Interview: Kai Alexander On Playing Sergeant William Quinn In Masters of the Air
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Interview: Kai Alexander On Playing Sergeant William Quinn In Masters of the Air

Masters of the Air is streaming now on Apple TV+

Have you been tuning into Apple TV+’s star-studded WWII drama Masters of the Air? Episodes are still dropping weekly so there’s plenty of time to still catch up – and if you’re waiting for the final few instalments, you’ve come to the right place to get your TV fix. We sat down with Kai Alexander, who plays Sergeant William Quinn on the show, to hear more about the show (and what it was like working on set).

Interview: Kai Alexander On Starring In Masters of the Air

Hi Kai, how’s life going at the moment?

Life is good, thank you. I’m incredibly excited for 2024 and Masters of the Air being released.

You’re about to star in Masters of the Air – can you give us an elevator pitch for the series?

The incredible, true story following brave men & women who put their lives on the line to defeat Hitler’s Third Reich.

How would you describe your character?

Sergeant William Quinn is smart, fearless and righteous. I think throughout the series you see him show a variety of emotions. Initially adopting a slightly tougher exterior, which you learn is a mask to the sheer terror that he and everyone else faced.

What was it like playing him?

A very humbling and proud moment. To portray someone who put their life on the line and have the responsibility to bring his story to life is a huge honour.

How did you get into character/prepare for the role?

I began with the accent, working with our amazing dialect coaches, Brett Tyne and Helen Ashton. They were the first ones who gave me Quinn’s full name so I was able to pinpoint where he was born: Spokane, Washington. I found local newspaper articles from the 20s and 30s and discovered the principal industries and major events that took place in the area during that time period. These were great foundations to build on. After finding out more about Quinn’s journey, I also read a fantastic book called The Freedom Line by Peter Eisner.

Did you watch any war films to prepare? Which are your favourites?

12 O’Clock High was a favourite. Also Five Came Back, which is a documentary. It utilised real footage captured by John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra and George Stevens on the frontlines. Outside of wartime content, I watched many films, both comedy and drama, from the 30s and 40s as I wanted to make sure my present memory was filled with era-specific content.

Kai Alexander

(c) Nick Thompson

You star opposite Barry Keoghan and Austin Butler – star studded! What was that like?

They set the bar at the highest level. Filming this show was such an incredible opportunity to be able to watch and learn from so many incredibly talented people. I’m so grateful to be able to work alongside them.

Who was your fave person to work with during filming?

I made so many friends and so many memories during production, but I spent the most time with Bailey Brook. On screen our characters have a great bond and we had some really fun times together.

Any funny stories from rehearsals or filming?

The stunt work was something I had no idea I would be involved in. I was at home one day and received a phone call that went something like, ‘Hi Kai, it’s Lee, just wanted to talk about the parachute jump you’re going to be doing with us.’ The aforementioned Lee in question was Lee Morrison, our stunt coordinator. Quite a shock to say the least! As a child I was so uncoordinated which made this a true step into the unknown. The parachute jump itself was just the beginning. What followed was a succession of other stunts, wire work, a rotisserie rig containing a B-17 fuselage. Lee, Dave, Will, Pete and the entirety of the stunt department on this show were incredible. I felt in very safe hands and am incredibly grateful to all of them for trusting and giving me the opportunity to train and perform all of my stunts in the show.

You also recently starred as a young Richard Branson in Pistol – what was that like?

I love playing real people. There’s so much information and footage out there on Richard. I found it really interesting to see the differences between today’s Richard and the younger Richard I played in Pistol. I’ve always wanted to work with Danny [Boyle], he generates such a creative environment on set which relaxes you as an actor.

How did you get into character?

I was lucky. The moment the beard went on and I looked at myself in the mirror, the person staring back was Richard and not me. Obviously underneath the external elements the work began earlier, delving into every piece of footage I could source on the voice and physicality. There was large amount of material to help me get to where I wanted to be. After you absorb everything, I like to let it sit for a while. Then you make him a real person as opposed to an imitation.

What has been your favourite project to date?

Masters of the Air, without a doubt.

Which co-star did you learn the most from?

I can honestly say I feel like I’ve learnt something from every person I’ve encountered on set. Whether little or large, there are always lessons to learn. There are so many different techniques and processes of acting.

What’s your dream role?

Playing Kurt Cobain in a biopic.

What’s a genre you’d like to do more of?

Every genre is different, and I love anything that takes me out of my comfort zone.

Do you get to spend much time at home?

Recently yes, my last two projects have both been filmed near home.

Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?

Town. I grew up the country but I love living in the city now.

What’s your interior design style?

A combination of neo industrial and contemporary.

How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?

This is definitely something I could work on – currently they seem to blend into each other!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A Formula 1 driver.

If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?

Trust yourself. I like to think that every mistake I made leading up to this point has made me the person I am today. Without those mistakes I would not have reached this point. Look forward not back.

How can we all live a little bit better?

Talk to each other more. Sometimes I think It’s too easy to send a message!

Anything fun in the pipeline – professionally or personally?

Watch this space! It’s going to be a fun year.

Kai Alexander

(c) Nick Thompson

Kai Alexander Recommends…

I’m currently watching… 1883

What I’m reading… Patrick Stewart’s memoir

The last thing I watched (and loved) was… Shadowlands

What I’m most looking forward to seeing… Season 3 of The Bear

Favourite film of all time… I have three: Taxi Driver, E.T and Serpico

Favourite song of all time… ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by The Rolling Stones.

Band/singer I always have on repeat… The 1975

My ultimate cultural recommendation… Walking

Cultural guilty pleasure… Boxing at Kobox


Kai Alexander stars in Masters of the Air, streaming now on Apple TV+ with new episodes weekly.