In the first two episodes of CBS’ body-count-elevating “Harper’s Island,” Victor Webster’s Hunter Jennings didn’t necessarily look like the show’s main killer, but he seemed to be capable of violence.
Described in CBS’ promotions as The Other Man, Hunter had a tumultuous romantic past with Katie Cassidy’s Trish, the bride at a wedding which still might occur if any of the guests survive long enough to see the processional. Although Hunter was manipulative and threatening, he was also doing the bidding of Richard Burgi’s Father of the Bride, attempting to keep Trish from marrying inappropriate townie Henry (Christopher Gorham).
Now, Hunter is dead, presumably the latest casualty in the new rash of serial killings sweeping the island, which hardly seems fair, since Hunter was planning on leaving the island anyway, a sizable check in tow.
Although he was the victim of a rigged up shotgun blast on Thursday (April 23) night, Webster, familiar to viewers from “Mutant X” and a slew of TV guest spots, still found time to chat with HitFix about his untimely demise and his own guess at who killed him.
HitFix: So how did you watch your episode?
Victor Webster: I watched it later it night. I went to a birthday party and I had it TiVoed for when I came home and I checked it out late-night.
HitFix: Nobody at the party knew what an important night it was for you?
VW: Nobody knew, but everybody was asking what was going on. I got lots of text messages when everybody went home and watched it, between last night and this morning.
HitFix: What was it like watching yourself get killed on screen?
VW: It was great. I loved the way it happened. Watching the show, I got sucked into the show itself and seeing myself on the boat, I’m like, “Something’s gonna happen!” But then I’m like, “Oh course something’s gonna happen. I already shot it. I know what’s gonna happen.” But I kinda lost myself in the show, so when it actually did happen, it was so shocking and sudden. I kinda liked that. There was no beating around the bush, all of a sudden “Boom!” done.
HitFix: Was there a gorier version of your demise that we didn’t get to see?
VW: With mine, a lot of it happened in post. They had to put the visual effects in, because you couldn’t actually shoot me in the face, even though I was all for it. I’m sure sure there’s a DVD version and in the DVD version they may have it a little bit more extreme, which I think they’re going to be doing with a lot of the deaths.
HitFix: So Hunter wasn’t exactly a very nice guy and the show didn’t make much effort to soften him, did it?
VW: Not at all. I think that was the point of it. What would have been a little bit interesting would be to see [Trish] falter a little bit. I don’t think she ever really was falling for Hunter game or vacillating back and forth between the groom and Hunter. I think it was nice that he was completely unapologetic about what he was doing. He was coming there to get her back and to make some money at the same time. He’s a very straight-forward guy and I kind of appreciated that about him.
HitFix: How much did you think his motive’s involved getting her back and how much was purely financial?
VW: I think was both. I think that she was the one that got away, that in college when they dated he took her for granted and thought that she would never go anywhere. He’s kind of arrogant like that. Then, when she did decide to leave, he’s like ‘Awww… I really screwed that one up.” But I think he’s so focused on making money and business that when things started to go a little South for him, he saw this as an opportunity to get the one that got away back and get some money back in his pocket.
HitFix: Is it fun playing a character without any real moral code?
VW: It is, because I’m not used to playing that kind of character. He’s motivated by… Hunter wants whatever Hunter wants. There’s no thinking about anybody else. He does exactly what he wants to do whenever he wants to do it. That’s great, because usually the guys I play are the good guys and they’re concerned with everybody else, so this was a nice departure from my normal characters.
HitFix: We knew Hunter was aggressive and dangerous. Did you find yourself playing him as the possible killer?
VW: I never played him as a potential killer, but obviously we didn’t know. We were either gonna get a script and it was going to say that we died, or we were going to get a script and it would say that we were killing people. We didn’t know. I was playing him basically as a man who would do anything to get what he wants, so if it was revealed eventually that he was the killer, that would just be another avenue for him to get what he wanted.
HitFix: What drew you to the show in the first place?
VW: I liked that it was new. Nothing like this had been done on television before, so it was something that was almost like an experiment to see how it was going to go over. It seems to be incredibly successful and I’m very happy for everybody involved. Also, the idea of playing a darker character, somebody without scruples, a more devious type character was a departure from everything else that I’ve played. To try to play Hunter with the edge that he needed, but not so everybody completely hated him, it was still nice to have people still like the character a little bit.
HitFix: You’ve done both regular and guest TV spots. What’s it like signing on for a show without an exact sense of its duration?
VW: It’s exciting. I like surprises. It’s nice, because you don’t start playing the ending of your character, the ending of the show, prematurely. A lot of times when you know what’s going to happen ahead of time, you start to play that. In real life, you’re in the moment. We’re now. That’s all you can think about. Basically, in the show it’s the same way. We could only think about exactly what was happening on the show in the moment and we couldn’t foreshadow anything.
HitFix: What does that uncertainty do to a cast, where the actors don’t know how long they’re going to be around for?
VW: Everybody’s a little bit on edge. It makes everybody a little curious. When we’d all go out to eat or for drinks, if there were any of the producers around, they’d get beaten up with questions, like “Who is it?” “Am I going?” “How am I going?” “Who’s next?” It became really exciting, more of a game.
HitFix: With “Mutant X” and some of your other credits, you would have been one of the more recognizable faces for some viewers. Did you think that might help your longevity?
VW: When I came on the show, I knew I wasn’t going to be on for the full run. I didn’t know how many episodes I was going to be on, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be there for the whole time. So I knew it was inevitable for me, just to enjoy it while I was there. So no. It didn’t seem to help me this time.
HitFix: And how did they actually break it to you?
VW: We were shooting on set and the script had come out and I was given the script and somebody basically said, “Sorry, buddy.” That was about it. Then I read the script and I was like, “Oh. There he goes. Out with bang.”
HitFix: By the time you went out, were there any rituals for how the cast treated the people who were leaving?
VW: It was one of those things like back at the end of summer camp where somebody’s gonna go home. It’s just that, “Ah, buddy. Sorry. I had so much fun. We had a great time.” It was one of those kinds of thing. There wasn’t any kind of funeral service or a good-bye party or anything like that.
HitFix: So how much do you know going forward?
VW: I don’t know anything. It’s all a mystery for me.
HitFix: Any theories, then?
VW: I’m pretty sure I know who it is. Gigi. The little white dog is out there scheming and plotting to kill everybody.
HitFix: The lack of opposable thumbs isn’t causing any problems?
VW: No, no. She’s out there recruiting other furry creatures. I’m sure there are some spider-monkeys swinging around in the trees who can help her out with that.
HitFix: Any real theories? This is your chance to look like a genius in a couple weeks…
VW: Who would I think? I’ve got a couple different theories. The thing about the show is that every time I think I know what’s going on, something changes and my opinion changes. Every week I have a new person. Hmmm… I like the idea of Shane (Ben Cotton)?
HitFix: And since “Harper’s Island” is a show with dreams and flashbacks and hallucinations, have we seen the last of Hunter?
VW: There might be a possibility. I’m sworn to secrecy either way…
“Harper’s Island” airs on CBS on Thursday nights at 10 p.m.