Actor T.C. Matherne says that he really just lives in the moment – and who does not?
In the past year and a half, the indigenous Baton Rouge, who has just turned 30, has gone from photographing a Popeyes commercial to working with Hollywood heavyweight Sean Penn. In between, he is guest star on "NCIS: New Orleans" and will be shown next year on HBO & # 39; s "True Detective" and on the big screen in "Godzilla: King of the Monsters."
For now you can catch Matherne in the new Hulu streaming series & # 39; The First & # 39 ;, in which he plays Jason, the assistant of space program director Laz Ingram (Natascha McElhone). Winner of the Academy Award, Penn, 58, stars as astronaut Tom Hagerty in the fictional story that focuses on attempts to send the first manned mission to Mars.
Matherne appears in seven of the eight episodes of the season.
"It started, I think, as a smaller part than it eventually was," says Matherne. "I think I was only written in the first two episodes, so I went in for a week and the next week they called me back in, and then they called me again and called me again, and I ended up working for more than three months.
"I do not know what happened on their side of the writing room … but they kept writing things for me, which was great fun."
Matherne describes Jason as a bit different from himself.
"I'm a bit of a dirty guy, and Jason is more of a professional, wears the beautiful suits and he does his job very well," says Matherne.
The series has been recorded at various locations in New Orleans, including Lakefront Airport. Unlike other projects where the city is undergoing something else, "The First" holds New Orleans as New Orleans, Matherne says.
"I think it contains New Orleans in a very nice way."
Like the opening scene in which Tom (Penn) makes his daily trip across the dike. His apartment across the street overlooks the Mississippi.
"I was lucky enough to shoot a lot of things with Sean and he is great, he is so-and-so alone," says Matherne. "He is a very polarizing person, people love him or they hate him because of the stories they have heard, but literally every moment I spent with him, he was just a complete gentleman, he would find small places that are chocolates or something that kind of served and he would bring them for the cast and the crew, I was a big fan before, but I am even more so now, after working with him. "
Unlike Penn, acting was not the first calling of Matherne. After graduating from the LSU with a psychology study, a trip to Chicago to visit his uncle ended up pushing Matherne in a new direction.
"He gave me a ticket for an improvisation theater and for the first time I saw an improvisation comedy, and I fell in love with it, and I came home, packed my suitcases and moved to Chicago," he says. "I spent five years studying and performing in Second City, iO (Theater), all the big places up there and I really enjoyed it."
Back in Louisiana, 18 months ago, Matherne acquired an agent and started trading from there.
"I never really had the intention to do script work, but it turns out that my improvisation training has given me a head start on many people, because I have the ability to be very flexible," he says. "If a director comes to me with a note or some other way of doing something, I can just jump in. The hardest part for me about acting is remembering the rules."
And that degree of psychology?
"I think it helps me to have empathy for my characters, to put myself in that place."
Follow Judy Bergeron on Twitter, @judybergeronbr.