Exclusive Interview with SIX’s Nikolai Nikolaeff

Nikolai Nikolaeff plays The Prince on History Channel’s SIX, a show about an elite team of Navy SEAL’s and the things they do to protect the country. Nikolai recently chatted with us about what projects he is working on and even recommended a few shows for us to watch. Check out our chat below, and tune in for the season two premiere of SIX on Monday, May 28th!

Courtesy: A&E Networks. Photographer: Mitch Jenkins

Season two of SIX is premiering soon, and it looks like you’re the big bad. What can you tell us about your character, The Prince?

The Prince is mentioned extensively in series one. He is referred to by Dominic Adams’ character, Michael, a number of times. He’s basically the big, bad boss that you don’t get to see. That was very interesting to go back and watch the series and go, ‘oh, okay! There’s a precedent here, and big shoes to fill!’ There’s big expectations to fill, but you can’t really let that distract you. You have to trust the writers, and trust that they’ve written an amazing character for you to bring to life– which they did, in spades. In series two, everything about series one has been grabbed and injected with even more (laughs). It’s a bigger beast across the board, and I’m really excited to be part of that journey and bring the Prince to life. He’s a fully fleshed character. They haven’t held anything back with this guy.

I imagine season two will be very emotionally supercharged given the way season one ended.

Yes. It’s taken that and unrelentingly continued.

You’ve also got a movie coming out this summer called Mile 22, and got to work with some acting legends. What was it like working with Mark Wahlberg and John Malkovich, and to be around such big names?

You know, I can’t really talk much about Mile 22. I’m kind of a very mysterious character in it. I’m very excited about it, actually! (laughs) Peter Berg is the director, and he is a dude. I kind of went on going, ‘I don’t really know about this.’ The script is just epic, and very very complex. It reminded me of The OA. I actually had one of the best times on a set ever with Peter Berg. It’s his show, basically. He knows every inch of it, and a lot of it I imagine is in his head (laughs). A lot of people wouldn’t maybe know how to react to him and his direction, but I got on board. It’s a really cool feeling to be able to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other. For an actor, you’ve got to understand, I’m from Australia and I’ve been doing this for over twenty years now. It was a dream to be able to come over to the U.S. and work on some of the biggest films and stories out there.

So following my time on SIX, when I went to film Mile 22, I felt really at peace with myself. It was like ‘Yeah, I belong here!’ It enabled me to really be comfortable with being on a set and offering up some ideas. If they get taken and ran with, that’s awesome, and that’s exactly what happened on Mile 22. That’s going to be a very cool thing for me to see come to life. The cat and mouse games that are played, I think the audience is in for a treat.

Were you starstruck by Mark Wahlberg at all?

Funny thing. I play the nemesis, but at a distance (laughs)! What I’m trying to say is, I never actually met Mark (laughs)! I’m the guy on the other end of the phone call, basically. I got to do my stuff separately from him, and that’s why I’m very excited to see how it all meshes together. You would never know.

Like you said, you grew up in Australia. Before coming to the states to act, you were in a number of shows in Australia. Did you ever notice any differences in terms of storytelling between Australian television and American television?

Well, both are good (laughs). When I filmed Daredevil, that was one of the first times I got to see the protection of the story from the writers’ point of view. Marvel is a completely other beast with regard to staying true to the comic books. They’re also thinking of ten to fifteen other tie-ins at any one time with other projects, you know, how they overlap with the films and the TV series. It’s a very rich tapestry they’re weaving, so when we’re filming there, something that we may not even realize, like a simple throw-away line or a prop, could have huge implications for other things. I’d never dealt with that kind of stuff. It’s a little freer to a certain degree, but that’s what I think about Mile 22. Being able to offer up some ideas, and for the team to hear that, first of all, and then be like ‘Yeah! Actually, let’s try it. Let’s do one how we want and then do one how you’re suggesting!’ The beautiful feeling to me is when you’ve offered up something, and then it is implemented, then you see it on the TV later on. It’s a really satisfying feeling–or anybody in any industry–to be heard and acknowledged and embraced is really special.

You did mention The OA, earlier, which is coming back for season two in December. Have you filmed it yet? If so, what can you tease?

I have to be 100% honest with you. I can’t talk about it. I’m so sorry! How do I say this? Brit [Marling] and Zal [Batmanglij], the two creators of it, have crafted something truly special. I can’t even tell you if I’m part of season two, but I do know that the audience is in for a treat. Whatever season one was, grab that and expand the universe. It’s truly special. The audience is going to be very happy.

What are some things that you’re currently nerding about? What shows are you binging? What has your attention? 

I can’t really go through a day without getting my Vice News segment (laughs). I love being exposed to news stories like they bring. I think traveling is really important. My favorite quote is from the Red Hot Chili Peppers: ‘The more I see, the less I know.’ Vice News is a little window into what is going on on this planet, and I think it’s really important to know that.

In terms of drama stories, I watched Legion. I’ve got a couple of shows that I need to watch. It’s so funny, on my to-watch list for pretty much fifteen years now has been The Sopranos. I need to dedicate six months of my life and immerse myself in that epicness (laughs)!

Oh– Game of Thrones (laughs)! My wife just yelled that to me from the other end of the house. It’s annoying that they’re only coming out next year or something. Like really guys? Come on!

Whenever the new series is on, we pretty much watch everything because it’s so complex. You kind of forget about stuff. This is why I’m so excited to be in this position, there are very exciting projects in the pipeline. To be dealing with creators like the Game of Thrones guys–where they’ve embedded stuff in the first season that is only coming to fruition now–is very cool. I know the guys from The OA have done the same thing. There is stuff there that people don’t even realize.

Going back to SIX, are they as close of a cast as they are onscreen?

You know what? I have about fifty photos of me mucking around with them on set. It’s a little discombobulating because I’m the bad guy.

But that’s the beauty of the show, it kind of puts a microscope on the gray areas and the question of who is the bad guy? For those of you who have seen season one, Walton Goggins’ character and what he does in the first episode sets it up to say, ‘Oh, we’re not squeaky clean! We are responsible for our actions and the fallout from it.’

I spent a lot of time without those guys, but after hours, we got along. There’s a whole bunch of photos of us goofing around. It was a pleasure working with those guys. In fact, my wife keeps telling me we need to have them over for dinner soon. I think we’re going to do that before the premiere on May 28th!

Season 2 of SIX premieres Monday, May 28 at 10/9c. You can follow Nikolai on Twitter and Instagram.

Featured Photo: Photographer — Michele Thomas

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