“It’s my last day today, so it’s all a bit weird.”
“It was quite extraordinary,” he says via phone from South Africa, where the series shoots. “I got to play some really cool stuff as an actor, really interesting stuff, stuff that you’re not normally asked to do… It was a gas.”
And his exhausted-yet-exhilarated state primes him to tell TVLine tons of spoilers about the post-apocalyptic drama — which premieres tonight at 10/9c — right?
“Dream on!” Head says, laughing heartily.
After all, the actor, whose sci-fi/fantasy game is strong (he’s had roles on Merlin, Warehouse 13 and — of course — Buffy the Vampire Slayer) knows the importance of keeping spoilers to a minimum. So here’s what we can tell you about the upcoming episodes: Archangel Michael is still rogue (and, in one scene in the premiere, dressed only in the suit his father gave him). Archangel Gabriel still wants to be in power. Alex is on his way to New Delphi to seek a military alliance, and Head’s power broker David Whele is in Vega, battling both Lady of the City Claire and his own guilt over what happened to his son, William.
All caught up? Good. Read on for more of our talk with Head.
TVLINE | How did your last day go?
Right at the beginning of the season, I was chatting with Vaun [Wilmott, series creator], and he said he really loved my story arc. I didn’t know where it was going, but I must admit, I’ve enjoyed it, too. [Laughs] I kind of saw what he was talking about. Once it set itself a-going, and there was no stopping it, it was fascinating.
The thing I love about it is, as you can see from the first episode of the season, [the series has] really taken the ball and run with it. They’ve turned a concept show into a high end [one]. It’s got so much now. …The first season was pretty rooted in Vega. They needed to establish the V system, they needed to establish basically that it was the last vestiges of humanity under siege. But now that they’ve branched out and found how other pockets of humanity are affected differently, it’s fascinating.
TVLINE | This season will take the series to settlements like New Delphi and Mallory, a town seemingly untouched by the carnage of the angelic war. Does David get outside of Vega?
[Laughs] He certainly gets outside of the Vega we know. He gets outside of his comfort zone.
TVLINE | Claire seems to be turning into more of an adversary than David thought she might be. Do you think that’s an accurate assessment of their situation?
It’s extremely accurate. Bottom line is that David saw her as a leader-in-the-making that he could school, manipulate and run rings around. But she is the Democrat to his Republican, and she is very much aware of the damage that the V system does, the fact that it’s an antiquated system. It was something that her father brought in right at the beginning just in order to establish Vega and it’s been kept in place by people like David Whele, for whom it works very well.
There were a couple of scenes that actually didn’t make the cut [Laughs] because the first two episodes were so full, there just wasn’t room for ’em! But they were very interesting. They were interesting in that Claire took David down to see the V1s [the poorest Vega social class]. Both characters were appalled, but Claire’s reaction and standpoint was that she needed to change things, that this was not acceptable. David’s take was that he’s been going on about the immigration system for years [Laughs], and this was just glaring proof that it didn’t work and there were too many people being allowed inside the safety of Vega. It was awful! [Laughs]
TVLINE | He’s a good politician, so he can spin any situation to his advantage.
Unfortunately, in most of the Western world, in most of what we call democracy, there are two fairly polar and radical views. One is that people can be integrated, that people can get together and work together… The conflict between David and Claire is not at all what he’s anticipating. It’s a very interesting match, and it has interesting repercussions.
TVLINE | Do you think those two characters could, if they had to, work together?
They probably could… The thing I think is fascinating about David Whele, which is always fun playing him, is the fact that you can’t help — even though he’s a complete bastard — you can’t help but root for him. I’ve found myself doing that.
…He’s sort of convinced himself that he’s doing things for the right reasons. Ultimately, he knows that he’s not, but it suits him to pretend. What’s fascinating, reading it now, what they write for me, there were moments where I’d go, “Oh nooooooo don’t do that, they’re going to hate you!” Then three pages, five pages later, you go, “OK. You got out of that one.” That’s what’s been such fun playing this: He’s not obvious. And even when you think, “That’s it, that’s buried him,” something happens that you just go, “OK.”
TVLINE | Talk to me a little bit about David’s feelings over what happened to William in the finale.
William, it’s very difficult. He’s a two-edged sword. [David] does love him, but he’s like that parent that’s sort of disassociated themselves from their child and everything their child does is annoying. Thankfully, I don’t have that relationship with my daughters. I really adore them, and everything they do, I’m extremely proud of.
…I said at the end of last season, when William broke David and then David, as a broken man, had to take his son out into the desert and leave him with six bullets, I said if we get a second season and I come back, this man is not whole. He is definitely broken and whatever he presents, there is an underlying — not “madness,” but we don’t quite know how he’s going to react to anything. My thoughts were both “that would be fun to play” but also fun to write, fun to see where you take that character now, because he’s not playing with a full deck. He is dangerous.
…There’s a line we put in — oh no, I can’t tell you about that. [Laughs]
TVLINE | That’s terrible!
There’s something that happens and William says, “You didn’t see that one coming, did you?” [Laughs] And he’s right: No, David didn’t see it coming. And William goes on his journey for a while. It’s a real fun, classy bit of writing.
TVLINE | Have you been to Las Vegas since you started the show? Because if so, I would imagine that would be a little weird.
No. I’ve been a few times in the past. The weirdest was going with the producer at the time of The Rocky Horror Picture Show because they wanted to do a Rocky Horror in Vegas. [Rocky Horror creator] Richard O’Brien asked [production supervisor] Chris Malcolm to go and have a look at venues… I was in L.A. and Chris comes over and he says, “Come with me.” And it was the weirdest adventure.
Coupled with that, the last time I was there, I went to visit Elton John. He was doing The Red Piano and I was doing a pilot [Him and Us] for ABC which was basically about a manager of a rock performer. Elton writes me two songs, and I stood around the red piano and he sort of went through it to see if they were in my key and I recorded with his band on the stage, and then got to go to the studios in L.A. It was great fun.
TVLINE | Let’s just back up for a moment. You just talked about Elton John writing you songs in the same tone of voice I use to say things like, “I went to get some milk, then I went home.”
[Laughs] Well I was standing there and he’s got a sheaf of lyrics and he’s literally going through them. By the time I got there, he was already halfway through the first song… And then the second song, he picked a ballad and halfway through he said, “Nah, I don’t like this.”… It was the most extraordinary experience. Needless to say, it was a very interesting way to experience Las Vegas.