'Red Widow' star Goran Visnjic discusses his villainous new role

'Red Widow' actor Goran Visnjic portrays a Russian mob leader in the new TV show. 'Red Widow' premiered March 3.

Gus Ruelas/Reuters
'Red Widow' stars Goran Visnjic (l.) and Radha Mitchell (r.).

Based on the Dutch drama “Penoza,” RED WIDOW revolves around Marta Walraven, a stay-at-home mother whose idyllic life shatters following the brutal murder of her husband Evan. Cue a cadre of characters including but not limited to Russian gangsters, FBI Agents, scheming family members and an international crimeboss. Many of whom theTVaddict.com had the pleasure of catching up with during a recent star-studded affair in Hollywood. First up, ER alum Goran Visjnic, who shed some light on what attracted him to the role, what he loves about playing his new dark character Christian Schiller and what surprises are in store for those who come along for the ride.

How excited are you for this new show, RED WIDOW?
 Goran Visnjic: A lot actually because this is first time being back on TV as a regular for a couple of years, and it’s different than I’ve done before. We’ve already done eight episodes, so we know what is happening with the show, what’s the storyline, how is it finishing and we’ve seen a couple episodes also so we know we have a good show on our hands. So it’s kind of really exciting to see how ever body else will react.

I read an article that you had initially been hesitant about joining the show because you weren’t sure if the character was going to be meaty enough. Do you feel like Melissa [Rosenberg] really took charge of this character and gave you something that is worthwhile?
 It’s difficult upon reading a pilot, you’ve probably seen the Episode 1, there is only one scene in the end. You can’t even imagine, ok what’s going to happen afterwards. We had a long conversation – I wasn’t sure about it. But after I saw the pilot, because they did the pilot without me, that I was like, ‘Ok this is a good show. Let me have that meeting again.’ So we went out and had dinner again, and I said ‘OK, look, how are you going to run the show later, what is going to be happening?’ and then we parted. And then we kind of established a lot, what is going to be happening with the character, about his family, about why he does things the way he does it and all that stuff.

I have to say when we came to Vancouver and I saw episodes 2 and 3, everything Melissa and I discussed was in the script. I was really happy. It was awesome. You have a writer who actually listens to what you think about a character and co-creates the story with you about the character, like the backstory – what was happening in his life before. So it was really exciting.

It seems like some of the basic cable shows are pushing network shows to get a little bit edgier. Do you feel like that’s happening in this show, where you have more freedom than you might have had 10 years ago?
 Melissa said something that I kind of stopped and started thinking about. We all think that cable has better shows, or this and that, because they can show blood, sex, violence. But it’s not, it’s actually the format of the story, how much time do they have to tell the story. If you are on network TV and have 22 episodes to tell the story, you have to water it down. You can’t keep the linear, one-way storyline for 22 episodes. You can’t. It’s impossible. But if you have 13, 14, 15 episodes, you can make it as a long, long movie. It’s pretty much a miniseries every season. So this is what ABC is trying to do now. We have these 8 episodes – after episode 1, you’re going to see in the premiere night. We have episode 1 and 2 and they just continue. There is no procedural. There is no story finishing a little bit in each episode. It just goes like a freight train – it just goes, goes, goes. Until episode 8, then it’s boom – big season finale and a new cliffhanger for the new season. So that’s what the beauty is of a cable show, they have this luxury of telling the story that way and also the writers have time to actually sit in the office and think about how they are going to do a smaller amount of episodes and have more time to write. In network TV they have a bigger amount of episodes and less time to write. I think that’s the beauty of cable, the beauty of the format we are trying to do here. Not blood violence, sex. You can do a sexy scene without actually seeing much. It can be really charged.

We know that we’re going to find out who killed Marta’s husband this season, what do you think would be the direction you would want to see the show go in next season?
 Look I don’t want to jump the gun here. ABC is going to make a decision in May, like every time when they do announce whether the show is going to go or not. I don’t want to give any predictions or not. But, the way the show is going to go next season, we’re already talking about that. So we’ve been talking that you’re going to see more – talking about my character – more inside my family life, you’re going to see more about the backstory with my father, you’re going to see more of his – some people in his family are going to start showing up. You’re going to see that the show is going to spread more internationally. You’re going to see that this guy actually has his fingers in some activities that are actually even legal. Not just illegal stuff. So he’s like a businessman who does edgy things, legal things and very illegal things. On Radha’s character, it’s probably going to be trying to get out of this, but getting in deeper. I don’t know. That’s a question for Melissa probably.

The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.

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