Q&A: Emily VanCamp Talks ‘Revenge,’ Her Billboard Shock & Zombies

Emily VanCamp takes a road over to the dark side on Wednesday night on ABC’s newest drama, “Revenge.”

In the brand new series, the former “Brothers & Sisters” actress takes on the starring role of Emily Thorne, a young woman who heads back to her childhood home in the Hamptons, with a new name and bent on taking “Revenge” against those who took her father away from her as a child, by framing him for a crime he didn’t commit.

ABC’s been doing plenty to promote the show, including erecting a host of billboards and outfitting buses in major markets with the actress’ image, something VanCamp knew about, but still caught her by surprise the first time she saw it, as she told

Access Hollywood: Do you remember your reaction the first time you saw one of the billboards?
Emily VanCamp: I was driving on the 101 to work and it was some ridiculously early hour, and there it was… I had no concept of what that would feel like and there it was, on my way to work… My mom was the first person I called after I scared my boyfriend s***less because he thought I was getting into an accident.

AH: Because you were screaming?
EV: I saw the billboard, I’m talking with Joseph, I just started violently screaming. I couldn’t believe it and he flipped out, he’s like, ‘What’s going on? Are you OK?’ And [I said], ‘I just saw it! I just saw it! That’s so weird, that’s so crazy.’ He’s like, ‘Emily! I though you were dying.’ Then… I called my mom, and my mom was flipping out with me too and I sent her a picture of it. It’s such an intense thing. You can’t prepare for it. That stuff doesn’t really get old.

AH: Emily, your character, is muted in a lot of her emotions. Did you ever think she was a sociopath on some level?
EV: Oh, absolutely. The best comparison I’ve had so far was that she’s a sort of less homicidal version of Dexter, and that rings so true to me. In most ways, she’s completely cut off from her emotions. That was sort of her coping mechanism in losing her father and in finding out all of these terrible things. But also, she had a very violent teenage-hood, because she was torn away from her dad and went through the foster care system… On many levels, yeah, I think she’s a bit of a sociopath. What’s interesting, in coming into this town with this major plan — on paper, she has it all together, it’s all completely plotted out. There are certain characters that are really gonna challenge that about her and that really sort of challenge that wall that she’s put up for herself.

AH: Is there anyone you tried to study to play her?
EV: I think it was less about studying things about other people, but more about figuring out exactly what happened to her, exactly what affected her to make her this way. I had journals with loads of pictures and thoughts and poems and ideas that I put together to inspire the character. I’ve never really had to build a character from the ground up like that. A lot of characters that I’ve played in the past, I drew from personal experiences or I could relate to on a more human level, but with her, she’s just so different from who I am, it’s almost like there’s a separate part of my brain that I give to her and I rely on that… to get me to those places I get.

AH: The show opens with what appears to be murder mystery. Does that get resolved this season?
EV: [Writer and Executive Producer] Mike Kelley has said he wants to end up at that moment by Episode 13. He doesn’t want people to be waiting… We’ll have another cliffhanger by the end of the season.

AH: Is Nolan, the only person who knows who Emily really is, going to become a liability as the season moves on?
EV: In the beginning, he becomes somewhat of an ally to her. They have a very interesting relationship and history. Amanda Clark’s (Emily Thorne’s) father was one of the only people who ever believed in him, so he has an odd sort of father-son connection with my [character’s] father. She keeps an eye on him, she holds him on a tight leash, because you never know what he’s gonna do, but there’s an odd sense of sibling rivalry between them and we start to see that more and more as the episodes play out.

AH: Your character has a lot of secrets… What’s one thing your castmates don’t know about you that they should?
EV: I’m a pretty open book. I’m pretty sure they all know this — I have kind of secret love for zombies. I’m a big zombie buff.

AH: You’re a super ‘Walking Dead’ fan then?
EV: ‘The Walking Dead’ is the greatest thing, the greatest television show, I think, in a long time.

AH: And Andrew Lincoln is easy on the eyes.
EV: Not bad on the eyes, gotta say. But I mean… Yeah, I have a bit of a zombie fetish.

“Revenge” premieres Wednesday night at 10 PM, after the hour-long season premiere of “Modern Family” on ABC.

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