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Gavin Stenhouse on Evan’s Rogue Mission and Finding His Place on ‘Kung Fu’

Kung Fu -- "The Bell" -- Image Number: KF203b_0079r.jpg -- Pictured: Gavin Stenhouse as Evan Hartley -- Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW -- (C) 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

It’s fair to say that Evan (Gavin Stenhouse) has had it rough on The CW’s Kung Fu. In the first season of the series, Evan’s had to deal with the return of his first love Nicky (Olivia Liang); the breakup with his longtime girlfriend; Nicky ultimately choosing Henry (Eddie Liu) over him; and, realizing how shady the District Attorney’s office, where he works, is.

Then, this season had him getting beaten badly by Mia (Vanessa Yao); lose his job and reputation; and, try to figure out how he could take down Russell Tan (Kee Chan) without his usual resources. Things haven’t been easy for him, but tonight’s episode “Disclosure” finally gave him the break he so badly needed. 

After catching his former boss, District Attorney Hughes (Janet Kidder), bribing a federal officer to bring in a fugitive, Evan believes he’s one step closer to bringing Tan down. That is, until Hughes refuses to testify against the business titan, telling Evan that bad guys like Tan will always find a way out. Discouraged, Evan is now stuck between whether he wants to return to the DA’s office (since the corrupt boss is out) or continue his quest against Tan as a rogue agent.

“I think that [Evan’s] moral quandary now is continuing on from his conversation with Althea in season 1 where he has this realization of Nicky and Henry [getting] so much done outside of the boundaries of “legality,” said Stenhouse on a phone call with The Nerds of Color. “Is that an area [he’s looking into or] does he want to then go back into this constrained system where he is limited at every turn at what he can do?”

Still, Evan’s purpose remains focused on bringing Russell Tan to justice, even if it means he will have to fall into the gray area of the law. We chat more with Stenhouse on Evan’s overall goals for this season, his relationship with the “Shooby” gang and Nadia (Marissa Cuevas), and what the future could possibly hold for Evan and Nicky.  

The Nerds of Color: I need to know something that is pressing on me… What exactly is Evan doing now that he’s jobless? 

Well, I think that one part of that answer is going to be lots of day drinking with Althea (Shannon Dang) at the Apothecary bar. Evan is very obsessive by nature and I don’t think that just because he has lost his access to these files in the [District Attorney]’s office that it’s going to have dampened his drive to take [Russell] Tan down. So I think that a lot of his time has been preoccupied by that and probably going on rock climbing trips up the canyon.

Kung Fu — “Clementine” — Pictured (L-R): Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen and Gavin Stenhouse as Evan Hartley — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — (C) 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

But what about money… I’ve been curious about that. We never hear about Evan’s family — who he has been in San Francisco for years since he’s known the Shens since childhood. Why haven’t we seen them or heard about them? Is he from a well off family that doesn’t need to work and make money? San Francisco is expensive.

I would definitely love to explore that next season. I am not going to put any words in [showrunners] Christina [M. Kim] and Bob [Berens]’s mouths in terms of the direction of where that could go, but I would love that. I’ve always been interested in seeing Nicky with Evan’s family. Evan is white, middle class, and born and raised in San Francisco. So yes, he’s privileged. He has a cabin out in the woods. All signs point to him being okay. The likelihood is that he’s going to be okay. I think that it puts him at a good base to be able to become a contributing member of the “Shooby” gang. I think that he has access to be able to contribute in a constructive way. But, in terms of the family, I’m excited to see where that could go.

Now that DA Hughes is arrested, there is a chance for Evan to come back to his old job. Does Evan want his job back? What’s up with that response?

My favorite line of this episode is when Janet Kidder [who plays DA Hughes] says “the system is built to protect men like him [Tan].” I think Evan realized how naive he was by thinking he’d go into the legal system and change it from the inside. Because it’s not just about one corrupt DA. It’s not just about one DA office that doesn’t work properly. It is the entire system that has been set up to benefit a certain category of people. I think that he’s had a taste of freedom and I think that if he does go back into that job, I think it will be on his own terms. So we’ll have to see

I understand being in government can be dirty work, but it also provides access for Evan and the Shooby gang. Isn’t it better for the lesser of the evils?

It could be. Although I wonder how tarnished his reputation is to get to the point where he was booted out. Office gossip spreads like wildfire. I think that Nadia being his only ally left in that office is probably not enough to sway the perception of everyone else in the office. So I think that even if [he] were to go back, he’d have a hard time trying to convince everyone that when he was kicked out, it wasn’t because he was betraying the “Brotherhood” [of the system]. Do you know what I mean? I think that once you’re seen as betraying that office, I wonder if he would ever be able to earn the respect back.

Kung Fu — “Year of the Tiger: Part 2” — Pictured: Gavin Stenhouse as Evan Hartley — Photo: The CW — (C) 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Everyone has a vendetta against the Tans. What makes Evan’s so personal?

It’s just pure corruption. The whole point that Evan got into law enforcement and the legal system was to combat corruption. Tan is the epitome of corruption. He is someone who has no moral quandary about killing people, blowing up buildings, hiring mercenaries, blackmailing — about any of these things that feels fundamentally wrong and should be dealt with. So I think part of the obsession is about getting to the bottom of Tan — what he’s up to and how we can stop it. It feeds into Evans’ obsessive nature of trying to do the right thing and holding these people accountable for their actions.

Also, are we going to get another showdown between Juliette (Annie Q) and Evan?

I can’t say. 

I don’t know if you’ve been following the internet and shipping, but everyone is all up in arms about Evan and Nadia? I actually think it’s good that they’re friends cuz we rarely have casual friendships. It’s always a WILL THEY/WON’T THEY, but sometimes people can be friends. Is that the case for them? 

I plead the fifth. Well, maybe. Maybe not. Okay. We’ll have to see. We’ll have to see.

What I love about the series is that the Shooby gang likes to go undercover in situations. Is there anything that you would like Evan to do?

I mean, without getting too spoilery. I think that the next episode [Episode Nine] will be interesting to watch. All the way through season one, there was this dichotomy of Evan trying to do the right thing within the constraints of his own office and seeing Nicky and Henry getting so much more done operating outside of the bounds of the law, or outside of the bounds of how things should be bureaucracy. I think having spent a few days drinking at the bar, Evan will definitely be curious about how he can apply his skills to get stuff done. At the end of the day, the thing that matters most for Evan is doing good and benefiting the community in which he lives [in]. So I think it’d be exciting to see Evan’s kid gloves come off and to be a fully fledged member of the Shooby gang — finally.

I’ve asked the cast this and I’m curious for you. What would YOU like to see for your character to do? Maybe Evan pretends to be a British person — so you could use your natural accent?

That would be amazing, actually! But, also, really confusing for me. I can’t remember the last job I did as a British person. I hope my accent hasn’t completely changed. But I would love that! What would my dream part for Evan be? Evan is never going to be good at hand-to-hand combat, especially [with] the type of people that Henry and Nicky end up taking down. Those kinds of people would just wipe the floor with Evan’s Haymaker-brawling American-like boxing style. So I think that it would have to be something incognito. He hasn’t got Althea’s technical skills. He’s a good shot, so perhaps something with guns, but then Nicky hates guns. So it could be that Evan’s good at the bow and arrow. Maybe he could be some kind of archery! Archery expert. That will be Evan’s audition for the next Arrowverse spin-off!

I really hope we hear your natural accent because that would be hilarious. My mind would be blown if I heard that.

I think that’s the best way to go because I think Evan’s skill is diplomacy. [Evan] being a lawyer [and] being able to focus on the task and not give away too much and to hold a steady, calm poker face. So I think you’re right. I think diplomacy would be the way that he goes. Some kind of spy like in a party, talking to people, that kind of thing.

Kung Fu — “Jyu Sa” — Pictured (L-R): Gavin Stenhouse as Evan Hartley and Eddie Liu as Henry Yan — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — (C) 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

I touched on this with Olivia already, but what’s up with this friendship between Evan and Henry? They legit seem like the best of friends when it would be awkward for many to have your longtime ex-boyfriend and current boyfriend be besties. 

What do you mean?! You don’t ship HEvan (Henry/Evan’s ship name)?! [laughs] I think that it comes down to mutual respect. I think that Evan and Henry have a healthy respect for each other. Even though Evan ran a background check because Evan was initially suspicious of Henry. [He] wanted to protect Nicky. He [now] sees Henry’s heart is in the right place and how happy Henry makes Nicky. He can respect that. I guess there’s elements of “Alphaness” about both [of them], but I think that they both just have a healthy respect for each other. Evan has seen Henry fight and knows that he’s a badass. Henry’s been taken out to the woods — out of his comfort zone — and seen how [much of a] woodmans Evan is. There’s respect in that as well. It just comes down to respect for each other.

Do you believe there is a chance for Nevan to happen again though?

I’m shying away from taking the fifth on that proceeding. I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s going to come down to a battle of ideology. I think that Nicky really knows what she wants and how it should be achieved. Henry knows what he wants and how it should be achieved. Evan knows what he wants and how it should be achieved. I think that over the course of time, maybe going into season three, who knows? I think that the alignment of how the goal is achieved is going to be fluid. There will be times when Henry won’t agree with Nicky and Evan. I think there will be times when everyone doesn’t agree. There already have been times where Evan doesn’t agree with Nicky. I think that if anything is going to be the catalyst for the fight between ships, it’ll be the ideals of each character and how they want to go about achieving their collective goal.

You and Eddie [Liu, who plays Henry] are having an Instagram Spice Challenge battle. Is this trying to show us a Hicky [Henry+Nicky ship name] and Nevan Challenge? 

[This is] 100% a challenge between me and Eddie. We’re gonna be answering . We’re going to be doing our best to answer [correctly]. We’re going to invite anyone to ask any kind of trivia question from the first and second season. If we get it wrong, we’ll have to take a bite from some really hot sauces. So I think that it’s gonna be a really fun time because I think both of us might take it a little bit too seriously. Maybe even goad each other into just eating the sauces that really shouldn’t be eaten. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.

But, who is going to win?

Come on, Team Evan. 

Update from 5/4/22: Liu declared Stenhouse the winner of the Spice Challenge.

Kung Fu airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on The CW.

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