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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  • Nick says:

    I'm assuming the oil supply line above the fold could be considered a spoiler for those of us that were waiting for Rubicon on DVD?

  • Biff Bronson says:

    At some point, people need to get over their spoiler touchiness. I understand if you can't watch each week, and even if you want to skip a season of a show and watch on DVD. But if you see the title of an article about a particular show references the finale of that show, maybe just play it safe and don't look at the article - even the opening paragraph. The rest of us are getting tired of having to tip toe around discussions of things we enjoy so that someone else might not get spoiled. The show can still be 100% enjoyed if you know that the conspiracy touches on oil going in. I had never read the Harry Potter books before this summer, and even though I knew going in that Snape kills Dumbledore, I still enjoyed the hell out of them. I might even say that added to the tension.

  • Scraps says:

    Great interview! Looking back, I did like the necktie speech.

  • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

    Wait, whaaaaat? Snape kills Dumbledore?
    Seriously though, thank you, Biff. Couldn't agree more about the spoilers. There is a common-sense prerequisite that comes along with reading about television in the modern age: The world will not wait for your TiVo or your DVDs. I don't understand how or why anyone waiting to watch an entire season of a series -- about a conspiracy -- would hasten to read an interview about that very season and series.
    For the record, and unequivocally: This site is about the conversation now, not the conversation later, and it always will be.

  • anna says:

    I hope this show gets renewed! I like it better than Mad Men this season, to be honest.

  • Dave says:

    Superb interview and article. Christofer was wonderful, and I am so hoping for a second series. AMC produce brilliant shows, perhaps the best around, and seem to have a sense of commitment to excellence. Bravo to everyone involved.

  • Jean Pennie says:

    Rubicon is such an excellent show - I hope it is renewed. I have thoroughly enjoyed it from the first minute. I really hope Truxton will remain; all of the characters in the show are fantastic and I don't want to lose any of them (poor Katherine). And I agree about the spoilers; why would someone who hasn't seen any of the show yet be reading an article about how it wrapped up??

  • Billy Gruff says:

    this guys a brilliant actor and I really hope if season two happens they somehow manage to keep his character..somehow.
    As much as I love Rubicon, the writing is just not up to par with Breaking Bad and Mad Men, it's slow pace has hurt and a scene in episode 12 kind of killed the show for me, in that scene Bloom gets on his boat destined for Galverston Bay and he's carrying a red case, he opens it so we dumbo tv watching couch potatoes know that there's a bomb inside ! like we wouldn't have guessed that, Mad Men and Breaking Bad have gone against the traditional "treat the viewers as dumbos" formula and it's payed off, someone overseeing Rubicon either won't give the writers a chance or the writers have been given too many chances, I say Vince and Matt from BB and MM need to lend out a helping hand to save what is nearly a great show.

  • susanbaz says:

    If any AMC execs read these comments...RENEW RUBICON! Mr. Christofer as Truxton will grow into the archetype villain on TV.
    Naturally, he will not deign to bow to the clover!
    Instead, he will run a corporation or other intel agency and make the other members of the Fisher Island group live in fear.
    I, for one, will never utter or hear the words "thank you" or "enter" the same way for a long time to come.
    Truxton/Christofer brought back a song from 1984 to mind. It's from Paul Simon's Graceland. The first track called "The Boy in the Bubble" and the lyrics, "I believe these are days of lasers in the jungle, lasers in the jungle somewhere. A staccato signal of constant information, a loose affilication of millionaires and billionaires...."
    I'm sure Dick Cheney would feel that Truxton is the brother or son he never had.
    KUDOS to the writers and actors.
    And now I must go before my cereal gets soggy.

  • JeanieQ says:

    I love Rubicon, and I'm not usually into this type of show. I only wish I have saved them all to my DVR so I could watch them all over again.

  • bill says:

    When my wife and I saw the first episode of Rubicon we both said it was slow and not too much going on; however, it had enough bursts of story to keep us looking. But I did say that Cristifor playing Truxton was playing this evil patriotic govt agent so convincingly Cheney like that he will win all sorts of awards. I didn't know who Christofer was before this show but I do now. Great acting!
    Some times the writing is frustrating enough to turn it off, but I get glued hoping the mysteries of the show will develop, and they do, but like cold molasses poured out of a bottle. Keep the show going!

  • David says:

    Hey.. this was my must watch show. I hope it comes back - because it does a great job with the human heart. I just loved it week to week

  • David says:

    great great show - bring it back - get new marketing people.

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