On the riveting season finale of the ABC thriller The River, entitled “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” the Magus crew – including Lincoln (Joe Anderson), his mother Tess (Leslie Hope) and the long lost Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) – suddenly finds itself in complete chaos when a member of their own is shot dead, leading Jahel (Paulina Gaitán) to call upon the spirit of the Boíuna to help, against the wishes of her father (Daniel Zacapa). With a course now plotted for their final destination, the crew’s quest is threatened further by the unknown killer, as the situation continues to spiral out of control.
The last seven weeks of terrifying scares and shocking twists and turns have led up to this, and co-stars Joe Anderson and Leslie Hope spoke to Collider for this exclusive phone interview about how surprised they were about where things will end up for their characters, how much fun it was to actually get to act directly with Bruce Greenwood for the final episodes of the season, how many “Holy crap!” moments that fans can expect, there favorite moment of the season, how exhausting it was to play the constant terror, and the challenges of telling a story that relies on scares, when you have commercial breaks about every 15 minutes. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
JOE ANDERSON: The focus is really on a father and son battle. Lincoln is definitely not who he usually is. Some head-to-heads could possibly happen as well, with the return of Emmet (Bruce Greenwood), and him coming back into this dynamic. It has potential to be quite an exciting episode.
LESLIE HOPE: It’s also the episode I feel like the writers really wrassled with that classic idea of good versus evil, as exemplified through the characters. I think it’s classic real scary movie stuff, in our final episode. Just when you think things are all wrapped up, I think it can start all over again.
How much fun was it for both of you to have Bruce Greenwood actually there and get to act with him, for the finale?
HOPE: Both as a character and as an actor, I was so happy to see Bruce Greenwood. I’ve been bossing people around for seven episodes. Finally getting Bruce around, I could completely take a break, which I loved. That being said, it was a shift in the dynamic to, all of a sudden, have dad on the set with us. I love Bruce, personally. I’ve known him for 20-something years. He’s a great friend of mine and a real ally, and I loved actually being able to finale share a set with him.
ANDERSON: It was interesting for me, with the estranged son and a guy who’s not on set very often. It was perfect when he turned up because that was it. We saw glimpses of Bruce ‘cause he’d come in and film bits and pieces while we were mainly shooting on the boat. So, it worked out perfectly for me to not have him around every day, and then there he is and you’re dealing with that new animal and that new dynamic. It helped.
How many “Holy crap!” moments would you say there are in the finale?
HOPE: Well, I would say about five.
ANDERSON: I was pretty taken by surprise, to be honest. I thought it was a very bold move, actually, to do what they did and to also end the episode the way that they do. I thought it was an incredibly interesting and bold move. So, I was really excited when I read it, straight off the top.
HOPE: The thing that I really loved about doing this show is that we’ve done eight episodes and each one was a big swing. There was nothing timid about the show. Whether or not it’s ultimately successful, or however many millions of people watch it or not, I always felt that at least we were trying really hard, and there was nothing casual about that effort. At this point in my life, that’s what I’m interested in doing and that’s the kind of shows that I want to be involved in.
Did you each have a favorite moment of the season, or something you got to do that you really enjoyed?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I got my hair cut. That was amazing for me ‘cause I could finally see. I couldn’t see Hawaii before. That was pretty cool. Actually, not to give it away, but what happens in this final episode, there’s a little stunt that I had to do that was pretty exciting. I think it was actually the last thing we shot for the show. But, it challenged me and definitely made me nervous, so it was exciting.
HOPE: For me, it was really the true relief when Emmet is there, for real. That was the end of the previous episode. Despite all the harrowing things that Tess goes through in this finale, particularly in relation to Lincoln, I was so pleased to have Bruce there with me. For me, that was my favorite part. To have to slog through those seven episodes, and then have my old friend that, who I had known before, was great. In my real life, I was away from my husband, shooting this show, and I was lonely for my real-life son, and there was something very comforting for me, to have Bruce there with me, in the end.
As you got deeper into this series and got to see where things were going and what would be happening with your characters, was there a storyline that you were most anxious to see the resolution to?
ANDERSON: For Lincoln, it was a pretty linear thing. He quit med school and came out on this adventure. He and his mom are essentially on the same journey, and until he found his dad, or found out that his dad was dead, it was very much a one-track thing. And then, you throw Lena (Eloise Mumford) into the mix and there’s unresolved issues there, but there wasn’t that much time to explore that. So, for Lincoln, it was a fairly straight arc and journey, I would say.
HOPE: For me, I’m interested in all the different triangles that the writers set up. In some ways, there’s a triangle between Tess and Lincoln and Emmet, and the unresolved issues there, as a family. There’s an interesting triangle between Tess and Clark (Paul Blackthorne) and Emmet, and of course, the motivation is to get Emmet. I think what’s going to be interesting, should we have a second season, is what’s left of that triangulation between Clark and Emmet and Tess. The truth of the matter is that those two are best friends in the show, so what will that do to their relationship, now that everything is going to come out in the wash.
How exhausting was it to do something like this, where you constantly have to over-exaggerate the terror, so that it comes across for the viewers at home? Did you just feel completely exhausted, at the end of each day?
HOPE: I did.
ANDERSON: Yeah, it was exhausting and it’s a challenge to try to keep it fresh and, as an actor, try to keep it so that you don’t just have one scared look. You have to be different, every time. And, of course, it’s a scary show, so you’re coming up against that, all the time. It was quite challenging for us to keep that fresh. But then, we were right there, in the jungle, in the building and on the boat, where there is weird stuff happening. We shoot in digital, so it is dark on the boat and it is eerie and it is wet on the floor. It all adds to it. Other than being tired, it was fun to immerse yourself in the whole thing.
HOPE: I agree.
ANDERSON: So, it was a good time and a satisfying time.
HOPE: I think it’s hard to sustain when you go to commercial break. I think what works better with commercial breaks, frankly, are those scares that come out at you, like the skinned monkey or the “Boo!” scares. The scares that are harder to sustain when you go to commercial break are the ones that are more psychological scares or out of the corner of your eye, where you don’t want anything to relent or give you a break. You know, my son watches everything on iTunes or Hulu, so he’s having a different experience than watching it on the television. How the show is watched is an interesting problem for them to tackle. I saw the first four episodes at a screening without any break at all, with the lights out, and I thought it was fantastic. I think it’s a different thing to sustain that in a living room with an add coming in, every 15 minutes, to sell you a car. No offense to whoever is selling cars on our show.
The season finale of The River airs on Tuesday, March 20th on ABC. You can learn more about the show at www.abc.com/shows/the-river.