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Revenge’s Gabriel Mann Talks About His Snarky One-liners, Fan Appreciation, and Nolan’s Fate

Emily Thorne — née Amanda Clarke — has finally found her main Revenge target, the man who killed her father David Clarke. But the mysterious white-haired man had interrupted her regularly scheduled plotting by capturing the closest thing to a friend, ally, or family member she has in her life: Nolan Ross (played by Gabriel Mann). Tonight, in the show's first season finale, Emily will try to save him without sacrificing her mission, and Mann, who just turned 40 last week, isn't the only one who hopes Nolan survives for season two. Mann took a moment to chat with Vulture about his character's fate, snarky one-liners, and what sitcom should embrace Nolan if he's no longer on Revenge. (Schmidt, watch out!)

Happy birthday! How do you do it?
Stay eternally youthful? [Laughs.] Get a career in Hollywood. Sometimes people ask me how old I am, and I have to stop and remember. I forget myself! And this incredibly young cast helps me reflect their energy. I'm a late bloomer. I believe 40 is the new 19 — otherwise, it's terrible! I'd be a big immature man-child. I think that's a quality I saw in Nolan and I wanted to help bring out. It's not necessarily how I carry myself, but there is something childlike about him, especially in wanting a love that he didn't get from his parents. He has this intrinsic, youthful spirit, so if I get to hang around, it would be interesting to see the progression and evolution of that character.

Please don't tell me Nolan might die.
Nolan, poor Nolan. [Laughs.] I've been joking a lot this season about how one of the things that's great about this show is that the writers and creators are not afraid to raise the stakes. It's such a strong way to write the show, with a cliff-hanger almost every time. It's risky business out there in the Hamptons! And I never know what's happening.  They are equal opportunity employers in terms of putting people in jeopardy. It's going to be rough across the board for everyone, in the last five minutes of the finale. You'll see!

It's kind of like Game of Thrones, except no one is beheaded, with their heads put on spikes.
We don't necessarily show the beheading, but we have metaphorical beheadings coming our way — per ABC prime-time standards, of course. [Laughs.] And the danger level has risen considerably for a guy like Nolan who does not like violence, who is more comfortable with machines than people, especially people who get too close, especially too close with knives and other painful instruments. He's getting exactly what he hates the most. And if he survives, he's going to need to take stock with his therapist. And he's going to want to learn some self-defense. I would love it if he could get all ninja, pull some secret Takeda moves with like two fingers, get all Kill Bill, Battle Royale if he's around for season two. He's got to get some skills to pay the bills! He's just got to live long enough.

"Some skills to pay the bills" — that's something Nolan would say. He has the best one-liners.
He does, indeed. What's really great is how it becomes organic with the writers, because as un-Nolan-like as I am, I do like to turn a phrase, but it's all about how you turn it. There have been some truly classic lines this year that were happily entrusted to me, and how are you not going to have fun saying things like that? And getting him to say things that people were commenting about on Twitter, that's even better. I just want to take that sandwich and grab a big bite of it, sink my teeth into it, because you never know how long it will be until something like that comes along. I love getting to play with that, and mix it up with something more genuine, with an enigmatic quality. It allows for a big range of options.

Are the writers looking to the fan response to fuel some of the dialogue?
If they aren't, I'm letting them know about it. I'm watching Twitter and fan feedback, because it's a goldmine. It's one of the great pleasures of the show to see that feed, see that reaction. So we're very tuned in and catching some of that stuff, because ultimately we're in the business of being as entertaining as possible. We're very aware of the audience reaction. I could be wrong, because I want to credit the writers for this one, but I believe the Fauxmanda reference — you know, the real Emily Thorne, before she assumes the mantle of Amanda Clarke — was one of those from the fans. I love that line. And I also love the one about the "homicidal stripper version of whack-a-mole." That's my personal favorite.

Let's say Nolan could exist on another show. Where would you like to find him? He could use a roommate.
Nolan's a lot of fun. You just wouldn't want to live with him. I mean, you could stay in the west wing, and get together for drinks in the evening, and then shut your door to him. So given a big mansion situation, absolutely, but a studio apartment and a futon? It would make for a good sitcom. I'm envisioning a modernized Odd Couple. That's a spinoff I'd like to see. What about Nolan on New Girl? He could wig it up. [Laughs.]

You could still be on the show via flashbacks. Apparently you shot some footage already showing his backstory with David Clarke?
Yep, with grungy long brown hair. That's the beauty of the show — we can always show flashbacks, even I'm not in my current incarnation of Nolan. Like that recent episode where we flashed back to 2002, and then flashed back even further — very Inception. We went three flashbacks back, which was kind of genius.

All you needed was a totem.
The whale cam is our totem. [Laughs.] That whale cam deserves a place in the credits, after the waves roll across the screen. It's hilarious that Nolan's bad haircut and the whale cam are the touchstones for the show.

Do you have a whale cam?
I do, in fact. And I gave one to Ellen DeGeneres, so all I'm saying is, don't get into any naughty business at her house or office. [Laughs.] Sorry if I've blown her cover, but it connects to her laptop.

You once did a recap of the show in character as Nolan. He said he was Team Jack. What are you?
Oh, I am so hashtag Team Jack! [Laughs.] Absolutely. I mean, I'm absolutely team Josh Bowman as a guy — we're best friends — but Jack has been through hell. Not to say Daniel hasn't, but that's my affiliation. Look, Team Daniel had a good run this season, so for curiosity's sake, let's see where Team Jack goes. By the way, when I read Vulture, I read it out loud in my Nolan voice. I will go on the record with that. Vulture is so fricking perfect for that.

Photo: Donato Sardella/WireImage