‘The Expanse’: Wes Chatham Explains How Amos Burton’s Fighting Matches His Personality
During Season 5 of The Expanse, fans have been treated to more of Amos Burton’s backstory. The character, portrayed by Wes Chatham, rapidly became a fan favorite. He has a frightening brutality but also a challenging vulnerability due to his troubled childhood spent in Baltimore. Chatham has found the role engaging, and says that Burton is a complex character — one whose integrity wasn’t ruined by fight scenes.
How ‘The Expanse’ character’s violence shows personality
In his role as Amos Burton on The Expanse, Wes Chatham gets into a lot of fights. Burton is hard bitten and no-nonsense when it comes to throwing down.
Wes Chatham says Burton is, realistically, an amateur when it comes to fighting.
“But then when you play someone like Amos…. Amos is not as trained or skilled, he more has a talent for violence – he’s a talented amateur. And so he understands how to use his power and strength but he’s not James Bond,” Chatham told The Expanse Lives.
He went on to describe the scene in which Burton defends Alex Kamal in a bar. The scene was originally written with choreographed fighting and a sort of swagger to Burton — something Chatham says he had to prevent.
“And I said to them, you know, the thing that I want people to understand – which sometimes I have to let new directors know – is that Amos does not have an ego in that way. He does not have a tough guy bravado ego, he doesn’t,” he explained.
“A lot of time ego and bravado comes from fear. And it comes from a place of weakness. And so the reality is that Amos would do the most efficient thing to eliminate the threat and there’s no honor or dignity or pride in it.”
“I like the violence to be an expression that’s honest to who he is,” he added.
Wes Chatham recommends this Amos Burton book
Wes Chatham also explained that he’s a big fan of The Expanse book series as well — and that he reads them one book in advance of the current season. However, he did specifically read The Churn to help him better understand Amos Burton.
The Churn is about Burton’s time in Baltimore, prior to joining the Rocinante. It addresses parts of his backstory that heavily inform his character’s behavior during The Expanse — something Chatham found valuable.
“The thing that really connected me to Amos and made me a fan of him, and really excited to play him, was the novella called The Churn. When I read The Churn, that was most interesting to me,” he explained.
In fact, Chatham took the book to a psychiatrist, where they dove into Burton’s behavior together.
“I took it to a psychiatrist in San Diego and I gave her The Churn, and we had long talks about it, and then she referred me to books to read – things that he might be dealing with. So I did a lot of research into that and his mental health and also into trauma.”