Stephen Bishop plays a loving husband to his on-screen wife Madison in Til Death Do Us Part. Bishop’s character takes an unpredictable turn that puts viewers in a shocking experience.
ATM: Do you believe what a child experiences in their childhood affects how they maneuver throughout their adulthood? Meaning they mirror the same behavior seen in their household.
SB: The way I look at life in general: children are born as blank data cards. The parents are in charge of programming the data cards. The person is only going to turn out as good as their programmer. If while they are being programmed, they see violence and see this is the only outlet for frustration, then that is going to be programmed into their psyche at some level in my opinion. So, it is going to be there. It is either going to realize as the wrong thing later in life, suppressed, or it is going to manifest into the child’s adulthood. This is what it is programmed to do. This is one of the default settings of what they see growing up. It is hugely impactful and influential what the child sees in the household growing up and what is programmed into the child’s date card.
ATM: How would you perceive the character’s perception and the idea of a marriage?
SB: Everyone is one of their best behavior in the beginning. It is the honeymoon stage. This person does not trigger any of their insecurities or tendencies to lash out. Once the honeymoon stage is over, they are immersed in a living environment for an extended amount of time. These things start to become more agitated. You are living with someone who only has the lash out program, and this is when that happens. Madison became submissive because he has a domineering leader personality. She fell into the position of “I am just going to follow the lead”. When she questioned him and his leadership, this is when it triggered his insecurities and his default setting. He ended up lashing up.
ATM: What do you believe your character’s idea on love was regarding connecting it with another woman?
SB: He has a good idea of what love is, and he truly loves Madison. He is fully in love with her at the beginning of the movie. He is doing everything he can to make her happy and make her feel she is the queen of his world. He does not have any real perception of it, but I think he has problem-solving issues. Because of his experience as a child, he only saw one way to solve this problem. Remember the conversation he had with Malik Yoba’s character; my character is a control freak. He is in control of everything in his life. When something shows him that he is losing control, he only has one program that he can click on, and this was the lash out of the program. He does not have any other resource.
ATM: What were your mental techniques to embody this character while reading the script?
SB: I did not think about any techniques. I allowed myself to go into the darkest recesses of my personality. Everybody has darkness in them. Things are balanced by light and dark. We do a great job of suppressing our dark side because they are not sociologically acceptable. We all have them. I gave myself permission to go to the dark side and let the dark side live on the surface for this time. Not knowing it would be more difficult to get out of than I anticipated. I let my dark demons live on the surfaces of these moments. I had to expose raw nerves and keep them on the surface. I did not go fighting people on the street. I was on edge and irritable. It took me a couple of weeks to come down from this.
ATM: What can a person take from this roller coaster ride that your character pulls on?
SB: The viewers can take the perceptive of never knowing what kind of demons someone is dealing with under the surface. Their life may look to be perfect, and they may look to have everything in order with their ducks in the row. Underneath this, there is a cauldron of insecurities, vulnerability, and anger brewing that one thing could set off. Do not think because someone’s grass looks green that there are no problems. Michael had a very good life that most men would aspire to have. He has a great job, beautiful wife who was about to have a child. He still has the darkness. You never know what someone else is going through.
It is good for everybody to be kind, attentive, and empathetic to each other. We need to see how we can make people’s lives happier and not agitating and pushing buttons. Also, hating and antagonizing. There is a lot of antagonizing going on in the climate we are going living in right now. A lot of people because of their social media platforms are afforded the luxury of talking shit to people that they think is going to be any consequence. You do not know where that agitation will take that person in real life. The cat is way out of the bag. My one voice is not going to stop people from antagonizing on social media. It is a good idea to be aware of what the repercussion could be.
ATM: What is your character’s sort after taking on happiness?
SB: If it looks good on paper, then you should be happy. You have a beautiful house; you have beautiful clothes, beautiful wife, then you should be happy. The way he relates to Madison “Look at all I have done for you. You are not happy. Are you serious? How could you not be happy? Look at your life?” This is not everything, but this is his take on it.