‘Fallout’ Star Aaron Moten Talks Juilliard and Zoom Chemistry

Aaron Moten’s breakout role in the hotly anticipated “Fallout” series ultimately hinged upon the super-unnatural: bringing chemistry into a Zoom call with future costar Ella Purnell.

“We still joke about it,” Moten says of his and Purnell’s Zoom chemistry test, which for all its strangeness, must’ve gone well enough, as they were soon flown out to New York to step foot onto the sets.

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“They pulled the film camera out and it was like a skeleton crew of sorts, and they put us in wardrobe and makeup, and it felt like one of those old Hollywood stories where they made you walk on a set — it was really special,” he says.

Moten, who previously was best known for his role alongside Will Smith in 2022’s “Emancipation,” stars in the new Prime Video adaptation of the video game, which is set in a post apocalyptic world following the Great War of 2077. The Iceland-based actor (he fell in love with the country while visiting several years ago and made the move permanently right before the pandemic) plays Maximus, part of the Brotherhood of Steel, a character that is not in the video game, which allowed Moten some creative freedoms.

“I didn’t have to worry about doing the voice. I didn’t have to worry about nailing any kind of characteristics,” he says. “It felt like we could really tell the kind of story that we would want to see.”

He based Maximus in part on the character Cassius in “Julius Caesar.”

“[Cassius’] ambition is like a hungry dog, and things like that really got stuck in me about how to build this guy who’s been born in the wasteland,” he says of Maximus. “He’s always hungry for these things, and at the same time, he’s discovering himself and what he wants, but no matter what it is that he wants, there’s a tension to it, this starving for it, like a desperation.”

Aaron Moten on 'Fallout' series
Aaron Moten

Prior to joining the project, Moten had been a fan of films that explore alternate realities, citing “Dr. Strangelove” and “Planet of the Apes” as some favorites. He sees “Fallout” as a timely piece.

“There’s a lot of things that we’ve been going through, I think as a global society for the last five years, but it’s almost like I enjoy letting my mind go there, and I think that people maybe enjoy post-apocalyptic things for maybe the same reasons,” he says. “I always say, it’s like when I get in the car to drive, I usually think about getting in a car accident before I drive, and I feel like that’s the thing that’s preventing it from happening.”

Moten had been a sports kid growing up until a teacher approached him one day and asked him to read for a play. He later attended Juilliard, which is when he started to think of acting as a serious career path.

“Being at Juilliard, I found myself exposed and influenced by so many other artists. Jon Batiste was there with us at the same time, Adam Driver too. My classmates are still such an inspiration to me,” he says.

He can still remember the day that he was lying in his dorm room with a bad cold when a friend convinced him to go see a movie, promising it was supposed to be good. The film was “There Will Be Blood.”

“And that had a major influence on me,” he says. “I went back to school thinking, ‘Look, if you guys aren’t teaching me how to do what Daniel [Day-Lewis] does in that movie, I don’t know what this class is about.”

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