Gabriel Mann has a pretty astonishing memory. He reminds me of the last time we spoke – over a year ago, between scenes in Mason Treadwell’s house (Dick Clark’s Malibu home in reality) and at a time Revenge was everyone’s ‘guilty pleasure.’ Fast forward a year and after a shocking season finale that set the internet on fire Revenge is back. Suddenly the word ‘guilty’ is so very last year.
“That was one of the most amazing transitions last year,” says Gabriel commenting on how people’s perceptions of the show have changed over time. “After we established the Revenge template we began moving away from the take down per episode and moving on to exploring the psychology of the different characters. That’s really down to the genius of our writer producer creator Mike Kelly. I think he always had that in his mind. Obviously, we used the beginning of the series to hook people in to the premise, and then once we had them we drove them over all kinds of cliffs and roller-coasters. And I think in the process of doing that it really became this interesting psychological character exploration of all of these different people – the spoils of having too much money, or too little money, the townies versus the super rich, and seeing the parallels of how everyone is still searching for the same answers regardless of socioeconomic status.”
“For me, what the whole series really started to boil down to is characters – even the really well established ones – who are misfits. They are misfits because of their secrets, because of the things they don’t reveal versus the things they do reveal and ultimately ending up in this search for family, for belonging. Whether it’s Emily and Nolan trying to forge a bond together in the midst of a very tricky situation, or whether it’s Victoria trying to figure out who her allegiances belong to. Is it her family? Is it her lovers from the past? And right down to characters like Ashley and Amanda Clarke. How do they find a place to fit in, in this world? In starting to get deeper into these characters minds and hearts the ‘guilty’ part of the pleasure started to slip away.”
So what’s new for Nolan Ross this year? Well, quite a lot actually, Gabriel reveals.
“We’ve got a very different looking Nolan – minus the Buster Brown haircut. That was a collaborative decision. We decided that Nolan’s eccentricity didn’t necessarily have to come from his hair, but from the inside. So it’ll be interesting. We’re going to find out more about Nolan and the secrets he’s kept and what his agenda really is. I’m finding out as we shoot it, so you really are seeing a very organic progression. Where it will end is probably beyond anything I could have come up with in my mind.”
This week ABC treated fans to several sneak peeks from Sunday’s upcoming season premiere, one of which features a rather buff looking Nolan working out in a boxing ring. I have been asked by fans to find out if he has always looked like that under his shirt or if he’s been working out recently.
He laughs. “I’m so flattered to be thought of in that way. Yes, I have been working out with probably the most amazing trainer in LA and will continue to. And I think the next time Nolan gets his shirt off will be just as much of a surprise. So get ready for a buffer tougher Nolan!”
“People are very impressed,” I tell him. ‘Shirtless Nolan’ has been topping the list of most searched for terms on our website all week.
“I was impressed too! I’m not gonna lie. I couldn’t believe it,” he laughs. “I was like, ‘Really? You’ve managed to be brave enough to play a whole scene in this gym with these real boxers with your shirt off?’ Nolan has officially turned a page. And so has Gabriel. That was a very personally satisfying moment for me, and I was happy to get to share it with the world!’ he laughs.
‘I think they’re happy too.”
“Good! I’m glad. I just want to make them happy. Give ’em what they want.” he jokes.
Season two is also going to bring its share of complications for Nolan, both in his relationships and on a business front, and I openly admit that I am fishing for spoilers.
“Oh fish away! Fish away,” he laughs. “I love it. I can’t say I’ll tell you the answer, but I will certainly tease you!”
I ask if we will see Nolan flying solo a little bit more this season.
“Yes, you’re going to see a lot more of Nolan’s world this year,” he confirms. “Because of some of our new additions to the Hamptons this year there are circumstances and people that are starting to pull Emily and Nolan apart to a certain degree. Nolan is going to have a number of reasons to need to keep a better eye on his business this year. He made some choices as a result of what happened in season one, and some of those choices carry repercussions which start to evolve this season, setting him out on his own path. But they will also definitely end up bringing him back into the fold in a very interesting way,” he teases. “With potential repercussions to set up story lines with characters that I don’t think anyone will see coming.”
“And then look, Nolan in his heart is a very lonely guy,” he adds. “He’s like a little boy lost. I think in his continued search for a partner, a lover, a friend or what have you, he may stumble across some interesting people in that process – one of whom is Padma,” he says referring to Dilshad Vadsaria’s character – a financial genius who will become romantically linked to Nolan in episodes to come. Rumor also has it that Padma will have a rival for Nolan’s affections in the form of his ex-boyfriend, so look out for love-triangle sparks flying this season on the romance front.
“Dilshad has been an incredible addition to our cast,” says Gabriel. “She’s just amazing to work with. She’s a really fantastic actress. I’ve been so fortunate to have her around.”
Gabriel reveals we will find out about Padma sooner rather than later. “We don’t like to drag things out. There’s always another mystery or scandal to dive into. We get bored of our scandals quick on this show so we need to move on to the next. That’s part of the pleasure of getting to act it too,” he observes. “We [the cast] are left with a cliff-hanger every time we get a new script. They don’t tell us what’s going to happen as a result of what they’ve set up. All of us are chomping at the bit to get to the table read for the following script.”
“We get episode seven on Monday,” he reveals. “It’s going to be a long weekend waiting to find out what happens as a result of episode six. Oh that’s a doozy! I think people will be thrilled with the way we’ve picked up the pieces from the finale of last year, and the way in which they’ve been woven back together again. It’s kind of a master stroke of genius. I’ll definitely be keeping track of the Twitter response on Sunday night.”
I reveal that I’ve seen the premiere already.
“Lucky!” he exclaims. “I am officially jealous! I haven’t seen it yet. You now know more than I do, and that actually makes me nervous. Maybe you can tell me what you thought?”
“Fish away. I can’t say I’ll tell you the answer but I’ll certainly tease you,” I reply.
“Oh touché!” he laughs.
This week we invited fans to ask Gabriel Mann a question. The large number of responses (thank you all!) coupled with time constraints for our interview meant that not all questions could be answered. We have included a short selection below that were not otherwise covered in the main interview above.
Fan Question: What was your favorite scene from season one?
Gabriel Mann: “I loved the season finale scene between Nolan and Emily in the living room. The ‘Let it play’ scene.That was incredibly satisfying to shoot. I always had immense fun playing with Amanda Clarke AKA Fauxmanda, so any Fauxmanda scene was always a pleasure to get to shoot with Margarita Levieva who is plus-perfect in that role. I have to say, it was always fun showing up at the Stowaway to try and manipulate Jack. Hey, I think I covered my whole storyline!
Fan Question: Who Plays Emily’s Mom?
Gabriel Mann: Emily’s Mom is played by Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Fan Question: What surprises and complications can we expect in Season 2?
Gabriel Mann: Oh there are so many complications that have come to the Hamptons this season. We have all of these new cast members including Emily’s mother. We also have the fate of some of our most beloved characters hanging in the balance, and we have a new and improved, buffer, tougher Nolan. That was a surprise to me too!
Revenge premieres Sunday, September 30, 9:00-10:00 p.m., ET/PT.