Strong emotions and shocking scenes in the first episode of Absentia

This fall, AXN presents a new original series from Sony Pictures Television: Absentia, every Monday at 10:00pm beginning on September 25th. The most important production on AXN television this season, the new 10-episode series is, on the one hand, a procedural thriller in which a serial killer with a chilling signature (cutting off the eyelids of his victims) is hunted; on the other hand, is a family drama where Emily Bryne, an FBI agent who has been held hostage and tortured for six years, tries to regain the love of a son who now sees his stepmother as his only mother. 

Stana Katic plays the role of this FBI agent who disappears while investigating the case of a known serial killer. Emily is declared dead, but after disappearing for six years, she is found in a deserted cottage. Once back home, the whole world she knew has now completely changed: her husband remarried, her child no longer recognizes her, and her brother is a recovering alcoholic. Over all, Emily can not remember what happened to her, and soon she returns to a whirlpool that seems unending.

Cinemagia talked to Stana Katic at the Monte Carlo Television Festival, where the first episode of Absentia had its world premiere. The first episode takes the audience through a myriad of emotions. And that’s because Stana Katic makes us empathize with her character. Strong emotions alternate with shocking torture sequences. But nothing seems more painful than reuniting this agent with her son after a six year disappearance. An extremely promising series if you are amateur of sensation on the small screen. Here is the interview given by the actress to the Cinemagia readers.
To what extent did being executive producer help you and to what extent did it hinder you, in building your character?
Stana Katic:  I’ve been involved in developing the story, writing dialogues and the final assembly. As far as constructing the character, it was not a solitary work, it was a constructive collaboration. Our director guided us through the story trajectory, it was a process in which we interacted with the studio, with the other producers, and worked up to the smallest detail.
As for the variation of conflicting emotions the character goes through, how did you manage that emotional load? The first episode dealt with a variety of emotions. Tell us something about working on these different emotional loading steps.
Stana Katic: It was very challenging because I filmed all ten episodes at a time. So I filmed every day, for example, one scene in episode 5, then one in episode 7, another in episode 9. All in one day. It was like shooting three movies in the 62 days that it took to film the first season. In one scene we were in the water basin, the torture basin, the next we ran through the woods …
Why did this happen?
Stana Katic: Because it had to be filmed between certain dates at certain locations. Some scenes couldn’t be filmed later because some locations would not be available, due to the winter season.
That made your job very difficult.
Stana Katic: Yes, the whole situation was challenging. But we were ready. I liked it. It transmitted an air of authenticity to the character. The best part is that it’s exciting.
The scene with the water tank as a form of torture was, I suppose, the hardest part.
Stana Katic: The emotional intimacy with the situation and the fact that this extreme part of the story had to be documented, because it is something concrete, I had to relate this to a true story and I had to understand what it meant for someone in real life . How does torture affect the psyche. There was a lot of dialogue with the director, and a lot of talks with people who knew these aspects. We have studied how people survived extreme situations: war situations and others.
The scene from the water tank is in some way linked to the criminal profile? Or was he chosen for his visual potential?
Stana Katic: What is known at first about the murderer is that he cuts off the eyelids of his victims, and that is known in the story before the water tank scene. For investigators, however, this water tank is the only link to the killer they have.
What features of your character’s personality did you discover in the script that you liked, features on which you formed your character?
Stana Katic: Her survival personality. The way she overcame all that she went through. This woman goes through everything. And then being a mother. I talked to a survivor from Auschwitz who went through the events there and explained to me what qualities one must have for surviving. I also read the stories of those who changed the course of World War II, spies, soldiers, nurses – all were survivors who, in the face of an abnormal situation, were not beaten, they went on and were better people.
You also listed maternity as an element that gave your character the power to survive …
Stana Katic: I think the character herself is a survivor. She has many obstacles to overcome. However, the maternal feeling is very strong. For example, the character in Taken does anything to save his daughter. These characters do everything to get to their child.
The first episode, which the Romanian audience will see Monday, September 25 at 10:00pm on AXN, has met your expectations?Stana Katic: Yes. Though it’s hard to look objectively. But the most pleasing part is the reaction of the public. At the world premiere of the first episode at the Monte Carlo Television Festival, I saw the public sighing at some scenes, watching the way a character reacts on the screen.
Do you enjoy watching your own films?
Stana Katic: I learned to look at the character in the context of the whole story. And I know when I’ve held up the story and when I could have done better. Now I’ve done better.
Boston was filmed in Bulgaria …
Stana Katic: The city ??is not exactly a character but more of a background and is, in a way, unusual. Everything in our story is somewhat unusual. The characters are a little strange, the story is a little strange. Bulgaria has this beauty, due to its still untouched nature – like when I am in the middle of a birch bush.
Will there be a continuation of this season?
Stana Katic: Yes, one hundred percent. Writers already have a very clear direction for season 2.