This morning, I got a real treat. I was able to take part in a conference call interview with David Lyons, who plays Vince Faraday and his alter ego, The Cape. I have to tell you that he is such a nice person and with his sexy, Aussie accent and his charm, he’s a pleasure to talk and listen to.
He answered questions about the particular challenges involved in wearing a latex suit while doing the choreographed fight scenes, how he and the other cast members have been developing their characters and a few tiny spoilers for what’s to come in the next several episodes.
Of course, fans of The Cape know that it airs on Monday evenings at 9/8c on NBC. If you haven’t watched this new series, be sure to tune in and check it out!
Here’s how the conversation went:
Q: I actually was hoping you could talk 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: Yes, 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 the one man that can prove his innocence alive, and it kind of stems from there.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about working with Mena Suvari and what she adds to the show.
David Lyons: She adds so much. I mean, she’s such an amazing and talented actress. And she played a really interesting and nuanced character of Tracey Jarrod, AKA Dice. And she’s a savant that 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 she’s played it is – as I say, it’s so subtle and beautifully nuanced, and certainly, her relationship with Peter Fleming, which blossoms into a pseudo-sexual kind of relationship between the two very aggressive individuals that are after the same thing. Placed in the middle of that is Vince Faraday, who’s desperately trying to keep her at bay from Peter Fleming, which, as I say, is a difficult pill to swallow for him. In order to achieve his goals, he has to save the one man that he despises so much.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what have been some of, perhaps, the physical challenges you’ve faced so far with this role and did you do any training prior to stepping into the Cape character?
David Lyons: Yes, 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 for the – every moment that I had spare was down there on – working the bags, working with different stuntees 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 kind of comes from a military background, so we’re kind of focusing on close-quarter combat and things like that.
And so outside of the role itself, which is kind of physically demanding in terms of just around and being fairly active, there is this quite 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.
Q: I wanted to get your take, David, on how have you seen your character’s relationship develop with James Frain’s character as the episodes have gone on — sort of in your eyes?
David Lyons: In my eyes, it’s been a really interesting one, because as we get the scripts, the world opens up so vastly that one man’s obsession – Vice Faraday’s obsession with Chess and Peter Fleming and bring that man to justice is circumvented somewhat by other scenarios. There’s the rise of Scales, there is the ensuing violence that takes hold of Palm City, and so what is – and what we see in tonight’s episode when he’s come to the realization that he has to save this one man — Peter Fleming, his arch-nemesis — in order to prove his innocence, there is a real – a vitriolic obsession with Peter Fleming that he cannot do anything about.
So there’s a lot of frustration in the way Vince approaches it, which kind of bleeds out in his relationships with other people. I mean, he’s an obsessive man that’s kind of — as we grow through the episodes, that each week that we see him doing something that is not directly family-related or getting back on track to getting his family, he becomes more and more – I suppose more and more curtailed by circumstance, which is – bleeds into that frustration that he feels as a character.
So the way – the beauty of James Frain as an actor is the eloquence with which he approaches this role. He’s such a likable villain, and they have a repartee, which usually revolves around a very witty, cold Chess, and a very, very angry and determined Cape. So that’s how the – that’s how those roles are kind of twisting and turning as the story unfolds.
Q: I’m 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?
David Lyons: I wasn’t a Sci-Fi comic book fan, and what attracted me to it was knowing that it was a Sci-Fi comic book genre, at the heart of it was a very, very real family (ont). And so the way I approached the script was the same way I approached the character — was not in terms of being a superhero. It was in terms of being a family man that’s torn away from everything that he loves and he’s using this last vestige of hope in order to get it all back.
So it’s kind of been a really interesting and steep learning curve for me in terms of the genre of the world and the mythology of these worlds, but one which has been incredibly enjoyable and quite a huge eye-opener and quite a thrill.
Q: What is it like for you to anchor a TV show? Are you feeling any sort of pressure at all on a personal level?
David Lyons: I think that, you know, you feel pressure regardless of what role you play. Just in terms of the fact that when you work on something and – like anyone whether it be a painter or a cook or – 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 getting into the storyline so that that concept of leading a show, whatever, is not at the forefront of my mind and I can’t afford to let it be. It does start getting in the way of the work, and at the very end of everything, the work is what you’re there for.
Q: What’s been the most fun aspect of working on this series?
David Lyons: The cast — without a shadow of a doubt, the cast. We’ve assembled not only just the most fantastic bunch of actors, like, right through every single role, they’re also an incredibly fun, humble, awesome bunch to be around. So we’ve managed to create a really beautiful family environment that is a lot of fun to work in. And so coming to work creating this world, which is so rich and textured, it’s only embellished by the fact that everyone around is having such a great time.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about your superhero growing up as a kid and what attracted you the most to play this role as the Cape?
David Lyons: Well, I think that two-pronged question is kind of interesting, because as a kid, I don’t specifically remember having a superhero that I was attached to. Obviously, Superman, Christopher Reeve’s Superman, was something that was in the forefront of my mind, and also Star Wars and Hans Solo and those sort of guys.
But in terms of approaching this, as I mentioned in a previous sort of question, I didn’t really view the character, Vince Faraday, as a superhero. He was more the everyman that’s caught 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.
And as far as blending my childhood with the current, I think I was kind of 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.
Q: Can you talk about the – some of the discussions that you had with Tom that led to changes within Vince that set you as an actor?
David Lyons: Yes, absolutely. I mean, Tom’s been very open to all suggestions that we’ve been making and with all the characters, and it’s been a – very much a unified creative space.
In terms of, like, what is written in terms of scripts, there hasn’t been too many changes that I have made. There’ve 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 as an actor I was finding difficult to play. When your – when the obsession with the family is so strong, how does he leave that behind and work his way into other areas of the Cape storyline. And that’s something that he’s been very receptive to and we’ve kind of been working with.
But as a rule, Tom’s Vince Faraday that he wrote is the same one that I’ve 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 process.
We’re in episode 10, and what’s been really interesting about this role is that you only have – because it’s not an established comic book hero, I came in with an idea of who Vince Faraday is, but as the scripts come, you start to get – I get more of an insight into what he’s capable of and to 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.
Q: What’s been the most challenging aspect for you with the mythology of the Cape to make Vince even more real?
David Lyons: The – I guess the concept of the Cape itself. To the extreme or the extremity which Vince goes to in order to dress up as the Cape, what’s been difficult is to figure out whether or not he truly believes that he is the Cape — if he truly believes that he is anything like a superhero.
And I suspect, and in fact, know, that when he puts it on, it’s all about creating the image of a superhero, but at the very heart, beneath the cape and beneath the breastplate, it’s a guy that’s 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.
Q: From the accent, it sounds like you’re from Australia.
David Lyons: That’s right. That’s right.
Q: Great. How long have you been in the states?
David Lyons: Been here for about three years now — just coming to three.
Q: Do you like it?
David Lyons: It’s been fantastic. If it wasn’t, then I guess I’d have to go home.
Q: How easy or hard is it to maneuver in the actual costume of the Cape for you as an actor?
David Lyons: It’s not easy. It’s – to be honest, I mean, I don’t think any superhero custom, other than, say, Superman – well, I guess Spiderman has a bit of maneuverability as well. But in terms of just the way it’s constructed and so on, it’s a little bit more like the shining armor of a night as opposed to the Lycra flexibility of a Superman costume. Which is based on the mythology of the world is that he uses a breastplate — an old Samurai breastplate — their leather pants, their big boots, and on top of that, it’s a mask and a cape. So in terms of, like, maneuverability, everything that you see the way he moves is the way he actually moves. I’m not putting anything on. There’s no posturing. It’s – and the fight scenes are all done in that – with all those things in mind as well. So it is difficult, but it’s something that the character, Vince Faraday, is learning to maneuver in as much as the actor, David Lyons, is.
Q: Do you have any children yourself?
David Lyons: I don’t. No, that was one of the larger imaginative leaps that I had to make in order to take on this role is to inherit a 10-year-old, fully-formed son.
Q: What do you want viewers to get form the show after watching an episode?
David Lyons: Well, at the heart of it, it’s just a lot of fun. I mean, it is truly a rollercoaster ride, and it’s – and we feel it when we’re doing it. It’s just kind of like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole.
But there — at the heart of all that fun is the everyman — the everyman that’s fighting back one guy against the corruption and the evil of a multinational corporation whose – the face of which is Peter Fleming. And I guess in terms of the modern world, the symbology is fairly rich in those terms.
He was a family man with everything taken away from him and in an archetypal David and Goliath type struggle. That’s what I’d love the viewers to take away — just a little bit of escapism, a lot of fun, and a little bit of the concept that one can fight back.
Q: I 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?
David Lyons: 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.
The next week, we have two hired assassins called Goggles and Hicks who are great, great character studies. Coming up, we also have Elliot Gould coming in playing a very hefty role. There’s another character called the Lich, which is one that we should – that I’m looking forward to seeing the response to, which is a character that Orwell gets involved with.
But it’s kind of interesting the question itself. What’s there to look forward to? It’s kind of – as I’ve mentioned before, it’s Alice tumbling through the rabbit hole, and each door that we open has got this crazy new facet of the world of – on the other side. So it’s – we didn’t – when we took on the roles, we didn’t realize how rich the world of Palm City would be, and we’re all sort of excited to bring it to life.
Q: Obviously we know that Vince Faraday that his 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?
David Lyons: There is – well, I don’t want to give too much away, but there is – I mean, in this situation, 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 realizing the important that his role is becoming in an environment that is becoming increasingly more corrupt. So there is that pull towards family, and then there is this other pull, which is dragging him from society away from his family.
And I can tell you that he does come into communication with his family on certain levels. And I can’t give too much away, but we will see the cracks in his obsession to appear and trying to figure out how to juggle these two things — these two burning wants that he wants.
Q: When you take on a role like this, when you play a superhero, you know, when you prove your mettle as an action figure, I guess, if you will, what sort of doors does this open up for you or what sort of reaction do you get form your colleagues in the industry when you take on a role like this?
David Lyons: Well, it’s been interesting, because I’m still very much hard at work. So for 14 hours a day, I’m still on set, so I haven’t really managed to get out there and see what the reaction is.
But in terms of friends and so on, I mean, it’s a very, very different role from anything else I’ve ever played. It’s a much more physical, much more angry and obsessive role than anything I’ve ever played, so it’s been really interesting in that. And then what we’re doing now or what I’m – that is coming through in the character Vince is a lighter side, and so trying to combine those two – the man and the obsession.
But in terms of the response and so on, it won’t be until my head comes – surfaces from beneath the water in March that I’ll really know what, if any, the effect has been.
Q: I’m curious to know is there anything that you’re surprised to learn about your character as you continue to film more episodes?
David Lyons: 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 is – 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.
So like with any character, it still has to open up different levels, and with the writer of Tom Wheeler and the creative team, it’s – you start to see, you know, different shades. Like with every character in the show, you’re starting to really see a lot of light and shade.
We’re up to episode 10. We haven’t aired – we’ve only aired three – four now. But the light and shade starts to creep through. So, you know, it’s an exploratory process, and it’s one which each day yields a different aspect of the character.
Q: What I love so much is the dynamic between, especially, the characters of Vince and Orwell. Are we going to see their relationship develop in much the same way throughout the series?
David Lyons: Absolutely, that’s what I found one of the most interesting parts of Vince, is – 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. And there is a chemistry there, which is unspoken, that starts to bleed through, because they’re the – they really only have each other. And so that’s a relationship which we start to explore in more detail.
And Orwell as a character, Summer Glau as a character, or Summer Glau as an actress is just doing an amazing job. She’s got a lot of stuff coming up, which is going to send that relationship on a bit of a spiral.
Q: Circling back on the guest stars, and the interesting theme between Vinnie Jones and James Frain showing the English class system where Scales has sort of got a chip on his shoulder. And James Frain is Winchester — you know, very, very proper English. These regional chips on the shoulder with the English, I really enjoyed that, and I was wondering if you could talk about that.
David Lyons: Yes, I think it’s a beautiful thing. It’s weird, though, all the baddies are English. I’m not sure what the hell – what they’re saying. But it’s – what was really great is that the show writers have taken the personalities of these two characters as well as actors and really started to play with that. And it’s a beautiful sub-language that is spoken all the way through their dialogue.
And that’s one that we’ll see more and more of, is sort of, you know, the king and, you know, the farmer, essentially. And with their power dynamic, which is soon to come to a head, like a big head, we start to see the shifts in those two characters in a fantastic way just to see, you know, who is the ultimate villain in this situation.
Q: And you don’t think it’s Rollo?
David Lyons: [laughs] He’s not a villain. He’s a good guy. He’s actually – I – when I first read the part, I was like, “He’s going to be a,” you know, “A nasty party the whole time.” He – as an – as such a beautiful actor that Martin is as well, he’s brought so much humanity to – and humor to the angry little guy, and we start to really explore his emotional side, which is really into the tough guy that has chinks in the armor.
Q: Aw, you’re not going to make Rollo soft. I hope they don’t.
David Lyons: Oh, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, he’s not. Don’t get me wrong. He’s not soft in any way. He’s still a tough little nugget, but it’s you just get to see what makes him tick — what his obsessions are what the light and shade of a man that’s, you know, kind of all muscle.
Q: I love when James Frain was in the cowboy hat, and he said he looked like he escaped from a mental institution in the cowboy gear.
David Lyons: Exactly, yes. Now, it’s perfect. And he plays it so wonderfully. It’s just a pleasure to watch.
Q: Can you could talk about a visual moment. There was a moment where Scales was on top of the train when you were fighting. So it was on top of the train and it looked like a comic book. It was very blacked out around the train as the train was moving. I appreciated that from a visual standpoint, because this is a comic book – a series based on a comic book, and it looked like a giant cell of a comic book sort of animated.
David Lyons: Yes. You’re absolutely right. That’s what really interesting about it is that – like it’s – it is based on a comic book, but it’s kind of really Escher-esque in the way that it folks in on itself. There’s a comic book at the center of this world. There is a man who’s not a superhero who’s playing the – you know, titular hero of the Cape in a world which is somewhat comic bookish.
So there’s kind of like – it’s – it bleeds in and out of itself, which I think is really interesting. It makes the world a lot richer, and it means that you can have this grounding of family, which is a very real and emotional epicenter, and then bleed out into this really rich and textured and bizarre world. And some of the characters that you’ll see coming up are indeed so bizarre that it can be nothing but comic book, but given the environment that they’ve placed us all in, it works.
Q: This question is regarding Dayton Callie. He stars on “Sons of Anarchy” as Chief Unser and you had him on as the mayor in the last episode on the train. And I was wondering if we’re going to see more of Dayton Callie in the series.
David Lyons: You are. You are. You will see him. I believe it’s in episode 7 — maybe 8. I – I’m – apologies for that. I – because I’m a little bit – we’re up to episode 10 now. But he does come in. He’s the mayor of Palm City.
Along with his Chief who’s the – one of the Senators? He’s – so he does have a role as a power play, so you will see him coming and going in that. But he’s – likewise, along with everyone else who comes in, he’s just such a beautiful actor to watch and behold.
[Photos: © 2011 NBC Universal, Inc.]