(Warning: This post contains mild spoilers for Hulu’s “Catch-22”)
Milo Minderbinder is arguably the most famous fictional war profiteer in literature, all thanks to the care and detail that Joseph Heller put into crafting the character for his World War II novel, “Catch-22” — and his sketchy enterprise, “The Syndicate.”
Daniel David Stewart plays Milo on Hulu’s adaptation of the book, which stars Christopher Abbott as Yossarian, Kyle Chandler as Colonel Cathcart and George Clooney as Scheisskopf. The limited series faithfully delves into how the Minderbinder character is a satire of the modern businessman and capitalism, obsessed with expanding the mess operations in the camp.
Yeah, this “Syndicate” thing gets a little complicated to everyone — even in-universe — so TheWrap sat down with Stewart to ask him to explain himself. Or at least explain Milo.
“The Syndicate’s a beautiful thing. It’s full of–‘ No,” he told us in the interview above, laughing as he broke character. “If you help the syndicate it helps you, that’s all that matters,'” he added, again playing Milo.
“Basically it’s a large company/corporation that sort of profits off the war by using everyone against each other to profit,” Stewart explained. “Mainly for himself, but also for everyone who has a share in The Syndicate, which is sort of everyone and sort of no one.”
Milo walks the line between good and bad throughout the six-episode series, even working with the Germans — because they are part of The Syndicate! — but still managing to be loved by all.
“When I talked to Luke [Davies] originally on the phone — the writer, who is an incredible writer — he and I sort of agreed that Milo is kind of the villain of the series,” Stewart told us. “This sort of secretive villain that sneaks up on you because he’s sort of lovable in his weird way. But I think it’s really important for the piece in general, because it’s a piece about the foils of men in power and how awful power can be, and the corruption behind it and the absurdity of it, and Milo is a huge representation of that.”
As dark as the show can get, due to the increasingly ridiculous nature of the satire, a lot of insane moments are sure to make the audience laugh — just as they caused Stewart to break.
“In terms of keeping a straight face, one thing I will never forget is, there is this scene in Episode 4 where we’re filming with all these goats,” Stewart says. “And Chris and I were in this plane surrounded by literally 150 goats. And they had these giant horns and they are ramming into each other, and Chris and I were just in the middle of goats going crazy.”
“And in the middle of a take where we were talking, this goat sneezed kind of directly into Chris’ face and he had the most beautiful, incredible, natural reaction, in-character, as Yossarian,” he continued. “And I literally started laughing, and I just kept trying to say the lines and get through it, but I was laughing through the rest of the take and I was so bummed because I was like, ‘Oh man, that is one of the most glorious moments in TV history that no one will ever know.'”
Watch the full interview above.
All six episodes of “Catch-22” are streaming now on Hulu.