The CW drama series Beauty and the Beast returns for Season 2 in a very different place with its characters. Vincent (Jay Ryan) has changed now that his memory has been wiped clean, and he’s a super-charged beast on a mysterious mission. At the same time, Catherine Chandler (Kristin Kreuk) needs to unravel the reasons behind Vincent’s change, if she has any hope of recovering their epic love, while also trying to solve the secrets that swirl around her own life. With the help of friends J.T. (Austin Basis), Tess (Nina Lisandrello) and reformed ADA Gabe Lowan (Sendhil Ramamurthy), Cat is determined to get answers and save her soulmate.
During this recent phone interview with Collider, actor Sendhil Ramamurthy talked about when he learned he’d be returning for Season 2, what Gabe’s overall arc will be for the first eight episodes, how everything he’s been through has affected him in a positive way, how Gabe is coping without being a beast anymore, how relieved he is not to have to wear the beast make-up, how his relationships with the other characters have changed, where the threats are coming from this season, new beasts, and how surprised he’s been about how much the fans have embraced him and his character. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY: We didn’t know, at all, that there was going to be a Season 2 when we wrapped last season. We hadn’t been picked up yet. But, they told me before the finale episode. Before they gave it to us, they called me and told me, “Listen, the cliffhanger is that you’re gonna get shot, but if we come back, you’re coming back.” But, I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody, so I just played dumb for a few months.
Were you very curious about how they would pull that off?
RAMAMURTHY: Yeah. My main concern was, “How are they gonna do it? Is it going to be some miraculous thing, or is it going to be something that we explore, as the season goes on? Is it going to be something that either Gabe or the other characters try to figure out?” I didn’t want it to just be one miracle that happens. I didn’t want him to just get saved, and that’s it. He’s back and he’s Gabe, and he’s not a beast. Everything is good. That wouldn’t really make sense. So, the way that they’ve done it is cool because it becomes part of his main mission, certainly in this first arc of eight episodes that we’re doing in the second season. He’s trying to figure out exactly how that happened. Nobody quite understands how he was saved. It really is a fortunate accident, from Gabe’s point of view, that he was saved. He and others want to figure out how it works.
Obviously, the main thing for Gabe is that he feels the only way he’s going to be able to make amends and try to ingratiate himself to these people that, quite frankly, he did some pretty horrendous things to in the first season, is to help in finding Vincent, and then once they find Vincent, trying to cure him and trying to save him. They’ve incorporated that really well into Gabe’s overall arc through these first eight episodes. We’re in the middle of shooting Episode 7 right now. It becomes his obsession to figure out exactly how that happened. He doesn’t know, and Catherine doesn’t know. It just happened. So, it’s explored more, as the episodes go on. What occurred that cured him of being a beast is the holy grail for these characters, so we definitely explore it.
RAMAMURTHY: Definitely! It’s helped him grow. The circumstances dictated how he has to behave. Gabe is still Gabe. He can still be arrogant. He can still be cocky. He’s still a wealthy guy who’s used to getting his way. He really has very shaky moral ground, and he’s standing on it. One of the things that I really like about Gabe this season is that he’s cured. In the first minute of the premiere episode, he is cured, he’s alive, and he’s not a beast anymore. He’s just loaded. He’s super rich. He could just take off and go have a great life somewhere else, but he doesn’t. He stays. He keeps his government job of being an ADA, and he stays in a place where nobody wants him and nobody likes him, and they make it very clear. They don’t want him there, and that’s understandable. Why would they?
It’s important to him that he make amends and he tries to set things right, even if he’s ultimately not successful. In my head, what I’ve been thinking is that he’s gotta make the effort. If he doesn’t make the effort, then he really can’t go on and live any sort of fulfilling life, as a beastless human being. I’m really enjoying playing that because the writers don’t make it easy on Gabe. In every scene, certainly for the first few episodes, they make it very clear that they don’t want him there, especially Tess and J.T. They’re slinging their one-liners mostly at Gabe, and he just has to take it on the chin. He understands that. It’s not fun, but he gets it. Eventually, hopefully, he can try to win these guys over and show them that he means well now. That was a part of him that is gone. Or is it? Who knows? I don’t know the answer to that.
Gabe must have to get to know himself again, without having the beast there anymore?
RAMAMURTHY: Completely! He has to figure out how friendships work. Maybe further on down the line, he’s going to have to figure out how relationships work, as a normal person. That’s not something that he’s used to. That’s not something he’s ever had. And I’m looking forward to all of that because it’s juicy. It’s fun stuff to play, as an actor.
RAMAMURTHY: It’s mainly the latter. They’ve changed the look of the beast, so that the application of the prosthetic onto Jay [Ryan] and onto the beasts that are entering the show slowly is less tedious, but it still sucks. It’s still not something that you want to go through. So, I’ve gotta say that there’s very little that I miss about being a beast, if I’m being totally honest. It’s just not a fun experience to go through. I like the physicality in doing the different physical motions, being a beast. I really enjoyed that, and getting to do the fights and the stunt stuff. That was really cool. I don’t know if that will come into play later for Gabe, as a human. I have no idea. But so far, he’s pretty human and he’s made to feel human, a lot. He’s put in physical danger, a lot of times. Certainly in my head, while I was playing the scenes, I was thinking, “God, it would have been really great just to be a beast for these three minutes, so that I wouldn’t be getting my butt kicked, right now by this guy.” But overall, the overriding feeling is, “Thank god, Gabe’s beast is no longer alive.”
What are his feelings toward Catherine now? Is she still a means to an end for him, or do you think he would ever pursue something more with her, if he thought she’d be open to it?
RAMAMURTHY: I think, right now, it’s much like all the other characters. It’s a win, if he can get them not to hate him. He’s setting the bar fairly low, just out of necessity. The main thing for him is to make amends. There’s some therapy in his future, as far as being able to have relationships with people. And I hear relationships are going to be explored. But right now, he’s just gotta try to see if he can make things right, or as right as possible, with these people. He knows that he wronged them, in a really, really fundamentally horrible, bad way. I like exploring more of the humanity of Gabe. It’s important to him that he tries to make amends and he tries to make things right, even if he’s not ultimately successful.
RAMAMURTHY: Exactly! Before, relationships that he had romantically certainly were more of a means to an end type of thing. I don’t know that there were true feelings or true love. I don’t know if he was capable of true love when he had that beast inside him. Maybe he is now. I don’t know. Maybe that’s just who he is. Maybe he’s not capable of love. I don’t know. I’m curious to find out and explore that side of him, at some point.
How does Gabe feel about Vincent’s memory loss? Is it a good thing, as far as he’s concerned, especially after what went down between them?
RAMAMURTHY: Certainly, at the beginning, it’s great for Gabe. Vincent is the only person that doesn’t hate him because he doesn’t remember what happened. The one person that he tried to kill four months ago is the only one who doesn’t really remember that, which is great for Gabe. But on the whole, Vincent is not in the happiest of places right now. He really doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going, and that’s something that we really get into. How must that be, for one person to literally not remember the other person, when they have this epic love? In one sense, it’s sad and tragic. But on the other side, they’re going to explore it all, all over again. They’re going to get to fall in love, hopefully, all over again, and experience their first kiss, all over again. I think that’s going to be really exciting for the audience to see that again. But having said that, it’s not going to be easy. The obstacles that are put in front of Vincent and Catherine, throughout the season, really make both of them question if what they’re going through to achieve this love is worth it. It takes a lot out of them, on both sides.
Both Vincent and Catherine have to make some really huge sacrifices, as you’ll see as the episodes go on, and both of them question whether they’re doing the right thing. Vincent is off doing these missions, as we’ll get more into, as the episodes go on. You’ll learn about why he’s doing what he’s doing. Catherine has become completely consumed with finding Vincent. And then, once we find it, it becomes about whether we can cure him and make him normal. I think they both question whether that’s worth it. And then, from Gabe’s point of view, we also are going to start finding out what his real motivation is. Is it all just about wanting to make amends and make things right? The situations that he’s put in, his life is in danger. There’s physical danger and then there are emotional traps that are set for Gabe, that we’re just starting to get into now, that he’s not really equipped to deal with. He’s never been in that situation because he had this beast inside of him, and I don’t know if he knows how to handle it. In that sense, it’s fun stuff to mine, as an actor. The stakes are so much higher this season, for all the characters, because so much more is on the line. But, it’s been great to far. We’re having a great time.
RAMAMURTHY: Totally! In the second episode, there is a meeting between human Gabe and beast Vincent. I can tease that. And it’s a tough one for Gabe because he doesn’t have the power. Before, he was physically more powerful than Vincent. Now, Vincent can squish him like a grape. It’s a scary situation to be in. I like the way that that scene goes because Gabe has other tools in his arsenal. He has to use his brain. He has to use his wits. He has to use other things that are available, as a human being, as opposed to being a super-charged beast. It’s been fun to play that.
Where are the threats coming from this season, now that there isn’t one specific threat to worry about? Does that make things more dangerous for them?
RAMAMURTHY: It does. The good thing about it, from our point of view, is that we’re all unified against this bad person or entity, or whatever it ends up being, as we figure it out. There are other beasts that are going to come in and be involved. In the third episode, a new beast appears and we’re tracking this new beast. There are scenes where we’re all there, in the scene. Me, Kristin [Kreuk], Jay [Ryan], Austin [Basis] and Nina [Lisandrello] all get to do scenes together, as the five of us. We really didn’t get a chance to do that last season because there was the beast over here and the people over here. It’s united the core group of characters with a single goal, and that’s been fun to play. I’ve actually worked a lot with Nina this season, which has been really fun to do because I didn’t really have much to do with her, at all, last season. And I’m getting to do some more stuff with Austin, too, and even with Jay.
Are you surprised by how much the fans have ultimately really embraced your character and you on the show, when they really could have easily had the opposite reaction with a character like this?
RAMAMURTHY: Totally! I’ve been really surprised. In a way, it makes it easier because, if you’re not worried about whether the audience likes you or not, it’s actually quite freeing. You can just go and have fun with the material, which is what I ended up doing. But, the writers were really clever, in that they gave me this backstory that I could really hold onto, that was really tragic. This was done to Gabe as a child. He was abducted and unknowingly had a hand in killing his adopted parents. That’s juicy stuff to have in the back of your head, when you’re doing horrible, hideous stuff. It doesn’t give you an out, but it can help the audience sympathize with the circumstances that made you go and do these kinds of things. I was totally shocked, I have to say, but glad.
It’s certainly a very juicy character for me to play, and I really am grateful that I’m having the chance to do it. And I hope that continues. I don’t want Gabe to just be a saint now, and a good guy. I want him to be challenged, morally, because it’s clearly in him. I don’t think that was all beast. Making some of the decisions that he made, that is part human, too. His moral compass is definitely in the grey zone, and those are always the most fun characters to play. I’m hoping that, at some point, something is put in front of him where he has to make a choice, and maybe he makes the choice that isn’t what the good character would do. I don’t really want to be the good character. It’s more fun to be a little bit of both.
Beauty and the Beast is on Monday nights on The CW.