“Since I’ve started this and started to do research into the different genres and heroic archetypes and the mythology behind it, I realized it’s an incredible world in terms of complexity and color,” Lyons tells Zap2it. “As a kid, I just thought it was pictures. But I realize now how much heart and soul are in these comics.”
That’s also what drew him to “The Cape,” which premieres at 9 p.m. ET Sunday (Jan. 9) on NBC. His character, Vince Faraday, is a cop who’s framed for murder and goes underground when he’s presumed killed. He takes on the identity of The Cape, his son’s (Ryan Wynott) favorite comics character, and wages a one-man battle against the corruption in his home, the fictional Palm City.
Lyons, a veteran of “ER,” talked with us about the physical demands of playing a hero, Vince’s uneasy relationship with a carnival troupe leader/criminal named Max Malini (Keith David) who trains him and the world of Palm City. Some highlights:
Zap2it: What have you discovered about the character as filming as progressed?
David Lyons: You start to see the light and the shade. There was a lot of shade when this came in — a lot of anger, a lot of vitriol and obsession. As I grow with the character, I learn he’s not always angry … and not always obsessive about the pursuit of Peter Fleming [James Frain, “The Cape’s” primary bad guy] and getting his family back. It’s through characters like Max and Summer Glau‘s character, Orwell, that really bring that side of his character out. It’s an extreme circumstance he’s found himself in, but it’s also an incredibly psychedelic world he’s found himself in. It’s like Alice down the rabbit hole.
I suppose he does a pretty good reason to be angry, given the circumstances.
He has his reasons to be dark. But he finds a reason to be a little lighter as well.
Is the underworld Vince moves in now all new to him, or was he aware of some of it as a cop?
He was certainly aware of the criminal element, but he didn’t realize how deep the rabbit hole goes. The characters that start bubbling from beneath the streets are stranger, more violent and more fantastical than he could have imagined. So what he saw on the streets of Palm City was kind of a diluted version of what happens in the underworld.
Is the physical part of playing The Cape difficult?
I kind of enjoy the physical aspect of the role. I was pretty determined to do all my own stunt work … and feel it in the character. I feel it’s necessary for the character. In terms of the cape, it’s a fantastic concept [creator Tom Wheeler] has come up with — a character that wears a cape not because he’s a superhero, but because it’s a weapon. That’s a really important thing, because there’s so much he can potentially do with this thing, and as an actor you kind of have to live it a little. You have to wear it around the house and throw it at the mantelpiece and see what you can grab.
Vince is obviously motivated by the desire to get his family back, but does he always have to maintain a distance between his wife and son?
It’s something we’re exploring and something Vince as a character is exploring: How much anonymity does he have behind the mask and behind the cape? … One of the reasons he becomes this character is to send a message to his son that there’s an individual out there fighting for good. … He’s trying to be a candle in the darkness. So in terms of where the stories go, his main motivation is getting his family back. He becomes The Cape through necessity, not because he wants to dress up in a cape.
How does his relationship with Max develop? It seems like Vince isn’t ever sure what Max wants.
That’s the beauty of Keith David as an actor — he’s got layer upon layer. The great thing of this world is I can’t think of any character who doesn’t have two faces. … Max probably has more than two faces. He’s the leader of a bunch of criminals, but he also takes this guy in and trains him to become The Cape. One of the constant battles Vince has in accessing Max and what he wants from Max is that sometimes he’s a sensei and sometimes he’s an obstacle.