Friday, June 14, 2013

Interview: Scott Wolf — The Likable Bad Guy

Scott Wolf (photo by Trae Patton/ABC Studios)
Scott Wolf, who is perhaps best known for his role of Bailey Salinger on Fox’s hit series “Party of Five,” is coming back to series television when he makes his debut on the season premiere of TNT’s “Perception.” The crime drama, which stars Eric McCormack (as Dr. Daniel Pierce) and Rachael Leigh Cook (as Special Agent Kate Moretti), returns for its 14-epsiode second season on June 25 at 10/9c.

Scott comes aboard as Donnie Ryan, Kate’s soon-to-be ex-husband, an assistant U.S. Attorney who is transferred back to Chicago, and ends up working with Daniel and Kate on cases. And a little birdie told me he might still be carrying a torch for his estranged wife. I spoke with Scott recently about his new role, and he told me all about life in the world of “Perception.”

Celebrity Extra: Tell me how your latest role came about, how you landed the role of Donnie Ryan.

Scott Wolf: First off, I am a fan of the show, and a big fan of both Eric and Rachael, so when the opportunity came about, I was really excited. Before I was cast, we did a “chemistry meeting” with Eric and Rachael, where I went in and the three of us just read through some of the material. Right from the beginning, there was just something very easy about it. Coming into a situation like that where they have a really great thing going, and they have this great relationship, you want to be respectful of that. And then at the same time, you want to bring something new and be a good addition to everything.

They’re both pretty great people. They’re really talented artists, but they’re really cool people. They could not have been more welcoming and generous and glad to have me join the show. I think the character of Donnie has added a pretty cool, interesting, sometimes disturbing new dynamic to the proceedings. And in a way, I think it’s allowed Daniel and Kate to show sides of themselves that would be difficult to show otherwise.

CE: Tell me about Donnie.

SW: Donnie Ryan is Kate’s estranged husband, soon to be ex-husband, who had a very bad indiscretion in their relationship and caused things to fall apart. He’s been in D.C. working as an assistant U.S. Attorney, and he winds up coming back to Chicago. It doesn’t take very long for him to reveal what his true intentions are. He says he just got transferred back there for work, but it becomes obvious that he’s come back there to be closer to her.

On the professional side, he winds up being integral to a lot of the cases that Daniel and Kate are working on. So, they end up working together a lot. At some point, it becomes clear that Daniel and Kate have feelings for each other, whether they’re romantic or they’re just friendship or whatever they are. That becomes something that Donnie is conscious of, so there’s a little bit of a triangle between the three of them. But the journey that the three of them go on is really interesting because in a sense, they find sides of each other that you wouldn’t expect them to when we see them crossing paths at the beginning of the season.

CE: The ambiguity of Donnie reminds me of another role you played, reporter Chad Decker on “V.” Is it fun to play a character where the audience isn’t quite sure whether to love him or hate him?

SW: It absolutely is. It’s always fun to be cast in a role where the character is a little ambiguous, and you’re not quite sure whether you’re rooting for him or not. And I think it’s fun to play characters like that. I think if you cast a guy who always plays the bad guy, and then he does these awful things, then it’s difficult for an audience to root for him.

It’s hard to even talk about without sounding silly, but you know me — I don’t have a bad-guy face, and I’m not the least-likable guy in the universe. So if you can get past the idea of somebody who’s not the least-likable person in the universe in a role where he’s doing despicable things, it creates this tension. When the season begins, a lot of people will wonder what Kate ever saw in this guy.

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