Speak of the Devil! No, seriously. Ray Wise brilliantly plays the Devil on the out-of-this-world CW comedy Reaper and I recently got to chat with him one-on-one which, you might imagine, was a little bit intimidating at first. I mean, he's a scary dude! But once we got talking it was clear that Ray Wise himself is just a nice, not-demonic man — though he does have a deep-rooted love of vampires (specifically Brahm Stoker's Dracula). Best of all, though, he's made up a word to describe the genre in which Reaper probably belongs: horramedy! That's horror + drama + comedy. I dig it.
It was a fun conversation with the guy who plays one of my favorite characters on TV right now. Check it out. . . .
Buzz: It seems like you have a lot of fun playing the Devil.
Ray Wise: Oh yeah, I have the most fun.
Buzz: Do you base your performance of the Devil on anything or anyone in particular?
Ray Wise: (chuckling) No. No, I'm very steeped in the mythology of the Devil, and I've seen all the great Devils in the movies. . . . There have been a number of great Devils, good ones, ones that I've enjoyed — and all different. . . . But mine, I think, is probably more different than any of them in that there’s a certain charm to my Devil . . . and also the sense of humor is increased in my Devil, and plus, you know, he's . . . resplendent he likes to wear nicely tailored suits and ties and he takes very good care of himself.
For more of my interview with Ray Wise,
Buzz: I've read that you're a fan of Brahm Stoker's Dracula.
Ray Wise: Oh yeah. Ever since I was a kid, you know, I have a first edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula, got it when I was about ten years old and I’ve read it, I don’t know how many times, quite a few times. And I've enjoyed some of the other Draculas over the ages, like Frank Langella’s and some of the others. But I’ve never really felt that they've . . . ever captured, truly, the real Dracula in that book and of course, being half-Romanian myself, I feel a kinship with the character, so it would be my dream to one day soon to play the ultimate Dracula and really do a great job on the book.
Buzz: Does the supernatural stuff on Reaper appeal to you in that sense?
Ray Wise: Yes, yes, all of it, it really appeals to me. . . . Some of these characters and some of the special effects are just incredible. And I enjoy feeling, just momentarily, that sense of power, that one would feel if they did have that ability, some of the abilities that the devil has. It feels very empowering as you’re doing it.
Buzz: Is it fun doing such a silly comedy after doing so many years of so much drama?
Ray Wise: Yeah, boy, yes, it is. And be able to make people laugh and to make myself laugh while I’m working, it’s a gift. It’s a great feeling and I’m really enjoying it. This whole comedy thing is a lot of fun!
Buzz: Yeah, I appreciate the silliness of Reaper so much because it’s refreshingly different from everything else on TV right now.
Ray Wise: It is, isn't it? I mean, it’s pretty much all by itself, I think. I call it a horramedy: It’s horror, drama and comedy, all wrapped into one. . . . And I don't think there are any other horramedies on television! And even in the movies there aren’t many horramedies so we’re pretty much exploring that genre all by ourselves.
Buzz: I’m enjoying this season so far as we see the deepening of the relationship between the Devil and Sam.
Ray Wise: Yeah, and you're going to see the Devil interacting with some of the other characters too, so it's not gonna be just the Devil and Sam anymore. And we're kind of getting a little bit away from that escaped-soul-of-the-week thing and like you said, getting into the personal relationships between the characters which is infinitely more interesting, I think.
Buzz: Personally, I think it's really fun to see the Devil thrown off every once in a while.
Ray Wise: Mm-hm. Or appear to be thrown off!
Buzz: Ah, that's right. Nobody can ever out-Devil the Devil, I guess.
Ray Wise: Yeah, he likes to think of himself as always being in control. And I think, pretty much, he is.
Photo courtesy of CW