Last Monday, we were slowly introduced to the world of “Timeless,” and some of the interesting, complex characters who are a part of it. We’ve started to get to know some of our heroes, but in order for their story to function properly you need an equally-compelling villain. This is where Garcia Flynn starts to enter the equation.
Flynn is a mysterious man with even-more-mysterious motives, and through one episode, the one thing we’ve figured out is that he seems to know more about the destiny of Lucy (Abigail Spencer) that she even does. He dropped some clues on her potential future, but at the same time, he said very little about his own. One theory suggested on the show was that he was going back in time to destroy America from within.
Goran Visnjic (“Crossing Lines,” “Extant”) is the man behind this role, and when speaking to him in our recent interview, we broke down a bit of who this man is and potentially where he could see his story go both in Monday’s episode “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” and beyond.
CarterMatt – So how did this show first get introduced to you?
Goran Visnjic – Shawn [Ryan] and Eric [Kripke] sent me the script, and they said ‘if you like it, we would like to talk to you.’ So that’s exactly what happened; I went there, I had my meeting with them, and I had watched ‘Supernatural’ and I watched ‘The Shield,’ so I thought that if these two guys were going to come up with the script, I knew it was going to be amazing. That’s what led me to wanting to be on the show.
You mention Eric, and I do sense the similarities to ‘Supernatural.’ Both have these serious moments, but there is some fun there and a spirit of adventure. I know your character is a little bit adversarial right now, but do you still get a sense of that?
Yeah, because every episode we’re in a different time period and a different costume, and there’s the fun of bringing stuff from the future into the past, especially for my character since there are certain changes that he doesn’t care much [about]. But our heroes in the show are real particular about making sure they don’t damage the history. Ultimately, that’s what this show is about.
Through one episode, we don’t know much about Flynn as a character. As an actor, did you want or request a little more information about him or his motives, just to have some sort of touchstone to play off of?
Well, you have to, otherwise you’re just like an empty shell — you’re just walking and talking. If you are doing something terrible and you are a mentally healthy person, there must be an insanely good reason for it. Or, you’re just an evil, bad guy, and that is not interesting. So, of course we discuss a lot of issues, like why is he doing [this] and the mystery behind the people he’s chasing and the things that he knows. That is going to be revealed through the course of the season.
Of course [in the premiere] Lucy saw the diary, and recognized her handwriting. She really starts thinking ‘oh my god, something is fishy here. This guy might not be who he claims to be.’ It’s interesting. It’s fun.
In looking at the scripts, have you gotten the sense that we’re going to get some gradual reveals over the course of the season?
Yeah, we’re already on episode 7 and you’re going to find out a lot about Flynn. For example, in one of the future episodes right around episode 5 or 6 he’s going to tell what’s going on from his point of view, and the audience is going to hear a lot of things. Are they going to be truthful things, and will [anyone] believe him? That’s going to be a part of the mystery, but I can guarantee it’s going to be interesting. We’re not going to be teasing, teasing, teasing; every episode you’re going to get a bit of information.
There are obviously a lot of different sort of ‘villains’ that are out there, but for Flynn do you get the sense that he legitimately believes what he is doing is right and that his motives are just?
It’s an interesting question, and that’s something that is inside of him the whole time, and I want audiences to see that. When he does something that is bad, but it’s for the greater good in his mind, I need to play that he’s sorry that he is doing these things but he has to do them. He’s never going to question himself in front of these other people, but maybe when he’s on his own or they put him in a situation where he can open up a little bit, you’re going to realize that he’s going to be torn about things … but that doesn’t mean he is not going to do them.
I talked with Malcolm Barrett about this [recently] — with new costumes and new settings on a weekly basis, do you get the sense that this is almost like a show-within-a-show, and you’re getting to play almost different versions of the same character on a regular basis?
Well let me tell you: I’m in a car going into a costume rehearsal right now (laughs). There’s a different costume every episode, and there’s a feeling of shooting a new show every episode. We’re always like ‘oh my god, did you hear about the next one? Which time period are we going to be in?’ The excitement before each episode is huge, and we’re always looking forward to being in a different time from history.
Without giving anything away, was there a specific episode where you saw an era [of time], and you were excited to get to play in that?
We had an episode in Nazi Germany in 1944, and that was exciting because I was supposed to speak German and pretend that I was one of the guards involved with the Third Reich. I just needed to learn German from scratch, and that was really fun. Then we had an episode with the Alamo, which was a really cool time period with cool costumes, and we did a scene with General Santa Anna and Flynn in Spanish. It’s kind of challenging in a good way to keep pushing you as an actor, and doing things you wouldn’t be doing.
Is there anything coming up soon everyone should be really looking forward to?
We’ve got the episode about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and I love that episode a lot. It provokes you, and asks you the question of if you could go back and change things, would you do that or not? Knowing that in doing a good thing — like stopping a bad thing that happens in the past — will there be something in the future that makes that good thing really bad? That’s an unknown. There’s a lot of conversation about that, and I think that will provoke that. It’s always interesting when we come back [to the present], what changed from the reality that we left. There’s always going to be certain changes, whether it be on a personal level for some characters, or something even bigger.
In general, what is it you appreciate about the show the most? Is it going to different time periods and exploring new things, or is it that interesting moral dilemma you just mentioned, where you can go back and change things from the past and play with the ramifications of that?
It is that childish thing in all of us. When we started to thinking about acting as kids, even before you started thinking about it as a profession, you were putting oversized shoes on, or your grandpa’s hat. There is the that [innate] satisfaction of being able to change your character every time. There’s a lot of pretending inside the character because you’re doing covert operations.
The action side of the show is pretty cool because there’s a lot of that to do, but there’s also this combination of Shawn and Eric. There’s this scene with my character where he’s talking about his family, which is extremely emotional and an acting challenge. The show really gives you as an actor to do a lot of fun things, but then hard things that make you grow as you never have before.
Thanks to Goran for his time and if you haven’t had a chance to check out this show, we highly recommend that you do. If you want to get a further preview for Monday night’s “Timeless” episode, be sure to head over to the link here. (Photo: NBC.)