EXCLUSIVE: Tracy Spiridakos Talks Revolution with Screen Spy
Following a series of key screenings across the US last week, Revolution officially premieres on September 17th on NBC. This high-concept show, centering on the mystery surrounding a decade-long global blackout, comes with some big names attached including JJ Abrams, Jon Favreau and Eric Kripke. Screen Spy recently sat down with Revolution star Tracy Spiridakos (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Majority Rules!) to discuss the show, its central character Charlie Matheson and what fans can expect to see over the season ahead.
“When I first read the script I got a sense that there was actually something grand and quite magical about it,” says Tracy, recalling the moment she realized what a truly high-concept show Revolution actually was. “As far as the people involved are concerned, I couldn’t be happier. It’s like a dream team. I definitely felt it was going to be something very unique and very cool.”
Revolution centers on Charlie (Spiridakos), a young woman who has grown up in a world without electricity, following a cataclysmic and seemingly irreversible global blackout which has thrown mankind back into the dark ages. Although we briefly see Charlie as a young child (with her eyes glued to a TV screen), fifteen years later her life is very different. Just how has Charlie’s outlook been shaped by living in a world without conventional power?
“I think that because the lights went out for her at such a young age she very much adapted to not having it,” says Tracy. “I think it’s taken her back to the fundamentals of family and community. Those things are the most important things in her life. In our world there are so many distractions and other things going on, but Charlie lives in this one little village, and probably would do for the rest of her life if [her brother] Danny hadn’t been taken away. Day in day out it’s her brother and her father and her community that she is closest to. The bond is very strong. Family are community are the most important things to Charlie, and she will fight to keep them alive.”
In fact, family, says Tracy is one of Revolution‘s central themes. “Family, community and love. It goes beyond just the apocalyptic event itself. That’s the circumstance they’ve been put into, but the real story is about the journey of these people who are fighting for each other.”
Fighting may not be Charlie’s first choice however. When we first meet her in the pilot, she is an inquisitive and adventurous young woman, both starved for experience and desperate to reconnect to the outside world she dimly remembers from childhood. However, as both her father, and Maggie the village doctor tell her, she is not prepared for the savagery of the outside world, and we get the sense that it’s unlikely Charlie would ever have the opportunity to spread her wings but for a tragic incident involving the local Militia and the arrest of her younger brother Danny (Graham Rogers).
Now Charlie, accompanied by her father’s closest friends – former Google Geek Aaron (Zak Orth) and village doctor Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips) – must set out on a quest to find her uncle Miles and rescue her brother. With this little band setting out on such an enormous and almost Tolkien-esque quest, I ask Tracy if she thinks both she and her companions make for quite an unlikely trio.
“Yes!” she says, laughing at the Tolkien comparison. “They are a very unlikely trio, but I think that’s the beauty of it. Like in life, we don’t often end up in our ideal situations or necessarily the people we think we’d like to, but if you take a moment to look closer you realize that everyone has something to contribute to your life. I think that’s what’s really neat about this. From Charlie’s point of view she doesn’t want either of them to come with her, but I think she very quickly realizes that they are there with her throughout this. They quickly come to have each other’s backs.”
Will Uncle Miles, as played by Billy Burke, be everything Charlie hopes? Not exactly, says Tracy, who describes Charlie’s relationship with her estranged uncle as ‘jagged.’
“Miles has put himself in this situation where he is isolated from everything and everyone that he loves,” she explains. “It’s his way of protecting himself – both from from his own emotions and everyone else. Then all of a sudden this person comes in and disrupts everything that he’s carved out for himself . So their relationship is very jagged – despite that fact that he has love for her. She is his brother’s daughter after all.”
“For her, he is the person who holds the key to getting her brother back. He is the answer, but he is also the only family right in front of her right now. Regardless of whether she knows him or not, he’s a piece of her Dad. For him, he’s got to take that and at the same time try to keep his distance and his emotions out of it. It’s a battle for him. They’re going to have a very cool relationship,” she laughs. “Every time I get to read a script and see where we’re all going I get so excited. I’m so excited for it to air. I just want everyone to see!”
Charlie’s uncle Miles is not the only intriguing male figure on the show. The pilot introduces Nate (JD Pardo), a mysterious and handsome young man who seems just a little too eager for Charlie to see her mission through. However, circumstances reveal Nate to be something other than he claims, and their relationship seems short-lived … for now. I ask Tracy if Nate’s loyalties will prevent he and Charlie from exploring their bond further.
“Where Nate’s loyalties lie is the interesting question,” she muses. “And Charlie has no idea about that yet. He does confuse her just as much as he confuses the audience. The question is always out there. We’ll see where it goes and what develops. He’s certainly a very cool character and I can tell you that we’ll be seeing more of him.”
The pilot episode offers up some pretty stunning visuals including ruined cities, downed planes, train wrecks and rusting Ferris wheels. It’s quite a visually ambitious start to the series, and there is more to come, says Tracy. “The creative forces behind this show are brilliant. They have so many fun and very cool ideas coming forward. I just got hold of one of the latest episodes we’re starting to work on right now, and I read it and thought What!?! You have no idea what’s coming!” she laughs. “Mother nature plays just as much a character on the show as we do. And we’ll see a lot more of that too.”
The action too is set to ramp up as the season progresses. “The whole story is escalating as it progresses,” Tracy explains. “They’re walking right towards the guys who have Danny, so the obstacles that they face and the people they meet along the way definitely elevate the action. It’s so much fun. We get to explore the drama and the richness of the characters, but then you also get to do sword-fighting and butt-kicking. Just as you’re wiping away your tears you’ll see a whole bunch of crazy things go down.”
Catch Tracy Spiridakos in action when Revolution kicks off on Monday September 17th (10-11 p.m. ET) on NBC.