'Ringer' star Kris Polaha talks escalating tensions, on-set secrecy
If you were surprised to see Kris Polaha, the endearing Baze from "Life Unexpected," as entitled philanderer Henry Butler on the premiere of The CW's "Ringer," you weren't alone.
"I dropped my kids off at school, and all the moms and dads tuned in on Tuesday night," Polaha tells Zap2it, then channeling his best shocked parent voice. "We haven't seen you in a role like this... You're kind of a bad guy."
But Henry isn't bad. Like most characters on "Ringer," there's a bit of mystery about him.
"Judgment aside, I think the joy of playing Henry was to go from a guy like Baze, who was a likable, bighearted character, to this other guy who's sort of morally ambiguous," says Polaha. "You don't really know where he's coming from."
Polaha has a bit more insight than everybody else. In the early stages of production, he sat down with co-creators Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder to get more on his character's background.
"There's a lot of conversation about him being sort of a John F. Kennedy Jr. type character," he says. "Everything he's ever tried, he's always done really well. He's the only that was born and bred in New York City. He married this girl Gemma (Tara Summers), whose father is super-rich, and it ended up not being in the happiest of marriages."
That unhappy marriage lays the groundwork for Henry's role in the freshman season. But judging by how quickly she seems to be catching onto his affair with Siobhan/Bridget (Sarah Michelle Gellar), things could come to head sooner than later.
At the very least, you can expect a big confrontation in the show's second episode, "She's Ruining Everything."
"We saw Sarah's character shoot a man in the chest," Polaha says of one of the premiere's many cliffhangers. "Something has to be done with that body. The episode surrounds around this party that takes place in the loft, and, all the while, there's this body... The fighting escalates between Henry and Gemma as she suspects more and more that he's having an affair, and she freaks out at the party. There's this slow build that's happening. You get a taste of who this guy is, but there's still room to wiggle."
The cast of "Ringer" seems to have a lot of freedom with how they play their characters, and Polaha explains that this has a lot to do with the little notice they're getting about what happens next.
"What's fun is that we don't even get the scripts for the next episode until like a day or two before we start shooting," Polaha says of the "Lost"-like secrecy. "At first I thought, how am I supposed to do my homework? Now I just roll with it."
"She's Ruining Everything" premieres tonight (Sept. 20), at 9:00 p.m. ET, on the CW.