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INTERVIEW: Revenge Star Henry Czerny on Patriarch's Endgame — "Conrad Ends Up as Eckhart Tolle"

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Henry Czerny is well-versed in the art of Revenge. As patriarch of the dysfunctional Grayson clan on the hit ABC sudser, the formally-trained Canadian actor gives just as good as he gets, when Conrad faces off against malevolent wife Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) and/or diabolical daughter-in-law Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp). 

I recently caught up with Czerny at TCA. He shared how the Graysons will continue to contend with Emily, now that she's under their roof. He also offers insight into Conrad's goals for his children and reveals which self-help guru he hopes his character eventually takes after.

Daytime Confidential: It seems like the Graysons have Emily where they want her. Now that she is in their house and has lied for them that Lydia shot her, how else are they going to torture her?

Henry Czerny: By living. The Graysons are going to torture Emily by somehow continuing on with their lives as despicable and dysfunctional as they are. That’s what’s going to continue. Emily’s going to get out of some stuff and get into some stuff, as one does when one goes for revenge. At the very beginning, Mike Kelley put on his description for the series for the first episode a Confucios saying, "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves." In our pursuit of something we believe should happen, we have to get dirty in a way that the other people against us got dirty.

DC: Is Emily really infertile, or did the Graysons just fake that as payback for her faking tests to make it look like Conrad had Huntington’s disease?

HC: I can’t tell you that. You have to watch. What would be the point of me telling you? Good God. It would be like sitting down with Margaret Atwood and having her tell you the novel.

DC: Conrad sacrificed Lydia pretty quickly after getting her back.

HC: We’ve all come to see Conrad, I think, like the character of Teddy in Shutter Island, where the truth is revealed, but within hours he has removed the truth because it’s too complicated. He goes along again having forgotten everything that has transpired in the past except the stuff that suits him. I think that’s how he survives.

DC: Are we going to see any more of his swinging bachelor pad in the city?

HC: Unfortunately, not right away I don’t think. But I think that was a pretty amazing twist, a very kind of oddly titillating twist. It was kind of weird, passing that down to his son. I’m sure it happens more oftem than we know. Do you want to go there? I don’t know.

DC: Given the way things have turned out for Lydia and Victoria, I don’t think so.

HC: Yeah, but what a way to go. Like the people who share traffic lanes on Friday nights on their motorbikes. It’s crazy, but what a way to go.

DC: Does being forced to team up to protect Daniel reinvigorate Victoria and Conrad’s relationship?

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HC: Very much like any two moguls would do, we work against each other until it suits us to be with each other. They ebb and flow that way too, as people do. Sometimes in a family, the husband and wife have different parenting styles. But when a kid starts truly misbehaving, they’re together.

DC: Is Conrad slowly-but-surely figuring out Emily’s identity?

HC: No. Conrad, at this point, is far too blissfully myopic when it comes to Emily in that regard. Victoria is the one who sees her as a threat, partly because she’s another woman, but Conrad does not see her in that way whatsoever. It does behoove the show for that to happen because the two main characters, Victoria and Emily, you’ll see as the season progresses, they’re going to be going at each other more and more, which I think is the Sunday night timeslot ticket.

DC: Will we see Conrad’s memoirs published this season?

HC: Not right away because he’s going to be around for a while.

DC: But living people publish memoirs all the time now. It’s trendy.

HC: I don’t think so. I think he might have thought that there was a fall in his life, and I don’t mean a fall down. I mean the fall of his years. But I think he’s somewhat invigorated after the divorce and he wants to live again in his own way, so therefore the memoirs might be something that ebbs at this point.

DC: What is his agenda with each of his children?

HC: Needless to say, Conrad hopes that both of his children see him as he sees himself, as the person who did his best—and sometimes worst—so that they could have the lives that he always hoped they would have.

DC: Conrad has had some hilarious one-liners this season.

HC: I think it’s been a relationship with the writers and actor, where the stuff that happens when the camera stops rolling is starting to find its way into the scenes.

DC: What would you like the endgame to be for Conrad? How do you think the series should end?

HC: Conrad ends up as Eckhart Tolle. He’s gone through everything and he’s come to realize that everything already is, and you don’t need anything beyond what you already have to be truly happy.

Photo credit: ABC