In the past two episodes of "Torchwood: Miracle Day," Rhys Williams has gone from stay-at-home dad to an unofficial Torchwood team member. That suits Kai Owen, who has played the worrying husband of alien fighter Gwen Cooper since the series began, just fine.
"Believe you me, Rhys comes back into it in big style," Owen said by phone from London last week. "He's very much involved. He's taking orders from Gwen and helping her save the world, you know?"
Owen says Rhys will never be a full member of Torchwood, the once secret organization currently trying to understand why suddenly no one on Earth can die. He'd rather there not even be a Torchwood, which is led by Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), but he's happy to help out "because hopefully then the situation will be over as soon as possible and Gwen (Eve Myles) can come back home to him safe and sound," Owen said.
Rhys will be back in the fight at 9 p.m. Aug. 12, when the latest episode, "The Middle Man," debuts on Starz.
Owen, who is in Britain again after filming "Miracle Day" in Los Angeles for five months earlier this year, is looking forward to coming back to the U.S. this weekend as part of Wizard World Chicago Comic Con in Rosemont. He'll sign autographs all weekend, and at 4 p.m. Friday, he'll team up with his former "Torchwood" co-star Gareth David-Lloyd for a fan Q&A (Room A at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road).
"Ask me any questions you need to know about 'Torchwood;' I will tell you everything--all the spoilers," he joked. "For a small beer I will tell you what happens in each episode. For a large whiskey and Coke I'll tell you what happens at the end."
I repeat, he was joking! But he did share one non-spoilery tidbit about this season: "From Episode 5 on, my God, it goes into a roller-coaster ride and climaxes in the most incredible way possible."
Read on for more of what the very personable Owen had to say about Chicago and "Torchwood."
Are you excited to come to Chicago?
I am. I'm really looking forward to it. I was there last November at an event called Chicago TARDIS ... and it was gorgeous. I had a great time. The people were fantastic; I had a good few beers with the Chicago folks and I can't wait to get back now ... I just finished doing "Torchwood" there for five months and I had a brilliant time. I'm looking forward to coming back.
What are you doing at the event?
I'm doing a panel with Gareth David-Lloyd. Feel free to come up and chat with me, give me a big hug and kisses and take photographs ... I'm really looking forward to having a great time. James Marsters is going to be there, and Gareth David-Lloyd, who is a very good friend, we're going to have a really great time...
Was it fun for you that Rhys was more involved with the Torchwood team?
Oh definitely. Rhys will never be a fully fledged team member, I guess. He will always be sort of this outside member who is kind of secretly on the books. He knows all the secrets of Torchwood and how they are confronted by the strange and the weird. But whenever Gwen asks if he can give her a hand he'll oblige because hopefully then the situation will be over as soon as possible and Gwen can come back home to him safe and sound. Rhys would rather there be no Torchwood, but he does give them a helping hand, especially this season.
How will he help out this season?
Miracle Day is worldwide; it's a global event. It deals with people who can't die, so that has a lot to do with heartstrings and family. There's a lot of heart and soul for Gwen back home in Wales, so we're going to see a lot of action taking place back in the UK, in Wales, from now on.
We have seen him help with Gwen's father.
Yeah, he'll help save her dad and other people. They've been taken away and he'll help find out where her dad is and what the hell is going on and who is doing all this. There are a lot of exciting twists and turns still to come and Rhys is right at the heart of it, and obviously right at the heart of it in Wales.
Do you continue to be surprised by what Russell T Davies and his writers come up with?
Of course. I thought "Children of Earth" was a work of genius and was a wonderful idea for the third season of "Torchwood." But then we didn't have a clue what could happen next. I didn't know. Then we heard the premise [of "Miracle Day"], basically that nobody dies, and I thought, "Oh God, that is just so Russell T Davies."
What if nobody dies? It's such a taboo subject as well. And to come up with the idea of a world where nobody dies. Can you imagine that? It's just incredible.
It's always surprising. And I'm right with the viewers eager to find out how these things will get resolved. Whenever we would get an episode [script] I'd flip through it straightaway to see how it ends.
And this season, from Episode 5 on, my God, it goes into a roller-coaster ride and climaxes in the most incredible way possible that only Russell T Davies could come up with. And obviously, the fantastic Jane Espenson, who is working the majority of this season with Russell.
If people are gripped now, they're going to be even more gripped [the rest of] the episodes.
I'm always amazed because Russell and Jane find these subplots or ideas dealing with no one dying that honestly, I did not even think about.
Oh yes, exactly! How does Russell's mind work? Where did that come from? I hope he wants to do another season, because obviously he has another story. But how does he come up with these stories? We all want to do another season ... But what will he do? What will he write? What will be the premise of it? It's so exciting...
Jane Espenson at San Diego Comic-Con talked about all the big ideas in the season, and a week later I see a story in the paper stating that within a very short time, the population of the world will be 7 billion people thanks to the use of drugs. And that there will be problems feeding, housing, taking care of so many people. So many parallels to this story.
Oh, as the season goes on you will see many parallels.
You and Eve had a life imitates art a little bit, with both of you recently having children like your characters do.
Yeah, Eve very much so, left her partner with the baby while she went off to film "Torchwood." Yes, they're great. She's my dear, dear friend. I adore Eve. Gwen and Rhys work because we make them work; we're very close and console each other. I just adore her. My wife came over to Los Angeles with my son and Eve's fiance came over with her lovely little daughter as well.
Did having your own son help inform what you had to do as a new dad on screen?
Without a doubt my friend, without a doubt. [Laughs.] When it comes to Rhys handling the baby I felt more comfortable because I have a 15-month-old son of my own. A couple years ago I would have been like, "Ohhh, ummm." [Laughs.] At least now I'm not carrying him like a football.
In an early episode everyone piled into Jack's jeep and sped around on the beach trying to escape the helicopter. Was that as much fun to film as it was to watch?
My Lord, it was. We were really there in the back of that jeep. There were a couple times when stunt drivers were in there, but when you see the close-ups of us and the chopper is literally ... away from us it was amazing. It was so much fun. But it was freezing cold on that beach, a beautiful beach in South Wales. But it was in February of this year and it was freezing, freezing. Poor Mekhi Phifer, who is used to the L.A. sunshine, freezing his nuts off in the back of that jeep. It was so cold.
But when you got John driving the jeep, you've got no time for complaints or anything, he keeps you all going, laughing and joking. I wish I could repeat some of the things he said, but I can't. [Laughs.] John-gasms basically is all I can say. John-gasms.
You did shoot in the U.S. too. Was that a different experience for you?
Oh it was amazing. Warner Brothers, it was like a dream come true. We were filming on a [sound]stage that was constructed in 1935, that "Casablanca" was shot on. It was where "Two and a Half Men" had been shot--obviously it was shut down at the time--and where "E.R." stage that was home to Mekhi for eight years. We saw the "Friends" stage; it was like a dream come true. We were still making "Torchwood," but we were filming in Hollywood. It was bizarre. It's like a big dream now. It was amazing.
Eve told me that it was almost like filming a brand new show.
It was very much like doing it for the first time. We had a bit of a break after "Children of Earth" and we all kind of hoped there would be another series. ... It all felt exciting--a new cast, a new story, a whole new adventure for us all. It pretty much felt like doing it for the first time. I think the break helped us recharge our batteries. We came back with a fresh approach to our characters. And the script was so amazing and so huge I wanted to up my game and just make it the best possible show ever.