Superheroes are back on NBC, and this time they're a lot more fun than those mopey Heroes types. The over-the-top characters -- masked vigilante The Cape, reptilian gangster Scales, the Carnival of Crime -- are just what the doctor ordered, and we're excited to watch a new show mythology take shape. As such, we jumped at the chance to talk one-on-one with former Terminator Summer Glau (who plays blogger and Cape-helper Orwell) and Tron Legacy's James Frain (who plays criminal mastermind Chess). Read on to find out about the little girl inside Orwell, Chess's one super power, and why Glau wants to join the circus.
TWoP: What attracted you both to the show?
James Frain: It was pretty obvious from the get-go that the writing was really inventive and dynamic and exciting, and that the show had something original. It's a great combination of fantasy and reality, and also comedy and straight thriller-drama; it kind of walks on the knife-edge between a lot of things, that seem to be normally opposing. And it seemed really ambitious, and if it was all going to come together, it could really be something. That's how I think we all felt.
Summer Glau: I've never seen anything quite like it. Like you were saying, we really mixed the sincere, family drama that it is with something more fantastical and fun, and the cast is like nothing else. I'm thrilled being part of this team, I love going to work every day, and I think we have some of the best scripts out there.
TWoP: So, Summer, when will we learn Orwell's back-story, especially where she gets all of her nice cars?
Glau: I cannot reveal my sources of how I get my cars. But my family and my back-story, maybe. Little by little, Vince starts to ask questions. He feels like she knows so much about him, and he knows nothing about her, and for Orwell, that's been how she survives, by keeping everything to herself. The episode that we're shooting right now, I'm working on her back story, and I'm enjoying that so much, because we're beginning to see that there's a girl in there somewhere that's vulnerable and maybe afraid, and is hiding something.
TWoP: James, is there a fictional or even historical villain you use as inspiration for Chess?
Frain: No, this guy is definitely a creature out of the imagination of [showrunner] Tom Wheeler. And I think his brother told me that when they were kids they invented this character, called Chess, who's a master strategist and a manipulator. I love the idea of this guy being a supervillain, but without any superpowers, other than his capacity to use and hurt people. It has a sort of psychological thriller aspect to it, where the hero and villain have aspects that reflect each other and they do battle with each other, but it's not really a physical battle, it's a battle of wills. But yeah, it's a completely fresh creation, I felt, so we're sort of making him up as we go along. It's really good fun.
TWoP: In the next episode, Orwell hangs out with the Carnival of Crime and even does an aerial act. Is that a conflict of interest for her as a crime fighter?
Glau: It's interesting, because Orwell is more mercenary than Vince is. Vince is a cop, and it's in his nature to always do what's in everyone's best interests. And Orwell is I think, more one-track-minded. She wants to take down ARK, and she's gonna do whatever it takes, and if it involves the Carnival of Crime, so be it, but I think Vince struggles with it more. And in that way, Vince and Orwell struggle in their relationship every day, where they approach things the way that they see the world, and the way that they see their purpose. But I had the time of my life in the Carnival of Crime; I wish I were there more often.
TWoP: So you don't spend much time with them after that?
Glau: We're always in the field, so we're involved, but one thing I think is really cool is that the Carnival of Crime is a group of criminals. They aren't helping just to help, they're helping because it benefits them, and that causes a constant danger and conflict, and we're not safe being there, necessarily. Everyone has their own motivation why we're working together, so we'll be in and out, and maybe we'll end up in a scrape or two together, but nobody's putting down stakes anywhere.
TWoP: You did a little bit of fighting in the first couple of episodes, so does that mean you may someday fight alongside the Cape, perhaps as the Robin to this Batman?
Glau: Well, I'm not the Robin to his Batman. He has come on to my mission, and I am letting him use my resources and contacts, and it's a real tough struggle, because Orwell doesn't like being the sidekick. But she absolutely is always in the field, and she's ready to throw down if she needs to, but what's fun is that, in the past, a lot of stunts that I've done for Terminator and for other things sci-fi, I'm used to winning, and Orwell is always just scraping by. She gets herself into these situations, that she might not be best-equipped to handle, but that's just who she is. She won't get taken down. She finds a way out of every situation.
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