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WonderCon 2014: “Revolution” Interviews With Stephen Collins & Rockne S. O’Bannon

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WonderCon coverage continues, as I got a chance to sit down as a part of a round table interview with actor Stephen Collins (7th HeavenStar Trek: The Motion Picture) and then with writer/executive producer Rockne S. O’Bannon.

I also covered the Revolution panel, and have a similarly formatted interview with star Elizabeth Mitchell. In other words, it was a Revolution-inspiring Friday.

SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2 OF "REVOLUTION" FOLLOW.

First up was Stephen Collins, who joined Revolution in season 2 as Dr. Gene Porter, Rachel Matheson’s father. He also just so happens to be a traitor, as we find out he’s been secretly working for the Patriots. Not coincidentally, the show got much better once the veteran actor gifted the ensemble with his presence.

But enough about Revolution, let’s go back 35 years to Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), a film in which Collins played a character by the name of Decker. What kind of legacy has that role left for Collins? Stephen’s quick to point out that when the first movie came out, there had been only 3 seasons of the original Star Trek TV show, and it had been nine years since. All of the actors on set were excited and thrilled. DeForest Kelly (or Bones to you) befriended Collins on set, and gave him sage wisdom: “Star Trek will always be part of your life.”

That wherever Collins goes, that Trek fans will follow. Collins has written books, produced music, and whenever he does events, even now, 15-20% are Star Trek fans. He calls them the “smartest, most thoughtful people.” At the time, the movie was perceived as a failure. Clearly, it wasn’t, since it spawned a slew of other movies, TV shows, and a franchise that will remain with us forever. I could’ve listened to him talk about Star Trek forever; what a fascinating point to be enmeshed with the franchise; a fulcrum of cinematic and TV history, a period when Star Trek wasn’t yet more than just the original cast.

Jumping to the present: what can he tell us about the last four episodes of Revolution‘s second season?
The “Patriots are gonna pull out more stops; they’re making their final push.” The pure element of survival comes into play. At this point, if Stephen himself was a character, he’d be ready to go. “Just shoot me,” and he’s not referring to anything to do with David Spade. In fact, he admits that if Revolution happened in real life, “I’d be gone so fast.”

Like Elizabeth Mitchell, he’s quick to point out how hardened the survivors have become, from being continually pushed hard against. It’s hard not to see the parallels with The Walking Dead in how the survivors are discussed, and the notion that “anyone” can die.

Photo: NBC

The coolest stuff Collins revealed had to do with some awesome sequences upcoming with a steam locomotive. They found one three and a half hours from Austin, and moved set there for a week to shoot scenes on it, producing a “really cool action sequence.” They built a crane to shoot the scene, and according to Collins, it was the biggest crane ever built for filmmaking. Collins described the scenes “like playing cowboys and Indians at the richest kid in the world’s house.” The 8 year old in him loved it.

What would you like to see happen in Season 3?
“I would love to see an episode all about water, [and] answer the question about water in this world.” He’s fascinated by where they get water in the town. Is there good or bad water? Water would seemingly be the commodity, and whomever possesses it would have a tremendous amount of power. It sounds like a smart and interesting way to squeeze more out of this post-apocalyptic world, and it’ll be interesting if Stephen’s idea is touched on.

What’s he up to during the show’s hiatus?
Now that he’s older, he’s not trying to jam in another job during a break. It’s been nine days since they stopped shooting, but to Stephen, it feels like one. He’s happy to take it easy…though he won’t shy away if Martin Scorsese comes calling.

Following Stephen was one of the new writers and EP’s on Revolution for its second season, Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape, who’s about to be a lot busier).

What’s his take on the last four episodes of season 2?
The nano technology storyline dove tails and comes together with everything else that’s been going on, as the Patriot subplot amps up. We can expect every character to have a huge life changing event. Following Charlie’s fatal shooting of Jason, the reverberations for Charlie and Neville will be felt throughout the show. Rockne describes Neville as a father who was fine beating on his son (literally and figuratively), assuming he’d always have time to make amends and patch things up. That opportunity was robbed of him, and now he’s lost his entire family over this season, and we’re going to see what that does to him.

Are there any more casualties to come?
“No one is safe.” You never know, and we will see that in the last four episodes.

How are the show’s ratings?
They are incredibly consistent, and “NBC seems behind us to tell stories,” and are “excited to see scripts,” which in turn, makes Rockne excited. That said: “We’re not out of the woods.” Creator Eric Kripke (Supernatural) is pitching season 3 as we speak, which is kind of spooky.

What happens if NBC doesn’t want Season 3? Would it go elsewhere?
Rockne obviously doesn’t want to find out, but “it’s the kind of show” that could translate to other networks and have the fan support to survive, but he doesn’t know. Revolution isn’t an inexpensive show, but he’s proud that it “looks like nothing else on network TV.” It’s a possibility to have legs beyond NBC, should that be necessary.

Lastly, a fan question ended our afternoon sojourn with RevolutionWho is older: Miles or Ben?
This even stumps Rockne. “I don’t know.” He guesses Ben, but he does so as a fan himself, and not with any certainty.

Before this weekend, I had a fair amount of certainty that I was done with Revolution. The panel and this round table discussion has revitalized my interest, making my to-binge list even more unwieldy. Thanks a lot, WonderCon.

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