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Interview: Dermot Mulroney gets his bad guy on for 'Crisis' -- or does he?

Dermot Mulroney as Francis Gibson in "Crisis."
Dermot Mulroney as Francis Gibson in "Crisis."
NBC/Vivian Zink

NBC got it right when it added "Crisis" to its schedule. The subject matter is one that is bone chilling for any parent: You send your child off on a school field trip and instead of getting them back safe and sound, they are kidnapped and held hostage.

The price for their safe return isn't necessary money. Rather, the kidnapped students are the sons and daughters of Washington, D.C.'s elite power players, including the son of the president of the United States, so the ransom is a task that the parents of the kidnapped students are asked to perform that takes the kidnappers closer to their end game.

In a conference call to promote the series premiere, Dermot Mulroney, who is definitely looking like one of the bad guys, spoke to about the twists and turns of the story, how he sees his character Francis Gibson as a good guy, and more.

We think of you as a leading man, in fact a romantic leading man, but that's not what this role is and when we first see you it looks as if you are among the taken. But then it turns out that you may not be who you first appear to be, can you talk about the hidden elements of your character?

There are more hidden elements of the character of Gibson then the current view has any idea about. There's an incredible plot twist, several of them in fact in this opening episode. But what you need to know is that this keeps happening week after week, it's what makes this show so fun as it evolved in its story I just kept being so pleased by the twists and turn of the plot. So what I say is there's more to come if you like that.

As a real-life father how do you relate to these characters because this is like their worst nightmare come true when their kids are kidnapped? And do you think the lengths these people go through is realistic at all?

I love the world that Far [Shariat] and Rand [Ravich] created for "Crisis." It is about one DNA strand off of reality, so come with us and you won't hardly notice. That's what I say about whether it's believable, [it] is in the world that we've created. I can't personally imagine where I would draw the line if I were coerced or forced to do something to protect my child, so I can't imagine what I wouldn't do. I think [that is] one of the parts of the character that I can most relate to on a personal level.

Your character is a part of the kidnapping, but his own daughter is involved. Can you talk about how we're going to see that affect him? Are we going to see him torn?

Yes, the story gets really crazy but what stays the same is how much he loves his daughter and how important it is for him to repair his relationship with her and put his family back together. His intentions are good. You will see that his methods are questionable at times but then you'll learn how effective it is. And so the story makes you really question motives versus results. It's very smart in that way. Another thing I love about it is there is a lot of story coming at you really fast but I'm more surprised at how clear it is. In other words, the show is complex but it's not confusing.

You've talked the fact that there's a lot of twists and turns in the story. Did you get to know a lot of that ahead of time, or are you kind of learning it as the story unfolds? How does that affect you playing the part?

Yes, it is true that I had very little knowledge of what was coming. We'd get the scripts about four or five days in advance. We did the whole season as planned – 13 episodes, so now I know everything and it's awesome. There's some really good semi side-by twists in our story, too, that I think people are going to love. It comes unexpected and it's not alien mother ships or anything but there's some touches. It 's really enjoyable in terms of those types of stories.

Is there a clear-cut answer on whether your character is good or bad? And if there is an answer do you have it and do you have a preference as to whether he's good or bad?

No. I have no preference. I prefer that people wonder. But, yes, I do know for myself and quite clearly is that he is good. There's not another choice as the person hired to portray this person than that, but people will wonder that for themselves. Again, maybe I said something to that effect before, but his intentions are good.

What do you admire most about Gibson?

There are two things: his heart and his mind. I very much admire the reasons that he goes to the lengths that he does and makes the decisions he does, which is an intense and profound love for his daughter and his family. But the thing that most impresses me about Gibson is how truly genius he is. It's fun to play a character that is vastly more intelligent than I am, to be frank. It made me feel really smart.

What is the most challenging aspect of playing him?

I found it difficult sometimes to contain my evil glee as stuff takes place later on. I'll be honest with you, it's really fun to play that character. My challenge was to play it in a contained and controlled way.

"Crisis" also stars Gillian Anderson, Lance Gross, Rachael Taylor, James Lafferty, Max Martini, Halston Sage, Stevie Lynn Jones, Max Schneider, Michael Beach and Joshua Erenberg.

"Crisis" airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

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