For five years, Dave Annable starred as Justin Walker on the family drama Brothers & Sisters. Sure Justin had his troubles but they were nothing compared to what is going to happen to poor Henry Martin, the character Annable plays in new series 666 Park Avenue.
On the show’s premiere, Henry and his girlfriend Jane (Rachael Taylor) moved into The Drake, a luxury apartment building in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The building’s owner Gavin Doran (Terry O’Quinn) offers them a job while his wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams) showers them with expensive gifts. It all seems wonderful except for the fact that, you know, Gavin and Olivia are completely evil.
Annable relocated to New York with his wife, actress Odette Annable (House), for the series, which airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on ABC. Recently, we caught up with the 33-year-old to chat about 666 Park Avenue, the ending of Brothers & Sisters and why he decided to become an actor.
Paste: How did this part come about for you? Were you looking to do another TV series after Brothers & Sisters ended?
Annable: After Brothers & Sisters ended, I was back to the old game as an actor. Doing pilot season, choosing a script and figuring out what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, working on Brothers & Sisters for five years, I got to be a little picky about the material. And I read this show and I loved it. It was so different for network TV. For ABC to have this sort of horror, sci-fi thriller, soapy show, I was like, ‘Wow, this was great.’
The character was so different than Justin on Brothers & Sisters and as an actor that’s sort of fun to jump to the other end of the spectrum. And the pilot, it way exceeded my imagination. I thought it was so good and well done and dark and scary and it creates a thousand questions that I think are going to get people to tune in. It’s definitely has that water cooler feeling. I’m excited to be a part of it.
Paste: What’s it’s like to be a part of a show that has a lot of mystery and mythology? Brothers & Sisters didn’t have a lot of plot secrets.
Annable: No, not a lot of mystery on Brothers & Sisters. Was Saul [a character played by Ron Rifkin] gay? Was he not gay? That was basically it on Brothers & Sisters.
I love it because I’m such a fan of the genre. This sort of supernatural mystery as it’s unfolding. As actors, we’re fans. I get the script and I’m like boom, boom, boom turning the pages and I’m like, ‘Oh man this is great, oh I love it.’ They’ve really done a great job of creating this sort of mystery and the answers are going to come over the season and the series.
Paste: Was it hard to get used to not knowing everything that was going on in the show?
Annable: It’s different but it’s cool. Because, thank God, our characters are sort of walking into this as the audience so we’re discovering it as the audience is. If I knew too much, I would play it differently. But we’re naïve and in the building and were going to sort of discover everything as the audience does.
Paste: Did you have questions such as: Why would Henry and Jane stay there? Why wouldn’t they move?
Annable: That was something that was important to us in the pilot. We don’t want to make these characters look stupid and there’s got to be a point where if there’s enough bad stuff going on they will leave. As in every horror movie, why don’t you just get out? But they definitely address that and I think there will be a point in season one where we do try to leave but there’s going to be some sort of force that keeps us there.
Paste: The premiere seemed to be inspired by the classic 1968 movie Rosemary’s Baby? Have you seen that movie?
Annable: When I first met with the producers and talked about this project, they asked, ‘Have you seen Rosemary’s Baby and I hadn’t. And I watched it and I loved it. Obviously in the pilot it’s sort of very close to Rosemary’s Baby and Jane is the Mia Farrow character and Henry is the John Cassavetes character. There are a lot of similarities. But I think in every episode we do, there’s sort of a new horror genre influence actually.
Paste: How upsetting was it when Brothers & Sisters was abruptly cancelled after five seasons? The show really didn’t get a proper ending.
Annable: No it didn’t unfortunately. I do think after five years on the show, we had a loyal fan base. I wish personally, and I speak only for myself, that we had the advance notice in terms of ending the series as the writers wanted to end it. I know a bunch of the writers didn’t know and they wrote a season finale instead of a series finale.
Paste: Given experiences such as the ending of Brothers & Sisters, are you as optimistic as you were when you first started in the industry?
Annable: I think I’m a glass half full kind of guy particularly in this project. Because you never know when you shoot a pilot because they have basically forever to write that first episode. But then when you start writing the second and third and fourth episodes they have a certain time frame and sometimes it drops off. But these second and third scripts have only gotten better and that’s what’s very exciting for me. I think we could be in this for the long haul.
Paste: What’s it’s like to work with Vanessa Williams and Terry O’Quinn.
Annable: Oh it’s great. I mean they’re legends. We’ve all been there. We’ve all done that. We’re here to work and we’re here to put out a good product and we’re really really enjoying the scripts. We all talk about it. We’re lucky.
Paste: Did you watch Lost?
Annable: I only watched the first season of Lost. Don’t tell Terry.
Paste: What was it that made you want to become an actor in the first place?
Annable: It was a decision I made basically in college [at SUNY Plattsburgh]. I always loved television. I always loved movies. Michael J. Fox was my idol. I always wanted to be Michael J. Fox. But it was actually in college where I had a crush on a girl and she was doing Macbeth and I was like, ‘Oh let me try Macbeth. I’ll try this acting thing.’ And I ended up loving it and, you know, I’ve been lucky, fortunately, ever since.
Paste: Any chance we’ll see Odette guest starring on your show?
Annable: I hope so. You never know. We were fortunate enough to work on Brothers & Sisters after we got married so hopefully there’s something fun that she can do on 666 Park Avenue.