‘Penny Dreadful’s’ Reeve Carney on Dorian and Angelique and Pushing Boundaries

Reeve Carney and Jonny Beauchamp in 'Penny Dreadful.' (Showtime)

Will Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) finally heal his broken heart with a new romance on Penny Dreadful?

That seems to be the looks of it since the ageless man met Angelique (Jonny Beauchamp) in episode 202 and became enamored with the transgender man. This Sunday’s episode continues their romance and, among other things, includes ping pong!

We know that Dorian is omnisexual since we’ve seen him with men and women over the course of the Showtime series, but even Carney marveled at what makes his character so compelled by Angelique when we talked yesterday about the second season and Dorian’s journey. And, of course, we also touched upon the still buzz-worthy buss between Carney and co-star Josh Hartnett last season.

Watching the show, Dorian is kind off on his own journey this season. How is that for you?

Reeve Carney: I think generally speaking the show deals with the nature of being an outsider, which I think is what lends itself to feeling of inclusiveness among the audience members. In that way, I don’t think it’s particularly odd but it drives that concept home a little bit more. But obviously Dorian meets Angelique in episode two and I think what could initially come across as a temporary distraction from Vanessa, it could become something much more. I think in Angelique, Dorian finds a partner with him to defy convention and nothing excites Dorian more than that. So it’s an interesting start to the season.

Do you think Dorian is going to protect his heart because of the heartbreak with Vanessa? Is what develops with Angelique a surprise to him?

RC: I do think it comes as a surprise initially but to me, Dorian, if he had a mantra, it would be ‘freedom.’ He’s constantly pushing against the boundaries of the farthest extent of what people thought at the time was freedom because he exists outside of time. I think he’s drawn to Angelique because of her boldness and, as you can tell from Dorian’s behavior in season one, I think in Angelique he sees someone who exists truthfully outside of the norms of society or their expectations. I think it’s much more exciting than hearing some arbitrary concept of ‘normality.’ I guess it’s truly open ended in some ways. It’s exactly the type of thing that tends to pull Dorian right in. It certainly looks to me that it could be like something where he’s met an equal. In a way, he had an equal in Vanessa and she’s uniquely powerful but I love this storyline.

For my own curiosity, do you think Dorian knew right away that Angelique wasn't really a she? Or does he figure it out when the audience finds out?

RC: I think he figures it out midway through the [first] conversation. That’s how I played it. It’s definitely subtle but I think he realizes, ‘oh, okay! There’s something different here.’ But by the time she asks if he knows what he bought, he’s pretty certain about what he’s bought.

Where does it come from within Dorian to not care what people think? Even in this week's episode, people look at him walking with Angelique and he just doesn't care.

RC: Yeah, I hadn’t thought of this until you asked me, Dorian looks young compared to how long he’s been on this Earth but if you think about…I have friends who are in their 80s and 90s and you just tend to stop caring what people think over the years. I think, in a way, that’s the simple answer…it’s also the excitement of the forbidden and he’s a very open minded guy so I think maybe there’s a sense of pride to that and excitement to watching other people not be as progressive.

A chance meeting at a cafe could change Dorian Gray's life. (Showtime)

A lot of the dialogue with Dorian and Angelique reflects back on our lives today and, knowing John Logan is writing this, clearly connects to the LGBT community.

RC: Right! I was reading this article last night on Wayne Shorter, one of my favorite jazz musicians. He was saying something like ‘jazz being a place where you tell the truth but it can be a lie.’ I guess it’s like with Angelique who is choosing to present herself  in a way that is not commonly…the idea of existing truthfully outside of the expectation because it’s like being who we want to be and not who we are. Whatever that even means. It could mean a lot of things and I don’t want to put words in John’s mouth but that line does makes me think, as well.

Tell me about shooting in that ping-pong parlor!

RC: That was so fun! We had to film it a bunch of different ways…it was a lot of fun. We had to practice for a while. We had ping-pong rehearsals twice a week and we eventually had to get really good.

Who was better? You or Jonny?

RC: We were pretty equal, I guess, but in the scene he had to be better.

How has it been working with Jonny and seeing what he’s done with playing Angelique?

RC: Oh, it’s great! We spent a lot of time together on and off the set and he’s got a really bright personality that brings a lot of energy to anything he’s involved with. It’s nice to have a friend like that when you’re out in Dublin on your own. We were in a lot of the same scenes together but with this cast, as much as we all love each other, my days off are not the same as everyone’s else’s days off so you sometime have a lot of time alone which I think helps put you into the general tone of the show before you even get to the set. There’s some loneliness and isolation, which can be helpful with this show.

I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop so can you tease what we might be seeing moving forward with Dorian and Angelique?

RC: I just think that it’s certainly exciting having this relationship. Dorian lives in the moment and doesn’t tend to overthink. Things can last as they may and obviously Vanessa had a major impact on him in terms of rejecting him and all that…we’ll have to see where it goes.

At this point, it doesn’t even have a supernatural element.

RC: Yeah, and that was his primary connection with Vanessa but with Angelique I think it’s finding a partner with whom he can push the envelope and challenge the traditionalism. I guess there was a bit of that with Vanessa but it didn’t seem to go that way.

You and Josh both got a lot of attention for your big make out scene last season…

RC:  I love working with Josh so I would love to see something at some point.

I told John Logan that I want to see what happened that night between Dorian and Ethan.

RC: I know Josh did some interviews last week saying it’s always awkward after a one night stand. [laughs]

What else are you working on during your hiatus from filming?

RC: I’m working on some musical endeavors at the moment and that’s pretty much it.

“Penny Dreadful” airs Sundays at 10pm on Showtime.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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