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What it's really like working with Timothy Dalton on Doom Patrol - Exclusive

From its wild comic book-driven plots to its unorthodox superhero visuals, Doom Patrol is a series that sticks out amongst the crowd for a variety of reasons. If the show has one secret ingredient, though, it's the ensemble cast at the heart of every story, led both narratively and spiritually by the legendary Timothy Dalton

As Dr. Niles "the Chief" Caulder, Dalton has lent his particular level of gravitas and power to two seasons of the show now, and his screen presence is particularly effective even after viewers learn that the Chief isn't as well-intentioned as he lets on. Near the end of season 1 of Doom Patrol, the team learned that Chief wasn't just a benevolent caretaker who'd offered each of them a home after their strange transformations. He was actually the scientific mind who engineered their transformations in the first place, as part of his own long-term experiments. What the members of the Doom Patrol thought were accidents were actually carefully orchestrated plots to make them into strange creatures.

In an exclusive interview with LooperDoom Patrol star April Bowlby — who plays Rita Farr on the DC Universe/HBO Max series — revealed what it's like to work with Dalton, as well as how the events of season 1 informed the entire cast's approach to shooting season 2. 

Going into Doom Patrol season 2

As Bowlby detailed, the Chief's betrayal is something that's still weighing heavily on the characters as season 2 begins. It was also, in some ways, weighing on the cast.

"Rita is pretty heartbroken about the betrayal of Chief, as the whole Doom Patrol is. So we're a very broken unit at this point. When we came into the first episode, it actually felt a little heartbroken," the actress shared with Looper. "The cast had arrived in Atlanta and it was this kind of reunion, but then we also were like, 'Okay, get back to work.' To have to start on an episode where everyone is so fractured, it actually took us a while to connect as a cast because our characters were so disconnected."

Bowlby continued, "I think that's really how we went into it. It's just taking the reality of what's happening in the script and then using what's around us to inform it. And I think because it had been a while since everyone saw each other, there was this natural disconnect. So I used that a lot."

Timothy Dalton is 'the most professional' guy in the room

Just as they fought through their own personal pain while also struggling against supervillains on season 1, the Doom Patrol experiences struggles from without and within during season 2. Even as they head back into action to battle characters like Red Jack (Roger Floyd), Doctor Tyme (Brandon Perea and Dan Martin), and the Candlemaker (Lex Lang), they're also battling each other at home over what to do about the Chief. He longs for forgiveness, but as the team tries to work through their issues both separately and together, they learn that letting go and moving on is sometimes easier said than done. 

Of course, this emotional story also means that Dalton — who spent much of Doom Patrol season 1 with his character missing in action — gets to play a bigger part in the ensemble for the second season. In discussing what Dalton's increased presence brings to the team dynamic of the show, Bowlby sung the screen veteran's praises — commending Dalton for his dedication not just to his own role, but also to getting the most out of his co-stars' performances.

"Timothy is such a professional. He is the most professional professional I've ever met," said Bowlby. "It was really fun to see him just work and admire his ability and stamina, because he can shoot 17-hour days, just with us. He's incredibly talented and he added so much. He's the actor that has been working 14 hours a day, they've shot his coverage and we need a reaction on the other actor and he'll stay. He's like, 'You need me here.' You're like, 'No, you can go.' And he's like, 'No, I'm going to stay.' He's that dedicated, and it really shows."

Bowlby added that her admiration of and respect for Dalton in real life makes it a bit difficult for her to hold a grudge against him while in character: "It's kind of hard to hate him as Rita because he's such a lovely human being."

Doom Patrol season 2 is now streaming on DC Universe and HBO Max. New episodes arrive every Thursday. The next episode, "Space Patrol," premieres on Thursday, July 16.