What is the balance like on the show between realism and comic book fantasy?
"The emotions are really grounded. They come from a very real place, but the circumstances can often be surreal. That's not too dissimilar from life. Essentially the character that I'm playing is an ordinary man, he's the everyman, so it's grounded in that emotional truth. It's a pleasure for me to play because it means that when you're in a world of carnivals, supervillains and so on, it brings you back down to Earth."
Does it feel surreal to be playing a real-life superhero?
"It does feel surreal. But what's beautiful about it is that Vince knows that it feels surreal. He takes on his son's favourite comic-book [persona] because that's his last resort. He's taking it on to create this symbol for his son, but he is awkward in that suit. When we start, with the genesis of the superhero, he's making a lot of mistakes. When he starts on that journey, he's as awkward as any man would be, putting on a cape and a mask. So the show does address that issue, which is good!"
Do you think have a costumed hero at its centre differentiates The Cape from other shows like Heroes?
"Absolutely. The main difference also is that he has no superpowers, so the concept of the superhero comes from his ability to push through extraordinary circumstances. The world that [showrunner] Tom Wheeler has created is so rich and colourful that the fact that Vince is wearing a costume makes sense. Within that, it differentiates itself from anything else on television at the moment, because it's a superhero who's essentially a family man. It feels like a real world and it's kind of this immaculate blend of all things. I honestly don't think that there's anything like it on television at the moment, which is a beautiful thing."
Did you have to do much physical training for the role?
"Yes. Every day is a fight! When first started on our journey, I learnt a lot of fight choreography, martial arts techniques and so on, to find the balance for the world in which this guy fights. He's military-trained, he's an ex-cop, so he knows how to fight and he knows how to move, but so do other people in this world! Vinnie Jones's character Scales is just beating down on people the whole time [and is] very heavy-handed, whereas there's a lot more finesse in what Vince does. It's a very physical world."
What can you tell us about your nemesis on the show (played by James Frain)?
"The measure of a superhero is always his nemesis. James Frain is amazing. He has truly turned it up to 11 on this one! He's just so viciously evil in his portrayal of Peter Fleming, this overlord who controls everything. He also has an alter-ego, which tends to pop out quite a bit!"
What role does Keith David's character Max Malini play on the show?
"He's a sensei, he's my teacher and he's my friend, but also, like everyone else in this world, he has two faces. He has a light side and a dark side. The audience and Vince never really know which way Max will go on any given day. Sometimes he's with Vince, sometimes he's against him. It's a world in which things shift and move constantly."
What is coming up for Vince's wife and son following his supposed death?
"We watch their grief, as well as his. He still wants to be back with them so badly and cannot tear himself away from that concept. Likewise, they need to mourn his death and get over it, so he's watching his family move on. We follow those two storylines. With most superheroes, you have a situation where they move away from something and become a hero, fight crime and so on. In this situation, Vince still has that draw [of his family]. He doesn't want to be a superhero, but he's forced to be. It's the only thing that he can do in order to get back his family."
How would you describe Vince's relationship with Summer Glau's character Orwell?
"Well, she's an investigative blogger and an incredibly intelligent, techno-savvy woman. She's quite brutal in her assessment of things and she has the ability to fight back. So you've got two very strong-willed, heavy-handed people in Vince and Orwell. Their relationship is a really interesting one, because they're not always on the same trajectory. When they want to diverge, there is that bickering, like parents or a husband and wife. But also there's a certain tenderness, because essentially the only thing that Vince really has is Orwell. Likewise, Orwell only has Vince. We know so little about Orwell initially. Her character is going to start bleeding out little bits of information at a time. She's a mystery wrapped in a puzzle that's shrouded in a cloud. The viewer can't figure her out and Vince can't figure her out. It's a special relationship."
Do you think the show will appeal to people who aren't necessarily fans of comic books?
"I think so. As soon as I read the script, I could see the world. I wasn't a comic book fan as a child, but the emotional reality [of the show] lets you in and then takes you on this incredibly colourful rollercoaster ride. Because it's grounded in that reality and it's grounded in real emotions, real people and real situations, we've got something to grab onto. It's got the hallmarks of a comic book, but the heart of a drama, so it's combining those two worlds really well."
The Cape launches with a two-hour premiere on January 9. The first episode will be repeated in the show's regular timeslot at 9/8c the following Monday.
Are you looking forward to The Cape? Let us know your thoughts on the new series below!