On the E! drama series The Arrangement, Hollywood is not as glamorous as it seems and there’s just no shortage of crazy, when you sign a contract that dictates the terms of your relationship with a hot movie star. And while Megan Morrison (Christine Evangelista) is trying to make a name for herself as an actress, her wedding to Kyle West (Josh Henderson) is getting ever closer and Terence (Michael Vartan), Kyle’s mentor and the leader of the Institute of the Higher Mind, is becoming more distrustful of Megan, which could have disastrous consequences for them both.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Michael Vartan talked about what he’s enjoyed about Season 2, how much fun he has playing the bad guy, what makes Terence such a complicated character, where Terence actually has any real feelings about anybody, his reaction to the end of this season, whether he ever worries about Terence going too far, and how Terence believes he can get himself out of any situation. Be aware that some spoilers are discussed.
Collider: Looking back on the first season, when do you think the series was at its best and how do you feel it built on that for Season 2?
MICHAEL VARTAN: I think Season 1 was all about establishing the characters and letting the audience figure out who these people are and what their relationships are, as in most shows. Probably mid-way through Season 1, we started exploring some darker storylines and manipulations, and all of the juicy, wonderful stuff that happened. The cliffhanger for Season 1, when Megan said, “I’m gonna burn this place down,” was good, but it was like, “Really?! How in the hell are you gonna do that, when Terence has all of these resources at his disposal?” One of the beauties of this show is that the storylines are endless. You can go anywhere with this, with all of these characters. My favorite episode in Season 2 is Episode 3, when Megan and Terence start working together to try to get to the bottom of her physical situation. I’m not gonna say Season 2 is better, but it’s different. The relationships get a lot more complicated and the characters are pushed to the limits of what they’re able to deal with. Nobody wants to watch happy people live their perfect lives. We want drama and failure and redemption, and all of the dark stuff.
As Terence has gotten more complex, his relationships have gotten more complicated, and he’s delved deeper into the darkness, has he gotten more challenging and more emotionally difficult to play, or do you just have a ton of fun playing him?
VARTAN: It’s just really fun. A friend of mine asked me, “What’s it like, playing a psychotic bad guy?,” and I told him that it’s just so much fun. I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years, and I’d say that 99% of my roles have always been the good guy, whether it’s Never Been Kissed or Monster-in-Law or even on Alias. Agent Vaughn was Captain America and Mr. Apple Pie and Baseball, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but after awhile, it gets boring. I’m not going to say that I ended up typecast, but when my agents and managers would submit me for darker roles, the usual feedback was, “No, he’s too sweet.” It just drove me crazy! I was like, “It’s called acting! I can come into the room and show you that I’m really not that sweet, as an actor. I can be really, really dark and demented.” So, when this role came along, at first, I was a little hesitant because of E! and the reality show aspect of their platform, but I met with them and they were really awesome, and had really interesting things to say about the show and the direction they wanted to take the storylines and the characters. I thought it would be a good opportunity to do something I’d never been able to do before. Jonathan Abrahams, our creator/writer/showrunner/fearless leader, is such a talented writer. For me, one of the beauties of Terence is that he’s so fun to play. When the writing is that good, the job is basically to just stay out of the way of good writing. It’s just really fun to get to play a guy who’s got so many skeletons in his closet, and who’s so manipulative and sketchy, on so many levels.
The longer you play him, do you find Terence more or less predictable, as far as how he acts and reacts to things?
VARTAN: In Season 1, he had that episode where he went off to that immersion tank and went on a regressive mushroom trip to try to find himself again. And then, in Season 2, after the car jacking, he’s confronted with his own mortality and his legacy, for the first time, and with what he’s going through, he really wants to leave something behind, and not just the Institute. Early on, he thought that Kyle would maybe be his successor, but their relationship has been fractured and repaired, and fractured and repaired again, so he’s not sure what Kyle will do. Terence wanting to have a kid with DeAnn is much less about having a family and being a loving husband than it is about his legacy and having someone to carry on with the Institute when he’s gone.
Do you think Terence actually has real feelings about anybody?
VARTAN: I do. It’s interesting that you ask that because I do think he has feelings for people. When he started the Institute, he had such good intentions in mind and really wanted to help people reach their better selves and help people grow and flourish. As the Institute grew and money came in and he reconnected with Hollywood, he lost his way a little bit. At his core, he really believes that the world could be a better place, if we could help kids be more grounded, well-rounded people, at an early stage in life. Having said that, he’s such a paradox because he wants to help the world be a better place, but he’s willing to murder someone to carry out his plan. He’s definitely a complicated fellow.
At this point, who do you think regrets Kyle’s relationship with Megan more, Megan or Terence?
VARTAN: From Terence’s point of view, I would say Megan, only because she’s caught in a really sticky situation with Kyle. I do think that they love each other, but there are a lot of exterior forces at play, that make their relationship virtually impossible to go on, normally. From Terence’s point of view, he thinks he’s still in control of the situation. No matter how out of control Megan gets, at times, and no matter how threatened he might be with some of her actions, he feels like he holds the reins. I don’t think he’s too worried about her, but he’s also not too pleased, either.
How does Terence really feel about DeAnn and his marriage?
VARTAN: We always joke that Terence and DeAnn love each other, as much as they can. Their relationship is very complicated and very weird, with this arrangement that they can see other people, as long as it doesn’t involve emotions. To each his own.
Terence seems to genuinely show interest in Shaun and her opinion on things with IHM. Is that really genuine, or is he just manipulating her?
VARTAN: I think he really respects her. In his eyes, she’s a great lawyer. In a weird way, she reminds him of himself, when he was young. She’s very ambitious, and she’s such a sweet, good-intentioned person, on the surface, and he’s got a thing for her. If there is a Season 3, I wouldn’t be surprised if it became physical. Terence is a dirty hound dog. But I think he genuinely respects her opinion and thinks she’s very smart. In one episode, he actually says to her, “I love that you’re just yourself around me. Everyone else is trying to be what they think I want them to be, and you’re just yourself, at all times.” That’s so rare in his world that he feels like she’s one of one or two people that he can trust. Whether that’s true or not, we shall see. He definitely has a strong affinity for her.
By the end of Season 2, it seems as though everyone’s lives have changed, in some way. Without giving anything away, what was your reaction to the way everything ultimately played out, by the end of the season?
VARTAN: I was very excited because it’s just out of control. He does have feelings and he is a real person, but he’s absolutely ruthless. If we’re lucky enough to have a Season 3, I can’t wait to see where the relationship between Terence and DeAnn will go, now that it’s gotten so complicated.
Have you had any conversations about where things could go, if the series continues?
VARTAN: I haven’t because I don’t want to know. I feel like we’re in such good hands with Jonathan and his vision for the show, that I’d like to be surprised and see where it goes. If there is a Season 3, things are only gonna get worse. They’re pretty bad, as it in now, but it’s only gonna get worse, and I can’t wait for that.