All of Revenge‘s key players are (finally!) on the same page about Emily’s identity, but after everything that’s happened during the past four seasons — and 20+ years — can the Clarkes ever rebuild the father-daughter relationship they once had?
“I think the love that’s always existed between them is absolutely unchanged,” James Tupper (aka David Clarke) tells TVLine. “There’s a missing 20 years of their relationship, and that void has to be filled, but the love is definitely still there.”
Below, Tupper discusses his approach to playing David 2.0, how his character really feels about Victoria, and his dream of seeing Emily and David form a “bad-ass” team. (Plus: Yeah, we talk about Sammy.)
TVLINE | Let’s start by going back a bit: How long have you known David was coming back?
That’s a really funny question because, even from day one, I would get stopped on the street and people would ask, “Are you really dead?” Then at the end of Season 1, everyone said, “Of course you’re coming back now.” I think [the writers] got a great idea to sort of remind people about David at the end of Season 3 and then deliver that surprise moment.
TVLINE | And how has your approach to playing David changed? We’ve seen him in flashbacks over the years, but he’s almost a different person now.
When I started working this season, I thought, “What would it be like to be incarcerated for 20 years for a crime I didn’t commit?” So I started reading a lot of literature, first some old stuff like The Count of Monte Cristo, then I moved to The House of the Dead by Dostoevsky. I just read as much about incarceration as I could, and I realized that if this happened to you, you’d have a really hard time relating to other humans. You’d struggle with intimacy and trust on a really fundamental level.
TVLINE | It’s like how Robin Williams had to readjust to the human world in Jumanji.
TVLINE | Speaking of Jumanji, David also has a pretty fierce beard now that he’s back. How much of that is really yours?
[Laughs] Oh, that beard is quite real. I grew it during the summer break, and when I came in, I figured it was probably the right way to go; everyone agreed. I think it’s a sign of how far out his humanity has stretched.
TVLINE | It’s almost a character in itself at this point.
I’ve been hearing there’s a mixed reaction to it, but I think it shows how much change he’s undergone. The premise of the show, from the beginning, was this father who loved his daughter. The heart of that is still completely true, but the effects of what happened to him are starting to show.
TVLINE | And what did happen to him? When will we start to get some answers?
Oh, you’re going to find out soon. It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion; every episode moving forward will reveal more of what happened. This Sunday, the FBI begins to investigate more of David’s history. You’ll find out more about the surveillance photos from last week and what he’s been up to. David and Emily finally also acknowledge each other as father and daughter for the first time. He finally gets to tell her how he feels about her past actions, how she’s taken revenge. I think it’ll be shocking for the fans.
TVLINE | Based on the previews, that conversation seems pretty tense. Is there any hope for the happy reunion fans have wanted for so long?
Well, remember, they are blood. They’re father and daughter. He raised her, and he knows her. The choices she’s made in his life he doesn’t know, but he knows her.
TVLINE | What about Victoria? Is his opinion of her finally beginning to waver?
I think, even from the beginning of the season, that was a question. But she’s also the love of his life. When he went away, he dreamed of having her back, having that life back. In a way, it’s a battle between his head and his heart when it comes to his relationship with Victoria.
TVLINE | His head, his heart… and his beard?
[Laughs] Yes! Actually, can you go back and make that my quote, please?
TVLINE | I’m actually surprised Victoria hasn’t made David shave yet. She tends to enjoy smooth-faced gentlemen.
Oh man, you know the Revenge writers will never let me do that now.
TVLINE | Of all the mistakes David has made since his return, I feel like Nolan has gotten the worst of it. First he ambushed him on TV, then he punched him in the face at home. What does their future hold?
When the truth comes out, that will have to be reconciled. Obviously, David loves Nolan, so you’ll have to forgive him for what he did; he thought Nolan betrayed him and didn’t take care of his girl.
TVLINE | OK, here’s my last — and most important — question: When is David going to learn of Sammy’s death? Or does he already know?
[Laughs] Oh man, I think David assumed he didn’t survive the 20-year stretch. He was already 12 when I left.
TVLINE | But he almost did make it!
That’s true. Man, I love that dog.
Revenge-rs, do you think Emily can help her father see through Victoria’s lies? Any theories about what David has really been up to? Drop a comment with your thoughts below.