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Crisis Preview: “If You Are Watching This I Am Dead” [VIDEO and PHOTOS + Dermot Mulroney Interview] 

Photo Credit:  Chuck Hodes/NBC
Photo Credit: Chuck Hodes/NBC

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

So what do we think we know so far? Some kids have been kidnapped and are being held captive until their very important and very powerful parents do what their captors demand. We don’t know how everything is connected yet – and I feel like we might not until the finale – but it seems like things are pretty much going as planned so far. A few of the characters aren’t who they seemed to be. Agent Finely was being played for the patsy, but managed to escape with one of the children in tow. Agent Dunn is probably too close to this situation. Her niece (who we learned is actually her daughter) is amongst the hostages. And Gibson, who we thought was just a chaperone trying to reconnect with this estranged daughter, might be the mastermind? Still with  me? Good.

TV Goodness participated in a press call with series star Dermot Mulroney. He discussed Gibson’s motivations, why he decided to do television now and what we can look forward to this season.

Photo Credit: Chuck Hodes/NBC
Photo Credit: Chuck Hodes/NBC

Can you talk about the hidden elements of your character?

Dermot Mulroney: “There are more hidden elements of Gibson then the current view has any idea about. There’s an incredible plot twist, several of them, in fact, in this opening episode. But what you need to know is that this keeps happening week after week. It’s what makes this show so fun as it evolved in its story. I just kept being so pleased by the twists and turn of the plot. There’s more to come if you like that.”

As a father in real life, how do you relate to this character?

Dermot: “I love the world that Far [Shariat] and Rand [Ravich] created for Crisis. It has just about one DNA strand off of reality, so come with us and you won’t hardly notice. That’s what I say about whether it’s believable. It is in the world we’ve created. Now I can’t personally imagine where I would draw the line if I were coerced or forced to do something to protect my child, so I can’t imagine what I wouldn’t do, I think, is what one of the parts of the character that I can most relate to on a personal level.”

Your character surprised us in the pilot. When will we see his weaknesses?

Dermot: “Well his weakness, of course, is…no I’ll answer it this way, not everything in Gibson’s master plan is going to go as he conceived. So some of the fun parts of the series are to see Gibson think on his feet and have to adapt to the changing situation. So there’s that tension between knowing that he has a great plan and learning that it’s not going according to that plan and what’s the character going to do next becomes part of the series. It is a good question for that reason because yes, he’s always close to having everything under control but it’s not as simple as that. As I said it’s a very complex story so he has to adapt as it evolves.”

Your character is part of this scheme, but your daughter has also been kidnapped. How will that affect you?

Dermot: “Yes. The story gets really crazy, but what stays the same is how much he loves his daughter and how important it is for him to repair his relationship with her and put his family back together. Now his intentions are good, you will see that his methods are questionable at times, but then you’ll learn how effective it is. So the story makes you really question motives versus results. It’s very smart in that way. Another thing I love about it is there is a lot of story coming at you really fast, but I’m more surprised to how clear it is. In other words the show is complex but it’s not confusing. You’ll see what I mean. It’s really great the way they were able to do that.”

Why is that notebook so important?

Dermot: “The notebook is as much a character in this- in this series as well, so it becomes- it’s its own storyline in a way and it’s one of the best props I’ve ever worked with. I wish I had in my mind the name of the woman who worked on this prop – page after page of intricate diagram – drawings, all of which dealt directly with the story. If you can imagine that there were things in that book when we were shooting the pilot that I didn’t know about until about seven months later when we were shooting the series and that’s when the picture that had been in the notebook the whole time came into play- really fascinating for me, thanks for asking about that. For me the double whammy plot where you cut the finger off and then right away it’s revealed that he had planned even that, I think is what makes this first episode so great. In other words a lot of other writers would have had the one and then a little while later would have had the other. Rand and Far gave you that bing-bang, you know, back-to-back plot twist I think that’s just irresistible. It’s great the way they structured the reveals in this first episode and we do that throughout the series.”

There are a lot of twists and turns in this show. Did you know about them ahead of time or did you learn about them along the way? Did that affect the way you played this character?

Dermot: “It is true that I had very little knowledge of what was coming. We’d get the scripts about four or five days in advance. The thing is we did the whole season as planned – 13 episodes, so now I know everything and it’s awesome. There’s some really good sci-fi twists in our story too.”

That’s unexpected.

Dermot: “Yes it is. It’s not alien motherships or anything but, there’s some touches. It’s really enjoyable in terms of those types of stories.”

Is there a clear-cut answer on whether your character is good or bad and do you have a preference?

Dermot: “No, I have no preference. I prefer that people wonder. But yes I do know for myself – and quite clearly – that he is good. There’s no other choice as the person hired to portray this person than that but there will defiantly be- people will wonder that for themselves. His intentions are good.”

Was this role more of a challenge for you since you didn’t know everything going in? Was it more exciting?

Dermot: “Yes. It took me about two or three episodes before I really embraced it and then I loved not knowing. Reading [the] next script became so enjoyable and me wanting to know what was happening next wasn’t going to make the scripts be written any faster. I should be clear, there were very specific story points that I was aware of and needed to be in order to play the character who knows the whole plan. But I didn’t know how the other characters were going to develop or how their storylines end up crossing, things like that. The intrigue of the story was the reveal for me each week and so to answer your question I loved it. But not at first. I had to adjust to that way of working. A screenplay ends on a page number and then you close it and you know everything that happens, so it was very different for me.”

What do you admire most about your character?

Dermot: “Well there are two things. His heart and his mind. I very much admire the reasons that he goes to the lengths that he does and makes the decisions he does, which is an intense and profound love for his daughter and his family. But the thing that most impresses me about Gibson is how truly genus he is. Its fun to play a character that is vastly more intelligent than I am, to be frank. It made me feel really smart.”

What’s the most challenging aspect of playing him?

Dermot: “I found it difficult sometimes to contain my evil glee as other stuff takes place later on. I’ll be honest with you, it’s really fun to play that character. My challenge was to play it in a contained and controlled way. I mean, yes there are other aspects to the character that are challenging too, but that was one of them for sure, just to be real cool I guess.”

What are some of your most memorable moments from the series?

Dermot: “Well, you’ll come to see that a relationship and a dynamic develops within the kitchen. I worked very close with Max Martini, he plays Koz, he’s in the first episode. He’s got a mask on for some of it but he’s the one that amputates my left pinky. Our other partner in crime was Jessica Dean Turner, a Chicago actress, who was also particularly great in the part. So we felt like we had our little team there while the Crisis crew was off shooting all these other storylines. So it was sort of like you could color code the storylines, but then of course they all come to cross at the end of the season in a very gratifying way.”

How you feel about being on television when suddenly it’s the hot place for creativity?

Dermot: “I’m so happy to be doing a show like Crisis and especially for NBC at this time because it is different than it was even a few years ago in terms of the stories that a major network is willing to tell. To be honest with you, for a long time I thought it would be kind of a grind to play the same character over and over again, so that was one of the things that kept me doing films only. But I was wrong. All I had to do was find a character like this because I was thrilled to work as this character for such a long time. I didn’t expect to be gratified in the way that I was, to create a character and develop it over a longer period of time. Yes so it’s a lot different from film and it’s really fun. And its good company. NBC’s been great, so there’s that. But also the makers of the show really were smart and responsible and did a great job, so it wasn’t a chaotic thing like I’d also heard a lot of television shows. Or it wasn’t 18 hour days, it was really well-managed, so that was cool too.”

Was there anything to this character you added that wasn’t scripted?

Dermot: “That’s interesting. Very little. I didn’t improvise dialogue at all, but the directors that we worked with were really collaborative and well-chosen. 12 or 13 different people came in to work on these scripts to shoot the thing, so that’s where my contribution would be just in how the scene plays. But no, I didn’t change anything in the script. I said every word as it was written. There’s probably not an extra word in that character at all.”

Were you allowed any input on the script?

Dermot: “No it’s all what they tell you. I would have approached this anyway, but I think that television’s sort of more typically works like that. I mean you’ve always heard it’s a writer’s medium and so forth, so I came in knowing that I would just be doing the job that I was asked to do. But that’s how it’s done really, I’m not sure this web of plot was so intricate that there wasn’t anything I could do to. There wasn’t anything I could add. I mean, that wasn’t my job either so this for me was fun because I was reading the scripts like a spy novel and then just doing what they said. But I didn’t know – in Episode 4 – necessarily how something I was doing was going to affect something we would shoot for Episode 8. That’s a confusing example. What I mean is as we were going I just followed the steps as they laid them out in front of me.”

If you could’ve changed anything in any of your scripts, what would it have been?

Dermot: “Oh I wouldn’t change it, but I will say that by the sixth month of tying my pinky down to my hand I was wishing that that self-amputation hadn’t happened. I’ll be honest with you, it made me a little cranky there at the end. But I wouldn’t change it, it was well worth it. And you’ll see that the amputated pinky comes into play- I mean you saw the kid put it in the cup of ice, right. So stay tuned for that too.”

Edited for space and content.

“If You Are Watching This I Am Dead” synopsis, from NBC:

After a mysterious phone call, Gillian Anderson‘s Meg Fitch must collect a large sum of cash in order to get her daughter Halston Sage‘s Amber back safely. Meanwhile, the Pakistani Ambassador is tasked with doing the unthinkable to get his son back. Elsewhere, Rachel Taylor‘s Dunn and Lance Gross‘s Finley begin working together to track down the whereabouts of a missing secret service agent and uncover a surprising secret. At the mansion, the students of Ballard High School are tested by their captors.

Crisis airs Sundays at 10/9c on NBC.



All photos courtesy of  Chuck Hodes/NBC and Elizabeth Sisson/NBC.

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