“People can come in clean to the world of ‘Revenge,’” Gabriel Mann teases, “but they leave dirty.”
There, in a few words, is the reason fans adore this ABC primetime soap about a seemingly angelic socialite hiding a personal mission of vengeance. “Revenge” became one of 2011-2012′s biggest surprises, a guilty pleasure that chucked the guilt quickly into its freshman run. It has since inspired fashion trends, gifted viewers with pithy quotes to rehash in day-after discussions, and breathed new life into the flagging primetime soap genre.
And while Emily Thorne is “Revenge’s” central character Mann’s Nolan Ross, the flamboyantly dressed tech gazillionaire who can’t help but involve himself in Emily’s increasingly tangled web, became its true scene-stealer. Nolan gets each episode’s best lines, more often than not. He also was saddled with television’s most unfortunate haircut.
Nolan’s hair took a backseat to “Revenge’s” season finale cliffhanger, in which a principal character appeared to have died in a plane crash, and Emily discovered her long lost mother is still alive. We’ll have to wait until September 30 for those shockers to pay off — although the first order of business, in typical “Revenge-y” fashion, will be to drop viewers into a terrible situation that happens quite a ways into the future before backing up to the events following the crash.
In the meantime Mann was happy to chat about the upcoming season with reporters fortunate enough to visit the “Revenge” set recently. Granted, he could only dish out a few tasty details because creator Mike Kelley is very serious about keeping his show’s biggest secrets under wraps. But Mann assures us, “dynamics have shifted. Plots are coming fast and furious, and it’s going to be utterly twisted and darker and deeper than even last year, if that’s even possible. The more twisted the better!”
Oh, and that awful winged bang-a-thon on Nolan’s head? Over and out. We can report that Nolan has visited a barber who updated his look significantly since we last saw him.
(Please note that Mann’s quotes came from a group interview in which multiple reporters from various outlets participated. Some of his answers have been edited for length.)
On why the show has resonated so well with audiences: “We’ve thought about that a lot over the course of last season. It was a combination of things, I think, the first being that there was a space that was open for this kind of show that was kind of missing. It’s got a retro feel to it…Tongues are planted in cheek, but not firmly. We take it very seriously as we do it, but there’s a lot of fun in the process.”
On the inclusion of terms like “revenge-y” and “revengenda” in his dialogue: “With the advent of social media now, the relationship between the show and the actors and/or creators, writers, whatever, has become much more symbiotic. So now we can take stuff directly out of the things and comments that people have said. We have a great time addressing that, because this is all about our fanbase. And so it’s fun to give them something back – sometimes to throw their expectations, but sometimes to give them exactly what they want.”
On Nolan’s colorful wardrobe and how season two’s developments will impact his closet: “I have now come to live for showing up to work and seeing what’s hanging in my trailer each day. One thing that’s going to be fun this season is that we got really deep and dark at the end of last season, and it’s a return to cocktail parties and pinched smiles. You know, that’s really fun for all of us, all of these very social situations where you know what’s happening behind the scenes and you know what those tight-lipped smiles mean.”
On the fan speculation as to whether Emily and Nolan are brother and sister: “Mike Kelley, our creator, refuses to give us an inch on any of that. I would be happy with however it went. To me, I think Emily holds a candle for Emily, potentially, romantically. That’s how I see it. That’s not what anybody else says to me.”
“But when you see the set-up for what the season is going to turn into, I think our proximities, Emily and I, are getting closer and closer.”
On the status of Emily and Nolan’s tempestuous “revenge” partnership: “Where we ended last year was a really emotionally genuine spot. We were very much together. We are definitely in it to win it at this point. I would do anything for her, including compromise my own safety and, to a degree, my own morals. But we’re just having so much fun. I just can’t stop it!”
On whether Nolan will get a love interest: “Absolutely.”
On whether Nolan’s love interest will be non-psychotic: “I don’t know.”
On what part the recession will play in season two’s plot: “Oh, we’re feeling the recession everywhere. By the end of last season, Grayson Global was dealing with some issues. It would be very interesting to play with the idea of, what happens to very rich people when they aren’t rich anymore? And what would they do to get that money back?”
“So I think this season is really about free will versus destiny and fate, whatever that means. That’s a very broad concept. But I think that’s the general feeling we’re going to play with.”
“..And we have some great playmates this year. I can scratch off my bucket list having met Jennifer Jason Leigh, and it was amazing to see her. It just goes to show how the scope of the show, at this point, is that we are able to pull in actors who want to have a good time.”
On whether we’ll uncover more of Nolan’s backstory: “Oh, you’re going to find out much more about that. I think we will start to live maybe a little bit more in the world of Nolcorp this year. “
On what the future holds for the development of other characters and their stories:“What’s really interesting this season is that now that we’ve established our characters, everybody sort of splits off. We’re going to interact, but everybody’s got their own storyline… And it’s sort of interesting watching the death of innocence on this show, and with the characters.”
“…I think there’s going to be some real love, and some genuinely touching emotional situations. Emily (Van Camp) and Nick Wechsler had me crying while watching the monitor yesterday. And that was just the first day (of shooting). So we’re good.”
On Madeleine Stowe‘s status with the show: “What’s so odd is, they have not told us anything about Madeleine. We haven’t seen her. She hasn’t been around. We speculate, maybe… that was it. But look, the beauty of this show is that anybody that we were to lose on the show can always come back in flashbacks.”
“…She’s keeping it very close to the vest, as Mike is right now. We’re waiting to find out who’s got scoop first.”