Fall TV Preview: Showrunner Mike Kelley Talks REVENGE Season Two

revenge cast season 2

After a first season spent single-handedly reinvigorating the primetime sudser genre long thought dead, REVENGE’s return is just around the corner. And while many questions remain as to the fate of Victoria Grayson following May’s shocking season finale plane crash, not to mention the identity of the babydaddy following Fauxmanda’s unexpected baby bump, there is no such question when it comes to the hit ABC series second season goal: Avoid the dreaded sophomore slump! But just how does showrunner Mike Kelley plan on doing what is far easier said than done? We recently had the chance to interrogate the cast and creative team during a visit to the set of one of the Hampton’s most notorious addresses. What follows is the first of a series of interviews leading up the September 30th season premiere. So clear off that revengenda, get comfortable and enjoy.

What would you say is the overarching theme of this upcoming second season?
Mike Kelley: Much like I did with the pilot where I opened with a Confucius quote that said ‘Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves,’ season two will open with a quote about destiny. It’s an Emil quote about whether you have a hand in choosing your own destiny or whether it’s already laid out for you. REVENGE season two is all about free will versus fate.

Does the theme of destiny tie into genetic qualities one might have inherited, say from a biological mother who will very soon be making her way to the Hamptons?
That’s exactly right! As you know we’ve got a mother joining the show. Jennifer Jason Leigh is that mother and she’s got some deep psychological issues. So Emily is going to do a lot of reflecting as to whether she’s genetically programmed to turn out like her mother, who is very unhinged. It’s a big surprise as to what happened to her.

Much of the first season was structured around a major event in the Hamptons (Ie. The Fire & Ice Ball). Are you sticking with that structure for season two?
Yes, we open with a flash forward to the end of the summer again where a real terrible event occurs and then we bring the audience back to the beginning of the summer. For me, when I’m watching serialized drama, I’m a big fan of shows like KNOTS LANDING and MELROSE PLACE where there was such a slow burn. I’ve said this before about this really fantastic season of KNOTS LANDING where Donna Mills ends up marrying William Devane where he had wronged her the season before and she swore she would have her revenge. So at the very end of the next season — after she had seduced him all the way through to get to the wedding chapel and he’s about to put a ring on her finger — she slithers away and says “I’ll never marry you, I told you I’d get back at you!” and the audience is left thinking “Oh my God!?!” As an audience member you trusted the writers and I feel like we’ve lost some of that. I feel like there have been some big event shows, mythological dense shows where they’re asking you to go on a ride but they’re not showing you exactly where they’re headed. Which is why, when I started writing REVENGE I felt it was important to tell the audience that you’re in good hands. I know where we’re going, so sit down and I’ll get you there. So that’s what I’m trying to do each time to bring the audience and make sure they know I’m paying attention.

Is it safe to assume that Victoria Grayson survived last season’s plane “mishap?”
I think you have to tune in to see how we handle that. I’m going to be a little cagey on that, except to say that I can assure fans that Victoria does not have an evil twin!

Will Emily’s true identity of Amanda come out this season?
It will eventually come out to a very important character and that’s something I want to explore this season, but it’s not going to come out en masse until the end of the series.

Do you have a dream actor in mind for the role of Victoria’s mother?
Sophia Loren was who Madeleine’s thrown out, and I said, “Well you call her!” But no, that is truly dream casting. I think there are lot of great people, people have thrown out the name Joan Collins a lot who would be terrific, and I think we’ve taken a step into a really terrific pool of actors with Madeleine and Jennifer Jason Leigh. As you know, I love television so I love bringing back people like William Devane. I love these kinds of actors so if we’re able to go there I’d I’d prefer it.

Emily and Nolan act like brother and sister, might they be some day?
I intended it to be a fraternal relationship, but whether or not they are actually siblings remains to be scene.

What are you feelings about moving to Sunday nights?
I’m very excited about the new time slot, it’s a real honor. ABC seems to be really behind the show and it’s a historic time slot. It’s a lot of pressure and we want to performer really well for them but it feels like a night that they thought a lot about. There’s a flow to out. [ABC President] Paul Lee said to me it’s a night about the battle of evil versus good. It’s got a theme to it and I feel really good about that.

Season Two of REVENGE kicks off on Sunday September 30th at 9PM on ABC (City in Canada). For even more scoop on REVENGE’s much-anticipated second season, why not check out our feature story on star Emily Vamcamp by downloading our first Annual Fall TV Preview eBook.

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