Stana Katic’s Character in ‘Absentia’ is a Mother and Relentless Fighter

For Stana Katic, with Croatian and Serbian roots, the series ‘Castle’ was her breakthrough. Because of the role of the determined Detective Kate Beckett, she became known throughout the world. Unfortunately the series ended in undignified conditions, with plans to reduce costs and producers just to continue. Fortunately, this did not happen, but it is understandable if you do not like to remember these events. In her new series, Absentia, she plays a tough FBI agent hunting a serial killer. The 10-part series will premiere on AXN Hungary at 21:55 on Tuesday night. Stana Katic answered the questions of journalists, including the Index, at the filming site in Bulgaria. She talked about the difficult situation of women in Hollywood and the fact that Absentia is like shooting three movies at one time.

How would you introduce your character?

I’m playing an FBI Agent, Emily Byrne, who was kidnapped six years before the start of the series. Everyone thought she was dead, and the series begins with her reappearing and starting her life again. She doesn’t even know her new life because so much has changed. Her husband married another woman, her child grew up calling his father’s new wife ‘mother’, and her father’s health deteriorated. This is the story in the series.

If you had to characterize Emily, what would you say: she is a survivor or warrior?

Survivor. But to be a survivor you must be a warrior. And I love that the character has gone through extreme things that she can not just come back from. There are several things constantly dragging her down, but she keeps pushing ahead.

Did you talk to psychologists about how it feels to be a victim?

I talked to some people about it, yes. Writers and producers wanted to tell a story that was believable. It is not the only focus of our series, but it is also among the most important to be as credible as possible.

Going through something that Emily has, it’s a serious stress. During the preparations, I talked to professionals who were dealing with victims who had been held for years. I have also read about such cases. In addition, we are filming the series here in the Balkans, where I think there is an incredible story of survival under crazy circumstances. I think this is coming through the screen because of our partly local staff. It provides a different energy for this series. I’m sorry if I’m overwhelming this whole thing.

What do you like most about Emily?

I like people who do all they can to survive and that’s how she is. She is a warrior who does not give up. I did not want to play a character who is just a victim and is at the mercy of others. I read many scripts and I see the female roles in them. Most of them are mothers and wives. There are few characters like this one, where you play a mother and a real warrior at the same time. When I read the script, it occurred to me that such roles are not available much. I think this is such a modern thing. Here is Katniss (character of Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games) and more and more characters like her. The new prototype of a female warrior, who is a mother, a sister and someone’s ex-wife, all in one. The series shows the different layers of a strong female hero.

How to get more roles and equal pay for women in Hollywood?

One would think that with this being the 21st century, that could be solved. I think so many things are happening lately. In the United States, women and men have come together to draw more attention to these problems. I think this may be the key to the whole industry and ourselves, to be accountable and to establish certain standards that will equalize everyone.

For the first time in a series, you were a producer. What was that like?

Interesting. As a producer, I’m working to ensure the success of the series and do everything I can to get the crew all they need. I pay much more attention to the details than if I were just an actor.

In addition to my role, this work was special to me because the way we filmed it was like we were actually making an independent movie that will be shown on television. This was very exciting to me, and I think independent films are very important because they are riskier projects that major studios may not get involved with. As a producer, I’m struggling to make the recordings from the first day of shooting to the last day of shooting with the same high quality. We’ve been filming for more than 50 days now, and it’s understandable that people are beginning to get tired. Moreover, the story of the series is not the most common. I’ve experienced this in my own skin, every night when I come home, I find new bruises that I have no idea how I got them.

How did the role come to you after Castle?

The most traditional way. My agent sent the script, as usual. He’d previously had a great relationship with Sony’s team, who had started to develop the series at that time. As things went forward, the project came into my sight and my agent said to me that he found it interesting and believed it to  have everything I wanted for my next job.

Castle was a great experience and I think I was lucky to have 8 seasons in such a successful series. This gave me a great foundation, and after it ended, I was thinking about what I needed to shake my career a bit, about what was new and unseen, unproven, and what I needed as an actor. It was also a novelty to be involved as an executive producer on the project. This is a piece of creative work that I have not experienced so far. The most important thing to do is something that is the most creatively challenging.

How was it working alongside the director?

As an actor, it’s like shooting a movie. We don’t film in chronological order, but by location. Yesterday, or the day before yesterday, if I remember correctly, we shot scenes from five different episodes. This is very unusual for an American series. At the beginning of filming, our actors were just staring at each other because we had 10 episodes and we had to know the whole thing. Because, for the first time, it was said, “Here it is!” and any scene can come from any episode. And all actors have their own way of building their characters. It’s like we’re filming 3 movies in 62 days. The director and the cameraman are working together as if they share one common brain. They have a great sense to find the emotional center of a scene. Sometimes, as actors say their lines, and with their technical solutions, they can raise the material to a new level.

Otherwise, the atmosphere is very loose and we are trying to find the best solutions on the film. It’s a bit like walking through a fog, and you’ll find obstacles and everything else once you’ve been hit. In that case, we decide how to handle it. I hope there’s some meaning to this and you understand what I mean.