Zap2it: Coming into "Salem," did you already know much about the witch trials?
Shane West: I'm a fan of horror, or the supernatural, but not necessarily the historical accuracy. I'd studied it a little bit growing up, of course, and it was one of the most fascinating periods of time in American history ... and one of the most tragic periods.
In terms of background for my playing John Alden, it wasn't as necessary. At least, it hasn't been yet. My answer could change a few years down the road. By the time he comes back to Salem, everything has changed, and he is generally in a constant state of reacting to the characters around him and this world he used to know.
Zap2it: Arguably more than any other character in "Salem," John is the surrogate for viewers. Is that a challenge for you as an actor?
Shane West: Oh, it's certainly a challenge, just in a different way. I feel I've done that in the past, too. It's fun to have the audience's point of view, but John Alden literally is like the first American hero. Being able to be that guy, and to have free range to do whatever he might want, it's a lot of work, but it's also wonderful.
Zap2it: How different is it for you to do a cable project after so much broadcast network work?
Shane West: This has restrictions, whereas something on an HBO or a Showtime does not, but we can be as different as we want, up to a certain point ... and that brings the imagination out of the creators and writers and can make it more fulfilling, I believe.
"Salem" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on WGN America.
Photo/Video credit: WGN America