Macon-raised actor and musician Brad Carter will play the character John Stokes on “Ascension,” a new miniseries airing Monday night on the SyFy channel.
The science-fiction show takes place in 2014 aboard Ascension, an 80-story starship launched by the U.S. government in 1963 to transport hundreds of men, women and children through space on a century-long mission to keep the human race alive on the planet Proxima.
Nearly 50 years after its departure, the starship reaches full capacity, and passengers are rattled when a young woman becomes Ascension’s first-ever murder victim.
Stokes, played by the 41-year-old Carter, is a lower-deck class butcher who is described on the show’s website as impulsive and distrustful of the upper-deck class. There supposedly are no weapons on the ship, but Stokes is seen holding a gun in the show’s previews.
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“There’s some twists that I can’t tell you about,” Carter said. “Just know that my character has more going on than people give him credit for.”
This isn’t the first character Carter has played on a major TV network. He landed a role in Showtime’s “Dexter” as the first person whom serial killer Dexter kills in anger. He also appeared on “Bones,” “House,” “Criminal Minds,” “True Blood,” “CSI: New York” and other shows in addition to 28 commercials.
Earlier this year, Carter appeared in HBO’s “True Detective” alongside Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey.
Carter’s sister, Christy Drawdy, who watches all of his shows, said she’s excited to see him playing roles other than a dead-beat, a redneck or person who gets killed.
“I think this is going to be a step-out role for him, because it’s ... not like anything he’s ever done,” Drawdy said. “I want other people to see what he can do.”
Carter and his older sister grew up in Macon where his parents, David and Cindy Carter, still live. From the time he could stand, Carter said his father, a preacher, would have him perform in church skits and Christmas plays.
“I always knew I wanted to be an actor or a rock star, and I didn’t know how either one became a reality, you know, back before the Internet and everything else,” Carter said. As a junior at the now-closed Southeast High School, Carter met drama and English teacher John Jones, who now manages Macon Little Theatre.
“I sort of discovered Brad and asked him to come into the drama class,” Jones said. “Brad was kind of a class clown. (He was a) funny, somewhat angry young man, and I just thought he had a lot of personality. ... He was excellent in (improvisation). He had natural instincts.”
Carter said he had a lot of angst and anxiety in high school, but Jones was always there to listen and help.
“I really needed a teacher who cared,” Carter said of his time at Southeast. “There were teachers that cared, but there were a lot that didn’t. (Jones) was a beacon of light at a time when I really needed someone to understand.”
Carter visits Macon annually and meets Jones for lunch each time he’s in town.
“This guy not only has talent, but he’s got a depth of talent,” Jones said of Carter. “He’s an artist, he’s a photographer. ... He’s a musician, he does stand-up comedy at times. He’s a sculptor. I have some little wood carvings in my home that he’s done.”
It hasn’t been an easy road to success for Carter, who packed his bags and moved from Valdosta to Hollywood at age 29.
In 2009, the actor was diagnosed with benign essential tremor, a progressive neurological disease with no known cause or cure.
A video of Carter playing his guitar during a surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation went viral. After two surgeries, he said he’s improved.
Though Carter has landed major roles and gained a wide following, he said there’s still work to be done.
“The funny thing with acting is when you’re doing this, it’s hard to tell when you have made it,” Carter said.
“In my mind, I’m always working towards the next job or the next thing. I’m only as good as the last job that I did, and that’s kind of how it works here.”
If the miniseries is successful, the SyFy channel will make the show a full series, he said.