Bella Swan’s slightly naive, overprotective dad Charlie in the Twilight Saga has very little in common with Revolution’s gruff, seemingly invincible warrior Miles Matheson — except for two things: They’ve got the most hilariously quotable lines of their respective stories, and actor Billy Burke gives them both a soft underbelly that keeps us sticking around after all the bloodshed. Before Revolution returns from winter hiatus tonight (8 p.m. ET on NBC), we caught up with Burke to chat about what went down when Bret Michaels dropped in on the show’s “post-power world,” how he keeps sane while filming the show’s outlandish fight sequences and how he feels about the Twilight vortex a year and a half after its conclusion.
VH1: Despite the sometimes horrific circumstances of Revolution’s post-apocalyptic world, you always seem to be having a blast. What do you get a kick out of the most in your job?
Billy Burke: Most of the time, we come to work and it’s obnoxious hours and a pretty tough schedule, but we’ve got amongst the cast and the crew — there’s a great spirit on set. We have a great time taking everything as seriously as we can and taking the piss out of it when we need to.
VH1: When do you need to take the piss out of it?
BB: The nature of the show, because it’s a serial drama, there are a lot of moments that would be considered soap-like. Because they’re repetitive, and you have to keep telling people what had happened and you have to remind them through dialogue. Some of those things are met with a little bit of tongue-in-cheek on set, and we try to get away with as much comedy as we can. Hopefully, some of it makes it way to the actual airing, but most of it doesn’t.
VH1: Are you a wiseass like Miles in real life?
BB: I use sarcasm as a tool, yes. I think it helps get one through any day. But here again, I mean, we take the job quite seriously. But if you take it too seriously you’re going to be putting nails in your head.
VH1: What’s harder to do, or easier to do, than it seems onscreen?
BB: When we first started out, a lot of the action sequences were [difficult], because of other things the not least of which was the unbearable heat we sometimes have to shoot in, because last year it was set in North Carolina and this year it was set in Austin, which is 104 degrees every day in the summer. But the sequences themselves turn out to be quite fun. It is a lot of work and a lot of memorizing choreography and things like that but you do get to put your own spin on it and you get to f— around a little bit and kind of make it your own. That’s not as grueling as it might seem.
Next: What’s up with Bret Michaels?
VH1: Do you have an idea of the most people Miles has fought at once?
BB: I know that the pilot I think that fight sequence was the most kills in one sequence. I think we ended up with somewhere between 13 and 22, you can’t really count by what ended up in the episode. Somewhere between 13 and 22 he took on at once and slaughtered them all. I don’t understand why Miles hasn’t become a god in this world; he’s obviously invincible.
VH1: What’s the most people you have personally fought at once?
BB: Just one and that’s myself. On a daily basis.
VH1: Silly question: Is there someone manufacturing bullets in this world now?
BB: There is now. Bullets were in short supply in the beginning, we made mention of it in the first season… You want a real answer? I don’t f-ing know.
VH1: Do details like that ever bother you?
BB: All throughout the first season, I struggled with it. There was always some sort of acceptable answer from the powers that be in the writers’ room. And I just sort of went, “OK, it’s a fantasy show, let’s leave it at that.”
VH1: How long would you last in the Revolution world?
BB: It kind of depends on what it is that I’m fighting for. If I were just fighting for my own survival, I’d probably last four or five minutes. If I were actually trying to maintain my family’s existence in this world and some other people I cared about that were around me, I’d do the best I could, but I’m by no means a survivalist at all. Look, I’m in a Holiday Inn right now and this is rough for me.
VH1: What can you tell us about Bret Michaels’ guest role on the show?
BB: I was not on the set on the day that he worked. From what I heard, he was just absolutely uncannily pleasant and good to be around. He was stoked to be there. I heard he was a great guy and he had a fun little bit to do, but I didn’t get any of the Bret Michaels experience.
VH1: Do you have a wish list of real-life idols you’d like to guest star next?
BB: I don’t actually, I’ve never really thought about it. It’d be great to have an appearance by President Obama playing himself. I’d love to have Tom Waits.
Next: Looking back at Twilight.
VH1: What do you think Miles would have to say about Twilight?
BB: At first mention, I think he’d say, “What?” He’d have no recognition whatsoever what you were talking about. I think that probably he’s not in the main demographic of that viewing audience.
VH1: When the franchise was going, did you have any fear that you would be playing a dad forever?
BB: No, I didn’t go into that thinking that. I did have to go into that thinking that it would have an audience. I didn’t have any idea that it would become such a part of the zeitgeist as it has, but I did recognize that it would have an audience. I’ve told this story a few times: That’s where that famous pornstache came from. I tried to figure out a way where I could play the character believably but then have an escape route when it blew up. Without the ’stache I was virtually unrecognizable.
VH1: What do you wish people would know about what it was like to be in the center of Twilight mania?
BB: Here’s something that’s not what you think it is: People have this fantasized view of what being in a machine like that is like. It’s not campaigning every day for parties. It’s a lot of work and you take it graciously and it is what it is. But as I’m sure others would tell you — the Kristens and the Roberts of the world — it’s nice to have some anonymity for a while. I didn’t have to deal with nearly the amount of attention that they did, but it’s not what you think it is. I’m not bitching about it, I’m not complaining, but it’s part of the deal. Also, if people know who you are it’s easier to get work in this business.
VH1: Would you hesitate to do something that big again?
BB: No not at all. I really don’t look at things like that. When that became what it became, I was happy to be in a thing that people paid attention to. I’d been kicking around in this business already for almost 18 years when that came along.
Revolution airs Wednesday nights at 8 pm ET on NBC.
[Photos: NBC, Summit Entertainment]