Newcomer Mat Vairo's first reaction to landing the part of Sebastian Monroe's long-hidden son Connor on NBC's "Revolution" was ecstatic. Then, the Huntington Beach, California, native had a minor panic attack, realizing that he'd have to learn Spanish, how to swing a sword, and how to shoot a gun. He also admitted to Yahoo TV that he was "petrified to be the new guy" on set in a phone interview last Friday. He gave us a hint about where Connor is headed (attention, shippers: We have a possible new TV romance!) when "Revolution" returns Wednesday with "Captain Trips."
How did the job come about?
I just auditioned like any other guy, and truly it was one of the easier audition experiences I've ever had. I only had to go in one time. It was surprising to get it because I had just gone through a whole string of jumping through flaming hoops and rejection. It was a nice change of pace for sure.
The "Revolution" group has been together for quite some time now and has formed a tight unit. What was your experience being the new guy? Were you pranked?
No hazing. But I was absolutely terrified and petrified to be the new guy. I didn't get a wink of sleep the night before I started. But it couldn't have been more seamless. Everyone was kind and generous and made me feel welcome in a very genuine way, and it made it easy to be new. I know that's a boring answer, but their kind welcome really galvanized me into feeling comfortable to work right off the bat.
How much prep time did you get to prepare? Did you meet your new TV dad in advance?
I found out I got it a few weeks before, which is like a year in TV guest star time, but I didn't get the script until a few days before I was going to film. I didn't meet Dave [Lyons] until the day I got there, right before we were going to go on, in the makeup trailer. I think it served the story at that point. I wasn't supposed to know him in any context, so it worked to be strangers. It helped the dynamic.
You come across as very similar, especially in reactions and mannerisms.
Genetics could play a part, but Connor grew up in a similar violent environment as Monroe, feeling abandoned, and that spurred on the countenance. We only planned a few little things here and there to emphasize that they were father and son, but the feeling of it all was mostly ideas David and I were bringing to the table separately. It just happened to match up in one of those magic moments.
How is Lyons as a fake dad?
Quite young. I don't think it's physically possible he could actually be my dad in real life. He's great. I really trust my heart with Dave. He's been there off set for me as well. We work together on how we're going to handle scenes, but he's also become a great friend away from work. He's a great guy.
Do you speak Spanish?
Oh no, I was faking it 100 percent. We had a dialect coach and Joaquim [de Almeida], who played Nunez, was extremely generous with his time. He ran the scenes with me probably 20 times every day so that we could find a rhythm, sound conversational and natural, and so that I actually sounded like someone who'd been speaking Spanish for years.
The part also requires a lot of stunt work and fighting. Do you have any previous training that came in handy?
I have zero background in sword fighting or hand-to-hand combat. I don't think I've ever even punched somebody in real life. So the stunt coordinator, Jeff Wolf, really had to whip me into shape, and let me tell you it is a big job. I think I probably looked pretty uncoordinated when we first started. But all the stunt guys eventually took me under their wing and taught me how to dance with them without looking like a complete idiot.
Are you more prepared now to throw a punch should you meet anyone in a dark alley?
I guess there's only one way to find out.
Give a tease on where your character is going.
The conflict in him about his daddy issues just keeps rising and rising. His whole world changed after one conversation, and now it seems he's stuck with Monroe. Monroe and Connor's relationship has a trajectory; there's a beginning of a bridge in their gap of trust, but there are a lot of twists and turns along the way.
Is he destined to fall in love with Charlie?
Connor does come across some of the other main characters along the way, but I won't give away any more than that.
Do you think he is a good guy or a bad one?
A good guy underneath. But what I don't know is which side of his self will get the better of him. I feel like everyone is innately good, but we put on layers, sometimes negative ones depending on our life experience, to protect ourselves. Connor has so many traumas in his past that it will be a matter of whether he can overcome them or if the ruthless side will win out and get the better of him.
Maybe he just needs the love of a good woman.
I think it's safe to say Connor is always open to women.
What would you miss should you wake up one morning to a zero-electricity world?
The first thing that popped in my head was music. But if I think a little longer, it would be all those things that we depend on electricity for to stay connected with people we care about like phones, cars, email. It's terrifying how dependent we are. But at the same time, I think I would sort of welcome living in a world that was simpler and has fewer distractions. Without the chaos and war that we have on "Revolution," it could be pleasant. It might help us to connect more with people in a meaningful way. We'd all have to learn Morse code. But I definitely don't need the anarchists and the typhus.
Watch a preview:
"Revolution" airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on NBC.