Eye on Emmy: Revenge's Emily VanCamp on Her Badass Transition and the Identity of Em's Mom

Revenge Emily VanCampIt takes a considerable amount of finesse for an actor to create sympathy for a sociopathic character, and one of Emily VanCamp’s strengths in portraying merciless Hamptons socialite Emily Thorne was born of playing the girl next door in Everwood and Brothers & Sisters. Much like Rooney Mara’s challenge to shed her Katherine Ross-like image for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo auditions, VanCamp went the distance to prove to Revenge producers that she could play dark as a girl plotting revenge on her father’s upper-crust killers. And not just one shade of black. VanCamp’s forte lies in shifting gracefully between emotional poles — a mastery not always displayed by primetime thespians.

VanCamp’s Thorne runs the gamut from eloquently subduing her wigged-out nemesis Victoria Grayson (Madeline Stowe) to burning down an opponent’s house. Lest we forget her most colorful trait: Throne’s unabashed fetish for disguises. Whether she dresses as a hotel waiter or skanky barfly, she’ll do whatever it takes to collect intel or poison her enemies. An Emmy nod for VanCamp would be truly special for the actress this year as it’s the first time she’s becoming a TV Academy member.

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AWARDSLINE | How did the role come your way?
I finished Brothers and Sisters in September (2010) and made a pact with myself that I wasn’t going to work unless I read something and loved it. I had worked pretty steadily and hit a point where I wanted to feel challenged. I read Revenge and thought this was a huge gamble. It was the only pilot [role] I fought for. I met with Mike Kelley and [executive producer] Marty Bowen, who filtered through everyone. They asked me to test, because they didn’t quite know if I could play the darkness the character required … Longevity for me in my career has not only been about choosing the right material, but trying to reinvent myself as a young woman. People love to put you in a box. [At times in this industry], you have to force people to see you in a different light, as you can burn out. There was a slight transition for me as an actress between Everwood and Brothers & Sisters going from being a girl to a woman, however, that’s a big jump to make in Hollywood… People remember me from these role,s and it’s one of the reasons why they root for Emily, even though sometimes one shouldn’t.

AWARDSLINE | In addition to suggesting that Emily should be a badass, what insight did [pilot director] Phillip Noyce provide?
He encouraged me to be still. With the girl-next-door characters I have played, I wasn’t really conscious of their movements. They moved differently, and there’s something strange about Emily. Victoria picks up on it right away. Emily is almost robotic. She’s numb and doesn’t move a lot. For me that’s difficult, because I was a ballet dancer.

AWARDSLINE | The audience easily sympathizes with your complex character, thanks to the flashback sequences of Emily as a child. Certain shows, such as HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, rarely use flashbacks to create sympathy for their characters.
All of these moments of vulnerability are keys to root for her. Mike [Kelley] and I talk about this all the time. Without those flashbacks, you don’t know who to root for.  Even when you want to sympathize with what Victoria has done, you can’t really, because you see Emily as a young girl. At the same time, what’s great about these characters is that you want to know more about Victoria and why she’s feeling pain. That’s a testament to what Madeleine brings to the character.

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AWARDSLINE | What surprised you the most this season?
The discovery of Charlotte (Christa B. Allen as Victoria’s daughter) being my sister. It gave me so many awkward moments to play. Suddenly there’s this person that Emily is expected to care for and protect. Emily doesn’t know how to process such emotions. She’s analytical. The feelings aren’t there, but they are in an odd sense. It’s really a complex situation. Charlotte is going down this dark path, and Emily is expected to keep an eye on her, and there’s only so much my character can do. It’s too early to tell how much Emily is allowing herself to feel. I call Mike Kelley all the time, concerned that I messed up a scene because Emily is so complicated specifically in regards to how much I should hold back. Mike says that sometimes ‘feeling uncomfortable in a scene is going to feel great, so just let it be.’

AWARDSLINE | Do we learn who Emily’s mother is?
I think that will be in Season 2.

AWARDSLINE | Unless I’m overlooking something, I think it’s Victoria.
Really?!? Emily’s mother wasn’t part of the flashbacks because she wasn’t around during her childhood. I will say, I don’t think it’s Victoria. I will tell you that.

AWARDSLINE | That would be amazing. “Darth Vader” (Victoria Grayson) is your mother.
Can you imagine? That would be hilarious. What will be great to see [is] if there’s the possibility that mom is still around. Mike has ideas all the time, and that keeps us on our toes. We hear things, then they can change at a moment’s notice. We don’t know things until we get the script and sit down at the read-through.

This story was written by Anthony D’Alessandro of TVLine sibling Awards|Line. The specialty Awards|Line print editions canvass various facets of the Emmy and motion pictures awards season, including deep coverage, analysis and interviews with the leading contenders and industry players.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. cote says:

    Love her and love Revenge… she definitely deserves an Emmy!

    • greysfan says:

      Totally agree. She deserves this Emmy nomination and would love her to win it but to be honest its Claire Danes year which sort of sucks as cable yet again will hit the broadcasts on the head in most categories again this year.

      I just can’t wait to see where this series is going to go next. With that big reveal at the end it has me thinking season 2 is going to top season 1. As they say s2 of a hit show is the best.

    • Revenge is ace. cant wait for season 2. I reckon her dad will also be alive, hiding somewhere.

  2. Kate says:

    I just finished watching the season, what a fantastic show. Only wish I didnt have to wait 3+ months for more!

  3. KBC says:

    I love the show and she’s perfect as Emily. As far as Victoria being her mother? I think it would be awesome,…BUT um, that means she slept and was engaged to her half brother, Daniel. Unless by some twist Daniel is not VIc’s son….on the next on Revenge of Our Lives.

    • Barre says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m kind of surprised that Charlotte being her half sister surprised van Camp after being on Brothers & Sisters though.

    • Sam says:

      Besides the fact that we saw the flashback of when David Clarke met Victoria and Emily was already a small kid, that would mean she had a sexual relationship with her half-brother. Maybe Anthony D’Alessandro should actually watch the show.

    • Scorpum says:

      victoria can’t be Emily’s mother as David didn’t know Victoria until they met at that NY party .. and according to the flash back … Amanda was already 3 … thats simple.

  4. M80 says:

    Given that Emily was sleeping with Victoria’s son all season I’m gonna go out on a limb and say she’s not Victoria’s daughter.

  5. Elena says:

    You think her mother is Victoria? Did you miss the entire episode that was a flashback to when Victoria and David met at News Years Eve? Amanda was like 5 by then.

    • guest says:

      Yeah but there’s always the POSSIBILITY that, they were faking that and they really had an affair a long time ago. I don’t think that’s what happened. I think they were meeting for the first time at New Year’s Eve and Emily’s mother is someone else (cause like it’s been said, Emily was sleeping with Victoria’s son all season) but it’s possible.

    • Ethan says:

      I also couldn’t believe you guys asked that. There is NO way Victoria is Emily’s mother. The finale reveals there is something “bigger” in the story and Emily’s mother is obviously one of the player and she wouldn’t be Victoria or else the “bigger” story doesn’t hold

  6. Robyn says:

    Victoria can’t be Emiky’s mom. Emiky’s said she remembers her mom being sick, so I think she would recognize Victoria. Plus, if she were Victoria’s daughter, that would mean Emiy was sleeping with her half-brother, unless Daniel isn’t Victoria’s son.

  7. Ally says:

    No, I would quit watching if Victoria was her mother. It would be too soapy for my liking. I do hope though that Em and Nolan are siblings. I like them together but their relationship is completely platonic. The partnership those two have is the best part of the show.

    • guest says:

      This show is such a soap opera if you don’t like soaps, you probably shouldn’t watch. It’s the equivalent of watching Glee if you don’t like musicals.

    • Karrie says:

      I agree, I also think I remember reading they would be exploring Nolan’s family more this next season so I’m hoping that perhaps they will turn out to brother & sister; how awesome that would be for some Revenge just by making them siblings!

    • aciel says:

      revenge is a soap but its a soap mixed with epicness.

  8. Daniela says:

    If Victoria would be Emily’s mother, she would have had sex with her own brother. Ugh. No way the Queen is Em’s mom. And if she were Victoria isn’t the person to leave her children behind. Look at Charlotte. She’s David’s daughter.
    I want Emily’s mother to be someone who can put Victoria in her place. It’d be cool if someone like Michelle Pfeiffer could play the role. What a great dynmaic we could have there.

  9. DL says:

    In the flashback episode it’s explicitly clear that David Clarke and Victoria have never met before, much less slept together, and David talks about Emily/Amanda and how he’s supposed to go home to watch the ball drop with her. In other words, it’s already completely ruled out that Victoria is Em’s mom.

  10. Dennis says:

    Victoria is not Emily’s mother.

  11. Eva says:

    Ems mom? What about Nolans aunt?

  12. nikki says:

    I hope Nolan and Emily are brother and sister. I love those two. Also the Conrad and Charlotte relationship. The best two relationships on the show isn’t romantic. I wish the writers will explore those two relationships next season.

    • guest says:

      I’m sorry but Conrad/Charlotte are messed. He totally turned his back on her when he found out she wasn’t his.

      • DL says:

        He did at first, but then he turned around and realized he still loved her as his daughter. Conrad loves only four things in the world: money, power, and Daniel and Charlotte (in my opinion).

      • Sam says:

        It bugged me how he turned his back on Charlotte when he first found out, but I think he was just in shock. His little princess turned out to be not his biological child, that wasn’t something he was expecting. But when the truth was revealed to Charlotte he did say he would always be there for her.

    • Jenn C says:

      I keep hoping that Nolan is Emily’s brother, too. I love their relationship! I keep thinking there has to be more to the story for Nolan to feel so loyal to David Clark and his daughter. So I’m hoping Nolan is David’s son….

  13. Maris says:

    Yeah, Victoria isn’t Emily’s mother that was ruled out. Anyways… I do believe Emily VanCamp portrayed her character really well, I was able to sympathize with her without ever watching ”Everwood” nor ”Brothers& Sisters.” She’s given the character a lot of depth in different angles. She deserves the win.
    I agree with previous commentators on they’re love for Emily and Nolan’s relationship, but I don’t think it’s necessary for them to become related. Friendship is a beautiful thing when they’re is no romantic love or familial background, they’re friendship should not go that way it can evolve and become stronger without those ties.

  14. Vannesa says:

    Love Revenge….can’t wait for Season 2 to see who survives and who doesn’t. ;) :D

  15. MagicallySuspicious says:

    I thought Charlotte being her sister was the least surprising twist of the season. Such a great show.

    • Sam says:

      I agree it wasn’t a very surprising twist but I did think Emily VanCamp knocked it out of the park performance-wise.

  16. Deion says:

    Victoria can’t be the mother. I don’t believe for a minute that David Clarke moved in next to the woman who abandoned Amanda, then proceeded to have an affair with her, considering how much he loved the girl.

  17. Matt Alex says:

    Anthony – did you even watch the series? Amanda was already born when David met the Graysons!

  18. Jess says:

    “Lest we forget her most colorful trait: Throne’s unabashed fetish for disguises.” Must be my Game of Thrones infected mind, I was like, who? who?!? cersei? who’s in disguises?!?! lol ded… don’t you just hate it when spelling check doesn’t catch the actual words?

  19. Jon Marshall says:

    An up and coming actress true to her Canadian heritage! She is in a class of her own, i hope she gets an Emmy for “Revenge”.

  20. Jon88 says:

    That’s KathArine Ross. My best to your copyeditor. (I just made myself laugh.)

  21. AJ says:

    Good show, yes. Worthy of an Emmy, no.

    • Sara says:

      Great show. Worthy of an EMMY nod…..I’d say yes for the writing. The actors are very good but cable has EMMY in their back pocket. Maybe as a dark horse. Although I watched Brothers and Sisters, I find I love the actress in Revenge so much better. One character doesn’t remind me of the other in the least. I am glad she fought for the part.

  22. Shaun says:

    It’s Emily Thorne,not Throne….and her mom is definitely not Victoria,since she does know her moms face as far as I know.

  23. Brook says:

    maybe it’s the friend of Victorias (can’t remember her name right now) the one having an affair with Conrad, could she be the mom?

  24. Giorgio says:

    Victoria is not Emily’s mom that is already a given! This show and the two leading actresses definitely deserve an Emmy nomination even if Claire Danes has it in the bag, still their acting is top notch, 22 episodes and they have always delivered. I hope the Academy does not overlook this show just for its campiness or soapy drama, its one of the best shows on network TV in years!

  25. MED says:

    Emily deserves the Emmy! In EVERY episode I have sympathy 4 her. I agree, it would be amazing if Emily and Nolan were siblings! But even if they’re not…..what about his aunt? She said she knew david! Can’t wait for season 2 and I hope she gets that Emmy!

  26. Kissan says:

    1. I don’t really think that Victoria or Lydia could be the mom. Vicki was having an affair with him after she was born and they had Charlotte, and Lydia never even had an affair with David Clarke. I thought Nolan’s aunt could be the mom, but since they’re castin people to be the mom,she can’t be.

    2. They should so pick Michelle Pfieffer, Marcia Cross or Kathy Bates and I think Daniel’s either Conrad or Dominic’s son. Orrrrrr… the white haired man could be his father since Victoria is a slut/cougar and she has affairs with other people while she’s married(David Clarke).

    3. My theorie is that Victoria, Lydia or Nolan’s aunt is not Emily’s mom. The creator is gonna do a big twist sayin that Emily probably has a twin sister or somethin.

  27. katerina Bonita says:

    can wait for season 2……..

  28. Leigh Hall says:

    Emily Vancamp. She is getting that Emmy! Here’s why — I refuge to waste my life away watching TV, so I’m extremely choosy about the shows I watch. The first show I ever obsessively watched was every season of Everwood. After that, there was nothing until Brothers & Sister. At the beginning, I had no idea Emily would show up later… All this to say that when I saw the pilot for Revenge, I was hooked! Not because the show itself is outrageously addictive, but because Emily is amazing at what she does! Finally a part of the Academy, she’s my winner!!

  29. Vicki says:

    I like the idea of Nolan and Amanda being siblings. It would explain why her father took time to get to invest in Nolan’s company. I mean how would he get any knowledge of a company while in jail and why would Nolan go to a criminal to back his company unless someone else was pulling strings. Did it all happen before he was arrested? Why did young Amanda never meet Nolan if her father was mentoring him before jail. I cannot wait for next season!

  30. Lea says:

    YES YES YES she deserves it!