EXCLUSIVE: Actor Gabriel Mann Talks 'Revenge'

Wednesday, 01 February 2012 12:07 Written by  Dana Feldman
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EXCLUSIVE: Actor Gabriel Mann Talks 'Revenge'

Definitely not a show about forgiveness, ABC’s saucy new hit Revenge is successfully quenching the insatiable appetites of fans that cannot wait from week to week to see what could possibly be happening next in the Hamptons. Speaking with Gabriel Mann, who portrays the naughty-but-also-nice Nolan Ross, many questions were asked and answered. Well, answered to as much of a degree as he was allowed.

Mann says of his role as Nolan, “I’ve been given a goldmine with this character.” Laughing he adds, “If I crack up and can’t get through my lines during the table reads then I know we have a winner.” In regards to reading the scripts, he says that he constantly marvels at the brilliant dialogue. “I get to say that on network television?” 

With a restrained glance to the side and a unique shake-shrug of the shoulder that only Mann can pull off, he conveys to his audience the many facets of his complex character in a way that is both charming and telling of just enough so that you are privy to the fact that there is so much more to Nolan Ross than first meets the eye. Not always aware that he is even doing this, he explains, “I’ve ingested him at this point.” Of creating a character, he adds, “You take the character and you flesh it out.  My job is to find as much humanity within this eccentric guy. Who’s the guy behind this façade and what’s his driving force?”

He says that as an actor you can choose to make the choices clear or you can find those moments that are unclear and shine a light on them. “We often have no answer which leaves the doors wide open. That’s where the excitement is because anything can happen.  You keep the mystery alive and this is what makes acting so fun.”

With each episode they are taking a giant leap, one in which they are left hoping that there is enough water to guarantee a safe landing.  Well, they do teeter on the edge on Revenge, and it is because of this that audiences cannot wait to come back for more. Of the episodes, he tells me, “We just cannot shoot them fast enough!”

Set in the Hamptons, the audience follows as Amanda Clarke / Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) avenges the death of her father. With each episode the characters roles are slowly revealed to the audience like the layers of an onion. With the many twists and turns, fans are constantly thrown for a loop as they wait to see if that week’s episode will be a classic old-school with Emily and her red sharpie crossing off yet another of her father’s enemies, or more of an episode revolving around character development, hence shocking reveals.

Prior to Revenge Mann was, as he says, a movie guy. His acting reel includes The Life of David Gale, The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, among others. “I’ve played this character longer than any other,” he says explaining the many differences of acting in film versus television. “In film you have to tell your story in two hours or less. With television you get to build a character arc without knowing where the story is going to go.” Though the thought of working in television at one point in time may have caused him some trepidation, Mann now appreciates the opportunities that it offers. “As in life, we never know what is going to happen next. It is a very organic way to tell a story.” Early on in filming he says that they were going on faith and having fun, but what has come of it is as he calls it, “A really beautiful surprise.”

Hard to decipher whether Nolan is good or bad, or as most of us, a little of both, Mann says, “Nolan is a study in contrast. He is definitely every angle of ambiguity.” With a world of possibility open to him, Mann cannot argue that this is an actor’s dream. “I’m hesitant to say he’s any one thing or the other. He’s many things and I would be bummed to find out that he was only one thing.” Unarguably, this is a character not easily defined. A scene-stealer, his character serves as the one true confidant for Emily.

Another beautiful surprise is just how broad the audience is. “It’s really all over the map,” Mann tells me. He laughs as he gives an example of a recent experience he had in the parking lot of Costco. “This guy is driving by me in this monster truck and he’s yelling, but I am not quite sure what he is saying." Thinking that there might be some kind of trouble ahead, he is relieved when the guy yells out to him that Revenge is his favorite show. “You’re Nolan Ross!”

Consistently pushing the boundaries, Mike Kelley (Creator, Executive Producer) and Marty Bowen (Executive Producer) have created something unique here. “Phillip Noyce (Salt) directed the first few episodes and he really set the tone here that we were playing for real.”  The feel is cinematic and they have, to put it simply, nailed how to tell a story in a way that is both compelling and addictive.

Explaining to me that they never get to see the episodes until they air, they are just as surprised as the rest of us when they finally get to see how their work has turned out.  “There are always those moments where I wonder if people are going to feel this. ”The proof, as they say, is in the pudding and fans cannot get enough. 

A tight knit company of actors, they are as sad as anyone when a character is killed off. “We don’t like to see it happen, but we know it is a service to the story, to the larger picture when it does.” Oh, the nature which drives serious melodrama, we love it, we hate it, but we love it even more. “It would be disingenuous to do it any other way.” As the story evolves, Mann promises that the rollercoaster ride will have a payoff that will make it all worthwhile.

So, speculation abounds that perhaps Emily’s father is really alive. How they will leave us hanging for season two is as much a mystery to Mann as to the rest of us. Though the speculation is fun, and hoping to get a morsel of what’s to come, all Mann would give me is that, “As soon as people think they know where the story is going, it flips.” This I know all too well as I wait for maybe just a tidbit. He gives me this, “Anything and everything is possible. Unless you see a dead body on a gurney in the morgue, anything can happen.” Ok, so is Daniel really dead? There was a pause, then a laugh from Mann. Well, it is apparent that we will all just have to keep on watching to find out.

Revenge airs Wednesday nights on ABC!

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