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Interview with Victor Garber from Alias and Eli Stone

Victor Garber on Katie Holmes, George Michael, and Being a Spy Daddy

How fantastic is it that Eli Stone has brought Victor Garber back to our TV sets on a near-weekly basis? Garber's been a favorite of mine since his Daddy Warbucks days — though I loved him most as Sydney's dad on Alias — and his role on Eli combines the best of his Broadway background with another tough-as-nails personality. At the TCA press tour, I chatted with Garber for a bit about being back on TV, working with Katie Holmes, and acting alongside George Michael. Check out some highlights:

What inspired you to take the role on Eli Stone?
This came just after Justice was finished, and I wasn't intending to go back to television, but I really loved the script, and I love [Executive Producer] Greg Berlanti, who — I was told by at least three different people, 'You've got to work with him.' So I met with him, and I read the script and I thought, 'This is so great.' That's what inspires me to do anything, is what's on the page. So I was very happy to get involved. Then it turned out to be one of the best experiences I've had. I'm very lucky. I've had three [series] — Alias, and then Justice, which was short but I loved that, and then this. So I feel like I won the lotto, I really do.

Are there any sort of musical numbers that you're just aching to do? Do you ever go to the producers and say, please, let me do this?
I never ever think that, I honestly don't. I was stunned when they threw "Freedom" at me, and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" — stunned. I really didn't expect anything, and — my background is Broadway, pretty much, and I used to be a folk singer, so this was very very different for me, and I was very nervous, frankly. I'm just thrilled that they threw them at me and I was able to pull them off on some level.

Did you talk to Katie Holmes at all about going to Broadway?
No, we actually didn't. We talked about, oddly enough, Annie, because she said she's seen it 60 times because of her daughter. I just loved that that is a part of their life because it is so special to me.

To hear Garber's take on the twists and turns of Alias, just


JJ [Abrams] was here a few days ago, and he was talking about coming across an episode of Alias and saying that even he didn't understand what was going on in that episode. Can you relate to that?
Uh-huh. Jennifer [Garner] and I joke about that all the time. I texted her — I was in Morocco, shooting, and she said, "We were in Morocco all the time on Alias!" I said, "Were we?" Alias was such a challenge in terms of being able to follow it. We used to joke about it all the time, you know, [we'd be] delivering lines, and then I'd say, "I have no idea what I'm talking about right now. None." Fortunately, the fans could explain it all to me when they would run into me and say, "This is what this is about."

We heard your character is going to go in a bit of a different direction this season. Could you talk a little bit about that?
We saw a little bit at the end of last season about how he's obviously seen something in Eli that's awakened something in him. And that's such a wonderful thing to play. It's sort of a reminder of who he used to be, and I think that just continues in this season.

If you had your druthers, what musical guest would they land?
You know, I was so in awe of George Michael. I could not believe that they got him. When we read the pilot, I thought, "Oh, nice try, but you'll never get him." You know, it's like, this will never happen. And then, cut to, I'm acting with George Michael. It was fantastic. He was so willing and nervous and sweet. He didn't realize, you know, you have to sort of like stand in one spot? Like on my close-up, he'd be covering the camera. But he was so sweet. It was a great thrill to work with him.


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