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12 Monkeys: Originals Actor Previews His 'Scary,' 'Delicious' Rabble-Rouser, Plus: Cole Jumps Into an Outbreak

12 Monkeys may be the end of the world as we know it, but one soon-to-debut character feels just fine.

Deacon, the leader of a band of post-apocalyptic scavengers we’ll meet in the series’ Feb. 6 episode, is known for espousing a survival-of-the-fittest attitude — no matter the cost. He’s cunning. He’s ruthless. And, portrayer Todd Stashwick tells TVLine with a laugh, “He’s a pussycat!”

So when Deacon and his group, the West 7, burn down the final few government quarantine zones and set their sites on the time-travel program’s building, it’s all in fun, eh?

“He does what he has to do to survive,” the actor says. “And sometimes, that is a little unsavory.”

We chatted with Stashwick — whose lengthy resume includes time spent as The Originals‘ Father Kieran, The Riches‘ Dale and Supernatural’s Dracula — about how Deacon figures into the Syfy series’ twisty timeline.

Plus: Keep scrolling after the interview to see some exclusive photos from both this Friday’s episode (9/8c), which introduces Lyriq Bent (Rookie Blue) as a virologist whom Cole encounters during a 2014 outbreak in Haiti, and next week’s, in which Stashwick makes his entrance.

TVLINE | What’s it like coming into a show like this, which has such a jumbled order of events?
It is a show you have to run to keep up with, which is really exciting. I had the good fortune of reading all the scripts. It was breathless. I think I read them on an airplane from Los Angeles to Toronto. I read the entire season…. I was a bit plugged into the mystery by the time I was finishing up my tour of duty on Season 1. It’s exciting to be part of something that is the kind of show that generates conversation and speculation. Somebody, somewhere in a basement, has a wall where they’re drawing with yarn and trying to keep that timeline straight, because it’s that kind of show.

TVLINE | What can you tell me about Deacon? All I know is he’s the leader of a band of scavengers called the West 7, and he’s maybe not the nicest guy you’d ever run into.
He is completely justified in his actions to himself… I don’t think he sees himself as evil; he sees himself as willing to do the things that other people maybe aren’t willing to do. I’m not going to say he doesn’t enjoy doing them.

TVLINE | Do you know if he’s always been that way? Do you have any inkling of his backstory?
We have not had too much of an opportunity to expose or flesh that out. I think [what he has done] was what the situation called for, and he had the right stripes to do it. He saw a need and filled it. He does much of what he does with a bit of a smile on his face — I don’t think that happens overnight. That could be woven into one’s DNA… That’s what makes him scary, as well as delicious.

TVLINE | Is he a charming guy? Is he someone you’d want to get a beer with?
Yeah. When I went in to read for it, there was a lot of very Marine-looking guys, guys who looked like they’d served a tour of duty. There was no way I was going to be able to out-tough them… So I had to go in a different direction. I had to go in oozing charm. If you don’t cross [Deacon], he’s a great guy!

TVLINE | How does he become involved in messing with the time-travel program?
For Deacon, I don’t think that part of it concerns him. He sees the temporal facility as probably the best, most fortified roof imaginable. The time-travel business is way off his radar. All of that is an emerging truth for him, as far as stopping the plague goes. I don’t think he is thinking about that. I think he’s thinking about: Do we have a roof over our heads? Do we have food in our bellies? And are we having a good time?

TVLINE | Is he so far to the dark side that he can never be someone who helps Cole and/or the mission?
Again, I don’t see him as a villain in the standard sense.

TVLINE | Would someone else see him as a villain in the standard sense?
I think certain people would see his methods as extreme. But I don’t think he has that rubbing-his-hands-together [thing].

TVLINE | So, no moustache-twirling?
No. He’s certainly picking some scenery out of his teeth. [Laughs] If this is the hand he’s dealt, he might as well have a good time. But do I think he’s unredeemable? Absolutely not. Other people have done other things that are equally as bad in the post-apocalyptic environment… He sees himself as the Papa Bear and the one who’s willing to make the hard calls. But the fact that he takes a little delight in his menace and he does much of it with a smile on his face? Yeah, it’s going to rub a lot of people in a weird way.

TVLINE | Does Deacon have any family in 2043?
I think he’s a loner. They have not revealed that to me as of yet… To explore what did he lose throughout this process that pushed him to this place is an interesting exploration. What makes a man when he’s got nothing to lose? That’s a dangerous man.