Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Charlie Weber: From 90210 to Murder

Charlie Weber (photo by Ben Miller)
ABC’s newest nighttime drama, “How to Get Away with Murder,” is the most talked about and watched new series since “Scandal.” Which is no surprise, considering both series have executive producer Shonda Rhimes — a woman who knows how to write gripping and addictive drama — at the helm. And that cliffhanger winter hiatus (where viewers discovered that Annalise — played by Academy Award-nominated Viola Davis — does indeed know that Wes killed her cheating and abusive husband, Sam, with the rest of the group helping to cover it up) had and still has everyone talking. “Murder” returns to ABC on Jan. 29 at 10/9c with six more new shows to round out season one, and I’m sure there will be lots more to talk about once that happens. I spoke with series star Charlie Weber (who has also co-starred in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Everwood” and “90210,” and starred in the feature film “Vampires Suck”), who plays Annalise’s right-hand man Frank Delfino, and he can’t wait for fans to see what Shonda and Co. have in store for fans in the coming episodes.

Celebrity Extra: “How to Get Away with Murder” is by far the best new show of the 2014-15 television series.

Charlie Weber: I agree. I’ve been on a lot of TV shows, and this is the best one. I mean, it’s so good. They screened the pilot for a few of us. I watched it with Tom Verica and Liza Weil and Karla Souza. And right when it started, I was like, “Oh my God, this is good.” I knew we were shooting a good show, but you never know how it’s going to look or how it’s going to feel. And I couldn’t have been more impressed.

CE: I was impressed that it didn’t lose steam after that brilliant pilot episode.

CW: Right. They give you that shock value to get you in, but it stayed good. The writing is incredible. It’s something that challenges people on every part of our show. Everybody’s so talented. Linda Lowy is truly the master of ensemble casting. And everybody’s so great. We all get along. We are all just good friends, and everyone’s cool. We all love our jobs and love going to work, and it makes the whole thing a lot of fun.

CE: Tell me the cast’s reaction to the winter hiatus cliffhanger, where we find out that Annalise was sitting there in the dark when Wes came back to retrieve the trophy, thus showing that all of her actions after her fight with Sam were orchestrated.

CW: That was a cliff I did not know anything about. We didn’t know that until we all read it at the table read. Prior to that, we all had our theories, but honestly, none of us knew that Wes killed Sam until the table read. Everybody had his own theory. And that’s one of the coolest things about the show, is it could have been any of us. We are all pretty bad people. With the exception of maybe Asher, Matt McGorry’s character, we’re all certainly capable, Frank especially. He made his deal with the devil a long time ago. But now these kids are really in it and having to deal with the moral complications of covering this up and having done it in the first place. They’re all in on it now.

CE: I read that show runner Peter Nowalk wants to veer away from using the flashback storytelling device now that we have caught up in time with the murder.

CW: Yes, we have now caught up to murder night, and now we go forward. There are a couple here and there, mostly to explain a certain situation, but there are going to be only a few. We’ll pop around a little bit, but it’s going to be different; it’s going to be more of a linear, forward-moving way of storytelling from here on out.

CE: Tell me about Frank and how you prepared for the role.

CW: I hung around with lawyers. One is a lawyer who does PI work, and I was really fascinated by that. That’s kind of the avenue it started going down. And I started talking with (show runner) Pete Nowalk about it, and he had this idea that we would find out in episode three that Frank’s not a barred attorney. He’s not a practicing lawyer, despite his intelligence, and I thought that adds to the mystery of who Frank is and what he really does. Because what he really does is plant evidence and whatever it is that needs to be done. I thought it was a brilliant choice. And the PI stuff is fascinating. I love Frank, you know, meeting with Annalise in the shadows and going to do the dirty work.

CE: Frank seemed like a nice guy, but then we find out he has a secret girlfriend while he’s romancing Laurel. What’s up with that?

CW: He’s very complicated and has the ability to justify a lot of things. He doesn’t think that was that big of a deal, because she had a boyfriend too. But she’s like, “But you knew about that.” But that’s not how Frank sees things. He doesn’t understand why that was a big deal. He, as a matter of fact, has genuine feelings for her. That’s why he ended the other relationship. But then again, he’s busy doing so many other things. He is a mystery because he really can’t afford not to be because of what he does for Annalise. He has no choice but to be vague and carry himself with a sense of mystery, because he’s committing felonies at almost every turn at the behest of his boss.

CE: Coming into the rest of the season, will you continue with the case-of-the-week format, aside from trying to solve Lila’s and Sam’s murders?

CW: Yeah, that has held up. We discussed that. It’s not as much of a focal point, but the interesting thing about continuing with the case of the week is that we’ve got bigger things to worry about than our client. And so everybody’s mind is sort of wandering everywhere as we’re trying to do these cases. And yes, the murders of Sam and Lila Stangard are going to be a little bit more front and center, along with the case-of-the-week stuff.

CE: Because of all that happened, I think that Annalise will need Frank a lot more.

CW: Yes, what he does is going to become an even bigger asset. This is when Frank shines. This is when he does what he does best.

CE: What can we expect as season one comes to a close?

CW: Well, we have six more episodes. As you can imagine, the whole thing busts wide open. Information will be coming out about both murders, and there’s going to be a lot of scrambling to deal with it by everyone. And not that the show isn’t already crazy and exciting already, but it gets more so. There are plenty of twists and turns coming, I can assure you of that.

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