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The Cape - SpoilerTV Exclusive Interview with Tom Wheeler - Creator & Executive Producer

Hey Guys,

I just this second (when I started typing) got off of a conference call with Tom Wheeler, who is the Creater & Executive Producer of NBC's new superhero drama, 'The Cape.' He was totally brilliant, with a huge passion for his work, and so I wrote every bit down and am getting it out to you all first. He really, really made me want to watch his show, and if it's half as good as his passion, then we're in for a treat.
I'll do it in bullet points with key bits and spoilers/teasers in bold so you can see the best bits if you don't wanna read through it all :)

# We began by Tom talking about the world of Palm City, the location where 'The Cape' is set, and Tom said he decided on a fictional city as it created him with the opportunity to slightly distance the show from reality, and allow him to create larger than life characters, yet also keep that emotional thread (Throughout the interview he really talked about how important it is that the show isn't just a comic book show, but about real characters in extraordinary situations, and that they all are real.)
# He describes 'Palm City' as timeless, with pulp sensibility and also that it has an old Hollywood night life. He also said that they mention real life situations (specifically he mentioned the war in afghanistan) to give the sense of a different world, that is still the same as our own.
# The biggest decision he had in the creation of the show was whether he should use superhero costumes, which he really wanted to, and in the end decided to.
# Someone asked him if he knew so much about the show's mythology that he even knew what the brands of beer are in this world. Tom responded that there is no new creations of beer so far, but that an upcoming script has a plot which revolves around someone poisoning a beer bottle.
# The same guy asked him about the world again, and Tom described more about Palm City, saying that the scope of the city grows in episode two [second part of the pilot] as we see the Trolley Park, a Blade Runner type of world; a carnival of crime and a gypsy encampment. This is where Vince Faraday [The Titular Cape] hides away in the earlier episodes. He also reiterated that Palm City, despite being this imaginary place, is in the USA, but allows him to have that costumed crime drama, with corrupt cops and businessmen.
# Tom was asked about the longevity of the show beyond capes and saving the days with superpowers, and he responded saying that The Cape does not have superpowers, he prefers an ordinary person going into extraordinary places; he feels it gives the hero a fugitive aspect much like Batman for example.
# Tom then talked about the emotional aspect of the characters again, saying what drives The Cape is trying to do what's best for his family, even if it means leaving them and pretending to be dead, and also allows himself as a writer the chance to tackle the dramas of the family trying to cope with the loss of a father.
# He talked about his big plans for the show, the character & the mythology, how he wants to really dig into the history of Palm City, and also expand the show outside the TV screens. There is a comic book series of The Cape, which in fact focuses on the stories of The Cape comic books Vince's son reads in the show. That already opens the world up into two different mythologies, tackling different stories.
# He also talked about the fact that there will be a blog, that is written by Summer Glau's character Orwell, which you can follow as the season goes on.
# Tom was asked about which comic books influenced The Cape. The list was endless: Daredevil is his favourite comic book character and therefore the main influence. Others were X-Men, Green Arrow, Iron Fist. He talked about a certain series of Daredevil comics written by Frank Miller, saying they were the greatest comic books he has read; the street level feeling to it, and with lots of crime mythology involved. He said he was always drawn to heroes who are regular, and are thrown into the deep end and have to take on a responsibility. Also, he would love some comic book writers to come on as guest writers on the show.
# He was asked about how he's gone about getting people into the show that aren't interested in comics. Tom talked about the fact that at the end of the day this is a city with real people, and especially focused on Vince's wife Dana [played by Jessica Ferrin, who he was very complimentary of] as the most real; how she had to move to a scary part of town after Vince 'died, and how she has to get through greaving for her husband as well as raising her son. To quote Tom, "You can tell a story for everyone through real states and emotions and I am sensitive to that." The questioner was impressed with his answer :P
# Tom commented on how some episodes are very cutting edge with high stake dangers, yet also others were beautifully gothic and creepy; something he states is one of the shows greatest strengths.
# He was asked how, as a man, he approaches female characters, and he said his wife is very vocal in how he approaches the characters [in a joking way] :P, as well as the wonderful set of writers he has, he mentioned Jeff Woolnough as a particular strength with him having previously worked on Battlestar Galactica & Sarah Conner Chronicles. He talked next about individual characters, he loves Dana, and feels she is the strongest female character, but that Summer Glau's Orwell is also great. He them mentioned Mena Suvari as Dice, who is a great upcoming Supervillain.
# I asked about David Lyons as Vince Faraday/The Cape, and that it had become obvious that Tom had been dreaming up his own superhero all his life, what stood out in David's audition that made him your man. Tom said he had seen some great actors, but none had convinced him. However David was compelling, yet also had the conviction and the sincerity that Tom saw in Vince Faraday. He said his work is amazing, and that he has a total commitment, and takes the character places Tom never dreamed of going; and also how David never loses sight of the character of Vince as well. He also joked that he hopes he doesn't kill him with some of the crazy stunts in the show, mentioning a fight with Vinnie Jones' Scales on a train.
# I also asked him about how much of the show he had planned, Tom stating that he knows all of season one, as well as most of how season two will work should they get there. He has enjoyed the additional writers getting him to the same place he wanted to be through different avenues also. At the moment he is just dreaming up future series in the hope the show reaches that far.
# I sneakily asked him a third question, which was which episode is he most excited for the audience to see, to which he responded the second hour of the pilot, where he feels that the show really crystallises the story, and cunningly resets the pilot. He called it the Pilot x2.

# A big question was next, on Villains. He talked about James Frain as Peter Fleming, an industrialist using Palm City as an experiment; a stepping stone to far worse things. Also how Fleming moonlights as a psychopath called Chess; his dual identity. Also, he talked about Vinnie Jones as Scales, who was but a dream of Tom's to appear and then somehow came true. He jokes that Vinnie himself would give The Cape a hard time. Most interestingly, as I hadn't heard anything about it was the revelation of Thomas Kretschmann as an upcoming villain, a man with a long history to the cape which Vince wears. It seems the cape itself has a big backstory, and Kretschmann's characters is looking to get it back! He also rementioned Dice, who he says also has a grudge with Peter Fleming, which leads to an interesting triangle between the two and Vince.
# A fun question on the fact he did dress up as superheroes and go to Comic Con as a kid, and how John Cassidy [well known in the X-Men world I believe] agreed to do a cover for a Cape comic book, which was a dream come true for Tom. Also how he used to play dungeons and dragons when he was a kid, and there is a character influenced by that phase of Tom's life coming up. In his worlds, "I love putting a sword in their hands."
# Talked about the music by Bear McCreary, which was awesome, he has huge enthusiasm for the show, themes for each character, as well as a huge main superhero theme that Tom hopes will rival the known ones for Spiderman & Batman etc. etc. Also in his words, "It's going to sound Outstanding."
# Favourite guest stars, he said barring some of the people he's already mentioned, he loved Elliot Gould as a character coming up he's excited for people to see, and joked about hopes for huge stars. [he mentioned Jack Black by name]
# The inevitable Summer Glau question arrived, and Tom was full of praise for her, and how he didn't expect her to come on board, but they snapped her up straightaway when the opportunity presented itself. Orwell is one of his favourite characters on the show. He mentions she uses a lot of disguises, and is quite glamourous, as well as very military.
# Tom mentioned he originally conceived as the show of being a movie about the father & son relationship between Vince and Trip, but when the chance for a TV pilot came along, he figured this was his chance to make his superhero.
# Also, it was briefly mentioned that NBC have been incredibly supportive of the show, but he is feeling the pressure as the January 9th premiere date approaches. He also loves the promos as they bring out the sense of fun that the show has to offer in abundance.
# The final question was who would he love as a guest director, and he said that he is working with Guillermo Del Toro on Puss in Boots: The Movie, and he's trying to pick up the courage to ask him if, inbetween his huge amounts of movies whether he would direct a cape episode. Said Del Toro was brilliant, and that it would have to be one heck of a creepy episode.

And that was pretty much everything, he was so passionate about the show, and I know I'm going to be watching it as soon as it's out. When I get the transcript of the whole call I'll stick that on here for you to read and see if I missed anything :P And also, if only for the man behind the show itself, I reckon it's worth giving it a shot and watching. It's his dream that The Cape is out there afterall....

Twitter: AdDHarris
Email: adamdharris@spoilertv.com