EXCLUSIVE: Michael Cristofer on the Fate of Truxton Spangler, Similarities to Dick Cheney and More!

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As Rubicon inches closer to its season finale, one thing is certain: Truxton Spangler is not a nice man.

Yet it's impossible to truly dislike this character, as veteran actor Michael Cristofer has brought him to life in entertaining fashion. He slurps cereal while making threats, he dabs the mouth of an underling with a napkin while confronting him about the status of an investigation and he keeps viewers guessing every week about his true motivations.

In an exclusive interview with TV Fanatic, Cristofer says he improvised that napkin scene and he actually looked up a real-life Truxton Spangler. Excerpts follow...

Truxton Spangler Picture

I must admit: following last night's episode, I'm afraid to talk to you.
[Laughs]. People walk in the opposite direction from me on the street!

What did they tell you about Truxton Spangler when filming began? Were you aware he'd become the show's main antagonist?
I knew the character was based on a couple of people that [showrunner Henry Bromell] knew. I knew he was involved with this group of seven friends, with whom he vacationed on Fishers Island and all of whom had risen to wealthy and powerful positions in various aspects of life. I knew Truxton was using and manipulating events through API.

Is it all about money for? Power? Does he think he's acting in the best interests of the country?
He and his friends are impatient with the government.  They have the power to make things happen without the government and are acting on it.

Did you base the character on anyone?
He's a lot like Dick Cheney. There was also a man named William Shawn who ran The New Yorker in the 1950s. He was an extraordinary talent and an eccentric guy. He really did eat Corn Flakes.

Does Truxton really miss David?
I think so. I think there's a strange kind of Schizophrenia that can inflict people. Truxton understands his place in the scheme of things and is comfortable with that. It's not cold-blooded, but it's a world view that is scarily objective.

I think people like this do exist. Look at the guys still profiting from the financial meltdown. I'm sure they feel sympathy for what's going on, from people committing suicide over their dire situations... but they also understand how they fit into it all and have come to terms with the role they play in the world.

The name Truxton Spangler might be the best in TV history....
I found a Truxton Spangler! I wondered: Why does he have a cartoon name? So I looked it up and a guy by that name lived in Iowa and died in 1921. There are a lot of Spanglers out there and the first name came from a friend of Henry's at school.

What can you say about the final two episodes?
Not much, but I can say this: the finale was re-written five times - and the fate of Truxton Spangler changed in every one of those scripts.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Michael Cristofer performance as Spangler was one of the most insightful portraits ever presented in an espinonage show/film. That Cristofer is a close second to Alec Guiness as George Smiley in the Tinker, Tailor BBC broadcasts is meant as a compliment. Hard to believe that AMC did not continue supporting this show-- it could/should have been developed/continued for years. Henry Bromell shows brilliant insight in creating the Spangler charactor's almost extinct eastern subculture. Maybe that's why AMC cancelled-- too few people with reference/drawn to Spangler charactor with his outdated Grand Cherokee, quiet closed society, and the depiction of certain members of that generations difficulty in transitioning to changes in the US after the cold war and elected US governance post-globalization. Maybe the lost opportunity was that Rubicon was not originally shot as an entire film rather than AMC episodes--and thus avoiding the rushed final episode after notice of AMC cancellation.

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I would totally agree. Cristofer really shines. Its too made the show got the axe.

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Michael Cristofer should get an emmy for this role. His physicality is fascinating to watch but even more, you can't help but want to figure out what he's thinking in the moment. Kinda like "so revealing but unreadable..."