Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
After the Castle panel at Comic-Con International at San Diego, the cast met with the press for a brief discussion of Season 4, season-finale cliffhangers and the future of the characters. Executive Producer Laurie Zaks joined stars Nathan Fillion (Richard Castle), Seamus Dever (Det. Kevin Ryan), Jon Huertas (Det. Javier Esposito), Tamala Jones (Lanie Parish) and Molly Quinn (Alexis Castle) for a more in-depth look at Castle’s upcoming surprises.
One of the many cliffhangers of the Season 3 finale was the unfortunate and untimely death of Capt. Roy Montgomery, played by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. As a key character in the series, Montgomery’s death will be felt in different ways by the cast.
“We really are a very close group and like a family, so when we lost Ruben, it was very difficult,” Zaks said. “I was just crying, the cast was crying, it was very sad. I could never work on Lost.”
“What we learned about Montgomery is that he had a vested interest in Beckett and her well-being,” Fillion said. “He wanted her close to keep her safe, but he saw that she was tortured, he saw that she was haunted. He was this opportunity when Castle came along – he could have made it very difficult for Castle to be around. The reality of our show, the very premise of our show, is very reality-based as far as a mystery writer actually being a homicide investigator in potentially dangerous situations, firing weapons, but Capt. Montgomery facilitated that to keep him close to Beckett because he saw that he brought something to Beckett as far as a joy. So, Castle had a value for Montgomery. The two of them became friends – they were poker buddies. I’m sure that Castle just thought they were friends rather than Castle was playing a role in keeping Beckett out of a terrible hole that she was digging herself into with her mother’s murder investigation.”
“Obviously, we’ve lost a great character and a lovely actor who literally took a bullet for the show,” he continued. “We were at a life-and-death crisis, it was a very dangerous time, dealing with dangerous people. If nobody dies, there’s no risk, there’s no danger. Ruben Santiago-Hudson really sacrificed for the show while he was on it. He lived in New York with his family and he worked in Los Angeles. That’s a long way to be away from your family, a long time. Now, it’s the ultimate sacrifice, to step aside so that the show might build on the loss of a loved one. And he was loved.”
As for his character, Fillion believes that this will turn out to be a defining moment for the character. “I think it makes things very real and I think as we experience death, it forces us to grow up and value life. I think Castle’s a fella who needs to grow up a little in his life and I think this is a very sobering time.”
Dever also hopes Montgomery’s death will help bring a new direction for the show. “It’s a big thing. I hope we actually dedicate some screen time to that, because it’s a big thing to have a police captain that you were under the guidance of [die], and it’s hard not to feel a sense of betrayal because of that,” he said, referring to the events that led to Montgomery’s death. “I hope that all of them feel the reverberations of what that’s like, that this man was keeping a secret from them. We talked about that with the writers and producers as well that maybe there’s some trust issues with the new captain, having anybody in authority that might betray them. I’m hoping that we continue that because it’s a very real thing. It was so sad to see Ruben go, so his sacrifice, I hope we make the most out of it just like we did with the season finale; that we actually treat that truthfully.”
“I came into the homicide bureau under Capt. Montgomery, so he was like a father to me as far as being a detective,” Huertas said. “It hits me very hard, so I think that my character is going to be very vigilant on staying on top of trying to find out who orchestrated his murder, which in turn is Beckett’s mother’s murderer. I think that my character is going to stay really vigilant in trying to solve that murder. It’s like trying to solve his own father’s murder.”
Moving forward, Fillion mentioned that the captain replacing Montgomery will present a stark contrast to the way the precinct was run. “We have now, a captain who is not invested in Beckett the way Montgomery was,” he said. “We have a captain who does not care to have Castle around. Castle thinks he’s very adorable and charming and he’s used to charming the ladies and getting his way. This is not the kind of lady to be charmed. She will not be played a fool. Castle has his work cut out for him for sure. It’s going to be difficult. Whereas before, that part was easy for Castle because of Montgomery.”
“There will be a lot of reveals in the premiere episode that help dictate how the rest of the season will start playing out,” Zaks said. “I can also tell you that the second episode is the superhero episode, but first we have to see if she survives.”
“She” is Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katic, absent from the event this year due to an emergency. At the end of the season finale, Beckett was shot in the chest as Castle rushed to her and whispered, “I love you.”
“Some episodes will be lighter, and I think the big challenge for the writers is once you tell someone you love them, it’s out there,” Zaks said. “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, so how will that affect their relationship?”
“There are certain things you can do,” Fillion said. “You can make out with someone and say it was just a distraction while we were trying to sneak past that guard. There are things you can do that can be interpreted, but there are words that you can never take back. ‘I love you’ – those are among those words. So, indeed. Also, bullets. Very hard to take back.”
Complicating Castle’s relationship with Beckett is the rock-solid bond he shares with his daughter Alexis, played by Quinn. The actress said that link will be tested by the chaotic events of the season finale. “She just saw a bullet go by her face and her grandmother’s face while he jumped in front of the woman this bullet was intended for, risking his own life and still the woman got shot,” Quinn said. “Then, I’m whisked way by police and I don’t know if my dad’s been shot. I just saw him go down. I don’t know if they’re both dead, no one’s telling me anything!”
“Alexis is not okay with that. She’s scared! She’s not just scared for her dad, she’s scared for her grandmother,” she continued. “Think about it. They threatened Roy Montgomery’s family. Who’s to say they won’t do the same thing with us, especially since we have way more money, since we’re so close to Beckett? Well, my dad is, I think. Alexis doesn’t have a close relationship with Beckett.”
As for the possibility of Castle having an actual relationship with Beckett, Quinn said her character was against it. “She’s not going to like it,” Quinn said. “[Beckett]’s a great woman, but my dad is my dad. I think Alexis is possessive in that way. Like, you don’t know him as well as I do, you don’t know what he likes to eat, you don’t know what his bedtime is, you have no idea about our life! You don’t know me, what do you think you can bring to this? That’s what my dad doesn’t realize and that’s the real trouble. He’s not his own unit. We make a triangle, it’s me, my grandmother and him.”
Alexis will be applying to Stanford and has a steady boyfriend moving into the fourth season but, according to Quinn, she may not have to deal with the normal fatherly concern over a boyfriend. “It’s almost like he doesn’t care,” she said. “He’s so wrapped up in his whole trailing after Kate that he’s not really paying attention. And as much as teenagers are like, ‘I wish our parents were gone so we could make out on the sofa’ or whatever, speaking as a girl, you want your parents there. It’s a safeguard. You really want to know that there are boundaries. You feel safer. There are less uncharted waters. She’s very insecure right now. She’s trying to keep it together, but she’s losing her grip on her previous reality. Her bubble has burst.”
Castle’s relationship with his mother, according to Fillion, will continue to serve as a source of stability for the writer. “Martha is a rock,” he said. “I mean, as flighty and goofy as she can come off, Castle knows when it comes down to brass tacks, he can turn to his mother and they don’t hold anything back between them, those two. There is no ‘I’m going to save your feelings’ on this or ‘I’ll lie to you to make you feel all right.’ They don’t do that to each other. They’re very frank and very open. That much is going to be interesting.”
Beyond Castle’s home life lies the precinct, and although Montgomery’s death was the major cliffhanger, there are still many story threads that will continue to get pulled – many of which have to do with Dever’s character Det. Kevin Ryan. Engaged on the show to his real-life wife, Dever spoke a bit about how his character has evolved from the show’s beginnings and where things are headed.
“I think I did a good thing at the very beginning of the series where I made myself the young man on the totem pole, the newer detective, the sort of junior member of the trio with Beckett and Esposito,” Dever recalled. “I gave myself somewhere to evolve to. It’s one of those things where you can say, ‘I’m going to be Super Detective!’ Where do you evolve from that? You’re starting at the top. So this year, I think you’re going to see a lot more maturity out of Kevin Ryan, just maturing confidence as a detective. That’s my arc that I’m trying to do as an actor on the show is give Kevin Ryan somewhere to evolve to. I’ve been talking with the writers and producers about that. That’s my goal. Basically, I’m going to be a little bit different. My clothes have certainly matured, my wardrobe has helped that, and his confidence as a detective with this very competent group of four of us is going to continue and he’s going to be sharper as a detective as well.”
As for the on-screen wedding plans between Ryan and his fiancée Jenny, Dever is looking forward to the possibilities. “I think it’s going to be fun,” he said. “I’m a very happily married man myself and I get a hard time from all my single friends. I think there could be a lot of that where Castle and Esposito say, ‘Oh, Ryan, you’re not available? Gotta get home to the little lady?’ They give him a hard time about it, because I’m very happy about it. Go off to your single life, go off to your bar. I’m going to go home to my wife and watch some TV and be very happy being a married man.”
“There’s always lots of things to go through, the network has to approve certain storylines,” Dever continued. “Every year, if you noticed, we do a romantic episode. I think that might service that quite well and it might be fun to see how they all react to the wedding, how Beckett and Castle react. We’re in talks, nothing’s firm yet. I can’t say for certain that it’s going to happen, I hope it does.”
Luckily, if the two do end up tying the knot, Dever will be wearing his actual wedding ring, to prevent losing it when he is on set. “This year, I’ve already talked to the prop department, when Kevin Ryan heads down the aisle, that Kevin Ryan is going to have the exact same wedding ring as Seamus Dever, so Seamus is able to keep his wedding ring on all day long.”
While Det. Ryan may be in a committed romantic relationship, Dever hopes the show might explore how that would affect the close partnership between his character and his partne,r Det. Javier Esposito. “There’s a lot of fuel to our storylines that we can get out of that, there’s a lot of mileage,” Dever said. “All of a sudden, Ryan and Esposito not being available for each other and not being available for guy night or beer night or whatever. So there’s jealousy that happens with [that kind of thing] when your friends have committed relationships and they’re gone, they’re not available for the dude things that you used to do. There’s a lot of fuel and I hope we have time in the midst of fitting in all our storylines of murders and mysteries, that we can fit all that into 47 minutes. We’ll see. I hope so.”
Further complicating things on screen between Esposito and Ryan was the introduction of the relationship between Esposito and coroner Lanie Parish, a development that Huertas pushed for.
“He pushed, he talked about it, he put it into the universe,” Jones said. “He said, ‘Look, man, we need to do this! Esposito and Lanie, I think they would be a hot couple.’ He campaigned for it and made it happen and I’m very grateful.”
“I think the fans like it, too,” Huertas continued. “I was excited as well because it gives us something to play with other than solving murders. It’s another level of emotion that we can go to, something we weren’t doing yet as actors on the show. So now we can do that and we get to take our clothes off together.”
However, Ryan and Jenny’s relationship may spell complications for Castle’s newest couple. “I think that it’s going to prove to be a little part of the drama between [Lanie] and I this year,” Huertas said. “We may actually get close to breaking up because of Ryan and Jenny and leading toward their marriage. We talked about it with the writers, so we’ll see if it works out. The writers are definitely interested in going down that road.”
One of the final unresolved threads that the cast discussed is Det. Ryan’s missing badge and gun from the episode “3XK.” “It’s a big deal to get your service weapon taken away from you and your badge,” Dever said. “That’s a big thing. So the fact that he has to live with that is a big thing. I think we’re going to see Kevin Ryan kick a little ass.”
“I think it’s going to affect him,” he continued. “I don’t know any details, but it’s going to be episode four of our shooting schedule. I look forward to reading it, everyone says it’s really good.”
For Zaks, though, it was simply good to be around working on a show that she loved. “I developed the show with [creator Andrew Marlowe], so I’ve been part of this since Andrew had the thought in his head,” she said. “It is so amazing when a show gets to a fourth season. In this environment, it’s a miracle and we’re all so grateful for that. It’s thrilling.”