Stephen Collins Discusses ‘Revolution’ and the End of Season Two

Stephen Collins Revolution Interview
Stephen Collins as Dr. Gene Porter and Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in 'Revolution' (Photo by: Felicia Graham/NBC)

By Rebecca Murray

Stephen Collins admits he binge-watched the first season of NBC’s Revolution when he found out he landed the role of ‘Dr. Gene Porter’ on season two, and after sitting through all of the episodes Collins became a diehard fan of the series. And at the 2014 WonderCon in Anaheim, CA, Collins talked about what life is actually like on the set and how much he admires his Revolution co-stars.

Stephen Collins Interview

So the whole group will be back together fighting the good fight?

Stephen Collins: “It is a great group of people. You know, I’ve been on enough shows and been around enough television sets that there’s almost always somebody, at least one person in the cast that everybody kind of rolls their eyes about and goes, ‘Ugh.’ Maybe with love, maybe without. But there’s nobody like that on this show. It really is an extraordinary group. And the thing that shocked me about Liz [Mitchell] is that I expected her – just having seen her work – to be very grim and very serious, and one of those very kind of, ‘Hi, how are you?’ never cracking a smile on the set kind of people. And she’s like this [friendly and happy] on the set all the time. In the grimmest scenes she’s [happy] right up to, ‘Scene three take four,’ and then she goes to this place of Rachel-ness. I don’t know how she does it. Actors processes are all different, but Liz more than almost anyone I know stays upbeat and bubbly and silly. Then as soon as that clapper hits and they say action, goes to this place of Rachel who is outwardly so serious all the time. But within that energetic range she has eight cagillion colors. I love working with her. She’s a really great acting partner.”

We hear that there’s so much happening in the final episodes. What can you tease about what’s in store for you?

Stephen Collins: “Well there’s a lot of pure survival going on because the patriots are really pulling out all the stops. And so for Gene, it’s very elemental. One is that he’s tired. He’s the oldest one and there’s part of him that’s just done. I mean, how much can you get up and run away and kill? So he has his own internal battle going on too because there’s a part of him that just can’t do it anymore. And one of the things that I think is interesting about the last couple of episodes is the ways in which the different characters kind of challenge each other to find a way to keep going. And Rachel’s very instrumental in that.

We had a scene that I don’t want to say I enjoyed – I enjoyed it when it was over – very, very tough emotional scene between us in which she basically says, ‘Look, you’re the one who’s been telling me to have faith and now I’m telling you that you have to. You can’t give up.’ That’s the essence of it. When we were shooting it, Liz, as she does often, from take-to-take she’ll do something very different from what she did before or just a little different. She always keeps it fresh. In the middle of this take in which the script said something like, ‘Dad, I’m telling you…,’ she said daddy. She called me daddy and she knows I have a grown daughter, and I think she just knew as a daughter herself that that would get to me – and it did. That’s the kind of generosity in a way that not all actors have. She knew it would affect her to say it that way. Something so simple, the difference between dad and daddy, but daddy is much more vulnerable and it just hit me between the eyes or in the heart or whatever. It’s the kind of thing that Liz does when she knows the scene is difficult and she knows that you’re trying to dig down deep anyway, and she just surprises you with a little thing like that which can make all the difference.

I love her as an acting partner because she’s always so emotionally available. The whole cast is, there’s no slouches in this cast, but playing father and daughter is particularly…it’s an interesting bond. And then with everything that happened with the reveal that Gene had been working for the patriots and the fact that Rachel almost killed him early on in the season. She was willing to put a bomb down a chimney that would have killed him but it turned out he wasn’t there, so there’s a lot of stuff between them.

But the last couple of episodes have some really…I don’t think of the show as an action show and yet it is in part and there’s a terrific sequence that takes place on a train that when I saw it in the script I thought, ‘You’ve got to be joking. On a train? You’re going to take all of this stuff and then put it on a moving train? Do you know how hard that is to shoot?’ To shoot anything on a moving train is to say, ‘Let’s make it 50 times more difficult than if that train isn’t moving,’ because of matching and just getting the camera into place. Our grip team created a 70′ crane that actually the end of it was two railroad cars down from where we were shooting this. It took two big guys – it had these two huge handles on it – these two like bodybuilder grips, they were hanging on this thing and moving it because on the other end of this thing is the camera moving up and moving down depending on what they did. Over to the windows and coming up over the top and seeing Miles and Charlie shoot it out with patriots, it’s so cool. When people ask me what it’s like doing the show I say, ‘Among other things, the eight year old in me that always just wanted to play Cowboys and Indians is like in heaven.’ Here we are on a train taking the shotgun that has real charges in it going, ‘Boom! Boom!’ It’s just that eight year old part of us that I think, for guys at least, made us want to become an actor. It’s so much fun to play in your friend’s house when you’re eight and think, ‘I get to do this for a living.’

There’s a lot of very, very complicated, cool…it’s the combination of action with the interior fight that’s going on within every character that’s really cool. I think it’s going to be really interesting. They won’t let me say anything more about what’s actually going on, but I’m looking forward to it. That’s one of the things that I love is that I look forward to watching this show. I’ve been on shows where I didn’t care that much, but I’m into it. When I got hired I thought I’d watch the last few shows of season one that I wasn’t on. And I did watch the last few and then I went back and watched them all from the beginning. I got into it totally like a fan. When I went to the set the first day to work, I had just watched 22 hours of the show. It’s like, ‘Oh my god, you’re Liz Mitchell. Billy Burke!’ I was like a fan, so it took a while to break that down because I was so excited to meet everybody.”

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