SURVIVE THE DARKNESS
Stana Katic is already familiar to viewers after the Castle mystery series, but now she shows a different facet in a new series. While Castle was a bit lighter, Absentia is a much darker series: a dramatic and disturbing thriller, which begins with an enigmatic case.
What is the mystery that surrounds the protagonist?
Emily Byrne, who I played, was an excellent FBI agent, happy with her husband and young son, but six years before the story begins, she disappeared and the world believed her dead. At the beginning of the series it turns out that Emily is alive, so the man who was thought to have killed her, is released from Death Row.
What did You like first in the series?
Already during the reading of the first four episodes the story got my attention, in particular that it is about a survivor. I’m interested in stories like this. I have read many books about people who survived World War II and the Holocaust. It is interesting to meet a present-day figure who is professional in her career, but at the same time is a mother and a hero, but obviously made mistakes. There is such a layer of her character, which makes me think about what it means to overcome seemingly invincible things, to struggle through the most extreme conditions and stand up from such situations. For me, the discovery of the character started from there.
Why do You see Emily in the first place as a survivor?
When she reappears, it turns out her husband got married again and her young son grew up calling another woman his mother. Her father got sick and her brother had gone through a troubling addiction. One way or another, everyone found themselves moving on, and then out of nowhere she shows up and she has to fit into a world where everything went on without her.
Did You have any new skills you had to master to the role?
I had to learn some new things, some hard things such as go-carting or swimming in ice-cold water and the like.
The episodes were filmed in Bulgaria. How was the shooting experience?
I found it inspirational to work with a highly experienced team. They have filmed the best and greatest action movies of the past one and a half decades. So it was a very well-oiled machine, everyone knew each other, and it was a bit like getting into a family and being warmly greeted.
How was it recording ten episodes at once?
When shooting TV shows, it is usually the habit to film episode to episode, but in this case it was as if we were filming a movie. When we started the work, we had all ten scripts in our hands. This does not mean that we would not dig deeper any time we shot a scene or did not talk in the breaks about how to deepen the story. But from the very beginning we understood, where we are and how we will end it, which helped in creating a credible story.
Do you have a favorite scene?
In one scene, Emily jumps in the lake to escape and climbs out on the other shore from the water. When we filmed it, it was very cold, so much so that the staff/crew and the producers were very worried about it. You take your diving suit, then your costumes, and you’re going to the middle of the lake, while everyone watches breathlessly. Meanwhile you’re also holding your breath because you have no idea what to expect. This scene, with its excellent visual shooting, expresses well the theme of rebirth and recovery, and also who this character is. Emily comes out of a really deep and dangerous place, that is, she didn’t give up. She went beyond the darkness, she fought further, though what she was facing, wanted to extinguish her in the light.
Are there any universal themes in the series that the audience can identify with?
The story is not only a thriller, but also a study of familial relationships and can appeal to everyone. Father and daughter, mother and son, husband and wives, siblings, – and each relationship somehow conflicts with the others. Survival is also an important topic. It is interesting how strong people can be in extraordinary circumstances and how can they overcome. And finally how we are able to heal and rebuild ourselves through these circumstance.
In this series, what interested you the most?
Mostly the unusual family relationship system, but most family relationships are complicated and exciting, aren’t they? Of course, this family is a bit more complicated than the average family, and this is a challenging task for an actor. It is also interesting in the story that the creators have placed a mother in the center. There are not too many stories where a mother is a kind of superhero who, at the same time, is struggling with psychological problems. Yet it can be identified and understood by most age groups.