Ebon Moss-Bachrach Gave a Harrowing Performance in This AMC Horror Series


The Big Picture

  • Ebon Moss-Bachrach delivers a captivating performance in the AMC original series,
  • The series is based on the best-selling novel by Joe Hill and follows a motorcyclist with supernatural abilities.
  • Moss-Bachrach’s portrayal of Chris McQueen adds depth to the series, making it an unnerving, underrated family saga.

He may have found a new home in Chicago, but Ebon Moss-Bachrach once proved he was king of the Boston accent. Singled out for his spot-on Chicago drawl as Cousin Richie in The Bear, it’s a notoriously hard accent to master. Just as difficult is the Boston accent (and as a Massachusetts native himself), Moss-Bachrach returned to his roots and took the accent in stride in the underrated AMC horror series, NOS4A2, prior to starring in The Bear. Playing a working-class father with a drinking problem, his harrowing performance elevated the series and finally put him in a well-deserved lead role.

Based on the best-selling novel written by Joe Hill, the AMC original series ran for two seasons with mixed reviews, though all the lead performances were singled out as highlights of the series. Ashleigh Cummings stars as Vic McQueen, an 18-year-old motorcyclist growing up in Boston who discovers she has supernatural abilities; later, she utilizes those powers to take down a vampire-like child kidnapper. Mixing horror, teen angst, and family drama, NOS4A2 shined most when it focused on Vic’s family’s dynamics. Moss-Bachrach gives a must-see performance as a struggling dad trying to be there for his daughter, carrying the same grit that The Bear fans have come to love him for.

What Is ‘NOS4A2’ About?

NOS4A2 is set in the working-class town of Haverhill, Massachusetts, where high schooler, Vic, lives with her dysfunctional parents, Chris (Moss-Bachrach) and Linda (Virginia Kull). Vic dreams of going to college for art school, something her parents can’t afford, and something her mother doesn’t approve of. Growing up in a broken home, she was often subjected to violent fights between her parents due to her father’s alcoholism. Riding through the woods on her motorcycle as her refuge, she discovers that she’s gained the ability to travel anywhere via a bridge in the woods that’s only available to her.

This becomes convenient when the monstrous Charlie Manx, played by a menacing Zachary Quinto, begins kidnapping children in her vicinity so that he can feast on their souls and remain immortal. Taking them to a parallel world that he’s created called Christmasland (where it’s Christmastime all the time), he turns the children into un-aging, bloodthirsty vampires. It’s a twisted Neverland, and Vic is the only one able to reach it thanks to her motorcycle and the bridge in the woods. As Charlie goes on a rampage of scooping up children, he begins to hunt Vic, too, as she attempts to save the children.

Ebon Moss-Bachrach Plays a Gritty, Alcoholic, Motorcycle-Riding Father in ‘NOS4A2’

Cummings is excellent as Vic McQueen, a rare teenage heroine who isn’t chasing love, but monsters on a motorcycle while sporting a killer leather jacket, instead. The series belongs to Moss-Bachrach, though; he delivers a captivating performance as a struggling father, and though you shouldn’t like him in theory, you can’t help but sympathize for him as he crumbles further into alcoholism. He and his main scene partner, Virginia Kull, are vile and heartbreaking together as they shamelessly fight in front of their daughter over watches, credit cards, and affairs he has with women.

Moss-Bachrach has an effortless cool about him as he cruises around town on his motorcycle and tells his daughter, “Well, it beats the hell out of being normal,” when she worries that she’s weird. Every insecurity or self-doubt that Vic has, Chris has an antidote, and Moss-Bachrach sells it with his abrasive confidence—but that’s where the danger comes in. He’s somewhere between a friend and a father, putting his daughter in tough situations while he transforms into a monster from drinking. Moss-Bachrach walks the tightrope well, and can switch from a sweet, kindhearted dad to a drinking, embittered war veteran at a moment’s notice.

In ‘NOS4A2,’ Ebon Moss-Bachrach Gives a Grueling Performance, Battling Alcoholism

Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Ashleigh Cummings as Chris and Vic hugging each other in 'NOS4A2'
Image via Torante Company

When Chris McQueen is introduced, the drink is shown first, and then him, emphasizing where his priorities live. Moss-Bachrachplays him like a contradiction; two people split when sober and drunk.NOS4A2 gives a rare, sympathetic portrayal of what addiction looks like, and does not offer an easy way out of painting him as a caricature-like bad father, which is what makes him and the series so exceptional as a family drama.

Speaking to AMC about the complexity of playing someone battling addiction, Moss-Bachrach said, “It’s interesting to play a guy who would take a bullet for his kid, but can’t figure out how to stop drinking…But none of that gets in the way of the love he has for his kid—or rather, it gets in the way of his ability to be a good dad, but it never gets in the way of his intentions of love.”


‘The Fantastic Four’: Ebon Moss-Bachrach Has Been Ready to Play The Thing His Whole Life

‘The Bear’ actor also teases the film’s setting and reveals when he was officially cast.

Chris isn’t great, but he’s not evil, either, and that’s the crux of Moss-Bachrach’s performance. He’s so easy to love, which makes it all the more devastating when he’s violent and drinks too much. Moss-Bachrach is able to make the transformation within an instant, including one scene when he’s singing The Beatles‘ song, “Here Comes the Sun,” while playing the guitar, showing off his musical chops. Dedicating it to his daughter, we catch a glimpse of the man he used to be as he brightens up the bonfire. Dreaming of becoming a musician before joining the army, Moss-Bachrach provides a lived-in, understated performance of a man who once had a purpose but is struggling to find it again. The scene is jarring as Chris sings while the camera flashes over to his wife, Linda, with a big, blossoming bruise on her cheek. The bruise on Linda’s face haunts Vic, as it’s a scar of what her father is capable of, even when he’s his happy self.

‘NOS4A2’ Successfully Delivers an Intense Family Saga

Moss-Bachrach’s fearless dedication to playing Chris and Kull’s bold courage as a protective mother is what makes NOS4A2 such an unnerving, underrated family saga. Chris and Linda are the foil to all the fantasy horror that goes on around them, bringing a depth to the series that would otherwise be missing. It’s when they leave the small town of Boston that NOS4A2 can lose its footing, but Moss-Bachrach and Kull are always there to ground the show with raw, gritty portrayals of an abusive marriage.

As Chris, Moss-Bachrach’s go-to catchphrase that he tells his daughter is, “You let fear dictate your life, you’ll miss it. Never get married, and never ever have any kids.” He’s daunting and playful all at once with the spontaneity of a child, but spinning out of control at a moment’s notice—and that’s what makes watching him so exhilarating and scary at the same time. With an impressive performance of a spot-on, Bostonian drunk, he’s a car crash waiting to happen as he reaches for one more drink, and Moss-Bachrach knows that.

NOS4A2 is available to stream on AMC+ in the U.S.

Watch on AMC+



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