Whether he likes it or not, Billy Burke is currently best known as Bella's protective dad Charlie Swan in the "Twilight" movies. But this fall, he's losing the mustache and picking up a sword to star in NBC's high-concept thrill ride, "Revolution."
The ambitious new drama from super-producer J.J. Abrams imagines a world 15 years after all electricity has stopped working; Burke plays Miles Matheson, a former Marine who reluctantly agrees to help rescue his nephew from a sinister militia. But the militia won't let the boy go without a fight… hence, the sword. In the premiere's climactic fight scene (which you can watch above), Miles makes his way down a marble staircase while chopping down more than a dozen baddies with his trusty blade. (Good luck topping that, Edward.) We talked with Burke and stunt coordinator Jeff Wolfe to get the inside scoop on how the key scene came together.
Surprisingly, as far as combat training goes, Burke admits he had "almost none" before filming the scene: "The first time I saw the choreography for the big fight was the day before we shot it." But Wolfe (who's coordinated stunts for "CSI: Miami" and "House") worked with director Jon Favreau to make it all look seamless. Burke also gives credit where credit is due: "I gotta give props to my kick-ass stunt double, Eddie Davenport, who makes sure I don't look like a total spaz."
The biggest challenge, according to Wolfe, was "using the space to make it look believable that a lone swordsman could take out 18 guys… I tried to use the stairs to funnel the fight into Billy so he tactically only had to deal with four at a time." Oh, and those swords the actors used weren't exactly harmless, either; Wolfe says they're made with unsharpened aircraft-grade aluminum: "Believe me, getting hit or poked with one will leave a mark!"
Meanwhile, Burke jumped at the chance to live out some boyhood fantasies filming the scene. "It was f---ing so much fun," he says. "I was like a kid with a stick in the woods pretending to waste all the imaginary bad guys." And he sure doesn't mind playing the hero for once. "If you go back into my catalog of film and TV work, 'Twilight' movies notwithstanding, you'll discover that I spent my fair share of time getting my ass kicked and worse. So yeah, I'm not gonna lie... it's nice to come out on top once in a while."
So what we can we expect in the weeks to come from "Revolution"? Burke says the murky origins of Miles' swordsman skills will eventually come to light: "The show does not explain everything immediately, as you might imagine. So we're all gonna have to accept Miles' skills as a given for now. All in due time, my friends." And Wolfe promises plenty more stunts in future episodes, including "explosions, people on fire, boxing, car crashes, falls, horse chasing, wagon stealing... and, of course, a lot of sword fighting." Sounds like Burke will be back in the woods wasting imaginary bad guys all season long.
Watch Billy Burke talk about his new "Revolution" role right here:
"Revolution" premieres Monday, 9/17 at 10 PM on NBC.