"My theory is that Gavin is kind of a sharecropper on the plantation of evil," the actor told reporters Friday at the Television Critics Association fall TV previews. "He plants the seeds, but he only gets half the harvest."
Gavin owns The Drake, a posh and historic apartment building where he lives with his elegant wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams). To manage the day-to-day operations, he hires wide-eyed Jane (Rachael Taylor), who moves in with her boyfriend Henry (Dave Annable) to take the job. There's something ominous about this building, however. The residents get their hearts' desires seemingly overnight — but it comes with a price. Sometimes, they even go missing.
Williams described Olivia as "a mafia wife" who is only aware of certain activities concerning her husband. "I think you'll find that [the Dorans are] very bad, but with a caveat: They're very human as well," added executive producer David Wilcox. "We don't know a lot about the Dorans yet. I guarantee they're not what you'd expect."
In some ways, Williams feels that the Dorans are similar to the Madoffs: outwardly successfully but "we saw the dark side of what happened, how they created their empire." She also drew a comparison to real estate mogul Donald Trump, which prompted Wilcox to joke, "I think Gavin could take down Donald Trump any day."
The Dorans are glamorous and seemingly generous, offering the young Midwestern couple an almost palatial living space. "Everyone has their own point of seduction," Taylor observed. "Jane and Henry in the pilot are broke. I think if you're offered to live in a very seductive and elegant and glamorous building... that's a pressure point." Other residents will be offered to regain something dear that they've lost, their greatest ambition or object of lust. "Seduction is the theme that's driving the first season," said Wilcox.
Beyond the evildoers tempting flawed innocents, another character exists: The Drake itself. "The building is in many ways like the Overlook Hotel in The Shining," said Wilcox. "It has a presence. It has a spirit that seems to be working hand-in-hand with Gavin Doran. It might be more powerful than anybody knows."
Besides The Shining, Wilcox confirmed that the series has been influenced by numeorus '70s- and '80s-era darkly psychological genre films, including Rosemary's Baby, Blue Velvet and Jacob's Ladder. "I've been a horror fan for a long time," he said. "It's the kind of genre that has a direct connection with the audience."
That said, 666 Park Avenue will air on broadcast television, which will restrict the visual horrors that cable shows have more freedom to show. "We don't have the tool of gore and blood and that kind of spectacle," said Wilcox. "It has forced us to be a lot more clever in how we tell these stories. So we look back at Hitchcock films, how much the story keeps playing in your head."
666 Park Avenue premieres on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 10/9c on ABC.