Victor Garber in NBC’s Deception, Full of Subtext in His Role

Photo courtesy of NBC

The cast of NBC’s “Deception,” (from left) Victor Garber, Meagan Good,
Katherine LaNasa, Ella Rae Peck, Tate Donovan, and Laz Alonso.

Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of great Canadians in Hollywood? And one of my favorites is veteran actor Victor Garber. He currently stars in NBC’s new series Deception on Monday nights.

Garber told me he got his start as a singer in Toronto. Then he was “blessed” by a great role at the start of his outstanding career. He played Jesus in the 1972 production of Godspell, in the Toronto company. “From that,” Garber recalls, “I was cast in the 1973 movie, so I went to New York, and I’ve been there ever since, doing a lot of stage work.”

In more recent years, Garber reports, “I go to Los Angeles to do television work and films, and I go back to Canada to work on a lot of television, so I’m still very much connected to my Canadian roots. There’s a lot of Canadian pride.” That showed through in playing the heroic Canadian ambassador in the Oscar-nominated movie Argo.

His most recent TV role on Deception has him playing Robert Bowers, the patriarch of the Bowers family and CEO of a pharmaceutical company that also figures into the intriguing deception at the center of the drama. It also stars Meagan Good, as an undercover cop who investigates the death of the family’s eldest daughter, plus Tate Donovan, Laz Alonso, Katherine LaNasa, Ella Rae Peck, Wes Brown, and Marin Hinkle. Rounding out the cast is John Larroquette as larger-than-life Senator Haverstock, Robert Bowers’ former best friend.

Garber says what attracted him to the show was the fact that “no one is who they seem to be. Also, what I really appreciated was the dynamics, the nuances of the characters. They were so fully drawn. They were so dimensional that it allowed you to be able to play all these different things. And I think even though it is exaggerated to some extent, because it’s a drama for television, it’s very truthful. You can actually believe that this could happen and that these people are real, and I think that’s a tribute to Liz (Heldens) and her writers.” Liz Heldens is the executive producer/writer for the Universal Television production.

He also praises the rest of the cast, “because what’s more interesting than not knowing, thinking you know, and then finding out you’re wrong? That, to me, is the essence of drama. And I think that’s what this show offers an audience, and I think it will be a delight for people to sit and watch this week after week. I say this because I happened to watch the first three episodes yesterday, which I never do. But I thought as I’m talking about it, I better actually be able to know what I’m talking about. It’s very different filming than actually seeing something put together, and I was amazed at how completely captivated I was by it. And I attribute that to the writing and to this extraordinary cast of people. I really am honored to be a part of this.”

Sometimes we enjoy watching actors because they just start showing layers to their characters that go beyond the words they speak. Garber is one of those performers who seems to show the wheels spinning behind his eyes when he’s in a scene. It’s fascinating to watch artists of that caliber, and Garber says that’s what it’s all about for him.

“To me acting was always about revealing what’s going on beneath, and there’s always a subtext in every scene. There’s always something else, when you say something but you mean something else entirely. The great thing about Deception is the title is so apt. Nothing is as it seems,” he explains.

“When I read the script, I thought I understand this because I lie all the time,” the actor grins. “Not really, but I just loved the idea of being somebody who has so much going on. We all know people like this, who have to compartmentalize, and this guy Robert Bowers is that guy to a ‘T.’ And for some reason, it just comes so naturally to me, and I’ve always thought that’s what acting was. Because ultimately at the bottom there has to be truth, and usually people are doing something and thinking something else. That’s just the way I do it, frankly. I just keep going and hope that the people keep watching.”

With performers like Garber, I’m sure they will.

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