It’s hard to find a character on Revolution whose actions and personality don’t fit the term “morally grey” — but Giancarlo Esposito’s Tom Neville has always walked the seemingly thin, fine line between good and evil.
After a rocky climb from the bottom up following last season’s fall of the Monroe Republic, season two of the NBC drama has found the former sheriff experiencing the short thrill of being back in power, along with the loss and return (and loss) of his wife, Julia (Kim Raver)…not to mention his son, Jason (JD Pardo). And when Revolution returns tonight, the tension is heightened to an even greater level.
After congratulating the Breaking Bad actor on his recent and well-deserved Walk of Fame star, EW talked to Esposito about tonight’s big Charlie/Neville showdown, and where Tom Neville is headed for the rest of the season.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First of all, congratulations on your Walk of Fame star! I’m so happy for you. Are you pinching yourself?
GIANCARLO ESPOSITO: It feels surreal. I’ve gotta be honest with you, as the days have been growing closer to that moment, I remember as a kid going back and walking on Hollywood Blvd. And I looked at all the stars that I was familiar with, some of whom since I’ve worked with. Back then, I really loved Burt Lancaster’s work; I worked with him when I was 13. Jimmy Cagney, now I can really relate to Jimmy — that public enemy, a gangster we love to hate, and we hated to love him, but we did. And I’ve played Gus Fring since then. All of a sudden, somewhere in the fourth season of Breaking Bad, the audience started to really like Gus and understand him. It’s hard to put into words being brought into this Hollywood family and to be immortalized in this way. On the lighter side, I now tell my children you can walk on me forever. [Laughs]
Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect from Neville when this episode picks up? Obviously, we know from the previews that we’re in for an epic showdown of sorts.
I feel like Tom is a very complicated character. And it’s always been a rub that his son has had his attention elsewhere. And that it’s a woman. And Charlie has gotten my son’s attention so much that he’s lost sight of what our real goal is at points. I get him back, and I lose him, and then I get him back and I lose him, and part of what I love about what [Eric] Kripke does is the mythology that gets wrapped into our show. So we have a woman that’s got his attention, but he also has a little respect for this girl who is a survivor like he is. But, he knows that she knows something he doesn’t and that his son is in trouble, and he starts to figure out that his son may be dead. And that’s something that I don’t know how to ever portray on camera other than be in the moment and feel the deep love that I have for JD [Pardo]. I couldn’t imagine losing a child.
What do you think is going through Neville’s head? The last real interaction he had with Jason was when they were basically yelling at each other, so how is that going to weigh on him?
If you remember back in season one, Tom has a little bit of religion in him. It’s an eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth, he’s gotta take her. That’s his intention, I think, in the end. If we’re able to move forward, there is that opportunity to be out of judgment and forgive, and how do we deal with that eye-for-an-eye if there’s no right or wrong and there’s no blame? And certainly, we’ll probably find out that maybe Jason’s spirit was taken in a certain way, his mind was taken, he wasn’t himself, he had no choice. All of these things are so important, but you have to do it in an entertaining way, because we’re an entertaining show. But there’s a great opportunity there.
Well, it’s certainly entertaining – I can’t wait to see how everything plays out.
I hate her right now [laughs] and I don’t even know yet. And this guy…there’s a pressure that would come over you if you lose a child and lose a wife and you’re realizing it, and you have no idea, but you’re sniffing something out and someone knows something you don’t. What happens when you find out it’s her that did it? It’s just gonna be quite an explosion, and I hope we’ve captured some of what this might be — the pain of that, the angst of that, the understanding of that, and the denial that anything other than her life must be mine.
Tom is such a layered character. We saw that in the first season when we first learned about his past, but I feel with everything he’s gone through, we’ve seen just how complicated he really is.
It is a well-drawn canvas that we have for Tom Neville. And I have to tell you, I’m deeply appreciative of that because there are many directions he could go in. But this is when you find out…you know, it’s sort of like what you say when I have four kids with me and I have to drive, and the GPS isn’t working, and I’m screaming…that’s when you find out who you are. That’s Tom Neville. He can go from zero to sixty like that. He’s so guarded. And because he was such a good guy and got stepped on, now he sniffs them out before they can sniff him out. He figures out your intentions and if you’re gonna turn on him, because he was hurt badly.
Where do you hope to see Neville go if season three happens? Is there something in particular you’d like to see?
This is the time that we’re gonna find out — because people ask me all the time — is he a good guy or a bad guy. Well, what are you? What am I? I think human beings are intrinsically good people, but things happen. And circumstances of a situation dictate how you are in that moment, and you never get another chance to make a first impression. If you fly off the handle the first time you meet somebody, they’re going to think of you in that way forever — that you’re volatile, that you’re this or that. I do think underneath all of this, he is a good man. I believe that. But who knows? So I’m interested in mining that territory. I think we’re going to really find out if he’s good at heart.
What can you tease about Neville’s arc for the rest of the season?
For a while, I think he’s going to be a rogue, he’s going to be an absolute maniac because he’s hurt, and he’s angry. But then I think you’re gonna see him come to an understanding not only possibly of forgiveness but of a deeper understanding. Because when we lose people, we have to really go through our own lives with that person and start to see the completion of who we are. And out of that, we change. And that’s what I love about the nature of what I do. And I’m hoping that Kripke and his wonderful writers capture this. They deepen the show every year, and I’m hoping it can deepen a lot more. I think it takes courage, but I’m thankful that I have this character that can really be the essence of this show and really show the human beats that we go through in our lives that we’re afraid to look at.
Revolution‘s “$#!& HAPPENS” episode airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.