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Eastwick – Paul Gross

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Eastwick - Paul Gross
Fleas and Casserole - Paul Gross © ABC

He’s wealthy, he’s charismatic, he’s sexy – he’s Darryl Van Home, who unexpectedly turns up in the seaside village of Eastwick to take over the local newspaper, but there’s a much more sinister reason for his arrival.

Three very different women who live in Eastwick, Roxanne (Rebecca Romijn), Kat (Jaime Ray Newman) and Joanna (Lindsay Price) have just discovered they hold bewitching talents they never knew they had – apparently Darryl knows it too and he’s up to no good.

Your role will draw comparisons to the guy who first played the character  in the movie The Witches of Eastwick, Jack Nicholson. That’s kind of a big shadow to be working under

He is, and I think if you actually think about it you’ll drive yourself crazy, Nicholson is like a face on Mount Rushmore, you can’t climb it. And it is different, the whole show is obviously differently configured from the film, and the film was definitely configured from the original novel, so it is just different.

Every once and awhile I catch myself thinking about him and that sort of messes me up for awhile. (he laughs). You can’t worry about it. It’s also sort of fun, I like the challenge of that, because actually when I read it I thought, you have to be out of mind to take this on, I don’t really know how to play a part like that, and Nicholson sort of set the standard for it, so you have to be insane. And that seemed a good enough reason to try and do it.

Is there a temptation when you get a show to read the book or look at the movie?

Eastwick - Rebecca Romijn and Paul Gross
Madams and Madames - Rebecca Romijn and Paul Gross © ABC

I had read the novel years, and years and years ago, so I reread it before we started doing this. And it is very, very different, John Updike’s novel is in the 60’s and it’s kind of, of a time, so in many respects the show we’re making is an evolution of that I suppose.

I didn’t go look at the movie again and that was really just because of not wanting to get too sucked into that inertial of Nicholson, if you get drawn in there it would have been problematic I think.

But he was so over-the-top.

Yeah, so am I. It’s not even the quality of the performance, I think if you were to play Batman you’d probably not go back and look at the other Batmans, or James Bond, it’s probably a better idea just to find in the scenes in the scripts what you respond to and just follow that, I think is more sensible.

The character is basically the devil, right?

Well, you know, these terms, devil, devilish certainly, and really sort of darkly mysterious. There’s a past that we know only glimmers of and very often something we might think to be his history quickly shifts, so there are a lot of questions.

Are we going to learn about his background in little bits and pieces?

Eastwick - Rebecca Romijn and Paul Gross
Fleas and Casserole - Rebecca Romijn and Paul Gross © ABC

Yeah, it keeps unfolding although it’s almost like having an unreliable narrator; the information is not always reliable. So that the question mark of who he is continues. But obviously he does have lots of different kinds of powers. Personally I happen to know that his powers are limitless, everything is under his control and jurisdiction.

What powers would you like to have if you could have any?

I don’t know, it kind of shifts around, I used to think it would be nice to be able to read people’s minds but I think that would be probably actually tedious if you wandered around the interior monologues of everybody. Telekinesis would be good. I’d like to be able to just transport myself quickly. No planes, blink and you’re somewhere else, that would be nice.

How much do you believe in the paranormal?

I have enough trouble contending with reality as it is. I think if I added a whole other layer it would just be crippling. So I don’t know, I don’t think about it very often. I don’t have any problem believing something like ghosts exist.

Have you ever had any encounters of the paranormal?

Yeah, once I thought I saw somebody that was dead.

A  relative or a friend of yours?

It was a friend that died. It was in traffic and I looked over and he was in a car across from me, and I looked back and he wasn’t there and yet there was a space, there was a car in front of me, a car behind me in the line in the lane. I went, ‘Umm.’