After too long a break, ABC's Brothers & Sisters — which has since been picked up for a second season — returns with a new episode this Sunday at 10 pm/ET. TVGuide.com went to Dave Annable, who plays Justin, the addiction-kicking, Afghanistan-bound baby of the Walker clan, for a preview of what's ahead. Plus, the scoop on how Fox's tragically truncated Reunion would have ended!
TVGuide.com: With all the last-minute backstage changes and recasts, some people seemed ready to read Brothers & Sisters its last rites before it even premiered. Has it therefore been satisfying to see it be as successful as it has been?
Dave Annable: Oh, absolutely. A lot of that sort of "bad press" was unwarranted. What happened was that in the original pilot, the dad died at the end of the second commercial break. So what happened is you had the funeral and everything, which was sort of a downer, and you didn't want viewers wanting to slit their wrists after the first episode. And by adding Sally Field and Matthew Rhys [as Nora and Kevin] — and this is nothing against Betty Buckley and Jonathan LaPaglia — what they were trying to do was create the best product possible. Whether that was finding someone else for a role or changing a role — Kevin was originally younger and had a son — it was all about the best product possible. But it all comes down to writing, and our show has really, really great writing as well as wonderful actors. It's one of those shows that started off under the radar and became a hit, which is the best kind of hit, because it's a hard-earned one.
TVGuide.com: The son that Kevin originally had, was he from a previous failed relationship?
Annable: Yeah, I believe so. He was married.... Like I said, they did a lot to the stories.
TVGuide.com: What can you tease about this week's first new episode in a while? Rebecca comes over for a Walker-family dinner?
Annable: It's pretty interesting when she comes over and meets the whole fam. Some funny stuff goes down at dinner, which was really fun to shoot. It's always fun to play with some comedy, because we have amazing comedic actors in Sally Field and Calista [Flockhart] and Rachel [Griffiths], and Balthazar [Getty] is really funny.... The dinner is complete chaos, which takes so long to shoot because there are 400 of us in the cast. But I tell you, we are so lucky because we get along so well. I actually just spoke with Balthazar and Matthew last night, a few hours after shooting a big family scene, and I was like, "Is it weird that we miss each other?"
TVGuide.com: Rebecca's not really poised to welcome her just-discovered siblings with hugs and kisses, right?
Annable: Yeah, she's still bitter about all this new information she has been hit with. And her seeing this close family that we have with all the good times and bad times, that's got to be pretty difficult for her to witness. Her arc is getting used to being around that and possibly joining it at some point.
TVGuide.com: Now, what are we going to do with this Justin-Rebecca chemistry, hmm?
Annable: [Laughs] I don't know about that! It's funny because a lot of people have said, "If they weren't brother and sister, they'd make a cute couple," but I think that's a whole different story line I'm not sure they want to touch upon!
TVGuide.com: If this were a true soap opera, they would have hooked up before realizing the sibling connection.
Annable: Yeah, we would have been making out at the first meeting, and then done this whole thing, getting married... who knows.
TVGuide.com: Justin's redeployment to Afghanistan, do we know when that's going to fall in regards to the season finale?Annable: I believe I'm definitely going to Iraq, which is sort of scary. I was like, "Wait, am I coming back from Iraq?" As far as I know, I don't know. All I know is I'm going to Iraq, and time-wise it's probably right around the season finale. I hope they find a way to bring me back into the ol' fam.
TVGuide.com: They could do, like, "war diaries" from you or something.
Annable: Yeah. Like I said, we're blessed with brilliant writers, so I'm sure they'll be able to find something that keeps me involved with the family. Whether it's webcam stuff or... battle scenes don't really fit in with the tone of our show. I don't think they're going to be building Fallujah on Stage 4!
TVGuide.com: Have we seen the last of Justin's hot little girlfriend-boss?
Annable: As far as I know, that's sort of done for now. We're only one or two scripts ahead of what you guys see, and I don't know if she's planning on coming back to say goodbye [before he goes to war], or what the deal is.
TVGuide.com: Who on the cast is most like their character, and who is most different?
Annable: I think we're all pretty similar, and that's why we got cast. But with Matthew Rhys playing the homosexual character — he's straight in real life, and he's going to high-five me for saying that. But he's an amazing actor because he's pulling it off and it's so believable for the fact that every person who comes up to me and him in a bar asks me if he's gay or straight. But yeah, that would be the most dramatic difference.
TVGuide.com: Jon Robin Baitz does a blog for TVGuide.com....
Annable: I know, I read you guys all the time.
TVGuide.com: And he's just a fantastic writer. Editing his blogs is such a treat, because they're like poetry.
Annable: Yeah, it's sort of above all the rest. Robbie Baitz was why we all signed on to the show. The way he can write a family and relationships, it's a pleasure to be a part of it. We lucked out in that we get to say his words.
TVGuide.com: Baitz has blogged about how the show gets guff from some viewers for presenting a gay man's complex love life.
Annable: Yeah, and it's because it is showing a homosexual character and not a caricature. Kevin is a regular guy with regular relationship issues. I think it's time that people wake up and accept this, because clearly it's something we walk around with every day.
TVGuide.com: You're dating Kate Walsh (Grey's Anatomy). Is that official...? Can we talk about this?
Annable: Let's kind of shy away from that.... [Laughs] It tends to sort of take over [the conversation], I'm starting to learn.
TVGuide.com: Around this time last year that we still had readers asking if and when and how Reunion would be back on the air....
Annable: Oh, yeah.... I tell you, I still get it when I'm out, people are genuinely hurt by the fact that they cut that short — including my family, who I received death threats from for not telling them! We got the short end of the stick on that one because they put us on right before the baseball playoffs, and then we were off for six weeks.... For a serialized drama in that format, you need to be able to watch every week. I would have started us in November after baseball and given us a solid run. It sucks that no one got closure.
TVGuide.com: Didn't it ultimately come out that Sam's killer was, what, someone's kid?
Annable: The daughter. Will and Sam's daughter. I don't even know if this is true, but somehow I guess Sam got shot because the daughter thought she was an intruder, and then Craig comes home to find what he thinks is his wife dead, calls his dad the politician, and panics. His dad then comes home and finds Sam still breathing, and for some reason ends up suffocating her. I could be completely making this up, but that's the rumor that was circulating with the cast.
TVGuide.com: Before we go, congrats on making TV Guide's "sexy" issue.
Annable: That was extremely flattering and completely terrifying in the same breath, because no one really considers themselves sexy, and if you do you may have some problems! [Laughs] Everybody's giving me a lot of flak on set because I am the "baby" of the group, so I was embarrassed to tell anybody about it. But now I'm going to make a T-shirt out of it and wear it to bars!