NBC’s big night has finally arrived: Revolution — Eric Kripke and J.J. Abrams‘ epic, ambitious, post-apocalyptic tale — will premiere at 10 p.m. Thank God we all have TVs so we can watch it, because in the Revolution world, they don’t. In fact, they also don’t have phones, central air, cars, lighting, or anything that requires electricity and makes the world a more comfortable place. Only a few mysterious people seem to know why the lights of the world suddenly went out, but for many of the show’s main characters, that doesn’t really matter — their primary focus is establishing some sort of law and order within the chaos, in a land now ruled by a dictatorship called the Monroe Republic.
Breaking Bad‘s Emmy-nominated Giancarlo Esposito is one of those characters — his Captain Tom Neville is a former insurance adjuster who joined the mysterious and all-powerful Monroe Republic militia after the blackout. The militia granted themselves the task of maintaining their version of “peace” in what’s left of society, and their methods can be considered controversial at best. Hollywood.com recently sat down with Esposito to discuss his big bad villain, and the role of his militia within the world of Revolution.
Hollywood.com: With Gus [Fring, on Breaking Bad] you always kept us guessing — you were so reserved. Now, you have the opportunity to play a villain with more of a blank canvas. How has that been?
Esposito: Certainly Gus was an exciting character to play, but I’m really excited to be working with Captain Neville. He’s a loose cannon, and I think he enjoys what he does a little too much. There’s room with Neville to make some mistakes. With Gus, he was so planned, and so articulate and so graceful and so kind in some ways, that he did everything right — he hid in plain sight. Neville’s not trying to hide in plain sight. He can be an a******, he can be a d***, he can be cruel, and he switches on a dime. And I like that. In the same token, he can also have grace and compassion, which you’ll start to see early on, because he has to lead men. Those men have to follow him, and have a reason to follow him, so he needs to be fierce. You need to see that fierceness.
You were saying that you want to find ways to make him good, but from what we see in the pilot, when we first meet him, it’s not exactly all kittens and rainbows. How have you been exploring that — finding little ways to make him likable?
Any person who leads an army of men, they’re gonna lose some men. There’s going to be decisions that Neville has to make in regards to telling those men that they may not live. You’re going to see it there — you’re going to see him be someone who they look up to. I think he is brutal and ruthless with his enemies, because the enemy is right there and the enemy is armed — people who are armed, and should not be. So the goodness in him will come out from him protecting a mass group of people from bands of marauders. He’s staving off anarchy. So in his mind, he’s doing a lot of good for a lot of people, because there would be total anarchy if he wasn’t there.
Why does the militia get to decide who can and cannot carry a gun?
It’s as if someone is telling you, ‘I know how you should live your life, and it would be better.’ Look at our society now — I’m in North Carolina, and you can walk into a store and buy a gun. In Arizona, you can walk in a store and buy a gun and have it on your hip and walk around with it. There are people who are angry, and people who abuse that privilege. So it’s something that bears looking at, and I think we’re going to look at it on Revolution.
[Kripke] was saying he doesn’t necessarily want to explore too much of what happened right after the blackout, because he wants to focus on what you’re rebuilding fifteen years after it. But we know Neville worked in insurance before the blackout. Did his experiences in that job have anything to do with what he’s become?
He never achieved his dream of owning a company, of being the top dog, I think he was slightly nebbish at that time — he never imagined or dreamed he could break out of that. He is that really understated pencil-pusher, and he wanted to be respected in a different way — to have a little more power. He was probably pushed around at school when he was young. I’d love to eventually go back and see him in that state, and how he got to be this powerful guy. Many of us in life have had occupations that we were good at, but maybe we were not so happy in. And if we had the opportunity again, would we do something that brought us more glory, more fame, more fortune? Neville had that opportunity during the blackout and he seized it, and it changed who he is.
He seized it, but he’s still not the top guy. Will we see more of his relationship with Monroe? (David Lyons) I mean, Monroe likes to brand people — isn’t that a little 50 Shades of Grey?
It really is Fifty Shades of Grey, absolutely. We’re all branded, because that’s how you show your allegiance. You go through that branding process so that he can know that you’re part of his family, and you can be identified. We’re going to get into what that’s about. Probably in a few episodes, we’re going to begin to know why that branding happens. We’re going to see [the militia’s power] coming down from Monroe, who at this point in time…is a little tired of having to run the whole show. I joke with Eric that it’s the Monroe Republic, and we’re going to change [on the brand] the M to an N. It’ll be Neville Land.
How does everyone even know that the Monroe Republic is in charge? In the pilot, we see these scattered, rural communities. It doesn’t seem like they can really communicate with each other, and it’s not like they had a televised election.
It’s very fascinating. Think about the logistics of a country that has no electronics, and no mode of transport to get back and forth — that’s a great question that you have. How do they communicate, how do they know? People are living in fear, and fear is a big element in our show. Who do you fear? How do you deal with that kind of fear? How do you survive with that kind of oppression?
Does Neville fear anybody?
I don’t think so.
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[PHOTO CREDIT: Bob Mahoney/NBC]