Spike TV's 'Blade' Carves Its Own Path

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Even in the relatively tight-lipped pantheon of action heroes, the character of Blade is a man of few words.

In three films starring Wesley Snipes, you could probably count with your fingers the number of times Blade strung more than two sentences together. That could pose a bit of a problem in translating the character to a TV series, but thankfully for Kirk "Sticky" Jones, who takes over the role in Spike TV's "Blade," the show's writers have opened the half-human, half-vampire avenger up a little.

Which is not to say that Blade will be sitting around discussing his feelings: "He's still a man of few words, but we're opening up the humor in him a little more," says Jones ("Over There," "The Shield"). "You know what I mean? He enjoys what he does."

And what Blade does is hunt and kill vampires, usually in a fairly brutal manner. Television budgets being what they are, the violence in "Blade," Spike's first original scripted series (it premieres at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday), isn't quite as operatic as in the movies. But Jones still gets to wield a fairly impressive arsenal and take part in numerous fight sequences.

Jones, who as a member of the rap group Onyx went by the name Sticky Fingaz, says the physical part of the role has come fairly easy to him. "I'm an athlete. I love it," he says. "The first time I got on a wire, everybody is like -- you know, I'm like four stories up. They're like, 'Are you okay?' I'm like, 'Are you kidding me? I love this thing. Let's do it again.'"

The series picks up after the conclusion of the "Blade" films, with Blade in Detroit and tracking a family of vampires that's deeply entrenched in the city's underworld. He's joined in his work by Krista Starr (Jill Wagner, "Junebug"), an Iraq war veteran who's returned home to find her twin brother murdered by vampires.

Whereas the "Blade" movies focused on the title character's quest to eradicate various vampire threats to humanity, the series will delve more into the inner workings of the vampire world. David Goyer, who wrote all three films and co-created the series, says the open-ended nature of a TV series allows for that kind of storytelling better than a feature film does.

"What the series is, in a weird way, is kind of like a 'Wiseguy' with vampires," says Goyer, who wrote the two-hour pilot with comics artist Geoff Johns. "Because Jill's character is kind of a double agent working for Blade, within the vampire community, and [we're] treating the vampires sort of like the ultimate crime family. Blade realizes at the beginning of the pilot that he's not making much headway just sort of hacking and slashing, that he needs to know more about their inner workings."

The show will explore his character's back story some; Jones says Richard Roundtree ("Shaft") will play his father. ("That was incredible," he says of working with Roundtree.)

Jones is not out to make people forget about the "Blade" movies, but he also wants to put his own spin on the character.

"I think it's more my own direction, but I have to incorporate some of what [Snipes] did," he says. "That's what people are familiar with, and you don't want to change it up drastically. You might want to change the seasoning a little bit, but you want the same meat."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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