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Updated: February 22, 2013 17:09 IST

Celebrating schadenfreude

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Henry Czerny in the television show Revenge
Henry Czerny in the television show Revenge

TV Henry Czerny, the deliciously evil Conrad Grayson in Revenge, insists his character is a wicked fly in a picture of a perfect ointment

Henry Czerny, who we remember as the smarmy Kittridge in Mission Impossible, is back to his old tricks as Conrad Grayson in the television show Revenge, which was aired on Star World. The popular series, which follows the lives of the rich and famous at the Hamptons, features Czerny as Victoria’s (Madeline Stowe), husband. In an email interview, the actor talks of how he landed the role, the joy and terror of working with Madeline Stowe and where the show is headed in season 2, which will be aired on Star World later this year.

How did you come to be cast as Conrad Grayson?

Philip Noyce was the director of the pilot episode of Revenge. I’d worked with Philip on the Harrison Ford blockbuster Clear and Present Danger, back in 1994, and we had a good time working together on that film. When I came in to audition for Conrad in the spring of 2011, I had the look and tone that Noyce and ABC felt was right on and, seeing as Philip and I had enjoyed working together in the past, it made sense to join up again in Revenge.

Do you think he is too wicked to be true?

I think Conrad is as wicked as he appears to be, to those looking to be moved by another’s wickedness. To driven businesspersons, raised to defend their fortunes from those far more wicked or greedy than themselves, he might appear shrewd. To a person raised to seek the obliteration of perceived injustices, he is most certainly a fascinatingly wicked fly in their picture of a perfect ointment.

What do you think are the motives prompting him to behave the way he does?

He believes that he’s allowed to maintain his empire according to the laws of nature, more than within the laws of the huddled masses — a belief that invites all manner of counter insurgence.

What is it about Revenge that has captured public fancy?

It seems we greatly enjoy being witness to a shrewd and wealthy family's disintegration. Our inherent envy of lives we imagine are dreamily elegant is deliciously served, visually and aurally. The setting is tastefully uber-rich and the writing is particularly focused on the elements within us, broadcast through the prisms of the characters in the affluent world of the Hamptons, that feed our own story of right and wrong, having and sharing, compassion and self preservation.

What was working with Madeleine Stowe like?

Working with Madeleine Stowe is like living with a friendly panther. Strikingly beautiful, mysterious, stealthy, engaging, and God help you if you come to work unprepared.

Both of you have worked in the movies. What is the basic difference between working in movies and television?

With a movie, everyone's trying to make an heirloom, and the schedule is oftentimes reflective of that notion. You spend a great deal of the production’s budget on giving the crew and actors the opportunity to bring their best to the screen. With a network television show, everyone's trying to make an heirloom, every episode, but the schedule can only allow for a fraction of the time generally required to do so. So, when one's working on a network drama, you'd best know how to cut any manner of intricate dovetails, instantly! It requires a workshop of not only skilled but remarkably deft craftspeople. It’s always a balancing act.

Where is Revenge headed in Season 2?

REVENGE, in season two will head where all revenge invariably leads. Deeper, strikingly more satisfying and, simultaneously, more devastating, for all involved. The joy/sorrow wave function for the characters gets wider and more volatile, so the ride, for the audience, becomes even more exhilarating. But unlike the unhappy pursuit of revenge in life, REVENGE on television, leaves one as intact as ever, and wanting more next week. Unlikely alliances are rekindled in true Hamptonian splendor, new alliances and couples are formed and Emily is tested beyond her imagination. Oh, and the struggle to love, above all, is turned up, about 10 notches!

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