We’re just a few hours away from what is sure to be an explosive season finale for Revolution, or as Billy Burke calls it, “brilliantly implosive”. How intriguing. Burke, who plays Miles Matheson on the NBC show, spoke with the media last Friday about what we can expect from tonight’s episode:
SciFiMafia.com: The second half of this season really seems to me to have taken on a different kind of energy and a different feel. I was wondering if that was the same with you as an actor on the script or on the set and if that was an intentional change or just something that we’ve all kind of picked up on without that being the actual plan?
Billy Burke: Yes we as actors talked about it during the hiatus that we took. And then as we came back and started to see the scripts roll in we don’t know if that was intentional from the get go or if it was just lucky happenstance.
But we are all in complete agreement with that. We feel like it almost became a heightened version of the show it already was. And we’re all looking forward to that climbing the ladder even more for next season.
SciFiMafia.com: How much of Miles did you know about when you took on the role? And has that changed a lot since the season has continued?
Billy Burke: I knew what happened in the pilot because that’s what they gave me to read. And then Kripke and Favreau who I sat down with initially to talk about it with gave me an overview of the show but not necessarily an overview of the path that any of the characters were going to take including mine. So yes I’ve been sort of watching this go as you the viewers have.
Q. It looks like in the next episode that there’s a good chance they’re going to try to turn power on regardless of what’s going to happen. Is the issue of the lights being on and off going to continue to be what the show’s about or is it going to move next season more into being about the revolution and going against Monroe and his people?
Billy Burke: To answer your question as honestly as I can I have zero idea what’s going to happen after this episode. I’ve not seen one line of one script for next season so I don’t have a clue what we’re going to be going into. All I can say about the end of this season is that it all comes down to everything we’ve been fighting for comes into question.
Q. What do you find the most challenging about your part?
Billy Burke: I’m not sure that I find anything particularly challenging. I’ve had more fun doing this than I’ve had doing anything in a number of years actually. It’s been sort of a joy every day. It’s hard work. I mean we work an average of, you know, 14, 15, 16 hour days and it’s a very physical show and I’m getting shit beat out of me all the time whether it’s – whether the character is or not.
Me, the actor, is going through a lot of physical stress. But I don’t find it particularly challenging at all. I kind of like the way it works. We don’t know much more ahead of time what’s going to happen than the audience does. So it’s kind of a good system for me. We kind of make it up as we go.
Q. So far Randall’s been a bit of an enigma this season. Will we be finding out anything about his intentions in the finale, what he wants?
Billy Burke: The short answer is yes. I mean I can’t go into detail about it but yes, you’ll sort of find out Randall’s MO in this last episode.
Q. You’ve already lost two main characters this season. Should we be prepared for any deaths in the finale?
Billy Burke: Well we’re all in precarious situations and all in the same precarious situation collectively together. And the nature of the show is people are going to die in this scenario, the world being the way it is and the battles that we’re fighting. So, I can’t speak to, you know, particular characters one or the other if we’re – they’re going to be around or not.
But as the show goes on and moves into the second season it’s my guess — and I don’t know this for sure but it’s my guess that we’ll see new people and we might be saying goodbye to some others, yes.
Q. What I’m looking forward to seeing in the finale — and I don’t know if it happens — is a confrontation, one on one between Miles and Monroe. And I know you can’t talk about if there – you can say maybe yes or no that there is one. But can you talk about theoretically if Miles would actually be able to kill Monroe if the opportunity presented him? Or would their friendship still get in the way?
Billy Burke: Well to answer the first part of your question it’s pretty safe to say that I don’t think that we’re going to end this season without, you know, some sort of final showdown between those two characters.
And to answer the second part, I mean we’ve seen that conflict go on for so long. And the nature of these two guys is that, yes, they’re both fighting different sort of (pathos) within themselves. And each one thinks that they’re doing the the thing for the common good and for the overall right. So that’s the struggle that we deal with.
The brotherhood between them seems to be so strong that it’s kind of overcome a lot of those moments. But I don’t know how long that will continue.
Q. One thing about Miles that’s been really obvious this season is that his relationship with Charlie has really softened him and changed who he is. But he’s also watched her get harder. So can you talk about his fears for her and if his changes are going to stick with him?
Billy Burke: That’s been sort of the fun dance to play with throughout this entire first season. I mean we didn’t know it was coming any more than anybody else did. But as the scripts kept coming in, we kept making the show, what I realized is that yes, there was sort of a do-si-do going on.
He was taking on her characteristics while she was taking on his. And naturally his fears for her becoming everything about him that he wouldn’t want anybody to be, those are boiling to the surface, yes.
Q. The internal struggle with him, is that the sort of line you’re walking as an actor with this guy? He really seems to be a natural leader but a truly reluctant leader at the same time.
Billy Burke: Yes those are the fun things to play with. And the question that does arise quite often and quite frequently while we’re producing these episodes is that question of what’s going to be too far, what is going to actually be redeemable in the end and does it need to be redeemable? For me because I still am not even clear on what the whole term anti-hero even means. We’re sort of making that up for this character as we go.
And, you know, when we first met him at the beginning of the season yes he wanted nothing to do with this fight. So yes you’re absolutely right, he’d rather not have the responsibility on his shoulders. But as we all know you get pulled back into things in life that you just kind of have to deal with. And that’s been his struggle.
Q. When you get home every night and you turn on the lights and they come on do you breathe a little sigh of relief?
Billy Burke: I don’t think about it that much when I’m home. But we do think about it quite a bit on set. We talk about it a lot. It’s a big part of everyday conversation all the what ifs. And I suppose if I had to think about it when I came home yes. If I couldn’t open the refrigerator and find something cold in there I’d be pretty pissed off yes.
Q. So what do you think about the move to Austin? Are you all looking forward to it? Is it going to be a little jarring or bring a lot of possibilities?
Billy Burke: Absolutely looking forward to it. Austin, it’s one of the coolest cities that we have here in the United States of America I got to say. That being said we will all miss Wilmington. North Carolina was really good to us. We loved everybody there. I couldn’t have imagined at the time a better place to be making this show.
So although we are all looking forward to Austin we’re going to miss where we were last season too. But Austin’s got a lot of great stuff to offer. I was just down there a couple days ago as a matter of fact.
Q. What was the basis for the decision to move?
Billy Burke: It was all administrative stuff that I’m sure we’ll never know very much about. But the other thing about this show is that it’s not only nationwide but it’s a global event. So I think it sort of enriches the show the more territories we visit and the more landscapes we see.
Q. Would you say this is one of the highlights of your career or are you still looking for that big highlight?
Billy Burke: I would absolutely say that this is – I mean I’ve been having a great time making this show. You know, when I think back to my childhood and looking ahead to what I wanted to do, and there was never really any question with what I wanted to do, and then I look at this gig I’m like I can’t see it getting any better than this, in terms of stuff to do and fun to be had.
I mean it’s a pretty rich role and good thing to be doing as your job every day.
Q. Miles is such a great character. We’ve seen him change and transform so much even just in this first season. What’s been the give and take between you and the writers in creating this character?
Billy Burke: Initially here’s what you really appreciate as an actor: If you can be trusted.
And I felt that from the very first moment that I sat down with Kripke to talk about it I felt like they were going to trust me to do what I was going to do with the material given. That being said, I’m so thankful to him and the rest of the writers for really giving a shit about not only my character but all these characters and the precarious lines that they walk.
You know, my character in particular has sort of taken a path around himself to get to where he is now. And that’s always the greatest stuff to play with.
Yes the sword fighting is fun and we’ve been having a ball with everything but I can’t think of, especially for television, I can’t think of anything that would be more enriching to work with.
Q. Now you spent some time on 24. I see some similarities between Miles and between Jack Bauer. Keifer Sutherland has said that Jack Bauer was the kind of character who just could never be happy. Do you see Miles sort of in that same vein? Do you think that ultimately he can be happy or is he just going always sort of be fighting or crusading for something?
Billy Burke: Happiness is not a – it’s something that he doesn’t even think about or strive for in my mind. Lights at end of tunnels don’t even come into this psyche at all.
I think first and foremost like everybody in this world that we’re living in he just wants to survive. And beyond that if he can do something to help the common good I think all his choices are based on, you know, yes I’m going to have to do some (shitty) things but in the end is it going to help the common good? And I think that’s all he thinks about. Short answer I think it can be his kind of happy which is in tiny little spurts.
Q. What technology do you think you’d miss the most if you were in the world of revolution?
Billy Burke: Well what I always keep coming back to is I grew up a musician. I still play music. And mostly I listen to music. So the absence of recorded music would – I mean beyond, you know, refrigerated food – recorded music would be the big one.
Q. Did you talk with any marines or former marines to help get into the character’s mindset for the role?
Billy Burke: I would love to say that I did but no I did not. We got this gig and the next morning we were shooting. And then on set, we’re working 16 hour days so there’s not a lot of time for any kind of research.
Q. It seems like we’ve moved from the territories to the tower. And is the focus shifted now completely from the ongoing war with the territories.
Billy Burke: Well you will see in this final episode that it all does culminate in the event that’s about to take place in the tower and that what happens is that we all find out that what we’ve been fighting for all along may not be physically or spiritually what we thought we were fighting for. What happens after that don’t know. But it all comes to a big head.
Q. Do you do a lot of stunts?
Billy Burke: So far it’s been mostly battle scenes. And there’s some running and jumping around and stuff like that all of which I always want to do for myself. My poor stunt double Eddie Davenport, lovely guy, but he’s hanging around most the time waiting for me to not want to do something. I do the large bulk of it myself, yes.
Q. When we see flashbacks Miles and Monroe had a lot in common and they were together working. What do you think it was specifically that changed Miles that made him decide to go in the opposite direction?
Billy Burke: I get a little annoyed with actors who talk about the internal struggle of the characters and all that crap. But from [what I can tell] a lot of it was exhaustion. He was exhausted with the day to day struggle for what’s probably going the wrong direction. So that’s why at the beginning of the series we found him he had walked away from the fight because he didn’t want to be in there anymore.
So a lot of it was his personal, you know, he saw Monroe going off in this direction that looked dangerous and for lack of better term “wrong” and he didn’t want to be a part of that. But now that he’s back in the fight he knows that he’s got to do some stuff that’s ugly too.
Q. In the finale will we get any further insight in the love triangle between Rachel, Miles and Nora?
Billy Burke: Further insight, maybe. I hate to be vague but I mean at this point we sort of get it I think. I think viewers kind of see the overall dynamic no matter how oblique that might seem. But yes, you’ll start to get what’s happening with that, at least from where Miles is concerned.
Q. Did their romantic relationship begin way before she got married to his brother or were they at the same time or do you have any signs of that situation?
Billy Burke: You know what? I’m going to be very honest with you here. We still don’t know that. I mean the actors don’t know that timeline and it’s something that we had asked the moment that it came up and as it continued, because it’s difficult to play stuff that you don’t know. But in terms of the timeline and when it all happened we actually don’t know. I’m as determined to find out as you are though.
Q. In the description that NBC put out for the finale it says Tom Neville and Randy Flynn bring new meaning to the Dark Side. Does that mean that the two of then hook up to do something together or can you talk a little bit about what that means?
Billy Burke: It doesn’t necessarily mean that, no. But I think definitely those two characters individually have their own agendas. And we will see those come to a head in the finale. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re doing that in tandem.
Q. Can you describe the finale in a few adjectives like “cliffhanger” or “explosive”?
Billy Burke: I would say brilliantly implosive.
I am so ready to find out how everything comes into question…
Revolution, starring Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos, Elizabeth Mitchell, Zak Orth, Giancarlo Esposito, David Lyons, Daniella Alonso, JD Pardo, Maria Howell, and Colm Feore, airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.