Emily VanCamp first won over audiences with her role as Amy Abbott on TV’s Everwood, going on to play Rebecca Harper on the successful series Brothers & Sisters.
Now it’s time for her to star on her own show, Revenge. In it she portrays Amanda Clarke, whose father was framed for a horrific crime when she was just nine years old. Seventeen years later, her father dies in prison, and Amanda is out for revenge.
Under her new identity of Emily Thorne, Amanda moves next door to one of the main people who destroyed her father’s life, Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe), in the luxury community of the Hamptons, where she puts her plans for revenge in motion.
Could you talk about striking the right balance with this character? We’ve known you as Amy and Rebecca, and now you’ve got this character that has vengeance on her mind, yet there’s a familiarity with your image as far as the TV audience goes.
Yeah. I’m going to really disappoint my fans, I think, with this one. It’s been really fun. I think we talked a lot about finding a balance, and at the end of the day, it’s a moral discussion in terms of how people feel about revenge. But she’s quite justified in what she’s doing.
These people stole everything from her. They are horrible people. They do really bad things. And I think, on some level, everybody can connect with the theme of revenge, whether they act on it or not, and so I think that’s sort of where the balance comes in.
She’s spent eight years building up a wall so that she can do this. And also, she has nothing to lose. The way that I see it is that this revenge is a way for her to stay connected to her father; and the moment that she forgives is the moment that she has to let him go.
You said your fans might be disappointed. As an actress, have you had to adjust your craft a bit or change you attitude going into this?
Absolutely, there’s much more research, it’s a lot less drawing on my personal experiences and drawing on more of the research that I had to do, a lot of thinking and a lot of developing the character, which is so much fun for me. I was ready to do that, I really wanted to tackle something different and be challenged.
I felt unfulfilled after leaving Brothers & Sisters. I was ready for something new and when this came along I was so excited about it.
What made you want to do another TV series?
Every time I’m done on one I always say, ‘I’m just going to leave that part of the business alone for a while, and tackle other things.’ But to be honest, I absolutely love doing television, I think I’m always drawn to it. I love building a character that hopefully has longevity that I can take through a long journey.
You’ve been a supporting actress for a long time, as a kid and then as an adult. Now the whole show hangs on your shoulders. How does that feel?
Well, I’m very lucky I’m working with an incredibly supportive, amazing cast and producers and brilliant creators, writing great scripts. I think I have been doing this for a very long time, even though I’m still quite young. And I think I’m just trying to take it day by day and not put too much pressure on my shoulders and enjoy every moment.
It really is an ensemble cast. It focuses around this one girl’s journey of revenge, obviously, but we are all doing this together. And there are so many other storylines that are going to be explored as well, which makes it that much more interesting.
Is Emily a sociopath? Who does she really care about outside of her dead dad?
In terms of for being a sociopath, I think what happened was so incredibly traumatic, having had such a happy childhood and then being torn away from her father, growing up in the foster care system with a really rough teenage hood. I think she didn’t really ever have, beyond her father, anybody who truly cared about her, who loved her.
This is not somebody who has family or friends. She’s protected herself and deliberately chosen, I think, not to make any kind of real human connections with people, because her only true connection to love is this relationship with revenge and her father. That’s what keeps her on track.
I think this is the moment in her life that she thought was going to be quite easy and fulfilling. That’s where it’s going to get interesting. Feelings are going to arise and she’s going to be challenged in that way. And this is the first time too that she’s ever been around a group of people for that amount of time.
What do you hope that they’ll let you do before the series is over?
I hope they’ll let me do some of the fighting stuff, which is always fun for me. I really hope that they allow her to go a little more into that dark aspect of herself, because that’s so much fun for me to play. It’s something I haven’t done very much of, and it’s what drew me to the character.
Do you believe in revenge?
I guess if it’s justified but I’m more into the idea of forgiveness. But it’s a lot fun to play; I’m not going to lie. I can live all those feelings through the character.
I love feeling connected to my characters that way, and TV really allows that. I feel like I’m constantly practicing my craft, I love the stability of it and I loved this character.
I think it was really important for me to choose something wisely, because I know how long it can be and this is a character that I know I will have so much fun with for a long time.