by Anthony Picerno
Talking With Triphammer: Power Within
Sony Playstation’s original scripted show, “Powers” has become a smash hit, combining elements of superhero, police procedural, and crime noir storytelling. Here to discuss the many layers of the show is Andrew Sensenig, who plays the character of Triphammer.
DARK COMEDY PRODUCTIONS:
“How would you describe Triphammer at his core, and how were you able to reach that core in your performance?”
“I was so drawn to the character because he is the true wounded warrior. I remember having a wonderful conversation about him with Charlie Huston, one of the creators of the show. He basically said, ‘Triphammer is a guy who was eleven or twelve years old and got beat up in school. He was kind of a little nerdy kid. And when he got beat up, he went to the library and picked up some books on fighting. Then he went back and kicked those kids’ butts. But then the next summer he was at the beach and some big bully came along and kicked sand in his face…so he went to the library got some books and learned martial arts, and came back and kicked the crap out of that guy.’ And this continues to where Triphammer is the guy who will get beaten down, but when he comes back, he is a bigger, better version—so at our level of Powers now, you’re almost looking at Triphammer version 2.9.
Ironically, in the comics, Triphammer is not a double amputee. So they made the decision in the show to go in a different direction where Triphammer has lost his right leg and left arm…but because he’s a genius scientist and has all the money in the world, he’s able to go back and create new body parts as well as new machinery to go out and fight that next battle. And yes, in most of those battles, he gets the living crap knocked out of him. BUT he goes back and is able to design something new and come back again. I feel that he’s one of the greatest comic book heroes on TV right now because his entire life is devoted to giving honor to the wounded warrior and showing that nothing can hold us back. You can knock us down but when we come back you better be ready. And it’s such an amazing delight to play a guy like this.
“What do you hope fans will notice or take away from the show and apply to real life?”
“There are many of the trailers that say ‘Power lies within.’ And maybe that is the ultimate message, is that we all have a power. But you need to connect with it and believe in it. And you need to have faith that that power can show itself. That it can come to the surface and do whatever it’s supposed to do whether if that’s to save people, or to bring people together.
Season one is good, [I was] very excited to be a part of that. But season two will really surprise people. It’s different tone, different feel—very much more in your face action. I’m extremely happy that Sony greenlit a second season because it’s going to be the one to tell people that the series works, and makes sense.” There’s that underlying internal message that we all have superpowers, but it’s also just a really fun, entertaining show.
“Being that this is the first original scripted TV series on the Playstation Network, has that had any influence on the series?”
“Well, for one thing, every electronic you see has a Sony label on it [laughs]. The show itself is really fun, and the fact that it’s on Playstation gives them complete freedom to do what they want—mixing super powers with NYPD blue, putting superheroes in a cop show...I’d be lying if I said it’s not incredibly exciting and flattering to be part of the very first original program on the Playstation Network.
The heads of programming are really wonderful people. They’re really helpful, they really care about production. You’d be amazed at how Sony executivess show up on set to stay in touch with the actors and the crew. It means a lot to them—I can understand that, it is their first show, it’s in their best interest to make this really work. I think they probable picked one of the best properties out there, that puts comic book superheroes into cop show and dealing with celebrity status.
From what I hear, Sony has been really helpful—but they don’t sit down in the writers room and tell people what to do. They really give them entire freedom, saying ‘This is your show, make it happen.’ On other shows, you can sometimes tell when the network has their hand heavily involved, or if they’re just on the outside watching. It appears, from my point of view, that this is a really nice balance.
“Total hypothetical. In your honest opinion, if super powers existed in real life, how close to reality would the show be?”
“It works [in today’s world], dealing with autopsies and then you add the whole concept of the celebrity status that goes on. Which cracked me up, because I remember reading one of the first scripts and thinking ‘Oh my God, all these super heroes have managers.’ They have talent agents! Because it brings so much into today’s world…just imagine if Superman really existed, he superman needed to check with his manager before he can do an interview. But in the meantime, he can still go to Mars and kill some aliens and bring back new life or something [laughs].
I can answer this honestly…but then the executives might have to send me to a psychiatrist [laughs]. I believe these super powers do exist right now. It’s not necessarily a person that holds out their hand and stops a train—but what if you’re somebody that goes over and stops a two year old boy who’s in the grocery store and can’t find his mom and he’s crying. And you stop and you’re able to help him get rid of those tears, and make him feel comfortable and secure when you pick him up and go around to aisle six where mom’s next to the coffee, and she says “Johnny where’ve you been?” and you connect them again. That’s a real super power.
So while not as explicit as a superhero that’s dodging a bullet—I think underneath everything we’re seeing in a show like Powers, I think it all exists right now. And the same as when we talked earlier, that same message of “are you able to connect with it?” There’s so much within ourselves that we’re sometimes scared to connect with. Sometimes we don’t understand it, sometimes we’re afraid other people are going to laugh at us…but if you connect with that internal power, who knows, it’s limitless. You really have no idea until you start using your powers.
“How are you like Triphammer and how are you different?”
“I’m very much like Triphammer in that I will not quit until I’ve achieved what I want. All the way back to my mother telling stories of me at two years old…and I was just starting to talk, I’d be working to put a little train together and couldn’t. I picked one up threw it at the wall and think, ‘shit, shit, shit, shit’ but then I’d go over to the wall and pick up the train, and work on it again. But it wouldn’t work again, and I’d throw it at the wall again and think ‘shit shit shit’….and I’d do that until I finally got it done. And to this day, my wife laughs, she knows if I start something I’m not stopping until it’s done, until I achieved what I set out to do. And [like Triphammer,] I get beaten down along the way. Some people call it inspirational, influential, some people call it OCD [laughs].
I want to explore Triphammer more this season because one thing we wonder is if Triphammer is emotional, or a lover so to speak. Personally, I’m very much a hugger, toucher, encourager—I wanna talk to people and know what I can do to help them, what we can do to have a better day…I think that’s in Triphammer but his ultimate goal is ‘I have to save the world and nothing will stand in my way.’ So I’m personally hoping the writers come up with an episode or two where we get to look at Triphammer and see him more personally.
The thing that encourages me the most is the ability to reach our disabled family members, US, worldwide, and all their wounded warriors. If I have to go in five hours early to get ridiculous makeup on and artificial arms and legs and things, I just think about the guys that live like this every day. I think, what can we do to help them, what can we do to make them say, ‘I’m a super hero. And I know that what I’ve done changes lives and everything I’ve suffered through, I’m still—I am a superhero.” I really hope within powers we can reach the demographics where people can say how cool it is that we see a double amputee get beaten down every time but dammit he comes back every time bigger and better. And at the end of the day, tell your friends, “Don’t mess with Triphamme, because he is not playing around.”
Following the success of the first season of Powers, the show has been renewed for a second season, which will air in 2016