Billy Burke in REVOLUTION - Season 1 - "The Children's Crusade" | ©2012 NBC/Brownie Harris

Billy Burke in REVOLUTION - Season 1 - "The Children's Crusade" | ©2012 NBC/Brownie Harris

In NBC’s freshman series REVOLUTION, Monday nights at 10 PM, all electricity is gone from the world. Created by Eric Kripke, who executive-produces with J.J. Abrams, with a pilot directed by fellow executive producer Jon Favreau, REVOLUTION takes place fifteen years after “the lights went out.” Much of the former United States is ruled by militias. However, a small band of people are trying to find out what really happened and restore power – both electronic and personal – to the populace. Two of the main characters are the uncle and niece team of Miles Matheson, played by Billy Burke, and Charlie Matheson, portrayed by Tracy Spiridakos.

Burke, a native of Washington State, has had a big few years. He’s known to fans of the TWILIGHT film franchise as Charlie Swan, father of Kristen Stewart’s character Bella, and had a recurring role on THE CLOSER as Philip Stroh, a villain so heinous that it was worth it to Kyra Sedgwick’s title character Brenda Leigh Johnson to give up her career in order to nail him in the final episode.

At a poolside party thrown by NBC for the Television Critics Association, Burke talks about everything he’s been up to lately.

ASSIGNMENT X: Besides the blood ties, are Miles Matheson and Charlie Matheson related by bad-assery?

BURKE: That is correct. We actually knew each other in a past life from all the bad-assery [laughs].

AX: Had you and Tracy Spiridakos worked together before?

BURKE: We had not, no. We met doing the pilot and she and I and the rest of the cast – it was weird, because we all had a similar spirit to approaching the show and it made us all jell really quickly.

Billy Burke and wife Pollyanna Rose at the World Premiere of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 1 | ©2011 Sue Schneider

Billy Burke and wife Pollyanna Rose at the World Premiere of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 1 | ©2011 Sue Schneider

AX: Would you describe Miles as a reluctant mentor?

BURKE: Yeah. He’s going to have a bit of mentor in him, but unwillingly. He would just as soon not care about anything, much less anyone. So what’s he’s really trying to do is avoid the fight, yet he can’t not be compelled byTracy’s character to come back in. I love the idea, whether you label it mercenary or whatever else you want to call it, the idea of that guy has always been romantic to me.

AX: Were you familiar with the work of Eric Kripke and J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau? Were you a particular fan of LOST or SUPERNATURAL or IRON MAN?

BURKE: All of them. I have a very good friend who was on SUPERNATURAL for awhile, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who’s my very old friend, we’ve known each other for twenty-five years, so I was a fan of that, obviously a fan of Kripke, and then J.J. Abrams obviously has done some of the best shows on television. LOST I was in love with. And then Favreau, from ELF on down, one of the most creative directors we have these days.

AX: What does Jon Favreau do as a director that’s distinctive from other directors you’ve worked with?

BURKE: Well, for me, I think I can speak for the rest of the cast on this, because we all talked about it at length while we were doing the pilot – because he comes from an acting background, he knows our language, he knows how to speak to us, and thus he knows how to get what he wants out of us and doesn’t do it in a way that seems forced. Everything is familiar and his personality – he’s the kind of guy that makes you want to please.

AX: Miles Matheson is very, very prickly when we meet him, to put it mildly.

BURKE: Yeah.

AX: Is he going to remain quite so prickly, or are we going to find any soft spots? Or do you know?

BURKE: Well, I think we see glimpses of soft spots in the pilot, but some of those will blossom as time goes on. The nature of who he is and what he’s been through in the past fifteen years since the power’s gone out, he’s been through a lot and he’s seen a lot of hard times, which is what made him want to be reclusive. So there’s a reason for all of that. He’s not reluctant because it’s a chosen character trait; he’s reluctant because he wants no part of this fight that’s going on. We will find out through the history of the past fifteen years since the lights went out, we’ll find out quite rapidly clues as to what’s been going on in his life for fifteen years. In terms of knowing why, none of us know as actors, none of us know who knows why. All we know is the creators know why.

Billy Burke, Elizabeth Mitchell, Giancarlo Esposito, and Tracy Spiridakos in REVOLUTION - Season 1 | ©2012 NBC/Nino Munoz

Billy Burke, Elizabeth Mitchell, Giancarlo Esposito, and Tracy Spiridakos in REVOLUTION - Season 1 | ©2012 NBC/Nino Munoz

AX: Miles is quite good with a sword. Did you have any background with sword-fighting before this?

BURKE: None whatsoever. As a matter of fact, when we shot the pilot, that entire fight sequence that you see on the screen there, we only learned that the night before.

AX: Who’s your sword master on REVOLUTION?

BURKE: Jeff Wolfe. He’s the best in the business. I mean, he’s the best for a reason. It’s not only because of his skills and his knowledge and his quick thinking, but his demeanor. He makes it easy and pleasing.

AX: What does REVOLUTION feel like to you? Do you feel like you’re in a science-fiction show, a mystery show, a family drama?

BURKE: To me, the science-fiction aspect is only a small portion for me. I really feel like we’re in a sort of epicAmericana romantic road picture.

AX: Overall, is science fiction a genre that you’re fond of, or is this just something that came along?

BURKE: Well, I didn’t think of myself as a kid as a science-fiction fan – I wasn’t a rabid fan of mostly science fiction. I was a fan of the movies as a kid. As a matter of fact, I was watching movies that were way too adult for me at a very early age. SHAMPOO was one of my favorite movies when I was eleven years old. What’s not to like? Warren Beatty and that whole team. LOGAN’S RUN – I think I saw that movie ten, eleven times when I was a kid. But in terms of that specific sci-fi genre, not really. I loved watching stories come to life.

AX: You played an extremely malevolent nemesis for Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda Leigh Johnson on THE CLOSER. Did you have any feelings about being there for the end of that series, which ran seven seasons?

BURKE: From the time of my first appearance on there [in 2009], I’d heard that they were sort of carrying on the essence of him in Brenda’s life, and she kept a picture of him in her office and all that. I was wondering whether or not that they were going to want to bring him back at some point, and there was always talk of it. Availabilities didn’t arise during that period of time, but when it did arise for the final season, I was so happy to go back and play that guy and finish him off, because he was such fun to play. I mean, that’s one of those guys that you get to just chew on stuff that I don’t normally get to, playing cop roles and things like that.

AX: Do you have any other projects that we should know about?

BURKE: Well, the last TWILIGHT movie [TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN – PART 2] comes out in November, and then right before we started shooting this series, I finished a film called JESUS IN COWBOY BOOTS, which is an independent film, really great script, and hopefully that’ll find some legs and come out next year.

AX: How do you feel about the TWILIGHT film series coming to a close? Has that been an exciting chapter of your life?

BURKE: Those four years – obviously, they changed my career for the better. I owe a lot to that, I had a great time with all those people, I loved playing him. It can’t go on forever – it would become cartoonish. So I think it ran its course really nicely.

AX: What else would you like us to know about REVOLUTION?

BURKE: I really do think people are going to be surprised by the scope of this show and how it’s ever-expanding. It starts out big and it just keeps getting bigger, but within that, just the action and adventure, it really does have just so much heart.

Related: TV Review: REVOLUTION – Season 1 – “Soul Train”

Related: TV Review: REVOLUTION – Season 1 – “The Plague Dogs”

Related: TV Review: REVOLUTION – Season 1 – “No Quarter”

Related: TV Review: REVOLUTION – Season 1 – “Chained Heat”

Related: TV Review: REVOLUTION – Season 1 – “Pilot” –  Series Premiere  

Related: Interview with REVOLUTION director Jon Favreau on the new NBC series


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Article:Exclusive Interview with TWILIGHT SAGA star Billy Burke on his new NBC hit series REVOLUTION

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