our feelings. I’ve been very lucky to get to play music with and for some amazing musicians and artists in my life, and I’m working on a third album at the moment, as well as playing gigs in Atlanta where we shoot Resurrection.

What can you tell us about your album “Signs of Life”?

Signs Of Life is my second album, released last year, and is all about love, loss and family. I had some incredible losses and also some amazing life brought into my life and I wrote about those things on this record. There are songs about how you can never go back to your childhood, never repair some of the damage done with your parents and how you acted without knowing any better with them. There are songs about violence and war and how they are both predicated on a lie – that violence and hate can eradicate itself where in reality they only serve to foster more hate. And some great upbeat songs about falling in love, choosing the one you’re with over anything else, and loving them no matter what. The first track on the album is about the media and how it is used dishonorably and how lies are perpetrated so easily now that everyone can write whatever they want online and it stays in the public record forever. That is something I feel very strongly about and I wrote about it very directly on the song I Won’t Do That.

Are you planning on recording another album soon? What would you like it to be about?

I am working on new material for a new solo album, and also working with a lot of other musicians on other projects too. Folks can always check out my music and goings-on on Itunes, Facebook and most easily at my website

Samantha Schuster