Sweet re­venge

Madeleine Stowe talks evil, ex­cess and a hit drama

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - Front Page - – Deb­bie Schipp

Her por­trayal of evil, schem­ing bil­lion­aire so­ci­ety queen Vic­to­ria Grayson has earned Madeleine Stowe a Golden Globe nom­i­na­tion, a sec­ond round of star­dom, and seen US drama Re­venge be­come an in­stant hit both in Amer­ica and Australia.

And all be­cause, Stowe says, “ev­ery­one has a pri­mal ap­petite for re­venge”.

That, com­bined with a def­i­nite taste for see­ing the rich and pow­er­ful get­ting their come­up­pance, is the se­cret be­hind the hit se­ries which sees Stowe take on a char­ac­ter about as far from her real-life per­sona as you can get.

“Re­venge is a very pri­mal in­stinct in all of us, it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing topic to ex­plore,” Stowe says in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with TV Guide in the wake of Re­venge’s Aus­tralian de­but to more than two mil­lion view­ers.

“In Amer­ica we have the oneper­centers – the peo­ple who con­trol the vast amount of the wealth in this coun­try – since the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis a lot of peo­ple out­side that group have been strug­gling. “So maybe the ap­peal is two-fold. “There’s this de­li­cious bit of es­capism in see­ing how they live, and also see­ing the ul­tra-wealthy have those lives torn askew.

“I think au­di­ences get sat­is­fac­tion from that, they kind of live out their own re­venge fan­tasies.”

For Stowe, the chance to play the char­ac­ter of icy, evil Vic­to­ria was one worth step­ping back into the spot­light.

The 53-year old ac­tress launched her ca­reer as a film star in the 1980s and 1990s, star­ring in Short Cuts, Stake­out and with Daniel Day-lewis in Last of the Mo­hi­cans. In 1994 she was named one of US Peo­ple mag­a­zine’s 50 Most Beau­ti­ful Peo­ple.

By 1996, the es­sen­tially pri­vate Stowe had moved to Texas, and stepped out of the spot­light to con­cen­trate on be­ing a mum to daugh­ter, May.

“It was not a de­lib­er­ate choice, I al­ways wanted to con­tinue work­ing, but I just never had that same mo­tor run­ning af­ter she was born,” she says.

Her at­ten­tion shifted to de­vel­op­ing and di­rect­ing a western film – Un­bound Cap­tives. Hugh Jack­man has been re­cruited to play the lead role, and Stowe hopes to start shoot­ing in 2013.

By last year the frus­tra­tions and de­lays of get­ting the movie into

Ev­ery­one has a pri­mal ap­petite for re­venge

pro­duc­tion had whet Stowe’s ap­petite to take on an­other act­ing role. Vic­to­ria Grayson is the re­sult. “I had lit­er­ally taken my­self off the mar­ket for sev­eral years,” she says. “My agent would call with roles and I’d say, ‘can’t do it, I have to fo­cus on the movie’.

“Then this op­por­tu­nity came up and I knew I wanted it.”

Stowe con­cedes it’s been one heck of a re- en­try into the lime­light.

“I al­ways felt very dis­tant from that spot­light – there was a fil­ter be­tween that and my real self. I imag­ine I’ll dis­ap­pear again at a cer­tain point in time and that works for me,” she says.

While Vic­to­ria Grayson rev­els in wealth and stag­ing mas­sive func­tions “for char­ity”, Stowe her­self gets to the fore­front of char­ity work – and has done hands- on work in Haiti for years.

“I do have a re­ac­tion to the amount of money spent on clothes for this char­ac­ter, ev­ery sin­gle day I am mind­ful of it,” she says.

“When I’m in Haiti deal­ing with peo­ple on the ground on a day-to- day ba­sis, yes it is dis­tress­ing. At the same time, this show has al­lowed me to draw at­ten­tion to peo­ple who re­ally need it.”

The ac­tress rev­els in the depths of Vic­to­ria Grayson.

“Ini­tially all you see is this heinous char­ac­ter, full of hate then you start to un­der­stand her,” she says. “She is also pas­sion­ate and quite vul­ner­a­ble, and she has re­deem­ing fea­tures.

“Her love for her son is the great­est love of her life. She loves her daugh­ter too; she just doesn’t know how to ex­press it. And she knows there is some­thing ter­ri­bly wrong with Emily ( played by Emily Vancamp).

“She is able to recog­nise it be­cause she sees that in her­self. They are two sides of the same coin.”

But back to that pri­mal de­sire for re­venge. “We’ve all got it, some­where,” Stowe laughs. And she rel­ishes be­ing able to in­dulge that as Grayson.

“Oh God, yes. She’s hav­ing peo­ple fol­lowed and beat up, it’s stuff you could only dream of,” she says. “You un­leash that lit­tle bit of crazy that you wouldn’t in real life, that fleet­ing fan­tasy of want­ing to cre­ate in­jury.”

Stowe has never been to the rich and pow­er­ful play­ground of The Hamp­tons, where Re­venge is set.

“No, and re­ally I’ve got no de­sire to,” she laughs. “I look at it with a sense of un­re­al­ity.

“The lives of those peo­ple re­ally don’t in­ter­est me that much. It’s not ter­ri­bly fas­ci­nat­ing to me – it just seems so out­side and in­com­pre­hen­si­ble. But these char­ac­ters in­trigue me. It’s just a fun, grip­ping ride.”

Alexan­dria, NSW for Na­tion­wide News Pty Ltd (ACN of Holt St, Surry Hills, NSW Pub­lished by News Mag­a­zines. Printed by Han­nan­print,

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