‘Incorporated,’ ’24’ Star Dennis Haysbert: ‘We Are Nosediving Into This Dystopian World’

Dennis Haysbert photographed by Terence Patrick.
Terence Patrick for Variety

After key roles in “24” and “The Unit,” Dennis Haysbert returns to series television in Syfy’s new dystopian drama “Incorporated,” about a world altered by climate change. Haysbert spoke with Variety about the show, which was created by brothers David and Àlex Pastor and executive produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Also on tap for Haysbert are several films, including the Warner Bros. comedy “Fist Fight,” with Christina Hendricks and Ice Cube.

How did you get involved with “Incorporated”? 

They offered it to me, and I enjoyed the script. I saw growth potential in it. And I liked the pedigree — I knew that it was going to be a quality project. I love sci-fi; I was excited about that. My character, Julian, is a detective, a grand inquisitor.

What kind of developments can we expect from Julian? 

I think you can safely say that there’s an evolution of Julian through the rest of the season; every episode you learn something different about him. I’ll get into spoiler alerts if I go any further.

What makes the show compelling, given our current environmental and political climate? 

Just that. We are nosediving into this dystopian world as we speak. And if we’re not careful, we’ll be submerged in it.

When you started your career, did you have any role models?

Almost too many to name. On my wall, along with my favorite football players and baseball players, I had Marlon Brando and Sir Laurence Olivier. These were childhood idols. When I was 10 years old, I realized what I wanted to do. I had no idea who these guys were at the time — I just really enjoyed watching them. I also liked Montgomery Clift.

What was your first role? 

I knew I wanted to act since I was 10, but I didn’t actually start acting until I was in high school. My favorite play was “Lilies of the Field.” I grew up in Northern California, and theater is all there was. I didn’t know how to go about starting a career when I was 10. I used to get really jealous of Ron Howard as Opie on “The Andy Griffith Show” — we were the same age. I would just think, “God, that little kid can work and I can’t!”

What you didn’t know about Dennis Haysbert

AGE: 62 HEIGHT: 6’5″ BIRTHPLACE: San Mateo, Calif. SECRET TALENT: Certified deep-sea diver FIRST HOLLYWOOD ROLE: CBS’ “Lou Grant” (1978)