From the producing team of Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun comes The Cape, about a man who lost everything and is about to take it all back.
David Lyons (ER) stars as Vince Faraday, a cop framed for crimes he did not commit, forcing him to team up with a group of carnival misfits to take a new identity, fight crime and win his family back. Fueled by a desire to reunite with his wife, Dana (Jennifer Ferrin, Life on Mars) and son, Trip (Ryan Wynott, “FLash Forward), Faraday becomes “The Cape” – his son’s favorite comic book superhero – taking the law into his own hands and battling the criminal forces that have overtaken Palm City.
Rounding out the cast are James Frain (True Blood, The Tudors) as billionaire Peter Fleming – The Cape’s nemesis – who moonlights as the twisted killer, Chess; Keith David (Death at A Funeral) as Max Malini, the ringleader of a circus gang of bank robbers who mentors Faraday and trains him to be The Cape; Summer Glau (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) as Orwell, an investigative blogger who wages war on crime and corruption in Palm City; Dorian Missick (Six Degrees) as Marty Voyt, a former police detective and friend to Faraday; Martin Klebba (Pirates of the Caribbean) as Rollo, member and unassuming muscle of the circus gang of bank robbers and Vinnie Jones (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) as Scales, resident thug and cohort of The Cape's nemesis Chess.
In this past Monday night's episode, Dice, Mena Suvari (American Pie) guest-starred as a "ghost" from Peter Fleming's past, who arrived in Palm City with a score to settle, just as Peter's security company was preparing to launch a technological advancement designed to literally change the future. Luckily for Fleming, Vince Faraday had no choice but to intervene as The Cape, when Tracey/Dice (Suvari) tried to kill Peter. Prior to the airing of this episode, The Cape's extremely affable leading man, David Lyons, spoke on the phone with myself and fellow journalists about his work on the series. The following is an edited version of our Q & A. Enjoy!
Could you tell us a little bit about how Vince is challenged about the changes in tonight's episode by learning he actually has to keep his nemesis alive a little bit longer.
DAVID LYONS - I mean, it's a difficult and very jagged pill for him to swallow. The same man that has led him to live a life underground is the same man that he has to save from this woman, Dice. But through the help of Orwell, she allows him to understand the importance of keeping alive the one man that can prove his innocence, and it kind of stems from there.
Could talk a little bit about working with Mena Suvari and what she adds to the show.
DL - She adds so much. Mena is such an amazing and talented actress, and she played a really interesting and nuanced character of Tracey Jarrod a.k.a Dice. a savant who has the ability to essentially predict the future by reading the environment. Her sense perception and intelligence is so vast that she can see things happening before they happen. And the way Mena plays it is, again, so subtle and beautifully nuanced, and on top of that, certainly, is her character's relationship with Peter Fleming, which blossoms into a pseudo-sexual kind of relationship between two very aggressive individuals who are after the same thing. Caught in the middle of that is Vince Faraday, who is desperately trying to keep her at bay from Peter Fleming, which, as I say, is a difficult pill for my character to swallow. In order to achieve his goals, Vince has to save the one man that he despises so much.
What have been some of the physical challenges you've faced so far with this role and did you do any training prior to stepping into the Vince/Cape character?
DL - It's been incredibly physically demanding, fully more so than any other role that I've ever taken on. Prior to starting the pilot, I was training with a fight choreography crew called 8711 that work in mixed martial arts. So every moment that I had spare was spent with them working the bags, working with different stunt people just trying to get basic choreography and a fight style down for Vince Faraday. Every fighter has their own technique, and he's got a particular one, which comes from a military background, so we're kind of focusing on close-quarter combat and things of that nature. There is this extremely intricate fighting choreography that we have to go through, so it was quite a process. And it's a process that I'm still very much entrenched in and still learning my limitations as well as Vince Faraday's limitations.
David, in your eyes how have you seen your character's relationship develop with James Frain's character as the episodes have gone on?
DL - It's a really interesting relationship, because as we get the scripts, the world opens up so vastly where one man's obsession - Vince Faraday's - with Chess/Peter Fleming and bringing that man to justice is circumvented somewhat by other scenarios. There's the rise of Scales [Vinnie Jones], there is the ensuing violence that takes hold of Palm City, and then what we see in tonight's episode when Vince comes to the realization that he has to save Peter Fleming, his arch-nemesis, in order to prove his innocence, is a real vitriolic obsession that he cannot do anything about.
So there's a lot of frustration in the way Vince approaches the situation involving him and Peter Fleming, which kind of bleeds into his relationships with other people. I mean, he's an obsessive man, and each week as we go through the episodes, we see Vince doing something that is not directly family-related or getting back on track to being reunited with his family. He becomes more and more, I suppose, curtailed by circumstance, which bleeds into that frustration that he feels as a human being.
And the beauty of James Frain as an actor is the eloquence with which he approaches this role. He's such a likable villain, and his character and mine have a repartee, which usually revolves around a very witty, cold Chess, and a very, very angry and determined Cape. So that's how those roles are kind of twisting and turning as the story unfolds.
Just curious to know what attracted you to this type of material in the first place? Are you a Sci-Fi or comic book fan at all?
DL - I wasn't a Sci-Fi comic book fan, and what attracted me to it was knowing that, yes, it is a Sci-Fi comic book genre, but at the heart of it is a very, very real family drama. So the way I approached the script was the same way I approached the character, and it was not in terms of being a superhero. It was in terms of being a family man who is torn away from everything that he loves and is using this last vestige of hope in order to get it all back.
So it's been a really fascinating and steep learning curve for me in terms of the genre and mythology of these worlds, but one which has been incredibly enjoyable and quite a huge eye-opener as well as a thrill.
What's it like for you to anchor a TV show? Are you feeling any sort of pressure at all on a personal level?
DL - I think that you feel pressure regardless of what role you play. Just in terms of the fact that when you work on something, whether you're a painter, a cook, an actor, etc. -when you prepare something for other people to view, there is trepidation involved. But what we've been doing is just focusing really on the characters themselves and getting into the storyline, so that that concept of leading a show is not at the forefront of my mind and I can't afford to let it be. If/when it is, it starts getting in the way of the work, and at the end of the day, the work is what you're there for.
What has been the most fun aspect of working on this series?
DL - Without a shadow of a doubt, the cast. We've assembled not only the most fantastic bunch of actors right through every single role, but they're also an incredibly fun, humble and awesome bunch to be around. So we've managed to create a really beautiful family environment that is a joy to work in. So coming to set and creating this world, which is so rich and textured, is only embellished by the fact that everyone here is having such a great time.
What sort of superhero did you admire growing up, and what initially attracted you to the role of The Cape?
DL - As a kid, I don't specifically remember having a superhero that I was attracted to. Obviously, Christopher Reeve's Superman was one that was in the forefront of my mind, and also Star Wars and Han Solo and those types of guys. But in terms of approaching this, as I mentioned in a previous answer, I don't really view the character, Vince Faraday, as a superhero. He is more the everyman that's caught up in an environment that is so extreme that has to go to an extreme length in order to reclaim what it is that he's lost.
As far as blending my childhood with the current role, I think I was more 'obsessed' with the everyday heroes -- the concept of ordinary people doing the extraordinary -- and that's kind of how I've approached Vince Faraday as a character.
Can you talk about some of the discussions you've had with Tom Wheeler (series executive producer/writer) that have led to changes with Vince as a character?
DL - Yes, absolutely. I mean, Tom's been very open to all suggestions that we've been making and with all the characters it's been very much a unified creative space. As far as what is written in terms of scripts, there haven't been too many changes that I have made. There have been a couple of character points that have come up in terms of the reasons why Vince veers from the path of finding his family. That was something that as an actor I was finding difficult to play. When your character's obsession with the family is so strong, how does he leave that behind and work his way into other areas of The Cape storyline. That's something Tom has been very receptive to and we've kind of been working with.
But as a rule, the Vince Faraday that Tom [originally] wrote is the same one that I'm playing now. It hasn't changed from the script. I guess as he sees the rushes -- you call them dailies -- coming in, he will start changing all the roles in order to fit the nuance of different characters in order to fit their strengths and work out weaknesses and so on. So it's been an ongoing [creative] process.
I came into this with an idea of who Vince Faraday is, but as the scripts come in -we're worklng on episode 10 right now - I get more of an insight into what he's capable of and the way he views his own role and so on. So it's kind of been a learning experience about who Vince Faraday is on both the side of the writer and the actor.
What's been the most challenging aspect for you with the mythology of The Cape and making Vince even more real (to audiences)?
DL - I guess it's the concept of The Cape itself. To the extreme or the extremity which Vince goes in order to dress up as The Cape, what's been difficult to figure out is whether or not he truly believes that he is The Cape and anything like a superhero. And I suspect, and in fact, know, that when he puts his costume on, it's all about creating the image of a superhero, but at the very heart, beneath the cape and the breastplate, this is a guy who is just desperate to do what he needs to do. So he's kind of putting on a persona. It's not something that comes naturally to him.
As an actor, how easy, or hard, is it to maneuver in the actual costume of The Cape?
DL - To be honest, it's not easy. Just in the way that the costume is constructed and so on, it's a little bit more like the shining armor of a knight as opposed to the Lycra flexibility of, say, Christopher Reeve's Superman costume.
The Cape's costume is based on the mythology of this world, so what you have is the old Samurai breastplate, the leather pants, big boots, and on top of that, the mask and cape. So in terms of maneuverability, everything that you see in the way he moves is the way I actually move. I'm not putting anything on. There's no posturing. And the fight scenes are done with all those things in mind as well. So it is difficult, but it's something that the character of Vince Faraday, is learning to maneuver in as much as the actor, David Lyons, is.
We know that Mena Suvari is appearing on tonight's episode. I was wondering if you could tease about any other upcoming guest stars or storylines that we should watch out for?
DL - Well, each week there's going to be something. You know, we don't have a dull episode, and that's something that we're very proud of. This week, obviously, is Mena Suvari. Next week we have two hired assassins called Goggles and Hicks who are really, really, great. We also have Elliot Gould coming in playing a very hefty role. There's another character called The Lich, which is a character that Orwell gets involved with and that I'm looking forward to seeing the [audience] response to.
It's like Alice [in Wonderland] tumbling through the rabbit hole, and each door that we open has this crazy new facet of the world on the other side. When we took on these roles, we didn't realize how rich the world of Palm City would be, and we're excited to be bringing it to life.
We know that Vince Faraday's whole objective is to get his family back. I'm wondering, though, is it the kind of thing where that happens in the last scene of the last episode, or is there a scenario where he can maybe have some sort of a relationship with his family and still continue to be The Cape?
DL - I don't want to give too much away, but what we're seeing with the journey of Vince Faraday is one man who's fighting to get his family back and to clear his name. In doing so, he's realizing the importance that his role is becoming in an environment that is growing increasingly more corrupt. So there is that pull towards family, and then this other pull of the society, which is dragging Vince away from his family.
And I can tell you that he does come into communication with his family on certain levels. Again, I can't give too much away, but we will see cracks in his obsession appear and Vince trying to figure out how to juggle these these two burning desires that he wants.
Is there anything that you're surprised to learn about your character as you continue to film more episodes?
DL - Yes, I guess there are a few things. There are a lot of moments that really stretch Vince Faraday as a character and learning how he responds to those moments has been really interesting. Learning how much he's able to enjoy the scenario as well as fear the scenario or be obsessive within the scenario. Like with any character, we still have other different levels to open up with Vince, and with Tom Wheeler and the rest of the show's creative team, we start to see the different shades of my character. It's very much an exploratory process, and one where each day reveals a different aspect of the character.
I love the dynamics between the characters, especially Vince and Orwell. Are we going to see their relationship further develop throughout the series?
DL - Absolutely. One of the most interesting parts, I think, of the relationship between Vince and Orwell is that they're two obsessive individuals on similar but not the same trajectory, and it's very much a tough love scenario, but we start to see a bit more softness between the two of them. There is a chemistry there, which is unspoken and that starts to bleed through, because they really only have each other. So that's a relationship which we start to explore in more detail. and Summer Glau as an actress is just doing an amazing job as Orwell. She's got a lot of stuff coming up, which is going to send her character's relationship with Vince on a bit of a spiral.
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