Warning: The following contains spoilers for the season 2 finale of The Gifted. Read at your own risk!
The Struckers have lost one of their own.
In the season 2 finale of Fox’s The Gifted, Reed (Stephen Moyer) sacrifices himself to stop Reeva (Grace Byers) from building the false mutant nation she’d hoped to create with the help of Benedict Ryan (Peter Gallagher). He lets his powers take over and destroy the Inner Circle’s headquarters once and for all.
But Moyer says this doesn’t have to be the last time he gets to let loose as Reed. After all, season 2 wrapped up with Blink (Jamie Chung) returning to her mutant family. Below, the actor delves deeper into Reed’s decision and what it was like saying goodbye to the show — for now.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you know your time was up? Were you ready to leave Reed behind?
STEPHEN MOYER: Well, I’ve got 6-year-old twins, and older kids who are 16 and 19. When I went off to do True Blood, I was off for a long while, and that worked out great, but last year, I was away in Atlanta and I was thinking, “This is a long time to be away from my little people.” The second time around this year, I missed a lot of firsts: I missed their first concert, their first day of school, their first day of soccer, and it was kind of hitting me.
I knew that they were looking for a big death at the end of season 2, so Matt [Nix, The Gifted’s showrunner] and I talked about the possibility of it being me. It was great for the show because they were able to do something big, and I don’t think people will be expecting me to go. But also I love my gang, I love the cast. I’ve had an amazing time on the show. I adore Atlanta, but truthfully it was really about [how] seven months is a long time to be away, and I felt this was a really cool way to bring the character to a satisfying, massive ending.
Reed sacrifices himself for the greater good, and in a way you’re doing the same for your personal life.
[Laughs] Exactly! And Reed is a fantastic trigger in a lot of ways in season 1. He sets them off on this adventure. As he learns about himself and about who he truly is, he starts to realize how he’s been this fatal pawn in all of this. He’s been pushed in this direction without realizing it. And therefore, it’s his chance to take control of his own destiny in a way that he’s never been able to do, and I was kind of attracted to that idea that he was able to have his final place in the world without anybody saying so.
And of course, we are talking about a Marvel show. We are talking about the comic book universe in general. Characters don’t ever really die. The plasma that is Reed, it still exists. Like in Terminator 2, for instance.
Or like the way Doctor Manhattan puts himself back together in Watchmen.
So have you discussed the possibility of coming back if the show’s renewed?
It’s up in the air. I think there’s a real chance to shift the story, with what happens with Blink [and time travel], so there’s so much you could do. Matt did ask if I’d like to come back and direct an episode. I’ve directed a bunch of True Blood and some features, so there’s a possibility I might come back and do an episode. Who knows? You can do all sorts of things in this world. I certainly wasn’t saying goodbye forever. We are a very close-knit tribe. [Laughs]
Story-wise, when do you think Reed made that call to sacrifice himself? Right in that moment when he talks to Caitlin [Amy Acker]?
No, I think he’s been thinking about it. Remember, he does talk about the fact that he’s going to stop taking the medicine. He feels [early on] that there’s a sort of destined moment that’s coming.
How do you feel about Reed’s arc across these seasons overall? He’s quite the opposite of the bigoted cop you played on Shots Fired, the series you did just before The Gifted.
You know, it’s interesting: When Reed begins, he’s kind of a buttoned-up, conservative-with-a-small-c gentleman who does what he’s told. His job at the beginning of the show is quite dark. He’s been told that removing mutants from society is the best thing to do. So when he starts out, he’s not that different from that character in Shots Fired, in some ways.
And then he starts learning that, in fact, he’s been played, but the only way you learn that stuff is by actually being around people who are experiencing it on the ground level, who are marginalized. Ultimately being around his children and other people living this existence is a way of showing it to him. In some ways, his sacrifice at the end is to make up for his part in what he’s done in the past.
There are several key Reed scenes in the finale — his goodbye with Caitlin, his showdown with Reeva. Which did you most enjoy working on, as an actor?
I got a scene with Percy [Hynes White] that I loved. You know, I’m very, very close to those two kids, and as I said earlier, I have a 16- and 19-year-old, and they’re the same age. So I do have a relationship with Percy and Natalie [Alyn Lind] that is parental, and I adore those kids, so I was really happy to get a nice closing moment with Percy, and there’s a scene with Natalie where we’re sitting on the couch, which I thought was lovely. So it was a really satisfying arc.
Now, Reed’s power had been suppressed most of his life and not allowed to develop naturally, which is why he can’t control it. If he had been able to develop it properly, what do you think he would have been able to do, ultimately?
One thing I like about this mutant universe is that with practice, to quote the Malcolm Gladwell of it all [laughs], with 10,000 hours, you might be able to [master] the skill. With Reed, he’s dissolving things. We came up with a whole thing where I was called Mr. Crumble, and they even made Mr. Crumble a chair back, and my character [starts speaking in a high-pitched voice] was like this. [Returns to his normal register] It was like I was some kind of manic clown. Obviously you never get to see it, but that’s what we were doing on set. [Laughs]
So I suppose if he had been able to work with that ability from the beginning, he would have been able to take metals, to take alloys, and be able to dissolve certain elements and keep other elements there. If you take it right down to a physics place, he probably would have been able to separate atoms! Which [pauses and laughs], I spy a spin-off! I can feel it now!
Fingers crossed! One last thing: Did you take home anything from set, even if there’s a chance you’ll return?
I took my Mr. Crumble chair back. [Laughs]