Reaper on The CW is the story of Sam (Brett Harrison), a boy whose parents sold his soul to the devil (Ray Wise). Now Sam is 21 and the devil comes to take what is his. Sam is not going to die. What he is required to do is to perform tasks on behalf of the devil. In other words, he's now working for the devil. Sam will be collecting souls who have escaped from Satan and send them back to where they belong.
Sam, an underachiever his whole life, works at a store called The Work Bench. His brother is a straight-A student, but Sam has been content to slide through his life. Now he must face up to his new responsibilities or else there will be dire consequences. The devil means business, and Sam has no choice but to do as he's told.
His parents are guilt-ridden over what they have done, but there is no turning back. Once the devil has your soul, there is nothing you or anyone can do about it.
In the pilot the devil seems like a pretty good guy. All he wants is his escapees back. According to Executive Producer Michele Fazekas, "It doesn't serve the devil to be evil, to come at you with horns and a pitchfork. His purpose is to tempt, to cajole, to get you to do bad things. So if he's scaring you off, you're not going to listen to him. He is going to be solicitous. He's going to be your buddy to get you to do evil things."
And Executive Producer Deborah Spera says about casting Ray Wise in the role, "We looked high and low for the right devil, I have to say. And we had spent a lot of time looking at many actors and their portrayal of the devil. And Tom Spezialy (Exec. Producer) came in and said, 'You know what I was thinking about? What about Ray Wise?' And we were like, 'Oh, my God, perfect.' Ray walked in and smiled at us, and that was it."
When asked if there will be a good, or God-ly character to counteract the evil one, Fazekas explains, "It's interesting. We've talked about this a lot. I feel like on some level God is going to be a little too busy to get involved but I do feel like once in a while I would really like to introduce the good guys, like the archangel Michael, who is the kind of sword of God, and if you think of him ... just coming down and kicking butt and then leaving (that would be good). But I feel like we want to dole that out in small amounts."
Viewers might see a resemblance to the film Ghostbusters, and Fazekas, who has been involved in Sci-Fi in the past says other shows influenced her when creating this one. "I've seen that movie about 5,000 times," Fazekas admits. "But, actually, we kind of met as assistants at The X-Files. I was Frank Spotnitz's assistant for three years. And Tara worked for David Goyer, who did all of the Blade movies. On one day, she said, 'That would be kind of funny to do a show about a kid whose parents sold his soul to the devil.' And that was eight years ago. And we were luckily working all the time. But we had always had this in the back of our minds. And I saw Shaun of the Dead, and that kind of influenced me because we always knew we wanted to be comedians."
She continues, "But what I liked about Shaun of the Dead was these two ordinary guys who were too hungover to realize that the world's been taken over by zombies. And I started to think about these kinds of kids, who are in their twenties, who had gone to college, and who live in a nice suburb, a nice house, and have a nice car and have Xbox and have kind of all of the comforts of home. And if they are not really motivated to do anything, why would you leave to live in a crappy apartment downtown? So when we kind of married those two ideas together, it (was) like, 'Oh, that feels like a show to me.' And when we pitched it to Mark Gordon and Deb (Spera), they started laughing. They immediately got the tone of it, and they just started laughing so hard."
About having Sam employed at the Work Bench, Fazekas comments, "You know, it was a funny way how that turned out. We originally had talked about, 'Well, it's like an Office Depot.' We did want it to be one of those kinds of high school jobs that these kids are still working in. And we liked the idea of being able to have different things that they can use to fight evil. We were talking to one of our ABC Studios executives, and he said, 'Oh' -- and instead of saying Office Depot, he said Home Depot, and we're like, 'That's what it is.' So it kind of was fortuitous that somebody misquoted it, but it became the perfect location."
And Spera adds, "Everything you could ever want or need, you can find at the Home Depot. And they use that store to the best of their abilities."
When asked what he did to prepare for the role as the devil, Ray Wise simply says, "Oh, I guess 37 years of acting and about 400 movies that I've seen in the last 10 or 12 or 15 years, watching John Huston in The Devil and Daniel Webster, people like Peter Stormare in Constantine. I've seen devils like Peter Cook in Bedazzled, pretty much remembering every devil that's ever been done on the screen, big and small, then forgetting all about that and doing my devil, which is a combination of probably me and every other character I've ever played from Caligula Caesar, the mad emperor of Rome, to Leland Palmer, to a variety of villainous and terrible people.
"But I play a lot of good people, too, and so I can inject some of that into the devil, too. In fact, I ran into David Strathairn this morning on an airplane flight here. David and I did Good Night, And Good Luck together. And he said, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'Well, I'm playing the devil in Reaper, a new TV show.' And he said, ''You are playing the devil?' I said, 'Yes.' 'You mean the devil is a good guy?' He knows me only from Good Night, And Good Luck, really, you know. And he doesn't know a lot of the other things I've done in the past. So, to him, the devil would be a good guy, but he could also be perceived as a very bad guy. Personally, as the devil, I don't think he sees in terms of good or bad and black and white."
Reaper will air Tuesdays at 9 PM ET/PT on The CW.
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