Bravo is usually our go-to place for Real Housewives guilty pleasure-watching, but its latest scripted drama, Imposters, may just become our new favorite show to dive into this winter. Premiering tonight at 10 p.m. ET, Imposters introduces happy newlyweds Ezra and Ava, but it turns out that Ava (Inbar Lavi) isn’t who she says she is. Actually named Maddie, she successfully cons Ezra and runs away with all of his money to take on another mark…not exactly the happily ever after you were expecting.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” says star Rob Heaps, who plays Ezra. “It’s basically a dark comedy. [Ezra and other con victims] club together to track her down and find her…but they’re not very good at it, which is quite hilarious.”
We had the chance to talk with Rob about what viewers can expect from this hot new show, what A-list star will be showing up later this season and what he loves about the story’s depiction of relationships.
What can you tell us about your character, Ezra?
Rob Heaps: Ezra is a great character. He’s someone who’s excited, very idealistic, romantic. He’s somebody who maybe has a few frustrated ambitions—he lives in Indianapolis and never really got out of town, didn’t travel anywhere. He always wanted to, so he’s kind of at a stage where he’s wandering. Then he meets this woman…and she’s this light and you’re really happy for him and it’s wonderful, but she’s a con artist, so it was all a complete farce. Because he’s so propelled into this—he basically ends up going on an adventure, but it’s not what he actually wanted. He ends up being propelled into this very different kind of adventure which starts on his own…[and ends up] with other victims of hers. He kind of changes a lot through the series; he starts a lot less idealistic and a bit more hardened, and debates about the way things really are and the way romance really is, and he’s going to start enjoying himself a bit more than he thought he would have. I think in the start it’s very black-and-white, and then it definitely gets more blurred by the end and he develops a bit of a relish for the kind of things that, at the start, he finds kind of horrified. He changes a lot.
He’s also someone who when we meet him is quite passive, easygoing and trusting. He’s an observer, someone who before he met this woman was almost watching life as it passed him by. What I really love about his journey is that in picking up the pieces of his broken heart and setting out on the road to find Maddie, he starts taking charge and becomes a lot more proactive. He develops a bit of an edge and finds he’s actually pretty smart in ways he didn’t expect, which is a really fun journey to play.
What elements of the show and the role of Ezra attracted you to this part?
RH: Even when I read [the script], I just thought it was so funny, and it’s quite dark and a bit unexpected. I think it has a lot of everything. I think if you’re watching someone’s life get ripped apart, it should be funny! So that was ideal to me, and Ezra’s also Jewish, which is not anything I know about, so I get to know a bit about that culture, the Jewish culture, and there’s a lot of dark humor and a lot of laughing at things that are pretty horrible. And it’s about ordinary people, you know…these are all ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, which is always my favorite kind of hero—people like Ezra when they just didn’t expect the adventure there that they’re embarking on and acting like it’s sink or swim. Whereas Maddie’s kind of just been a hero—she’s gone on a more glamourous [path], but there’s this kind of “who is she” and an aspirational thing, where you’re like, “Who are you, how can anybody relate to you?” Whereas we’re kind of like the entry-level suspects.
What I really love about [Ezra and his team] is that we’ve all had moments of wondering, “How did this become my life…?!”, and these are three ordinary people, not superheroes in spandex, who are forced to leave their old lives behind and take a mad leap into the unknown and take genuine risks and above all to really start living in the world, and that was an inspiring story to play and I think will be inspiring to watch, too.
A lot of TV relationships show women getting hurt by men. How do you feel about the tables being turned in Imposters and Ezra being the one with hurt feelings?
RH: Ooh, yeah, I love it, I’m a masochist, so I love it! Honestly, it’s great, it’s absolutely great…What I love about the show, again, is—what’s it called, the Bechdel test? The Bechdel test is when you have two women on screen talking about something that is not a man, which I think this show passes with flying colors, so it’s wonderful. There’s still so much TV and film in which women—there’s still the “Madonna whore” thing where there’s a sexual fascination. Maddie is such a great character because at the start, you kind of hate [her] and then realize that she’s very much on her own journey in the show and she becomes very much a human being and someone that I think you’ll feel sorry for. She’ll find herself in some pretty uncomfortable situations, but she’s doing her job, she’s a professional. I think [Inbar Lavi] does a really good job humanizing that and getting you behind her perspective. It makes the female perspective very relatable, and that’s important now more than ever.
I think it’s true that we still live in a culture that arguably treats female infidelity more harshly than male infidelity. There is still an element of “Oh, all guys cheat,” which can sometimes let men off the hook—whereas if a woman cheats, she’s often seen as somehow morally deficient, rather than just an idiot (and plenty of worse words, too). There’s still this weird mixture of fascination and judgment towards female sexuality and women who show sexual independence. And I think one of the great things about this show is that it takes a female protagonist whose actual job involves sexual and romantic infidelity and humanizes her, shows us the vulnerable person behind all these masks. The show is also wise about the mistakes men make in relationships—Ezra is someone who puts his wife on a pedestal, worships her, smothers her in love and affection and gifts, and treats her as the answer to all his problems! I’ve definitely done [this] in the past and have learned the hard way that it rarely ends well.
I think also we’re living in an age where dating and relationships are trickier and stranger than ever, with the rise of online dating. There’s a lot being said about how the millennial generation is having a harder time connecting with each other and finding true emotional intimacy, and I think this is a show that could resonate with a younger audience as it really asks the question of how well can you ever know someone you’re with? And how often are you really only seeing what you want to see in someone, rather than who they really are? I think those questions are more important than ever.
What makes Imposters different from other shows like it?
RH: Yeah, I’m not from [the United States], so I haven’t seen any of those shows myself, but I’d imagine it’s what I said about it being relatable. Our side of the story at the start is very unglamorous, very uncool and very unsexy because we keep doing it really badly and having to run away. I generally feel like a lot of TV at the moment is very dark, kind of sexy, which is great, and there’s definitely a time and place for that, but I think it’s great that [the show] takes us a bit less seriously. I don’t know about too much of that stuff, but to me, I think it’s really refreshing. It knows itself very well, this show, and has got a very cheeky sense of humor.
Throughout the course of this season, what can fans expect Ezra to learn about the people who conned him?
RH: He obviously begins feeling the worst because these are people who’ve destroyed him. They’re the enemy, they’re evil, and they’re people who don’t say or do what they’re going to do. There will be times when he gets more embroiled in this new world of conning and grifting, and he’s pretending to be someone he’s not. He’s going to find it a lot more enjoyable than he thought it would be because he’s realized that the world maybe really works in a way he never really believed in. I think he’s going to find that eventually, possibly, they’re not as clear-cut bad guys as he thought they were, and he’s not who he thought he was.
What can you tease about the chase for Maddie?
RH: Well, I can’t say. It would be great if I did. We’re definitely getting closer—I can’t say what’s going to happen, but she’s going to find herself in situations she’s never had before. She finds herself attracted to someone for real, a person she usually bumps into at a coffee shop who she has real feelings for, and her problem is that her next target is somebody who’s not attractive, someone she’s not very excited about conning. Things have been getting a little ugly for her as well. We’re almost going in opposite directions—she’s living her bit, and we’re kind of just entering this world of deceiving.
Are there any special guest stars we can expect to see this season?
RH: Ooh, yes, possibly Uma Thurman! Possibly. We’re so excited about her. She saw the pilot before we were even picked up, and she saw it and just went crazy for it, and I think really wanted to be in it, which is so exciting. I think it was really hard for her to be there; she’s obviously very busy and it was a tough thing to schedule, but we got her and we were just so excited. She really just brought energy to the set the day she was there. She’s so brilliant…and completely invested. It’s just great that she gave us her caliber and her quality. She was so motivated. That’s when I first started getting really excited about where [the show] may be going because to see someone on her level bringing everything she had to the table really meant a lot.