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article imageBilly Burke is talkin' about television's 'Revolution' Special

By Earl Dittman     Sep 16, 2013 in Entertainment
Portraying the unlikely hero of the action/drama series ‘Revolution’ (now on Blu-ray/DVD), the former 'Twilight' actor sheds light on the first season of the hit show and what's next for the survivors of a world left in darkness in its sophomore year.
According to film and television veteran Billy Burke (The Twilight Saga, The Closer), the first season of the hit dramatic action network series Revolution stands out as one of the best experiences of the 46-year-old actor's time in Hollywood. "I would absolutely say that this, seriously, is the biggest highlight of my career," the Washington state-born Burke confesses. "I mean, I've been having a great time making this show. When I think back to my childhood and looking ahead to what I wanted to do and there was never really any question with what I wanted to do. And, then, I look at this gig I'm like, 'I can't see it getting any better than this,' you know, in terms of stuff to do and fun to be had. I mean, it's a pretty rich role and good thing to be doing as your job every day."
Billy Burke and his costars of Season One of  Revolution
Billy Burke and his costars of Season One of 'Revolution'
NBC
In the first season of the epic adventure series Revolution (now available on Blu-ray/DVD), Burke portrays the reclusive Miles Matheson, a former Marine and warrior who is now fighting for a just cause. Developed and produced by Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions (Star Trek Into Darkness), Revolution tells the story of a family that struggles to reunite in an America where every bit of technology – computers, planes, cars, phones and the lights – has mysteriously blacked out forever. It’s a post-apocalyptic landscape inhabited by ruthless paramilitary groups, heroic freedom fighters and families struggling to survive. Revolution is an action-packed and emotionally intense journey of hope and rebirth seen through the eyes of a strong and resilient young woman, Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos), and her younger brother Danny (Graham Rogers). When Danny is kidnapped by militia leaders for a darker purpose, Charlie must reconnect with her estranged uncle Miles (Burke). Along with a rogue band of survivors, they set out to rescue Danny, overthrow the militia – controlled by President Sebastian “Bass” Monroe (David Lyons) – and ultimately re-establish the United States of America. During their quest, they explore the enduring mystery of why the power failed, and if – or how – it will ever return.
Burke has not only been impressed with Miles' development, but the way all the characters on Revolution evolved throughout Season One. "From the very first moment that I sat down with (Eric) Kripke to talk about the role of Miles, I felt like they were going to trust me to do what I was going to do with the material given," he recalls. "That being said, I'm so thankful to him and the rest of the writers for really giving a shit about not only my character but all these characters and the precarious lines that they walk. My character, in particular, has sort of taken a path around himself to get to where he at the end of the season. That's always the greatest stuff to play with. Yes, the swordfighting is fun and we've been having a ball with everything, but I can't think of – especially for television – anything that would be more enriching to work with."
Currently filming Season Two of Revolution, Billy Burke talks about the series inaugural first year and what fans can possibly expect in when the show returns on September 25th, 2013.
Billy Burke is Miles Matheson on  Revolution
Billy Burke is Miles Matheson on 'Revolution'
NBC
What have you found the most challenging in doing a series in which you portray such a swashbuckler?
BILLY BURKE: "I'm not sure that I find anything particularly challenging. I've had more fun doing this than I've had doing anything in a number of years, actually. It's just been sort of a joy every day. It's hard work. I mean, we work an average of 14, 15, 16-hour days and it's a very physical show. I'm getting the shit beat out of me all the time – whether the character is or not. (laughs) Me, and all of the other actors are going through a lot of physical stress. But, I don't find it particularly challenging at all. I kind of like the way it works. We don't really know much more ahead of time what's going to happen than the audience does. So it's kind of a good system for me. We kind of make it up as we go."
On paper, I’m sure the premise of the entire planet going dark looked as if it could either really connect with television audiences or be a total ratings dud. Once viewers began to see Revolution played out on screen, especially from an acting stand-point, it was obvious it was going to be a hit.
“Well, I appreciate you saying that. I don't know if anything's obvious in network television these days, though. But, yes, as far as what it looked like – as you say on paper – I would agree with you. I mean, if this isn't an entertaining show then I'm not sure what is, you know?”
David Lyons  (President Monroe)  Daniella Alonso (Nora) and Billy Burke (Miles) in a scene from Seas...
David Lyons, (President Monroe), Daniella Alonso (Nora) and Billy Burke (Miles) in a scene from Season One of 'Revolution'
NBC
One of the major plot points of Revolution is the relationship between Miles and President Monroe (Lyons). After the incredible first season finale, what do you think we can expect from the pair?
"Well, we've seen that conflict go on for so long. And, the nature of these two guys is that, yes, they're both fighting different sort of pathos within themselves. Each one thinks that they're doing, you know, the best thing for the common good and for the overall right. So, that's the struggle that we deal with. The brotherhood between them seems to be so strong that it's kind of overcome a lot of those moments. But, I don't know how long that will continue."
The incredible thing viewers witnessed during the first season was how Miles' relationship with his niece, Charlie (Spiridakos), really softened him and changed who he is. However, he's also watched her get harder. Can you talk about his fears for her and if his changes are going to stick with him?
"That was sort of the fun dance to play with throughout the entire first season. I mean, we didn't know it was coming any more than anybody else did. But, as the scripts kept coming in and we kept making the show, what I realized is that yes, there was sort of a do-si-do going on. He was taking on her characteristics, while she was taking on his. Naturally, his fears for her becoming everything about him that he wouldn't want anybody to be are boiling to the surface."
Tracy Spiridakos (Charlie) and Billy Burke (Miles) star in  Revolution
Tracy Spiridakos (Charlie) and Billy Burke (Miles) star in 'Revolution'
NBC
Miles seems like the type of guy who has been pushed into a leadership role but would rather be the guy just following orders. That seems like the internal struggle within him. At times, he's a really good guy and at others, seemingly bad. Is that the kind of line you're walking as an actor with this guy? Miles appears to be a natural-born leader but a truly reluctant one at the same time.
"That's correct, but those are the fun things to play with. But, the question that does arise quite often and quite frequently while we're producing these episodes is that question of 'What's going to be too far? What is going to actually be redeemable in the end and does it need to be redeemable?' For me, because I still am not even clear on what the whole term anti-hero even means, we're making that up for this character as we go. Yes, when we first met him at the beginning of the series, he wanted nothing to do with this fight. He'd rather not have the responsibility on his shoulders. But, as we all know, you get pulled back into things in life that you just kind of have to deal with. That's been his struggle.”
Since Revolution is all about the complete shutdown of the planet’s power grid, when you get home every night from the set, and you turn on the lights and they come on, do you breathe a little sigh of relief?
“I don't think about it that much when I'm home. But, we do think about it quite a bit on set. We talk about it a lot. It's a big part of everyday conversation all the what ifs. Thinking about it, though, if I couldn't open the refrigerator and find something cold in there I'd be pretty pissed off.” (laughs)
What technology do you think you'd miss the most if you were ensconced in the world of Revolution?
“I grew up a musician. I still play music and mostly I listen to music. The absence of recorded music would be my biggest thing. I mean beyond, you know, refrigerated food, recorded music is the big one for me.”
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NBC
You spent some time acting in the series 24. There are some similarities between Miles and 24’s Jack Bauer. 24 star Keifer Sutherland has said that Jack Bauer was the kind of character who just could never be happy. Do you see Miles sort of in that same vein? Do you think that ultimately he can be happy or is he just going always sort of be fighting or crusading for something?
“Happiness is not something that Miles even thinks about or strives for in my mind. It's not even an option. The lights at end of tunnel don't even come into this psyche at all. First and foremost, I think he’s just like everybody in this world that we're living in – he just wants to survive. Beyond that, if he can do something to help the common good I think that's what all his choices are based on. He’s going to have to do some crappy things, but in the end is it going to help the common good? And I think that's all he thinks about. I think it can be his kind of happy, which is in tiny little spurts.”
To many of the fans of the show, it seemed as if the second half of the first season began to take on a different kind of energy and feel. I was wondering if that feeling was the same with you as an actor with the scripts or on the set? Was that an intentional change or just something that happened organically?
“We, as actors, talked about it during the little break that we took, the hiatus that we took. Then, as we came back and started to see the scripts roll in, we don't know if that was intentional from the get go or if it was just lucky happenstance. But, we are all in complete agreement with that. We feel like it almost became a heightened version of the show it already was. We're all looking forward to that climbing the ladder even more for new season.”
Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos)  Miles (Burke) and Rachel Matheson (Elizabeth Mitchell) in a scene from  ...
Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), Miles (Burke) and Rachel Matheson (Elizabeth Mitchell) in a scene from 'Revolution'
NBC
The first season of Revolution was filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, but Season Two is being shot in Austin, Texas. How did you feel about the move? Did you think it was going to be a little jarring or bring about a lot of possibilities?
“I was absolutely looking forward to it. Austin, it's one of the coolest cities that we have here in the United States of America – I’ve got to say. That being said, we will all miss Wilmington. North Carolina was really good to us. We loved everybody there. I couldn't have imagined at the time a better place to be making this show. But, Austin's got a lot of great stuff to offer.”
In Season One, the series lost several main characters. Should fans be prepared for any deaths in the new season?
“Well, I don't know that. (laughs) I mean, the nature of the show is this: we're all in precarious situations and all in the same precarious situation collectively together. The nature of the show is people are going to die in this scenario, in the world being the way it is and the battles that we're fighting. I can't speak to particular characters one or the other – if they're going to be around or not. But, as the show moves into the second season it's my guess – and I don't know this for sure – that we'll see new people and we might be saying goodbye to some others. We’ll see.”
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Warner Bros
Revolution: The Complete First Season
Season One of Revolution also features Anna Lise Phillips (Animal Kingdom) as Maggie, Zak Orth (Romeo + Juliet) as Aaron, JD Pardo (A Cinderella Story) as Nate, Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) as Captain Tom Neville, Maria Howell (The Blind Side) as Grace, Daniella Alonso (Friday Night Lights) as Nora, Tim Guinee (Promised Land) as Ben Matheson and Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) as Rachel Matheson. Follow the mystery of the blackout and feel the power of Revolution in all 20 sensational Season One episodes of this Number One hit series. Blu-ray (Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet) Bonus Features: Revolution - Cast and creative team at the 2013 PaleyFest; An in-depth Look at the Revolution pilot; Creating A Revolution: A look at Revolution's breathtaking landscapes through the eyes of the visionary artists who created them; 5 Webisodes; Gag Reel and Deleted Scenes. Season 2 of Revolution premieres Wednesday, September 25, 2013 on NBC at 8:00pmEST/7:00CST
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Warner Bros
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