Home > Public Appearances > 2018 > Read Across America
Stana looked wonderful as she presented Absentia to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association this week! You can find HQ photos in the gallery.
Stana Katic has a great laugh—a big guffaw, which starts with a half-hollered “a-HA” that oddly makes it more charming, especially early in the morning at Los Angeles International Airport, where being grumpy is usually forgiven. It’s been 20 months since ABC unceremoniously canceled Castle, on which Katic spent eight seasons as Nathan Fillion’s love interest/partner, NYPD detective Kate Beckett. Now the 39-year-old actress is happily headed to Toronto to promote her new Amazon series, Absentia, and bringing up its dark subject matter feels like spoiling the mood.
Katic plays Emily Byrne, a troubled FBI agent who is found in an abandoned cabin six years after she was supposedly executed by a serial killer. She’s had the crap, and the memory, kicked out of her. Where has she been? Who was she with? And how dare her husband (Patrick Heusinger) remarry in the meantime? Emily’s son calls another woman mom. Her dad is ill. Her brother drinks. On the barely bright side, her black Lab knows who she is. Then Emily’s troubles double when she’s accused of murdering the guy who was accused of murdering her.
Absentia is thrilling. It’s bleak. It’s kind of nuts—one scene required that Katic be “trapped” inside a glass water tank, Houdini-style. Yet, over the airport din, the actress chats with such excited smarts (besides being a beautiful former Bond girl, she speaks four languages) about the series, her career and her future that it totally makes sense to smile.
Do you consider this show your big comeback?
Sure? [Laughs] I guess I don’t feel like I was gone that long, you know?
So what made you go, “OK, this is my next role?”
Emily is a survivor. Before taking the role, I’d been reading about people who managed to get through things as horrific as World War II and the Holocaust. The female stories especially intrigue me. I can’t stop thinking to myself, “How did you do that?” Emily is also an antiheroine. People will love and root for her but also hate her.
She does some things and makes some choices that viewers aren’t going to like. She, herself, is a mystery in some parts of the season.
How’d you survive the, to put it nicely, physical demands?
Action seems to be part of nearly every role I’ve had in some way. However, this was three-and-a-half months of pretty consistent running, so it was definitely a little more high-velocity. It’s also the first time I’ve had to eat out of a dog bowl. [Laughs] But, I thought, why half-ass it?
Have your parents or siblings seen those bits?
No, they haven’t watched any of it yet. I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I think it’s going to be tough for them. But they are really proud of me at this stage in my career. They keep asking, “When’s Absentia airing?” and emailing their friends and Facebooking everyone.
Were they supportive when you decided to pursue acting?
They had their concerns, of course. Luckily I made it work!
What was your fallback plan when you started acting?
I didn’t have one! I didn’t want to be anything else, but I did study international relations and pre-law, so I was prepped to go into the world of diplomacy or maybe corporate law.
Those both sound pretty solid. What do you consider the most important moment in your life?
For me, it’s more like important things. In my personal life, it’s important to be able to come home to a loving partner and a beautiful dog. In my career, I just have to constantly remind myself, “OK, wow, this is cool. Be grateful. It’s an amazing thing to be able to play in the world of imagination and move people.” And I know that sounds cliché, but there’s truth in it.
With what attitude are you approaching your 40th birthday later this year?
I haven’t really given it much thought. How do I feel? It’s not something reflected as a big deal in anyone that I admire. I saw Charlize Theron do her thing at 40 and I thought, “Wow, you are exquisite.” It didn’t appear to be a shifting experience for her. Turning 40 feels like something that’s supposed to be a milestone, but I’m barely aware of it. Then again, you’re the first one to ask me.
The Canadian-American actress of Croatian origin, Stana Katic (39), has again proven that she enjoys playing tough but fair women. For eight years she was a television audience favorite as Kate Beckett in the series “Castle”, but in mid-2016 she left the TV show and went on a vacation, looking forward to new challenges. She soon returned to the small screens, and again as a guard of public order.
In the mini-series “Absentia”, which is shown in Croatia on cable television channel AXN Adria, she plays an FBI agent Emily Byrne. After thinking for six years she was the victim of a serial killer, who was sentenced to prison for her murder, Emily was found in a remote forest cabin. She doesn’t remember who held her captive there, or what was happening in all these years, and returning home is even harder – her husband is living with a new wife, and her son does not accept her.
“I’m not bad when I need to play a tough woman. Before the new role I practiced karate so I know how to hit well when it’s needed. Also, for years I danced ballet and I love when I can express myself with movement, whether it is in the scene of fighting, dancing, or in the way I walk” – says Stana Katic, who in the first episode brutally beats a criminal. Shooting ten episodes of “Absentia” was particularly difficult due to short deadlines. Sometimes she would record a scene from three different episodes on the same day.
“The hardest scene to shoot was the one where Emily wants to escape and jumps into the lake and swims across to the other side. That day the water was freezing. The director and the producers even doubted whether we should shoot. I was well prepared, I wore a diving suit first, and then the clothes that Emily was wearing, but it wasn’t easy for me. I didn’t know how my body would react. Luckily, even though it was really cold, everything went smoothly. This scene may be my favorite in the series as it best describes how Emily faces danger, which could happen to be fatal. But she did not want to give up at any moment” says Stana Katic, an executive producer of the series.
The shoot was so difficult so she hopes her next employment would be in a comedy. She also hopes for a few free months so she can dedicate herself to married life… Just one day before her 37th birthday, on April 25, 2015, she married longtime boyfriend, an Australian businessman of Serbian origin Kris Brklja?. They got married in the idyllic Orthodox monastery Dragovi?, which was built near the Peru?a Lake in the late 14th century, with which the actress showed how much she loves her parent’s homeland.
As the oldest of the six children in the family of Petar and Rada Kati?, the owner of a furniture shop, Stana always loved to point out that her father was from Koljane near Vrlika, and her mother from the area of Sinj. Before her birth, her parents migrated to Canada, in the town of Hamilton, and when she was five years old, her family moved to the American city of Aurora near Chicago. But even though she grew up in North America, she never forgot the Cetina region. “I got there, for the first time, as a five-year-old, and in recent years I try to visit Croatia at least once a year. This spring I even tried to learn how to make as many traditional dishes as possible. I visited friends and family and I begged them to introduce me with people who still cook in the old fashioned way. I’ve learned a lot, but my favorites are still blitva, pura and asparagus with eggs… I know they are simple old fashioned meals, but I love them. Recipes are not complicated, but you need to have fresh, well-chosen ingredients for real enjoyment. Last summer I asked for corn flour milled in a stone mill, and the most delicious asparagus grow on my cousin’s estate in Dalmatia. I love blitva so much that I planted it in my garden in California. And, of course, I love peka. I’m particularly proud of the fact that I learned to bake bread under peka (over hot ashes)” says a charming green-eyed beauty who starred in James Bond “Quantum of Solace” movie, in ” The Double” her partner was Richard Gere, and in “Big Sur” she played the poet Lenore Kandel.
She often shows her love for the Cetina region in photos on her Instagram profile. The fact that she’s well informed about the events here and show them on social media, in light of the announced construction of the Thermal Power Plant Peru?a, she says she hopes that pure water will remain for future generations as well. With her visits, her Croatian is getting better, but she still speaks English in official conversations. “I understand everything and everyone understands me. Problems happen when I start talking about something beyond everyday life, for example about economic or medical topics. At that time, it is sometimes difficult to find the right word” says Stana, who used the last trip to Dalmatia to enrich her vocabulary. “I was interested in the difference between the word “plemenit” (noble) and “mudrost” (wisdom). For two months I was asking my friends and acquaintances which word describes them the best. Without exception, they chose “noble” and this is my favorite Croatian word” says the actress, who is always glamorously dressed and polished at the Hollywood premieres.
But in private, she is completely different. When she does not shoot anything, she does not make any makeup, because she says, lipstick does not help too much as she’s digging in her garden. She appreciates minimalism even more in her wardrobe. “In my wardrobe I only have what I need. I like to have a few carefully picked pieces that fit me well, rather than a bunch of good clothes in which I get lost. Of course, sometimes I buy something without thinking too much. On a recent trip to Japan I was thrilled with fabrics and dresses that defy trends and can be worn today, but also for ten years. I’m constantly hunting on such occasions” says the actress who maintains the perfect line with regular runs, doing yoga and riding a bicycle.
When you ask her, which is her real face – the “tough” Stana from the small screen or the “glamorous” red carpet one- with a big charming smile she replies: “None of those two. If you were to ask my friends, I believe they would answer that the real Stana is – a goofy nerd.”
Thanks to Stana Katic Croatia for the translation!
Emily avoids arrest and finds another trace of investigation. But with the disturbing new evidence, Emily begins to suspect one of her loved ones. Unfortunately, he is the only person who can help Emily figure out the case. Could it be just a little paranoia from Emily, or does she not have anyone to turn to? Alice gets bittersweet news and has to make a very difficult decision.
We met her as the fearless detective Kate Beckett in ‘Castle’ and, since Monday, as Emily Byrne, the protagonist of ‘Absentia’, a new AXN series in which she also serves as a producer. She does not abandon the characters of action, because now she gives life to an FBI agent that disappears trying to hunt a serial killer and is declared dead.
The story begins when, after six years, she is found in captivity has no memory of what happened. Added to all this is the fact that her husband has remarried and now feels guilty for not having looked hard enough for her. All these are enough ingredients to get our attention and to ask some questions to Stana Katic.
Your character is assumed dead and when she reappears, her husband has married another woman and her son doesn’t remember her. How would you deal with this situation in real life?
Ha! No idea. Fortunately, my partner and I have to face much simpler decisions … like what we are going to eat for breakfast.
Besides being an actor in this series, you are also a producer. Do you feel like directing in the future?
Of course! I would love to direct a story that I was passionate about.
In one of your most popular roles in the series ‘Castle’ you gave life to a detective. Now you get into the shoes of an FBI agent. What differences and similarities do these two characters have?
‘Absentia’ is a thriller. “Castle” was a police procedural that mixed romance, comedy and drama.
Given your predilection for these types of roles, is being a police officer your missed profession?
I deeply respect people who choose a profession of serving their communities and the entire planet; and although it’s fun to play action heroes, it has nothing to do with the amount of character, strength, and altruism that true heroes have.
Would you like to play some historical character?
Of course. Quick! Where’s my corset?
How is it to give life to two women who work in a world dominated by men?
Normal. It reflects our world today. Gender, race and religion barriers to job opportunities are becoming more and more archaic. That is, at least I hope so, we are moving towards a world that hires people by their skills and talent and not by the color of their skin or the bathroom they go to.
On the red carpet, do you feel more comfortable with a romantic and feminine look or a more masculine style?
I am at a disadvantage by answering this question because I grew up in a home where my father encouraged us to chat at dinners about math, science, history, politics, and topics like that. My father gave the same value to my opinion as to my brothers. So my perspective on career, styling and leisure is not so conditioned … I simply choose what is comfortable and inspires me in the moment.
View the photos that accompanied the article in HQ at the link below!
When the testifying witness against Emily is murdered, all signs suggest that the murder was committed by Emily. While Tommy Gibbs and the Boston Police Chief are accusing Emily, she and Nick look for an FBI agent who forced the witness to lie. For Emily, there is suspicion that this agent is the one responsible for her abduction.