Rick Yaeger: Wow. I don’t know what to say, people. I’ve said this before, but these people inspire me. I tweeted this out right away, and I said,
WOW!! I just had a chat with my long lost brother @AlimiBallard . Follow this man. It will do you good.
— Rick Yaeger (@RickMacMerc) March 28, 2013
I hope after watching this interview, you’ll understand why you should follow him. He is a wonderful man. That’s all there is to it. Check it out.
OK. My guest today played David Sinclair for six seasons on the show Numb3rs.
Alimi Ballard: Get down. Get down. Get down.
Rick: Has also been in “Fast Five” and provided the voice of the superhero Falcon on more than one occasion. Ladies and gentlemen, Alimi Ballard . Welcome.
Alimi: All the little kids say “hey!”. “Hey!” How are you guys doing? Thanks for having me.
Rick: Oh, man. Thanks for coming on. Tell the folks what you’ve been up to. I know you from “Numb3rs,” one of my favorite shows ever.
You know we blew up the world, made $600 million, you know what I’m saying?
They gave me my $85, you know what I’m saying?
I think they owe me some checks? But it’s cool. It did really good.
Rick: Not for you, but… [laughter]
Alimi: I got a few dollars.
Alimi: It’s an awesome flick. It’s, for me, one of the best in the franchise. The new one is out. I’m not in that one, but “Fast & Furious 6” is out. But Five is awesome. If you haven’t got a chance to see it, The Rock, Vin Diesel, I’m in it a couple, it’s really pretty cool. I really, it was my first really major action movie I did right after “Numb3rs” ended. You’re kind of like, “Oh my god, what am I going to do next?” That was one of the first things I did and I loved it. Oh my god, it was a blast. We shot for three months around the world and I loved everything about it.
Rick: Well, talking about shooting around the world, you did TV, which is one kind of production. Then you go to a movie, a major motion picture, with money behind it.
Alimi: You mind? Can I weigh in on that?
Rick: Yes, please do.
Alimi: It’s astounding to see money, people that have money to burn, burn it in front of you. It’s nothing to watch someone throw a perfectly good, expensive car off a bridge. It makes you go, “Oh, that car works.” [laughter]
I mean, like, hundreds of millions of dollars. But the product happened to be great. It wasn’t a waste. What you see, a big, you see big money in action. It’s weird. I’m going on TV. You think you’ve got a lot of money. Our episode’s going to be great. They’re like, “Man, listen. This whole movie is going to cost like $300 million.” You’re like, “What?” And to watch it happen.
You need like 200 stunt guys, the best in the world, flipping cars, motorcycles. It was extraordinary. I’m a real American like that. When it blows up, I get excited. You know what I mean? That’s not good, but I love to see it go boom. I grew up in the “Die Hard” generation. That’s my favorite movie of all time, “Die Hard.” I can watch it every day of the week, it always sucks me in. Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, just greatness.
And so, I had a ball. I loved it.
Alimi: Well four. There’s four.
Rick: Four? And they all start with three letters, and it’s like… [laughter]
But this one had the balls to make math and statistical patterns a character.
Rick: It was kind of like the Hannibal Lecter. The team is like dangerously asking for help.
Alimi: It was just very original in that respect. What I found fascinating, Rick, was that it’s based off something real. A few years back there’s a group of bank robbers. FBI couldn’t catch them. They couldn’t predict what they were going to do next. There was this mathematician that petitioned the FBI and said, hey, let me take a look at the case file. If I can believe the FBI agent that told me. Because me and Rob Morrow, we went down to Quantico. We went down to the FBI headquarters. In DC I was inside the J. Edgar Hoover building, you know what I mean? We really got a chance to see things that I guess normally you can’t see.
He’s the one telling you that the mathematicians, this guy looked at it. I don’t have any names, by the way. But looked at the information and was able to predict which bank, out of a few, the time of day, and they just had two FBI agents posted at a couple of banks.
Sure enough, guys walk in. Like, there he is. Because there’s a pattern that will keep you away from where you live, but like near freeways. There’s a science to trying to rob, if you do it well.
This guy was able to pinpoint, from the material, from the information, where they would strike, within a range of places. The guys walked in and the FBI agents were just like, you’ve got to be kidding me. Hey guy, hey, hey, you’re under arrest. And it was DONE! I thought that was the most fascinating thing, because everything is math. This is an iPhone. In the medieval ages, this would be wizardry.
Rick: Oh, yeah, you’d get burned. [laughs]
Alimi: Yeah. Where are you located, if you don’t mind me asking?
Rick: Vancouver. Vancouver, British Columbia.
Alimi: I’m from Los Angeles, California. How can I see you on this plastic metal thing? Magic. No, no, radio, satellites. It’s all math, and it’s fascinating what they can do.
Rick: Yeah. On paper, the show “Numb3rs,” you say, OK, we’re going to have these FBI agents. They work with a mathematician to figure things out. That sounds educational. I give it maybe a half a season. [laughs]
But it ran for six. My fiancé hadn’t seen it and we were checking out Netflix. “Numb3rs,” right there, all six seasons. I think we just watched that episode of the bank robbers, the special ops guys …such a gripping episode, very good.
Alimi: The bank robbers was directed by Davis Guggenheim. It was a famous documentary filmmaker. He did “Waiting for Superman,” I think. Davis Guggenheim. You can Google him. I think “Waiting for Superman” is a movie he made. His wife is Elizabeth Shue. She’s actually on CSI. Wonderful. That episode, that was like the fourth episode of the first season. We spent our whole six seasons trying to emulate how good that thing, that 50 minutes of television was. Man, it was glorious. I had some of the best memories walking away from “Numb3rs” Six seasons. Why I think it worked, if you don’t mind me saying it? Why I think?
Because we blew things up.
Rick: Here’s an equation. Now we’re going to blow it up.
Alimi: We talked about math. Talked about math. Then we strapped on our Kevlar, got our guns, and we went running. It was like…
Rick: And shot things. [crosstalk]
Alimi: …of dynamic. It was produced by, rest in peace, Tony Scott, who passed away last year, and Ridley Scott. They’re known, “Man On Fire,” “Gladiator,” they’re known for kinetic, “Top Gun (1986),” for movies that move you out of your seat, that have a lot of action to it. They brought that to “Numb3rs.” That’s why I think it had one of those dynamics where you did assaults, you did dynamic entries. Me and Dylan Bruno hung off of a bridge. You know what I’m saying? Likes, 60 feet in the air. That’s great with the talk, with the preparation, with the numbers. Then now go out. You have to take that and apply it to the bad guys who live in the real world where the real bad…
Rick: The bad guys have guns.
Alimi: They do.
Rick: They don’t have chalk.
Alimi: Are you going to talk them down. You know?
Rick: Yeah. They don’t have like a chalkboard. [laughs]
Alimi: No. You know you can talk to, no, you can argue with them. Bad guys, generally they’re not interested in so much reading, talking, you know what I mean? You’ve got to put them down. You’ve got to stop them. It’s force, sometimes. It’s unfortunate. That stops bad people from doing what they’re doing. You need people who are able and willing. When we went to DC at the FBI building, it was great to meet people that did have a lot of sarcasm about their job. That took protecting, like I did you not. I’m from New York, I’m a New Yorker, so you’re pessimistic, you like, ugh, whatever, whatever, the FBI.
He went down there, he got former military guys, like, “How’re you doing, sir?” I was like, “I’m fine, man, how’re you doing?” “Well we’re doing great. Come on this way.” I’m like, these dudes, they take the protection of their country that I am born in raised in, very seriously.
I took that into my character, David Sinclair. I said he’s a guy that takes this job very seriously. It actually means something, to stop bad people from doing bad things. If some people out there, thank God for them. They don’t think that it’s a waste of time.
They are committed to helping people who are being victimized. When you meet them, they have energy about them. They’re like firefighters. You talk to some firefighters, you be like, God bless America. You know, you’re like…it’s not tongue‑in‑cheek for some people.
Rick: No. This isn’t a job. This isn’t nine-to-five, like…
Alimi: I’m not at Staples packing paper.
Rick: [laughs] No.
Alimi: These guys are serious business, man. It’s a great job. It’s like the job of teachers. You ever sit down and talk to a real teacher? You’re like oh, right. Right, you’re responsible for the next generation of Americans. It’s a great thing. They inspired me to bring passion to my work as an actor. I mean that sincerely. All of them, everybody we met down there.
Rick: You’ve been acting for a while. I talked to you a bit before we rolled the cameras, “Dark Angel,” in my town, Vancouver.
Rick: Yeah, that’s where I remember seeing you first. You looked a little different, but…
Alimi: [laughs] I was bald even then, you know? “Dark Angel,” we did the pilot in 2000. First time meeting James Cameron, you know what I mean? Meeting Jessica Alba, but I think she wasn’t the Jessica Alba we know today. She was a young actor.
Michael Weatherly, who I worked with on “NCIS” a couple years back, my first job as an actor was on soap operas ‑‑ working with Michael Weatherly on ABC, on “Loving.”
He played a rich kid. He hit me with his Range Rover. I blackmailed him for $3000.
I did that show for three years and he was there for most of the time. That’s how I actually know Michael Weatherly. He plays DiNozzo on “NCIS.” He played Logan, I think, on “Dark Angel.” Eyes Only was the character, the Internet guy in the wheelchair.
We started that show. It was awesome. I loved it. I loved Vancouver, I loved the people, I loved the food. I got fat. I ate everything in sight.
I love sci-fi, you know. My character didn’t do a lot of butt‑kicking or anything, but I enjoyed it.
As a kid ‑‑ if you don’t mind me saying, the four things I wanted to do, I wanted to be a fireman, I wanted to be a policeman, I wanted to be a Chinese man, and I wanted to be a Jamaican.
Rick: Oh, and you got to be a Jamaican. [laughter]
Alimi: I got to be a Jamaican. I’m working on the prosthetics for the Chinese man. I’m going to do that. I’m going to get my “Nutty Professor” on. I’m really going to do that one day. As a kid, I thought it was something you could be. I didn’t know I was going to be an actor, by any stretch of the imagination. When I got to play Herbal Thought, I was like, oh my God.
I went to Jamaica. I went to Bob Marley’s old…where he was born. I did the whole thing. I really wanted to get inside the mind of those people. It was awesome. I loved it.
Rick: Good. Before that, we ought to talk about “Sabrina.”
Alimi: My first job, when I got to Hollywood, was doing a short little sitcom called “Arsenio,” with Vivica Fox and Arsenio Hall, on ABC. I played Vivica Fox’s younger brother. He lasted four episodes before it was yanked. Literally right after that, I went into an audition for “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” I hadn’t even watched it before. I didn’t know much about it. I walked in, walked out, and I got the call. I was like…you just get to Hollywood, you think, oh, wow.
You have no idea how it’s going to go. You know it’s easy. You don’t know whether it’s never going to happen or it’s going to happen fast, or whatever in between. It was one of those situations where I was like oh my God, this is great.
I met Melissa Joan Hart. We’re friends to this day. I just guest‑starred on her show, “Melissa & Joey” on ABC Family. She was just a sincere person, since the day I met her. She’s got what, three kids now and a husband. Still the same sweet young lady.
She’s a friend of mine for life. Her and her mom who produced a show. Her family was so sweet to me and they took care of me.
I did one year there, and I had a blast. I got to meet the First Lady ‑‑ Hillary Rodham Clinton at the time ‑‑ in DC on ABC Radio. Great. I had a ball, the clothes.
I was at The Grove in LA, and this little girl walked up to me. It’s a few years back. She had a London accent, like, English accent. Like, “Hello.”
I was like, sure, her mom…I was like “Hey, how are you doing?”
“Are you the Quizmaster?”
I must have turned into like, a seven year old. I was like, “Yes, I am!!”
Alimi: Fan moment, ever. This little kid or her mom, wanting to know if I was the Quizmaster. This would have to be like, 10 years ago. Best moment ever ‑‑ young people…I understand why big stars do kid movies. It’d be like for their kids, because it’s great to have something to maybe show your kids, but kids are the best fans ever.
Rick: They never forget you.
Alimi: They never forget you and they love you purely. They don’t even want an autograph sometimes. They just want to hug you and say, hi. If you’ve ever had a kid run up to you and hug you that doesn’t know you, it’s an amazing experience. You’re like, oh, OK, what’s going on?
It makes me feel good.
Rick: Very cool. Well, I’m the Quizmaster now.
Alimi: Yes, hello.
Rick: I am. As you know, the show is called, “One Question Interviews.”
Rick: I have almost a thousand different questions, ranging from the profound to the profane. I’ll choose one at random.
Alimi: I love this. Bring it.
Rick: Bring it? OK. I’ll ask you the question. You can answer it seriously or in a funny voice…in a Jamaican accent, perhaps.
Alimi: All right, man. Go on, ask me a question right now.
Rick: OK. I’ve got to get the Randomizer out.
Alimi: Randomize it. Let me know what you want to ask me about. I’ll answer any question for $3 a question.
Rick: $3? Oh. That’s a bit higher than we agreed.
Alimi: Rupees. Three rupees… [crosstalk]
Rick: Alimi Ballard.
Alimi: Well, you must. I’m verified by the fans.
You’re also an avid comic collector. I didn’t ask you about that, comic collector, also a superhero voice. Many things about you have me curious, but I can only ask one question.
Alimi: Please do.
Rick: Your question is: what would you camp out in line to see?
Alimi: Camp out in line to see.
Rick: You know what I mean by that?
Alimi: I do. I think I do. Oh, wow.
Rick: Is there a musical artist? Is there a speaker, someone you would camp out for tickets to get to see that person?
Alimi: Yes. I would camp out. This is going to sound a little bit corny, but if I ever got the chance to hear Nelson Mandela talk. He’s older now. He’s in the hospital right now. God bless. Hopefully he makes it through his lung infection. I would mortgage my left nut…
Alimi: Not my right one, I need that one, a very productive nut. But my left nut to hear Nelson Mandela talk. He’s living history. He’s in his 90s, I think. I would give a lot to hear that man speak. To hear him speak, yes sir.
Rick: Very good answer. Very good answer.
Alimi: I would camp out for a week, naked. In a tent.
Rick: With only one nut left. [laughter]
Alimi: With one nut, Saran Wrap, and aluminum foil to cover my precious parts.
Rick: [laughs] OK, good.
Alimi: OK, no. Brothers and sisters. I am Nelson Mandela. I love the way they talk ‑‑ like, the African dialect, when they really speak well. They don’t say “wadder.” They go “wa‑ter.”
They pronounce everything. “Do you want some wa‑ter?” You’re like “water”? I want some “wadder,” with a “D,” man. I don’t even finish the word. I’m thirsty, man. Let me get some wadda.
“You want some wa‑ter?”
It’s so refined, the speech. I’m always like, when I hear him talk, he’s just one of the most inspirational human beings for me, ever. Just ever.
Rick: Wow. Great answer. I don’t need to add anything to that, because you say Nelson Mandela…
Alimi: My left nut son, my left nut.
Rick: …that’s it. [laughter]
Rick: All right. Thank you, Alimi. Sorry.
Alimi: That’s fine. Nelson.
Rick: It’s been great to finally talk to you. We’ve been bouncing emails around. Hope you can come back. I’d love to do another interview with you.
Alimi: Rick, I’d be honored.
Rick: The link is going to be right here. Right here…
Alimi: OK. They can find me at Twitter, @AlimiBallard. Also, my website is AlimiBallard.net ‑‑ it’s my name, no spaces. I have an inspirational blog called InspirationWorks.tumbler.com. That’s where I get even more corny, where I really, really implore you to follow your dreams. Where I really, really share all of those mushy, Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey quotes ‑‑ Deepak Chopra, all that. Mother Teresa.
My passion is empowerment, self‑empowerment. I’m from New York City. I’m an empowered youth. My life is the way it is because people that didn’t know me donated time, mentored me, to reach for something that I didn’t even know was possible and did everything.
It’s the reason why I’m here, the reason why I have the life I live and the perspective, most importantly, that I have. That it’s possible.
One of my favorite Nelson Mandela quotes ‑‑ Nelson Mandela ‑‑ is,
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” This is the kind of things that mentors can do for young people that need it most.
It was what was done for me. In my quietest heart, the desire to share inspiration and empowerment with people is everything.
Rick: Well, it works for older people too. I’m starting late.
Rick: I appreciate you taking time to help me follow my dream.
Rick: No lie here. I mean, this is very important to me, and I appreciate you spending time with me like this.
Alimi: Oh, man. Absolute pleasure. I mean that sincerely.
Rick: Check out Alimi Ballard, you’re on Bones now.
Alimi: Yes. I’m working on “Bones.” I’m not sure when it’s going to air. I’m playing Special Agent so and so and so and so.
Rick: I like him.
Alimi: Dynamic entry. We’ll be chasing down bad guys. You’ve got to check out “Bones.” I think this episode aired ‑‑ a “CSI” ‑‑ just last night. I know that’s not going to come on until a while from now. I’m not sure if I’ll be back for the finale, but you can watch me on a couple episodes of “CSI.” Great, great people over there, I had a great time with them. And most recently, “Bones.” Check it out. You’re going to love it.
Rick: “Bones.” If this airs after those episodes are on, you can check them out on iTunes. You can download those ones. Check out Netflix for six seasons of “Numb3rs.” If you’ve never seen it before, check it out. If you’ve seen it before, watch it again. Start over again.
Alimi: Please do. If you’ve got kids, “Marvel Super Hero Squad,” Cartoon Network ‑‑ I’m not sure if you can find it on Netflix. The voice of Falcon. Young people ‑‑ there’s a baby Thor, a baby Hulk, a baby Iron Man. I’m a baby Falcon, with a baby falcon.
Rick: [laughs] That’s very cool, very cool. All of these links and things that we’ve been talking about should be right below my face. If they’re not, if for whatever reason I’ve slipped up, go to OneQuestionInterviews.com, I’ll do it. I’ll do it. I’ll do it. I promise, I’ll do it.
Go to OneQuestionInterviews.com. I’ll have all the links there for sure.
OK, everybody this is Rick Yaeger for “One Question Interviews.” Thank you so much for watching. Check back next week. Bye bye.