Newsarama have an in-depth interview with Knight Rider‘s Paul Campbell, who plays Knight Industries tech Billy Morgan. Whether it’s his character’s natural comic relief or Campbell’s own off-screen persona, Billy has already become a favourite with fans and the network alike — the Official Website has unveiled a blog by the character, in which he reveals his life “behind the episodes” and interacts with the audience.
“The most challenging part of playing Billy is often understanding what he’s talking about,” chuckles Campbell. “He deals with many of the show’s technological aspects, and I’m not a computer guy by any means. However, I end up spouting off this sort of techno-talk, and when I initially read a script I have no idea what I’m even talking about. So I spend a great deal of time asking loads of questions and trying to figure out what all this stuff means. That’s the only way I can memorize my lines and speak them in a convincing manner. After all, if you don’t know what you’re saying, then it might as well be in another language.
“So that’s definitely the most challenging part of my job. The rest of it is just playtime. That’s one of the beautiful things about coming onto a show with a team of people that are willing to let [the creative process] be collaborative and give the actors their space to do what they want, within reason, of course,” he jokes. “That’s an ideal situation and what we have here on Knight Rider. When you spend 15 hours a day with people, eventually you’re going to get pretty close to them. They say there’s always one rotten apple, but, truthfully, we don’t have one of those. Everyone is really enthusiastic and working their butts off.”
He remains in awe of Knight Rider‘s centrepiece set. “Once you walk inside the studio, the K.I.T.T.Cave, specifically, is just monstrous,” he says. “It takes up the entire floor and has a rotating gimbal in the center. They had to bring excavators in to dig out the pit in order to install the gimbal. I mean, you drive K.I.T.T. onto this thing and it rolls the vehicle around spherically. You can’t help but be impressed by the time, money and effort that went into building a set as detailed as this one. It’s great to start a new job and immediately feel like you’re in good hands and have the support of whoever is putting the money into [the show] because that doesn’t always happen.”
Most of his scenes are confined to the SSC, but as Newsarama conducted their interview he had been filming on location for the upcoming episode Knight of the Zodiac, in which he gets to go on the road with Mike. Campbell enjoys playing up the differences between the two characters. “I liken the relationship between Michael and Billy to that of Fight Club, a la Ed Norton’s and Brad Pitt’s characters,” he says. “To me, Michael Traceur is everything that Billy wishes he was. He’s the charming, good-looking action man to my character’s somewhat nebbish, awkward geekiness. They’re really good friends, but polar opposites as well, which results in some amusing interplay between the two. I actually read for the role of [Mike] in the TV movie. It was one of those auditions that I really dragged my feet on because I knew just from reading the casting breakdown that there was no way I’d get the part. I went in, though, reluctantly, and needless to say it didn’t go well. However, I later got a call to come back in and read for the young boy genius, Billy Morgan. They were looking for someone with comedic timing and I thought, ‘Hey, I can do that.’ I was the first person to go in and read for the part, and they phoned a couple of days later and said, ‘We’d like you for the job,’ and that was that.”