Actor Sendhil Ramamurthy has joined the cast of The CW drama series Beauty and the Beast, as new Assistant District Attorney Gabe Lowan. Ramping things up as the show heads towards its season finale, he arrives at the precinct where Catherine Chandler (Kristin Kreuk) works, suspicious that cases involving the vigilante are being mishandled and wanting answers, while Cat is determined to protect Vincent (Jay Ryan), at any cost.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, Sendhil Ramamurthy talked about how he came to be a part of the show, that the story is becoming slightly more serialized in the back nine episodes, the appeal of his character and the mysterious backstory that will be revealed, the fun of getting to be the antagonist that causes some trouble, how freeing the sci-fi/fantasy genre is, and that there are very dramatic twists and turns to come. He also talked about the feature film Brahmin Bulls, about a disillusioned architect and his distant father who come together after many years, which he starred in and co-produced. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: I wasn’t, actually. Last year, I recurred on a couple of shows, but I put all of my time and energy into co-producing and starring in my own movie, called Brahmin Bulls. I’m really, really excited about that. That’s a departure for me, as far as the character I played, and it’s the first thing that I co-produced. It’s with this great director, Mahesh Pailoor, who I’ve worked with before on shorts, and this is his feature debut. It’s a really sweet story about a father and a son, and I’m really, really proud of that. I can’t wait for people to see it. So, after I came off of Covert Affairs, I literally just focused on that. I recurred on The Office and did a few little things like that, but I really just put my focus on this movie that we just finished and are submitting to festivals. I was actually looking to take a break from television. I didn’t do any meetings for TV, at all, last year. And then, right before Christmas, they called and said, “Listen, there’s this part that’s coming up and we’d like you to play it.”
Had you been aware of Beauty and the Beast, at all?
RAMAMURTHY: No, I wasn’t familiar with the show, at that point. So, the people at The CW and CBS sent me a few episodes to have a look at, and I watched it and saw all the potential there. It was quite procedural, in nature. It was pretty much a procedural cop drama with this love story at the center of it. And the, I got onto a conference call with all the executive producers of the show, and they pitched the character to me and revealed that they were actually going to start taking the show in a different direction, and that it was going to be slightly more serialized and that that’s where this character was going to come in. It feels like this show has really come into its own, in these back nine episodes. It’s different, in ways, but the core of it is still that relationship with Catherine and Vincent. Jay [Ryan] and Kristin [Kreuk] play that so well that you don’t want to mess with that.
That’s still there, and always will be there, as it should be. What has become different, with the addition of this character, and also just the direction that all the other surrounding characters have been taken, is that all the stakes get raised and the danger factor gets raised, big time. There are going to be some sad moments coming up, that I don’t think the audience will see coming. I certainly didn’t see them coming. And there are going to be developments with the other characters, and the character that I play, Gabe, that will be really satisfying. I think the writers did a really great job of the way that they parse out information.
It’s also the result of where my character comes in. When you come in, in the back nine episodes, you’re ramping up towards the season finale, so you get to have juicy tidbits of information parsed out to you in every episode. That’s always great, as a viewer, and it’s also great, as an actor. As an actor, you know when you’re treading water, and I’ve been there. You’re twiddling your thumbs, really trying to wait until you can reveal the next chunk of information about your character or storyline, and there hasn’t been any of that, certainly not for Gabe, and not for the other characters either. Everything gets ramped up, in these last nine episodes. I don’t want to say it’s a different show ‘cause it’s not, but the other elements of the show change slightly, and change for the good. It will ultimately be very satisfying for the audience ‘cause it was satisfying for me. I always try to read each episode, for the first time, as an audience member. I read it straight through, not for my character or any of the other characters, just as story and, with each episode, I finished my initial read very satisfied. I’m satisfied that, so far, I’m alive. Long may that continue.
Because of who your character is and what his purpose on the show is, he’s throwing a bit of a wrench between Catherine and Vincent. Is it a little nerve-wracking to be the guy in the middle of that, or is it just plain fun to get to cause some trouble?
RAMAMURTHY: Yeah, it is. He’s the new Assistant District Attorney and, within about two minutes of him being introduced, he more or less tells everybody, “I think you’re doing a really crappy job. I don’t think you’re doing your job well. Why haven’t you caught the vigilante? Why has there been another murder? Why, on top of it all, has it been Joe Bishop’s brother who has been murdered? Your own police lieutenant’s brother has been murdered, and you guys aren’t doing anything about it, or what you’re doing is totally ineffectual. I think you guys need me to help you out.” Nobody likes to hear that.
From Gabe’s point of view, he’s not worried about being liked. He’s not there to be liked. You think, “Okay, this guy really likes his job. Great! He’s zealous about justice. Wonderful! That’s what an Assistant District Attorney is supposed to be.” But, he goes above and beyond. I think he confuses everybody. They’re like, “Why is this guy being such a hard-ass? I guess that he likes his job, but this is a lot.” He’s very in-your-face and very aggressive. But as the episodes go on, you find out what Gabe’s motivations are and why it is that he’s going after what he’s going after with such zeal and such passion.
We just shot the scene where many pennies drop, and I think that that scene, in particular, is going to be very satisfying for the audience. You know that he’s hiding things from all the characters, and all of it comes spilling out of him, at that point. That’s really very satisfying. Ultimately, we will find out that Gabe has a connection to Catherine’s past, and that will be revealed, over the next few episodes. It’s not a long wait. I think it’s great that the character came in, at this point, so you don’t have to hold the information back. The audience gets it quickly.
Even if people get upset at your character’s actions, don’t you think it’s also a necessary character to have because, up until now, Catherine has gotten away with some very questionable things, where Vincent is concerned?
RAMAMURTHY: She has totally gotten away with questionable things. At the end of the day, there have been murders. People are dead, and he calls her on it. He doesn’t pull any punches, with her or with anybody. He’s not there to be liked. He doesn’t care about being liked. He doesn’t care if people understand what his motivations are. As a matter of fact, he’s trying to keep his motivations from people. And then, finally, as in all good writing, it gets to a point where he can’t keep it in any longer and he needs to let Catherine know. 98% of my stuff has been with Kristin, and I’m having a really great time working with her. We’re doing these heavy, serious scenes, but as it turns out, we’re both pretty goofy, in between takes, and we work really well together. I’m really enjoying working with her, and I’m looking forward to working with the other guys more, as time goes on. I’ve had a bit to do with Joe, Brian White character, and that’s been fun, too. But, it’s been very heavily involved with Catherine.
RAMAMURTHY: Yes, definitely. As the actor, you can’t go in saying, “I’m the bad guy.” You’ve got to think your reasons for doing what you’re doing are good. That was one of the conversations I had with the executive producers, when they pitched the show to me. I said, “Tell me there’s something more to this guy besides ambition. That can’t be his driving force.” Yes, he’s absolutely an antagonist, at first, but then, as his motivations and backstory get revealed, I hope and think that the audience will have a much deeper understanding of why he does what he does. I think it’s going to be very surprising for the audience, and I think it’s going to be touching. There’s some deep stuff, coming up, and you’ll get it pretty quickly. You won’t have to wait too long for it. There’s some sadness, coming up. It’s not going to be smooth sailing, up to the finale. There are some extreme things that happen that I don’t think have happened on the show yet. It’s all part of that new-ish direction that the show is going on. The danger to the characters and the situations that people are put in are all amped up, and that’s always good for story and for the viewers.
After Heroes ended, you took a bit of a detour into a more grounded-in-reality story by doing Covert Affairs, and now you’re back working in genre with Beauty and the Beast. Where does your personal taste lie? Are you fan of sci-fi and fantasy?
RAMAMURTHY: Actually, I’ve never really been a big sci-fi guy or a big comic book guy. But what I find, as an actor, is that when you do this sci-fi/fantasy genre, and more so with this character that I’m playing now, it’s really freeing. I’m finding that the most with Gabe. It’s very freeing. I got to flex acting muscles that I haven’t had a chance to flex, ever, except maybe on stage, and that’s always fun. The whole point is to keep it new. If I was just joining another sci-fi show, I don’t think I would have done it. The assurance that I got from the execs was what made me say yes to the part, but you’re always taking that leap of faith because you don’t know.
In the writers’ defense, they’re not absolutely certain because they haven’t written the episodes yet. You just have to take it on faith that they are going to go in the direction that they tell you and that they are going to create a compelling backstory, especially when you’re coming in as the antagonist and that’s announced before your episodes even air. There’s a lot of pressure. There are going to be people, certainly with this first episode, who are like, “Who is this jerk?! I don’t like him!” And I’m prepared for that because I know what’s coming. The writers and the execs held true to their promise to making the guy multi-faceted and a multi-dimensional character. I was holding onto something that they gave me when I started shooting, and the audience will get to see that, further on down the line.
For me, my motivations were completely pure and completely right. As long as you know that, when you’re playing the character, it comes through. Within two to three episodes of my character’s debut, you will get big, juicy tidbits of what’s going on with him, and you also get juicy tidbits about the other characters. You find out connections that you may not have thought of. Gabe really does have a connection to Catherine’s past, which I didn’t know going into it, and I think it’s really cool, how they wove it in. Audiences will be very wary of Gabe, as they should be with his introduction. But all is not what it seems with Gabe, and all is not what it seems with the story. It takes some really dramatic twists and turns, none of which I saw coming, and that’s good. They did a really great job of fooling me, and hopefully they fool everybody else too, in a good way. I’m really proud of it. It should be a fun ride, up to the finale.
Beauty and the Beast airs on Thursday nights on The CW.