Barry Sloane is more likely to call himself a scouser than a Liverpudlian, though both are accurate -- being the lowbrow and highbrow terms for a bloke who hails from Liverpool. Most Americans know him merely as Aiden, Emily Van Camp's hunky mystery man on ABC's "Revenge."
Now Sloane is taking the helm of his own series, "The Whispers," a suspenseful sci-fi drama that boasts Steven Spielberg as an executive producer and premieres June 1 on ABC. Based on a Ray Bradbury short story, the show follows Defense Department operative Wes Lawrence (Sloane) and FBI agent Claire Bennigan ("American Horror Story's" Lily Rabe) as they investigate a disturbing mystery -- children who seem to be manipulated by an "imaginary friend" whose motives are unclear . . . but deadly.
A vet of British soaps, Sloane, 34, played a thug in the raucous play "Jerusalem," starring Mark Rylance, which got raves in London and hit Broadway in 2011. Soon after, Hollywood called. He now lives in Santa Monica with his wife and daughter, and recently spoke by phone to Newsday contributor Joseph V. Amodio.
First "Revenge," now "The Whispers" -- ABC must like you.
ABC's been a nice home for me. And when I knew Lily Rabe would be involved in this . . . I had to do it. Also, reading the script . . . I got chills. It's an unusual idea -- a bit like "The X-Files."
All these random children, who start having the same imaginary friend -- creepy.
For me the key issue wasn't really the sci-fi stuff but the impact that parents can have on a child, especially when the household is a bit broken. If you leave that door open, because you're focusing too much on adult issues in the house, then you're susceptible to an outside influence getting into your child's head. Television, the Internet, a mysterious entity . . . whatever. Keeping your house in check -- that's a good message people need to hear.
That must really resonate for you now that you're a dad.
Completely. I understand the playfulness of children now. My daughter goes off and has this incredible imagination, and if she came back and told me she was speaking with this secret friend, I'd say, "That's great, love," and forget about it -- they do that all the time.
The perfect villain is one parents aren't paying attention to.
Right. It's funny -- when your child is born, it's like being struck by lightning -- this primal part of the brain gets activated. Now I'm, like, in protection mode. Having a child kind of simplified things, at least for me. I was able to categorize other things in life much more easily.
How old is your daughter?
Gracie's 5. Next year she goes to kindergarten -- that's a major moment for me and her mother. We're excited for her -- we're in Santa Monica, and it's a lovely place. A million miles away from where I grew up.
That's quite a jump -- Liverpool to Los Angeles.
It is. [He chuckles.] I was in Liverpool, then London, then New York, then L.A. So I sort of eased into the U.S. and the West Coast.
How do you keep up with your Liverpool team when you're in L.A.?
With an alarm clock.
I hear you're a big soccer fan. Or . . . football, as the world calls it.
Huge football fan, yeah. Couldn't be further away from their time zone. But I love it. I'll get up at 4:45 or 6 a.m. to watch. It's been a tough season this year. We didn't achieve what we wanted to. But I have every faith in the manager and think we'll come back next season.
You really get up that early for a game?
Every week. I could record it and watch it later but . . . I like to watch it with everybody else. I don't want to be behind in the knowledge. I've been known on occasion to go to a pub in Santa Monica, for a 7 a.m. kickoff. The King's Head -- it's awesome. I'm kind of a regular.
The only thing I really know of Liverpool is the Beatles. What was it like growing up there?
It's a very blue-collar town -- once an affluent port town, before I was born, unfortunately. Strong people. A deep Irish heritage. I come from a great family, close-knit. Some people there perhaps don't have as much as others . . . but they've always got a smile on their face. I'm very proud to be from Liverpool, I'd love to nip over and shoot a TV show there.
Talk to your writers -- maybe this mysterious entity can start affecting kids over there . . .Yes -- they drop me in the port. I'd have to be undercover, so I can use my accent. They'll be like, "Hey, look at him, just blending."