Rubicon's Michael Cristofer on the Stunning Finale and Hopes For a Second Season
If you don't know Michael Cristofer from Rubicon, you may be familiar with him as a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and occasional screenwriter (The Witches of Eastwick, The Bonfire of the Vanities). But if you do know Michael Cristofer from Rubicon, then he'll forever be Truxton Spangler -- the aloof, Corn Flakes-eating head of the American Policy Institute intelligence agency. Oh -- and also the guy who, in last week's episode, helped destroy the oil supply of the United States.
You should already know about the slow-building greatness of Rubicon, AMC's series about an intelligence team assigned to stop a terrorist attack. Unfortunately, last week, the team failed to stop an explosion of a Gulf rig that effectively ended the flow of oil into the U.S. for at least three months. Worst of all, API codebreaker Will (James Badge Dale) has discovered that his boss, Spangler, is behind the plot.
As we head into Sunday's finale, Movieline spoke to Cristofer about the origins and future of Truxton Spangler, the probability of a second season of Rubicon, and (yes, minor spoiler alert) what to expect in Sunday's finale.
About an hour ago Fed Ex showed up with the Rubicon finale, and it blew me away.
You've seen it? Then you know more than I do. [Laughs]
Well, let me tell you: This is 100 percent Truxton Spangler's episode. And he's not a very happy Truxton Spangler.
No, no. Well, it's a lot better than some of the earlier scripts. You know, this episode went through a lot of changes. We had, I think, four different scripts, and I shot four different versions of the last scene with Badge. So I'm not even sure which lines were in and which speeches were not, so I'm anxious to see it myself.
Well, Spangler, as always, has an air of invincibility to him.
There's always been an idea from the beginning that Truxton and those other guys -- like some of the neocons, like some of the Dick Cheney type guys -- although, objectively, they're doing pretty nefarious things, they think they're doing things for the good of the country. And it was something thematically that [executive producer] Henry [Bromell] and I spoke about that for a long time. But as it got close to resolving the plot, I felt that was being neglected, that idea. And it was all about greedy guys doing this to make money. So when we were doing the last scene, there were a couple of different versions of it.
Will there be a second season?
I haven't heard. I think they have to make a decision by the end of October. I believe that there's a deadline in terms of the show and Henry and everybody. So hopefully we'll hear soon.
What's your sense of the fan base? To me it seems like it's like a small but very loyal following.
Yeah, it's always hard to tell. Because when you're living in New York, what you get face-to-face with people is a lot of really, really intense fans and people who love the style of it. Some people complain about the slowness; some people really love the slowness. I think when Mad Men started it was a pretty small audience. So I don't know. I do feel when I try to read some of the stuff that's being said on some of the blogs, you do feel some people were annoyed with the show. But it feels to me people are really fond of what's been happening these last episodes.
And it's kind of reaches into the overall bigger problem with episodic television. When I look back on the first three or four episodes, I like them a lot more now than I did when I first watched them. The slow buildup is now appreciated. But when you first start, you can't say, "Stick with us, we promise there's a payoff." Or, if you make it non-stop action from day one, there's no payoff.
Exactly. If you remember the first episode of The Wire, it was OK. You could sort of take it or leave it. But if you weren't compelled by the detail and the characters, you probably wouldn't have stuck with it. Then when you find out, "Wow, look what I stayed with, this really was a monumental piece of work."
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