Brought in this year as a mid-season replacement on ABC, Red Widow follows the tumultuous life of Marta Walraven (Radha Mitchell). When her crime entrenched husband is executed in her driveway, she has to fulfill his obligations. First on that list is a debt to Nicolae Schiller, crime lord and enemy of her russian gangster family. Then there are the authorities, who know that when one big shot dies, another comes along to take their place.
In the part of Nicolae Schiller, Goran Visnjic is both cutthroat and contemplative. As an actor, his résumé boasts a varied repertoire of Shakespearean Theatre, dramatic series, and motion picture blockbusters. I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Visnjic this past Thursday (via webcam), as he discussed his background and current projects.
When my turn came to question him, he was both eloquent and thorough. I stated that he, as an actor, came across as visibly thinking on camera. I noted that there was a very controlled manner with Schiller. The audience can see that he’s plotting and planning, we just can’t tell to what end. I drew a contrast to the character of Luka on E.R., where every thought and emotion played out visibly from moment to moment. I asked if he did this consciously or unconsciously. His response was that when he was at the Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts, he was taught to seek the roles that were furthest from himself. He stated that Schiller is very closed off and keeps things tightly reigned in. So in that regard it was a very conscious decision to keep him masked. He went on to state that as someone who doesn’t show his hand, Marta will be better off if Schiller keeps her at a distance.
In addition to my question, he also discussed a number of other topics. The first of which is that the shows’ creator, Melissa Rosenberg, likes to pull from the lives of the cast. Many of Visnijic's hobbies and mannerisms have found their way into the script. He also discussed the differences between a live audience and shooting on a closed set, and even regaled us with an anecdote about what happens when things go wrong.
For now, we all await the decision of ABC on whether the show will be picked up for another season. But until that time, one thing is certain. We will enjoy both Schiller and Marta as they play this dangerous game of mortal chess Sundays at 10/9c.
You can view the interview in its entirety here.