The Revolution star on taking the lead, going Method and surviving the apocalypse...
Already a massive hit in the US (where it’s just returned to NBC after a winter hiatus), Revolution makes its UK debut on Sky1 HD this week. Produced by geek legend JJ Abrams and the brainchild of Supernatural creator Eric Kripke, it’s set in a future USA where everything that requires power (iPhones, cars, food mixers, Tamagotchi) has stopped working. With national borders redrawn and society ruled by militia, Charlie Matheson enlists the help of her Uncle Miles (a man with plenty of secrets) to track down her abducted brother and maybe (just maybe) find out why the power went out.
We spoke to Tracy Spiridakos, who plays Charlie, about the show…
Were you familiar with the other Abrams shows and Eric Kripke’s Supernatural ?
Yeah, I was obsessed with Alias , obsessed . And Eric Kripke didn’t know this at the time, but he hired me for one of my first jobs ever on Supernatural , I was in an episode in season three or four, so he was looking at my resume and he was like “ Supernatural , wait a minute, what?! When were you in my show?”
You’re the lead in Revolution – has that been a different experience to the other shows you’ve been in?
Yeah, it is very different. There’s also the things that come along with it – I’ve never been recognised before, you know going to the grocery store and people stop you and say they love the show and they’re so excited. It’s really amazing. And the workload and all that is really fun and huge [laughs], but we have a really great crew and wonderful cast. We spend a lot of time together, so I’m actually really surprised we get anything done – we just laugh non-stop!
How much of Charlie was on the page when you started? Have you been able to put much of yourself into her?
I think at the beginning, I just thought that she’s very well built as a character. Eric and I had a good conversation about her when we first started and as the story progresses we kind of get to know her even more, and I’ve been so fortunate to get to watch her grow. But specifically I wouldn’t know what to put my finger on, it’s just been an all-round kind of growth and I’ve really enjoyed it. I love that she’s flawed, she makes mistakes – you watch some of the series and you’re like “No, what is she doing?!” But that’s her way – she’s stubborn and she’s different and that’s what I love about her.
How much warning do you get about what’s happening in the next episode and future story arcs?
We get the script and it’s a surprise. We usually get it a few days before we start filming. We do know certain things, I mean if we’re curious about a specific character development question that we have to kind of work on in this one episode then they’ll kind of hint at certain things but Eric likes to keep it secret. He doesn’t tell us much which is funny –it’s like, “why don’t you trust us?” But it’s kind of fun getting it last minute.
Charlie has to do a lot of crying in the show. Is is hard work to get yourself in the right place?
Surprisingly – because I don’t like to cry on my own in real life – in the show it kinda comes easy. I just really feel for everything that’s gone on in her life. She starts in a place where she goes through a lot of very damaging things quite quickly, and just reading the script my eyes started to well up so getting to do it naturally and working with all these wonderful actors it kind of poured out of my eye sockets. I didn’t even want to be crying – I just couldn’t stop myself!
You film the show in Wilmington, North Carolina ( Dawson’s Creek country), miles away from Hollywood. Does that make the production feel like its own little unit?
It’s great because it feels like its your own little town, a little community. I love filming there, I really really do. And it’s cool because it’s a city that I probably would never have found on my own and it’s a beautiful spot.
The premise of the show is that all technology has stopped working, so do you go “Method” and stop using your cellphone or TV while you’re filming?
I do guiltily use my cellphone when I am filming but I don’t know that that’s the part, the message for me. But I try not to use my phone on the set, because I just like hanging out with everybody, actually talking and spending time together rather than sitting and texting. But I do rely on electronics because I miss my family. I miss my family and my fiancé – I’m always finding out what’s going on on the other side.
The Walking Dead , The Hunger Games , World War Z … There’s a lot of post-apocalyptic stuff on screen at the moment. Why do you think there’s such an appetite for the end of the world?
I think a big thing was 2012 coming around, I think a lot of people had their head wrapped around what they would do in that situation, and I think it’s just kind of that fantasy world where you kind of look at the world that you’re living in and you wonder what it would be like and how you would survive. But Revolution is a show about hope, it’s a show about love and family and community. And certain characters – my character, for example – doesn’t miss the power, isn’t trying to get the power back on, that’s not what she cares about. She cares about family, she cares about the fact that her brother has been taken and she’s trying to get him back, and I think that that’s what makes Revolution a little different is that it’s not necessarily about trying to survive in this world. It’s more about loving the people that you’re with and uniting loved ones together.
Revolution comes to UK screens on Sky1 HD on Friday 29 March at 9pm. Read more from our interview with Tracy in the latest issue of SFX, on sale now .