Lee Pace returns to television in a very different role from his Pushing Daisies character, who made pies and temporarily brought people back from the dead. In AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, he will try to clone an IBM personal computer to help boost the sales of his new company and prove his worth in the emerging computer world of the early 1980s.
Here’s what you should know about Pace‘s transition out of the bakery and into the Wild West of technology.
1. Pace’s Character Takes on IBM
Pace’s Joe MacMillan joins Cardiff Electric with a plan to boost the company’s sales by reverse-engineering — essentially cloning — the IBM PC. The visionary salesman enlists a down-on-his-luck computer engineer and a young female coding prodigy to help him create a personal computer that is twice as fast and half the price of IBM’s model.
Pace tells Indiewire what his character wants and the sacrifices he’s willing to make:
What does Joe MacMillan want to do? He wants to build you an awesome computer, and no where in that game plan does it mean I have to make friends with anyone. No where in that game plan does it mean I have to validate you.
— Halt and Catch Fire (@HaltAMC) May 23, 2014
2. Pace’s Mother Didn’t Like the First Computers
The personal computers of the late ’70s and early ’80s didn’t do much but compute simple programs. Pace’s family owned one of these early models in 1983, and his mother was not impressed (much like the kids above) with the machine that would eventually change the world, he tells Indiewire:
I’ve got this great picture of my mom with an Atom Osbourne computer, which is one of the first portable-ish computers. Came out in ’83. I’ve got this great picture of [her] sitting by it trying to type in a program [...] and she was convinced it was a waste of money and a fad. That’s the real thing: Does anyone really want to buy these things?
— Halt and Catch Fire (@HaltAMC) May 25, 2014
At age 34, Pace is the same age his father was in 1983 when the show takes place. “To really respond to the world he’s living in is such an interesting opportunity,” he tells Vanity Fair about the coincidence.
3. MacMillan Succeeds Don Draper & Walter White
The curtain has fallen or will fall soon on AMC’s greatest antiheroes Walter White and Don Draper, and now Pace’s Joe MacMillan will carry the burden of following in their footsteps. He may be more evolved than his network counterparts, though, according to Indiewire:
He’s not Don Draper. He’s too driven. His life has meaning, and it’s directly connected to this business. Just because we don’t know why doesn’t mean he doesn’t, marking a key personality alteration between Joe and Don — Joe’s not lost. He knows exactly what he’s doing and is willing to risk it all to accomplish it.
— Halt and Catch Fire (@HaltAMC) May 17, 2014
Pace’s co-star Mackenzie Davis, who plays Cameron Howe, also distances their show from AMC’s mothership program:
I think until the first episode airs there are obviously going to be comparisons [...] but as soon as you see the show it’s nothing like ‘Mad Men’ visually, aesthetically.
4. Pace Is Onboard for a ‘Pushing Daisies’ Revival
Pace came to fame in the short-lived but beloved ABC series Pushing Daisies in 2007. He played Ned the pie-maker who had a gift for bringing people back from the dead. The show was canceled after two seasons, but creator Bryan Fuller has been in talks recently with Warner Bros. and director Barry Sonnenfeld to revive the series as a movie or Broadway musical, according to Variety.
Whichever way they do it, Pace tells Vanity Fair he’s happy to bring his character Ned back to life:
I’d do anything for Bryan. He’s such a great guy. … I’ll always have a soft spot for Ned and Chuck. I absolutely fell in love with Anna Friel, so I would love any opportunity to look into her eyes again.
5. He Plays Villain Ronan the Accuser in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’
Since the cancellation of Daisies, Pace has co-starred in a number of big films like Lincoln, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and the Hobbit franchise. His next big screen role will come in this summer’s Marvel superhero flick Guardians of the Galaxy as the villain Ronan the Accuser.