The Devil returned in pure-evil form last week when Reaper (Thursdays at 9pm/ET, CW) resumed after a too-long-for-us break. Tonight's episode is the second of this season's eight post-strike episodes, and things are just getting fired up. We'd sell our souls to get some Reaper scoop, and fortunately the show's Devil himself, actor Ray Wise, made us a deal we couldn't refuse. He chatted us up on his demon-catching minion's future, the legacy of Leland Palmer and Satan's burning… feelings.
TVGuide.com: So how much of yourself do you bring to your character?
Ray Wise: Oh, I think a great deal, like… his sense of style. I say this tongue-in-cheek, but I think it's true. The hair is pretty much my hair and the teeth are my teeth, and the way I wear a suit and tie, that's the way the Devil does it. I bring my own physical characteristics and sensibilities to that character, but there are a few other aspects to the Devil that are a little like mine, including his concern for others. He has a great concern for humankind and a great affection for them, it seems to me.
TVGuide.com: Do either of your two children (now in their twenties) ever watch the show?
Wise: Oh yeah, they watch it every week.
TVGuide.com: Are they creeped out?
Wise: [Laughs] No, they know their dad. They've seen me play a lot of creepy people and a lot of good people. So it's not really that big a deal. I think they rather enjoy the idea that I play the Devil.
TVGuide.com: In contrast, Reaper's Devil has a great sense of humor, which is pretty surprising for the most evil guy in the world.
Wise: I think this Devil has the best sense of humor found in any Devil I've ever seen. I really loved Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick — he had a great sense of humor, if a little askew. My Devil's sense of humor is sort of right on. I think everybody would at least feel that most of the things my Devil finds funny really are funny.
TVGuide.com: It seems to make him someone to fear more, since you can't read whether he's joking with you or if the joke's on you. Sam seems to get the brunt of that.
Wise: Absolutely. He has to walk a thin line, that guy. The Devil keeps throwing him curveballs. Though he's the Devil, he's very adept at making you feel confident in yourself, secure in yourself.
TVGuide.com: And then he'll take your soul.
TVGuide.com: In tonight's episode, Sam's confidence is at an all-time high, to the point where he tries to reject your help catching a demon. What gives?
Wise: [Laughs] Yeah, isn't that what always happens? You give somebody a certain amount of knowledge and all of a sudden they think they know more than you. That always happens. But I think the Devil will be able to keep Sam in line, at least to a certain degree.
TVGuide.com: Does the Devil consider Sam a friend? An employee?
Wise: I think he considers him both those things. He finds in Sam a sympathetic soul, really. Maybe a soul mate in a way — someone he's simpatico with, somebody he can talk to. I think this Devil can be very lonely most of the time. And I think he enjoys Sam's company and being able to vent his feelings and his philosophy a little bit. He uses Sam as a kind of a student, so they have a mentor-student relationship or even a father-son relationship.
TVGuide.com: You know, there are some conspiracy theorists out there who think that father-son thing between you guys could be true.
Wise: Oh, you think that Sam might be The Son, huh?
TVGuide.com: Some people think that, yes.
Wise: I think that's a swell theory. And that's the beauty of our particular story. As many stories as you can think up, that's what it can be. I know these last episodes we're currently shooting step it up a notch as far as the storyline. The conflict between the Devil's world and the world of Sam is going to be greater. Literally, all Hell's gonna break loose.
TVGuide.com: Is the Devil rooting for Sam to succeed?
Wise: Absolutely. I think he wants that boy to become a real human being. He wants him to take charge of his life and start making those decisions that a responsible person has to make. And I think that he enjoys watching him struggle toward that end.
TVGuide.com: That strike was a bummer, and Reaper still hasn't been renewed for a second season. Are you concerned?
Wise: I know it's simply a matter of business and dollars and cents, and not because people don't like the show when they see it. And certainly critics have liked it and the CW likes it, too. It's just a business decision and I hope in the next few weeks more people will try watching the show. It's going to be tragic if we get yanked off the air.
TVGuide.com: Journalists are always asking you about Twin Peaks. Do you ever get sick of talking about it?
Wise: It doesn't bother me at all. It was such a wonderful experiment, and I'm just very proud to have been part of it. In fact, I did a few movies just before Reaper in Bulgaria and Romania, and a lot of people there still know me as Leland Palmer. So I realize the great impact that the show had all around the world, and I never get tired of that.
TVGuide.com: It's really a classic.
Wise: You know, it sure is great to have one of those on your résumé. It makes you feel like you did something good with your career. I'm feeling the same way about Reaper, too. If they put Leland and the Devil on my tombstone, that would probably be enough for me.
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