Conrad Grayson, impeccably played by Henry Czerny, is that bad guy with cold blue eyes that will not hesitate for a second before lying to anyone’s face to get rid of anything that happen to be on his way. And we love to hate him.
While everyone else in The Hamptons has been plotting against the mighty Graysons – as Kara Wallace Clarke wisely said “as far as the Graysons go, they’ll get what’s coming. People like that always do” – Conrad and Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) decide to re-marry each other to join forces. And along came the cops. However, when you think that’s the end of Conrad Grayson, the initiative comes to the rescue one more time. But at what cost? “I won’t know until it’s too late”, says Conrad.
Henry Czerny talked to us about Conrad Grayson and explained how the revengeful trio – Conrad, Victoria and Emily (Emily VanCamp) – act towards their enemy.
SpoilerTV: First of all, on behalf of all Revenge fans, let me thank you for playing the best bad guy on TV right now! And you have serious competition! Let me start off by asking you how is it like to play greedy, psychopath Conrad against the equally evil Victoria? The chemistry between you and Madeleine Stowe is amazing!
Henry Czerny: I’ve no doubt that Bernie Madoff would argue that he was only responding to the greed around him. I’m of the mind that genetic predisposition and environmental influences develop the characteristics we label as greedy or altruistic. Both Conrad and Victoria were born with a predisposition to do whatever it takes to be perceived as folks who are ‘in control’, and have been nurtured, consciously or unconsciously, to exercise those talents. In a sense, they are a looking glass for each other, in which they perceive themselves as remarkable tacticians. They’re addicted to their own aggrandizing behavior and the best place to relish that behavior is in their competitive marriage, surrounded by the elegantly ruthless competition, suffusing every molecule of Hamptonian air. Leonard Cohen points to it, I think, with, ‘And all I ever learned from love/Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you’. To come to set unprepared to bring your best opposite Madeleine would be to bury yourself before you even stepped onto the field.
SpoilerTV: What has been your favorite Conrad’s moment so far? Why? What would you like to see Conrad doing in the future?
Henry Czerny: For me, one of the most intriguing choices the writers have given Conrad is his decision to bring himself and Victoria back into their stormy alliance (marriage). To me, it speaks to an addictive behavior I’ve perceived in the folks I’ve researched, in my preparation to bring a conceivable Conrad to the screen. He craves a nasty itch. Because, he believes, it helps focus his talent. Or talons. He likes to think he can find the remarkable pleasure of a heightened experience in the midst of inevitable pain. I’d like to see Conrad find the inexpressible pleasure in building heirloom furniture for the families his addiction to lucrative drama has disrupted.
SpoilerTV: How do you get into character? Are some of Conrad’s traits of personality based on anyone you know in real life? What is the most challenging thing about playing Conrad Grayson?
Henry Czerny: The scripts get me into character. They represent the symptoms, and I go hunting for the disease that, I believe, would manifest those symptoms. I find the writers are so steeped in plot, as they must be in this genre, the cohesion of character is, at times, left to the actor. I met a handful of hedge managers and CEOs, read various perceptions of Conrad Black and Bernie Madoff. Conrad Grayson’s body language is based on my notion of a man aiming at remaining in charge. (I think you either aim at being in charge of the world around you or you know you’re not and make the best you can of what you’re choosing to see). The most challenging thing about playing Conrad is presenting a character, within in the inherent improbabilities and romantic licenses of the soap operatic structure, to which men in his position can, on some level, relate.
SpoilerTV: Despite Conrad’s questionable moral integrity, it seems he had been coerced into finishing with Victoria – not that he didn’t enjoy it – especially because of his connection with Gordon Murphy. Now that Murphy is gone, is Conrad on his own to do whatever he pleases or does he still have unfinished business to deal with?
Henry Czerny: Conrad will never be on his own. He unconsciously craves others to push himself against. It’s all he’s ever known. Victoria is a perfect choice in that regard.
SpoilerTV: Any teasers you can share with us about what to look out for your character?
Henry Czerny: The possum game. When you think Conrad’s under a thumb, he’s probably studying the person at the end of the arm, readying himself for his next move. He differs from Emily in that she studies them first. Victoria tries to bite the thumb, immediately.
Revenge airs Sundays 9/8c. You don’t want to miss “the style of the rich and shameless”, do you?