LOS ANGELES, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Damson Idris said the fourth season of his FX drama, Snowfall, which premieres Wednesday, will test audiences' loyalties. Idris said he expects his character, drug dealer Franklin Saint, to lose sympathies.
"This season is all about choosing sides," Idris told UPI in a Zoom interview. "Who really is the villain? Is it the CIA? Is it Franklin? Is crack the villain? Is money the villain?"
The series follows Franklin, who began selling marijuana in his Los Angeles neighborhood in 1983 and quickly moved up to crack. Season 4 picks up in 1985 when Franklin has a thriving organization.
CIA agent Reed Thompson (Carter Hudson) supplies Franklin with drugs, and the agency uses the profits to fund Contras. Idris believes that Thompson, rival gang leaders Manboy (Melvin Gregg) and Skully (De'Aundre Bonds) or Franklin's friend and partner Leon (Isaiah John) could win Snowfall audiences over.
"These are people that you really do root for," Idris said. "For that reason, as an audience member, you're torn."
The 29-year-old Idris likened Franklin to James Gandolfini's Sopranos character, Tony Soprano. Even though Franklin had dealt drugs and committed murder, audiences identified with him in Snowfall's first three seasons.
Season 4 may be the point where Franklin goes too far, Idris said.
"We don't create villains and we don't create antiheroes," Idris said. "We create actual people who are making decisions for valid reasons."
Snowfall continues this season without creator John Singleton, who died of a stroke April 28, 2019, while Idris was filming Episode 8 of the third season.
Singleton had discussed testing the audience's loyalties with Idris. The actor sees Season 4 fulfilling Singleton's vision.
"That's exactly what John wanted," Idris said. "He wanted to show these characters in their beauty, but also show them in their ugliness."
Idris added that even Franklin's antagonists have positive motivation. Drugs are a means to an end for Skully and Manboy.
"These are people who wish to provide for their families and who are embarking in horrific things because of the situation that they're being put in," Idris said. "They're not mad witch doctors in a lab wishing to destroy the world."
At the end of Season 3, Franklin survived being shot by Melody (Reign Edwards) in retaliation for Franklin killing her father. Franklin now walks with a cane, and Idris said his character struggles with his vulnerability.
"In Season 4, we find him a lot more broken compared to the previous seasons," Idris said. "He's literally trying to piece the pieces of his spirit back to life."
While Franklin was recovering, Leon took over the drug trade. Now that he has a taste for power, Leon might not be satisfied working under Franklin anymore.
"Leon and Franklin, of course, are best friends first, but money tends to bring the darkness out in people," Idris said. "It's interesting to see their relationship spiral out of control."
Violence continues to ensue in Season 4. Snowfall viewers will see another shootout in the second episode, which Idris said was visceral to film behind the scenes.
"I was dealing with the pain of being shot previously three times and that fear of being shot again," Idris said. "The gunfire, the cars, the lighting, everything made you feel like you really were in the '80s in a shootout."
Only two years have passed in the story of Snowfall, which premiered in 2017. Those two fictional years have shown a monumental change in Franklin, Idris said.
"When we first met Franklin, he was really green and always 10 steps behind," Idris said. "In four seasons, Franklin has gone from a wimpy kid to the ultimate boss."
The show continues to address real-world historical events, such as the Reagan presidency and Iran-Contra affair. These events precede Idris's lifetime. Idris said he was aware of recent American history while growing up in the U.K., thanks to movies like Singleton's Boyz n the Hood.
"I was definitely aware of South Central and many of the horrible conditions those people had been in before I had to portray it on screen," Idris said.
Idris said he and producers are discussing how far into the '80s or early '90s they can take Franklin.
"Personally, I would love to see it go all the way up until 1991 -- the year this amazing actor by the name of Damson Idris is born," Idris said.
Snowfall returns Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST on FX. Episodes debut on Hulu Thursdays.