Exclusive Interview: Gabriel Mann (Revenge) dishes on the Shamu cam, those sideways glances, and more| April 25, 2012 at 1:30 AM EST
On ABC’s Revenge, Gabriel Mann plays Nolan Ross (a millionaire tech genius.) In real life, Mann is one part devious Twitter overlord (aren’t you under his thrall?) and two parts an articulate charmer.
I had the chance to take a joyride in Mann’s mind for this Small Screen Scoop exclusive interview. Our talking destinations landed us in the realm a possible Revenge musical scenario, the reality of the abundant allure of the Emily/Nolan romance, and a note on going to happen to his hair before the curtain closes on the Revenge season one finale.
Small Screen Scoop (SSS): So, both you and Mike Kelley have referred to Nolan as the shows Greek Chorus. I doubt there would ever be Revenge: the Musical, but if there was – can you sing?
Gabriel Man (GM): I can sing, yes. And boy, I would be more than happy to do a musical episode of Revenge. I think it would be genius, now that you mention it. We had talked about at one point doing the no dialogue, only sideways glances episode of Revenge. It hasn’t happened yet, but we are gunning for it. So much of what really happens in the scenes is really revealed in looks and in the moment somebody turns away from somebody else, it’s never what it seems to be. We got a lot of pleasure out of imagining a whole show without dialogue – just giving each other the stink eye for an hour. So, I don’t know. Maybe that dream will come to fruition. Maybe not.
But now that you mention it, we can ditch the no-dialogue script and bring in the musical script. I’d be completely down for that.
We have… well, Emily (VanCamp) says she doesn’t sing. But you know what? Anything she sets her mind to do on this show, she has done, and done it flawlessly. So I have no doubt in my mind that if she set her sights on becoming the next American Idol, she could probably pull it off.
SSS: And who do you think you sound like when you sing?
GM: Hmmm. It depends what kind of mood I’m in.
I had done a movie a bunch of years back where I play a singer in a bar band, like up in Montana. And I was really fortunate to get to work with an extraordinary music producer named T-Bone Burnett, and he produced the songs that I got to sing. It’s actually me singing in the film – the movie’s called Don’t Come Knocking. He had directed a kind of singing performance out of me that when I finally heard it played back I would not necessarily even know that it was me singing.
So, that guy in that movie sounds like… hmm…I’m gonna make a really obscure, classic rock reference…a guy named Tim Hardin who most people don’t know, was a big influence to the music scene back in the 60’s/70’s… So, that’s not a very exciting reference, especially since no one knows who he is…. But I would say in that film I sound a little like Tim Hardin. There’s a melodic, kind of folky quality to my voice. But at the same time I can carry a big tune – so if you wanna go (sings) Brooooadwaaaay… I can throw a little Broadway out there. But, probably more toward a rock sound. An indie rock sound.
SSS: I could see you in an indie rock band.
GM: Oh, if I wasn’t doing all this that’s what I woulda been doing. I thought for a minute about doing them simultaneously, but I think that’s always very loaded as an actor when you become a “slash,” and you do an actor “slash” anything. You better be really, really good at it. And one of the few people I think has really pulled it off pretty flawlessly is Ryan Gosling and his band Dead Man’s Bones. They are so great, so, so great. I mean, if I was going to do anything like that, it would be some kind of feeling like that. Not necessarily any similarity ot his music, but in trying to bring a legitimacy to that instead of “oh hey look at me, I’m an actor and why aren’t you paying money to come see me play music…or maybe…
SSS: So there’s not gonna be an episode where it’s like “Nolan has a garage band, and Jack and Emily are joining in!”
GM: You know what, I think you need to come hang out in the writer’s room. I love the stuff that you’re suggesting. So… skip the musical episode, it’s just that Nolan has a band on the side. We get to kill all birds with one stone that way. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
SSS: We know that you’re the king of Twitter… you favorited one of my tweets the other day, it was very exciting. But Joshua Bowman mentioned you guys all share another addiction. So, who is the Draw Something champ on set?
GM: Oooh, okay. I’m just going to state for the record, flat out, that Josh is not great at Draw Something. Emily tends to get very frustrated with him because he … I don’t know. I actually don’t play that game. I never was a Words with Friends guy, I’m not a Draw Something guy. The person that actually is the most amazing at it is one of our behind-the-scenes guys, one of our writer’s – Joe Fazzio.
I look at the stuff he did and I’m like, “wait, wait, did you draw that?” And he’s like, “yea.” I’m like, “okay, wow. You are multi-talented. That’s frightening.”
There have been a few Twitter pictures out there by our writer, Joe. But yea, Joe Fazzio kind of puts us all to shame in the Draw Something game.
And as I said, worst: Josh Bowman.
SSS: I’ll make sure that it gets out there!
GM: And I say that with love.
SSS: Does it surprise you how many fans really want to see Emily (Emily VanCamp) and Nolan together romantically?
GM: It doesn’t… okay yes, it does surprise me. But I’m can’t say that some of that wasn’t intentional on my part. From my point of view, if Nolan was gonna be attracted to somebody… it would be somebody who thought very similarly to him, and that he respected… and Emily can continue to surprise him and blow his mind with her creative “revenging” along the way. And part of is it just the fact that they have a history together and he’s a very lonely guy. And whether the attention is good or bad, she’s giving it to him, and that’s what he’s desperate for.
So, he’s been getting to know her as this person she has put together in her quest to enact her plot back in the Hamptons… and you look at Emily, that’s a very beautiful woman. She’s gorgeous. There’s no way that as a man, even as a strange man, that he wouldn’t have some feeling about her. And it’s the fact that they have this secret together. I feel like there is something kind of sexy about it. And so that’s sort of how I approached it.
I don’t know that you would ever get the same answer from Emily about that. But certainly from my perspective…I thought, if I’m gonna try to create a flesh and blood human being out of this character he’s gotta take in the obvious – which is that there’s an attractive person very, very close to him. And for him to not notice that would be real strange, not that he’s already isn’t really strange. I just feel like that’s not something he’s gonna miss. And when it seems like maybe that’s not the direction she’s willing to go in with Nolan, see what happens… ? He hooks up with a crazy hustler.
I’ve still got a candle lit for Emily and Nolan.
But somewhere between the hooking up aspect and that, there’s some familial vibe between them… sort of brother/sister kind of thing… somewhere between those two is the nature of their relationship. As for what will happen if we’re lucky enough to get to get to continue to tell this story for a few seasons, I would say anything is possible on this show.
So, there have been comments from people who really want the relationship to go that way and then comments from like, Mike Kelley, our creator, who is like, “I don’t really see that happening.” But when I spoke to Mike I said, “you know how high the bar is set now in terms of coming up new stuff and continuing to keep the audience on their toes, so I don’t know if you want to negate that possibility.”
I don’t know if I won him over with that comment or whether I will continue to have to harass him about making that storyline a reality… but I think people are gonna see a lot more of the dynamic to the two characters as we move through the rest of the season. There’s an opening on the show for anything to happen and that’s half the fun.
SSS: I know you must be aware of fanfic, but do you ever watch fanmade videos with your character? There are a lot of Emily/Nolan ones.
GM: Every so often I will have to post one because somebody does a great job. And actually, as I’m watching the video, I forget that it’s not the story we told on screen. People have done some amazing stuff. And I think there are some real diehard fans, that really, really want to see that happen. And from my perspective, I would be happy, more than happy, to deliver. So we shall see how that plays out. But if the YouTube fanvideos are any testament, then… ABC should take note.
SSS: Let’s go back to just Nolan. No more Emily! In terms of authors, singers, style icons – What muses do you have in your head when it comes to playing Nolan?
GM: Originally when I first came in to read for the part, there were very vague references made in relation to this character about Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. But I though, we already have them and we’ve already see it played out. So if I’d done something like that it would have felt like… it just wasn’t interesting to me. So I thought, what haven’t we haven’t seen we seen from some very wealthy creative eccentric person? So, with that idea I started putting together the pieces for how I wanted that character to be, with some cues here and there, obviously, from the creative people on the show. But it just kind of came as we went. It wasn’t necessarily really planed out. Some of it, like Nolan’s thing with smelling things, was improvised. I just thought, he’s one of those guys. If anything, I would say he’s probably closer to Howard Hughes than he is to Steve Jobs.
I was getting a lot of people commenting on twitter that they were getting a very James Spader “Pretty in Pink” kind of feeling. He’s always been an actor I love and I’m really glad I like him because through the course of my career I’ve heard many comparisons between us, certainly at least in the way we look or appear. So, somewhere between Howard Hughes and “Pretty in Pink” is where Nolan lives. At least right now. But that’s not to say he won’t continue to transition if we are lucky enough to get to continue to tell this story. So, I am very curious to see where we will go with Nolan. But I think we’ve set ourselves up to go somewhere very interesting and fun.
SSS: What can we expect to see from Nolan in these last five episodes of season 1?
GM: What can I tease… what can I tease you with…. You can expect to see him without the Bieber on his head. And you can expect to start to unravel some of the origins of these characters relationship with each other. There is some Jack and Nolan origin story telling. Which is really exciting for me to get to know more in-depth what the genesis of their their thing was before we got into the pilot episode of our series. And I’m very excited that was in there. You will also get to see more origin of Nolan and Emily’s friendship.
There will be, I don’t know if “love interest” is the right word, but there will be a taste of some lovin’. And let’s see, what else would I wanna tease without getting fired… this has already been teased a little ways back but, boy, there are some big, potential deaths on this show. And whether that has anything to do with me or not I really can’t tell you.
There were a number of moments reading these last two episodes where I thought, I can’t wait to be a fly on the wall on Twitter on the night when this episode airs. It’s gonna be like Christmas to see how people react to some stuff that’s coming very quickly. And I think these last couple of episodes, as we wrap up the season, is everything that everybody has loved through the year… but sort of, kind of, just add some fertilizer and some Miracle Grow or something… and watch it sort of turn from a twig into a jungle. I don’t know, that was a really weird metaphor…
SSS: Do twigs become jungles?
GM: They don’t become jungles at all. (Laugh) I’m just trying to create a way to say it’s just really major.
Everybody’s characters finds themselves in a very, very different place than where we started off. And it just gets more and more fun. If you’ve been having fun watching this show, you will be having a lot more fun.
SSS: When Revenge ends, hopefully at least six seasons from now, do you have an idea of a prop you’d like to take home, such as the Shamu Cam-
GM: You said it! It’s the Shamu Cam! It’s totally the Shamu Cam. I would probably take the Infinity Box, but I think Emily probably has dibs on that. So I would be very happy to take the Shamu Cam, considering that they gave us little USB Shamu’s during break. And it was so cool, I loved it. But I gave it to Ellen DeGeneres on her show. So, for being generous I now have no Shamu Cam! So, I’ll have to – well, now it’s in print… If the Shamu Cam disappears, it wasn’t me!
SSS: What are you going to be doing for your hiatus?
GM: There will be some traveling. There will hopefully be some family time back East. I will be doing at least one movie during hiatus, maybe two.
I feel very fortunate… I’ve had sort of the most amazing year of my career ever. So I think whatever would come to follow Nolan, hopefully would be just as compelling or interesting in a different kind of way. I am still in my love affair with Nolan Ross, so I’m not quite ready to let him go yet.
SSS: Well we’re glad for that. I love him and his popped collars.. he’s a very fresh – I’d call him a fresh – character.
GM: I’m gonna steal that.
SSS: You can even call him freshy fresh.
GM: We can call him Snoop Freshy Fresh, and only you and I will know what we’re talking about. (Editor’s Note: Plus all awesome Small Screen Scoop readers.)
SSS: Yes, that’s a good secret. See, Emily and Nolan have their secret, and now we have ours.
GM: It all comes back to secrets.
Wanna find out more secrets? Revenge airs every Wednesday at 10/9c on ABC.
Photos courtesy of ABC.