Jack Coleman has played a number of iconic roles in his career, from the second Steven Carrington on Dynasty in the 1980’s all the way through to genre hits like Heroes and The Vampire Diaries in the past decade. Earlier this season, Coleman made his first appearance on ABC’s Castle as Senator William Bracken, the man responsible for the death of Beckett’s mother, and tonight, he makes his return to the series with a new episode titled “Recoil.”
We spoke with the very talented Mr. Coleman last week about this new and big role, which also offered some teases for tonight’s (February 4) show. Enjoy. Questions are posted in bold; Coleman’s answers are not.
How would you describe Senator Bracken? He kind out put on a facade when he was speaking to Beckett in his previous appearance.
Well, yeah. This is clearly a bad guy, but like most bad guys, he doesn’t see himself that way. The ‘stump speech’ that he practically gave to Beckett was obviously to try to get her to understand that he’s not such a bad guy; that he’s done a lot of good things for people, that his heart is in the right place, but of course, when you’re saying that to somebody whose mother you murdered, I’m not sure that that’s entirely successful.
I think for the purposes of the story, he’s definitely the villain, and as a character, I think he is a very bad guy, but I think he’s a bad guy that justifies everything he’s done as for a greater good, or something that was an unfortunate consequence, or collateral damage, or whatever phrase he uses to make himself sleep at night. I think after a while, you get to a point where you become this other person, and you’ve never really allowed yourself to understand the person you’ve become. I think that’s how most bad guys are. I think most bad guys just see themselves as the hero of their own movie. They just don’t understand that in everyone else’s movie, they’re the devil.
What brings Bracken back into the story with the February 4 episode?
In this episode, there’s a lurid murder of a young girl, and it seems to be tied directly into Bracken, so this seems to be Beckett’s big chance. This is how she’s going to get him once and for all. And then, circumstances turn out to be a lot more complicated, and then she finds herself in a real quandary of “what am I willing to do to take this guy down, and how far am I willing to go, and what will that say about me?” And she really wrestles with it, and I think one of the real strong points of this episode, is that you see her going back and forth with what she’s willing to do to get this guy, and how badly she wants this guy. He’s the white whale and she’s Ahab, and she’s going to get him, but she has to figure out how she’s going to get him, and what she’s going to do to do it.
Are you allowed to tease any confrontations we might be able to expect between Bracken and Beckett?
I’ll tell you this: Rather than specific confrontations, I can tell you that we have a number of scenes together. They are all absolutely fraught with tension and subtext and history and fear and loathing, and what’s really interesting to me about this story is that in Beckett’s life, Castle is light and love, and Bracken is darkness and death, and she’s being pulled in both directions. I think it’s a really great psychological territory for her as a character, for Stana as an actress. We have a number of scenes together, and they are really – all of them – just laden with this deep psychological tension. I think that while you would never describe what Beckett has for Bracken as love in any stretch of the imagination, there is something about that obsession that almost has the same effect. Whether it’s loving someone or wanting to kill someone, there is an obsession, and I think that that is really interesting in any storytelling.
Do you think Bracken is afraid of Beckett?
Bracken is very much afraid of Beckett, yeah, because Beckett’s got the goods on him, and even though the goods may be incomplete, she has this file number, and he heard that file number, and that made his blood run cold, stopped him in his tracks, and he has to assume that she is not bluffing, because if he assumes she is bluffing, and he’s wrong, it’s all over for him. So, he has to live in this uneasy detante with her. I’m sort of describing it in this episode as this kind of toxic pas de deux. They’re in this dance with each other, and neither one of them can really get out of it, and they are both potentially lethal to each other.
Does he still have a scar from their last meeting?
He does have a scar from the last meeting. It is small, but it is there, and I am sure there are moments when the camera will see it, and will reveal that. It’s not like there’s this giant scar running the length of his face; it’s a small one, but it’s there in every single scene, and I’m sure the camera will reveal it from time to time.
You’ve played a number of very iconic roles. Is there any past role, like HRG from Heroes or Bill Forbes from The Vampire Diaries, that you would like to someday revisit?
Hmm… well, HRG was definitely a great role; a role I had an incredible amount of fun with, and that kind of character is enormously fun to play because he’s a guy that’s got a little light, got a little dark, he can do the right thing, he can also kill somebody just because they represent a threat… so, that kind of character is a lot of fun to play, and I have to say that, especially in this episode, Bracken has a bit of that, so I really, really enjoyed having that.
Most of all, you want to have an effect on the lead characters when you come into a show, or when you do anything you do. You want to make sure that your character has an impact. Just going forward, that’s the kind of thing that I look for. In terms of returning to anything, Heroes is gone; Bill Forbes is dead… I continue to look forward, but I love what they did with this character of Bracken.
You can find some more photos from Coleman’s Castle return here at KSiteTV, and for more on Castle, be sure to check out ABC’s official site for the show. Our thanks to Jack Coleman for having the time to talk to us!