Joshua Sasse is a charmer, and he certainly has his finger on the pulse when it comes to his counterpart on Monarch.
He’s funny, thoughtful, and undeniably passionate about his craft, which made him a pleasure to interview.
Technically, we got to have dinner with the charming and easygoing family man, thanks to the time difference. And we got the bonus of his darling son joining the conversation too, and a top-notch Trace Adkins impression.
With so many secrets and bombshells on the hottest new primetime family soap, we were excited to pick the talented star’s brain about Luke’s scandalous affair, the investigation into Dottie’s death, whether or not Luke will have his time behind the mic, and much more!
Check out our conversation below!
Luke is a naughty boy, and there are so many delicious secrets on Monarch. What was your reaction when you read that Luke was having an affair with his sister’s wife?
Yeah, it was definitely a big curveball for the character.
It was something that we debated a lot with the writers and the producers. And when something like that happens, as an actor, you always have to try and do your best to empathize with the character and the decisions they make.
Personally, as an actor, I just had to come at it from the standpoint that humans are fallible beings. Characters aren’t perfect. People aren’t perfect. And that’s part of human nature. As an actor, that’s also part of the job to show that side of it. So I had to do my best to allow him to be fallible.
Yes. Forbidden love stories, of course, are very irresistible. What is about Kayla that has Luke risking so much just to be with her? Is it just lust, or does he really love her?
Yeah. I think he really loved her and still does.
As the season progresses, it’s something that’s a very difficult pull. It is hard because he’d been raised by his mother to be family-minded and business-minded. And this crosses every single one of those wires.
It was a difficult one the whole way through, if I’m honest. It was important for me because it wasn’t just a physical event for him. It was an emotional thing. And that’s what gave it credence, in a way. It wasn’t just him acting lustfully; there was more to it.
Absolutely. We find out that Kayla is pregnant, which is such a huge bombshell. What can you tell us about that storyline moving forward?
Well, it’s going to bring up so many questions. I mean, I can’t give away too many details.
Obviously, there are really big social, and especially with what’s going on today in America, big social and legal questions will stir up. The show and FOX are intentionally trying to be current with that.
And it’s going to leave a lot of questions hanging in the air, which I think is good for the viewing public to have a heartbeat to the show that’s concurrent with what’s happening in the world. Those are the questions that we’re going to be sort of asking.
Absolutely. Luke, of course, seems to be or was a mama’s boy a bit, and now Dottie is gone, and Luke appears a bit lost. So can you talk a bit about their dynamic? What was it like working with Susan Sarandon?
Yeah, it’s funny you ask that because it’s been 30 years, nearly to the day, since my father died.
It was a long time ago.
But it’s prevalent in how a child never gets over the loss of a parent. Luke (and his sisters) –you’re going through so much quickly.
When you run a business, and your mother is a part of that business, your ability or time to grieve is set back and set to one side. And I think that’s the big thing that Luke’s playing with is that, of course, there’s all this stuff going on internally as it is with Nicky.
They’re trying to work and figure out how to get along at the same time as doing it.
It’s particularly difficult for Luke because his relationship with his father is so fractious, and he doesn’t understand that dynamic. He’s so desperate for his love, which, I think all of us have a parent that maybe we get a little bit more from in terms of love and that physical stuff. So it’s a real challenge for him to have that loss and still maintain his status.
Yeah, and speaking of Albie, I was just going to ask you about that very contemptuous relationship between the two men. But there’s also I believe he said a line at some point that he may not always know how to show it, but he does love Luke. What more can we expect from that relationship moving forward this season?
Look, I think that’s a real volcano that’s sort of rumbling and exploding as we go along because I think that’s exactly the point.
And what we’re trying to display in that culture is the ability or inability for men to show their emotions, even though especially with Albie being such a good example of somebody who has emotions clearly run really deep and is able to put that into song and put that into his art, but isn’t able to display it with the people that are closest to him.
Even when he loses his wife, he still doesn’t know how to show it to his children. As an artist, I think that’s a really interesting area to try and explore because there aren’t definitive answers, and it’s something that we all go through. So as the season unfolds, it’s something that builds and builds and builds. It’s a real sort of pregnant problem.
We have Luke making some discoveries about Dottie’s death. Can we expect some more tension between him and Nicky? Because it seems like they both know a bit about each other’s secrets. They have a lot going on. What can we expect from that?
Yeah, that all really comes to a head. There’s a lot that they don’t know as well. That’s kind of coming up in the next three to four episodes that they’re both going to discover.
What she knows and he knows will start overlapping, and that all kind of comes to a head as well. The writers try to do this sort of Jenga Tetris-like puzzle of plot. Just as one thing’s unraveling, another happens. We’re going to see how these siblings do or don’t bind together with all the stuff that’s being thrown at them.
It snowballs throughout the season. If you think it’s complicated now, it’s going to get bigger. [Laughs]
That sounds very exciting! Now, I would imagine Luke would start feeling a bit more conflicted as time goes on, he’s chasing after the truth about Dottie, but he’s aware it could reflect poorly on his family. Does conflict arise with Luke trying to protect his family and trying to know what that truth is?
I think that’s why Dottie was so intent on him having control of the business, because if he has that strength as his main thoroughfare internally, then it affects his decision-making for everything else.
And there’s going to be this conflict with if what he thinks is happening is happening, what’s he going to do? Because he’s been given the mantle for the business and the control of the family, which affects everybody’s life. What’s he going to do with the information? If he acts on it, he could potentially destroy his family, but his family is his work.
I can’t reveal anything because that’s kind of coming up in the next couple of episodes. But that is the really big problem.
And I think that’s probably, or at least that’s what we’re going to find out why Dottie gave him all this power that the rest of the family don’t know about yet. And how he wields that power is really telling about his character. We’ll find out in the next couple of episodes.
That’s interesting. It feels like he needed something of an edge because he feels like the outcast of the family a bit, presumably because he’s not as musically inclined as the others. Are we not going to see you singing at any point this season?
Oh, no, I wouldn’t say that.
I think we’ll find out later in the season, but the decision for Luke to go to business school and Ivy League universities to take that path wasn’t that he couldn’t do it. It was that it was a conscious decision of his mother that somebody needed to because Albie wasn’t going to do it, and she knew neither of her daughters was.
It was a constant decision because she knew Luke was smart and he had the brains to do it. She pushed him, and we’ll find out later whether that was something he was copasetic with or not.
And certainly, Albie wasn’t, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have that in him because, as the CEO, he constantly has to judge talent, and he’s around it all the time, so he knows what’s good and what isn’t. It doesn’t mean that he can’t do it. It’s just that running a business is a full-time job.
But it’s something that, and we’ll put it this way, the door’s not closed.
Amazing. I can’t wait to see that. What exactly attracted you to this role? It’s such a fun series. A very different one from a lot of things we’ve seen currently on the air right now. But how did you get drawn into this role?
I’ve never played a character like like Luke before. There’s a side of him that is really straight, and that enticed me because I like having a challenge.
The big challenge with Luke is how you play that problem with the mother and father. If you’re really needy as a son, that emasculates you in a way. I have never done anything like this before, and I always try and pick roles that are divorced from something that I’ve done before so that it’s a new experience, and then I can challenge myself.
So that’s one thing. But I’ve never played a suit or anything similar, and there’s a control and level-headedness there. And also, the family thing was enticing to me because being a middle child and having it come from all angles was something I’ve never done before. I’m the youngest.
Oh, lucky you.
Yeah. So I got a very different upbringing. It just all felt like new territory. And it’s something that I hadn’t explored yet, and that was appealing to me.
And on top of that, I love acting in a different accent is an enormous challenge, so that was just really appealing to me. When doing a character in a different accent, your ability to play nuance is naturally impeded.
The timbre of your voice and the cadence of your speech patterns completely change, so you’re not just taking on a character; you’ve got to take on a culture at the same time. I find that challenging, and I sort of relish it. The last three jobs I’ve done have all been in different accents. It’s a lovely extra string to it that fires me up.
You do it so well!
Well, I hope so. Because if you don’t, that fourth wall is broken down.
As we were filming, Trace didn’t know I was English for the first month. He said, “Wait a minute, you ain’t from West Texas? I don’t understand.” I won’t swear, but Trace said something along those lines but with a couple of curses in there.
[Laughs] I can only imagine! You did a very good Trace impression, too.
I need to go about four octaves lower.
I know his voice is just so deep and gravelly!
It’s unbelievable. It literally shakes the glass.
Do you have any final teases for the season or final thoughts you can share with us?
I’m not really sure what I’m allowed to say without getting a phone call from FOX saying, what are you doing?
As the season progresses, we’ll slowly be leaving the wake of Dottie’s death and start moving into the next chapter of how they take the business to the next level.
And for Luke, it’s him choosing a new direction for the company. And we’ll see where the midseason changes because of the decisions that he’s making. It’s that power shift of how Nicky’s fame, she’s controlling the media, and how Luke is controlling the actual steering of the ship. And that’s all I can say, maybe a crumb of an easter egg.
You can catch Joshua Sasse as Luke Roman in Monarch Tuesdays at 9 /8c on FOX. If you missed anything, you can watch Monarch online here via TV Fanatic.
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Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.