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Feature: Alias

Entertaining Mr Sloane

Ron Rifkin Evil or misunderstood? Criminal mastermind or working for the good of the world? Ron Rifkin takes us into the mind of Arvin Sloane

Itís June 30th, and a casual-looking Ron Rifkin is in the UK for a holiday, but has been enlisted to chat about his role as Arvin Sloane in Alias, something heís more than happy to do. Considering that Sloane was the murderous head of SD-6, a terrorist cell posing as a CIA operation, itís a relief that the actor isnít anything like the character he plays; indeed, heís welcoming, chatty and not remotely bothered as the interview starts to encroach into his carefully-scheduled break for lunch.

First though, some background: during Season Two, Sloane instigated the destruction of SD-6 in order to wipe out those with a hold over him and go out into the world with his own agenda. Since then heís discovered that his best agents, Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) and her father Jack (Victor Garber), were working against him. As a result heís become a CIA target and, after faking her death, seen his wife, Emily (Amy Irving) killed before his eyes. These have been big events for the character, although Rifkin claims that after it all, ďI donít know that heís changed; Iíve certainly gotten to know him a bit better.

ďItís a very complicated relationship he has with Victorís character and with Jenniferís character. It seems that perhaps Arvin might have raised Sydney for a period of time when Jack was away. Sydneyís mother died [or so it appeared] in a car crash, and Jack went away for a period of time. I think that he was having a drinking problem. So my wife and I sort of raised her, we were like godparents to her. It was no accident that I recruited her for SD-6. Clearly I care about her, clearly Iíve had a very complicated relationship with Jack and his wife because the four of us were friends. And I think since Sydney became a member of SD-6, my relationship with her became more and more complicated. The psychological complexities of those relationships altered Arvinís perspective, coupled with his wifeís illness, coupled with the destruction of SD-6 Ė initiated by me, so thereís an amazing thing going on.Ē

Does the actor try to make Sloane sympathetic despite his actions? ďI donít try, but I think that itís clear to me that unless he has some humanity then heís just a cardboard villain; I should twirl my moustache. I think there has to be great humanity in the character I play to give him a sort of credibility. So there is an ongoing dialogue between me and the writers vis-ŗ-vis this specific problem.Ē

by Paul Spragg

Get the full interview in
Cult Times #95

Photo © ABC Inc
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #95
August 2003
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