Archive for: Interview
Absentia fans get ready. Season 2 of the show premieres June 14 on Amazon Prime and promises to be just as juicy as its predecessor. “Season two takes everything up a thousand notches. It’s high velocity and our story eventually will take us out to Europe and the way in which it does is so exciting. I can’t wait for audiences to see it!” says Stana Katic, who previously starred in Castle, of what fans can expect.
Portraying Emily Byrnes requires that Katic gets in a specific kind of shape. “The type of action that I’m doing in this series is full on,” she tells Parade. “There are no breathers in between. This is full throttle!” So when she’s prepping for the series, the actress finds herself upping her fitness routine. But even when she’s not on set, staying in shape is important to Katic. We caught up with the star to hear about her typical wellness routine plus how that changes whenever she’s hopping into a new character’s world.
Getting in Emily mode
When we start shooting Absentia, there are late nights and early mornings and rehearsals and everything, then on top of it, the scenes are extraordinarily physically and emotionally taxing. So it’s important to have that strength built up in order to sustain for those three to four months of filming. My fitness routine is going to change depending on what is the task at hand. For me, at this stage, it’s character dependence. Emily is a character that, especially for first season, she was on the run, second season there’s also a certain amount of, high velocity action for the character. So I had to groom the fitness routine so that it would lead towards something that not just for me as an actor would be sustainable for the year, but also would help produce what I needed for this character. So one of the things that I was doing in advance was really hard hiking. It’s important for me that this character—because she starts off the season emotionally vulnerable and unsettled and haunted—have a look that was physically raw and almost gaunt. She’s more lean and wiry than oftentimes other characters that I’ve played.
So I did a tremendous amount of hiking because I wanted to maintain strength and maintain stamina. And on top of that, for me, hiking throughout the process of filming is very healing. I love going out into the woods and just experiencing nature. I find it very soothing. And so when I was building a character like this and when I was working on her, because it is emotionally taxing as well, I found it to be a wonderful resource to run away into the woods and go for a really long hike up into the mountains and to kind of regroup before the rest of the filming schedule started up again.
Fitness in between roles
Yoga is a large part of my everyday fitness routine. I started yoga in drama school, which was focused on creating an awareness of movement. We had a really wonderful yoga instructor who introduced us to try it to get our bodies strong, but also help us to get in touch with all of the tools that we would need in order to perform. And I just kept going with it. I find it to be a really wonderful resource personally. And in fact, I enjoyed it so much that I went and got certified for yoga teacher training. I’m not going to teach in public, but I do teach dear family and friends occasionally. We’ll do a class together. It’s nothing that a wildly strict in format. We’ll sit down and get a good flow going and call it a day after an hour.
I do yoga at least four or five times a week. Sometimes I’ll do my own routine. And then sometimes I’ll go off to a class. It depends on where I am in the world. I like the flow classes. I find that that’s a really nice way to start the morning and get into the rest of the day.
I keep up on the hiking and actually I find that in addition to getting into shape for work, I absolutely love it. There are some really wonderful hikes over here in California as well as all across Europe. When we were filming, I met this beautiful alpinist’s family who had three generations of mountain climbers who also taught skiing to children in Bulgaria. And they would take me out on these really extraordinary hikes in parts of the mountains over there that not a lot of tourists and foreigners would have access to. And they were just so generous to share that part of the world and the beauty there with me. And then even when I go to my parent’s village in Dalmatia, I’ll go hiking up in the mountains over there. I think it’s a really lovely way to explore nature and to get a good exercise going.
Loving the plant-based life
I think in general if you’d compare me to the general population, I have more of a plant-based diet primarily. I just find that it’s really nutritious. I try to grow my own food sometimes as well. And that’s really nice to get your own tomatoes out of your garden and to be able to put that into a salad or make a soup out of that. So that’s pretty much my food regimen.
Typical meals in a day
Breakfast, it depends if I’ve worked out in the morning. I’m doing a lot of strength training recently that mixes in boxing as well because I’m focused on prepping for a project that I’ve got coming up. So there’s a bit of muscle building happening so I definitely try to get protein in right after a workout like that. So I’ll make myself a shake with this really wonderful green protein called Complete Greens. A wonderful green drink early in the morning after workout for me in two stalks of celery, a handful of spinach, a touch of water, and an apple sliced up, pear sliced up, and a frozen banana, and then a spoonful of that protein.
I love making salads in a jar. And because I’m oftentimes traveling around L.A. or on set or or heading off to a somewhere in the world, I find that setting myself up with a salad in a jar is a great way for me to get in a healthy meal. You can get a lot of great salad in a jar ideas on Pinterest. I’ll just set it up for the week. So let’s say you make four or five for the week and then have a nice dressing ready to go and mix the two, grab a fork, head out the door and it’s a really delicious sometimes snack, sometimes actual meal, depending on how complicated I’ve made it. So it’s a really great food to have and it’s very nutritious and delicious.
Here’s my go-to recipe:
The bottom will be tomatoes, let’s say. And I do love grabbing my own homemade tomatoes. And then maybe slice some avocados and then sprouts of some sort, lettuce, like a butter lettuce chopped up. Sometimes pistachios, sometimes pine nuts, sometimes dry cranberries, cucumbers for sure, maybe some non-GMO corn. Anything seasonal I’ll try to throw in. If I’ve just recently grilled some vegetables like asparagus or something like that, I put that in. And sometimes I’ll put some quinoa in as well. And then I just leave that in the fridge. It keeps for a few days, which is really lovely. So you could set yourself up for the rest of the work week and be OK. And then as far as dressing, I really love squeezed lemon juice and olive oil and salt and that’s my jam.
Healthy food = healthy fuel but make way for some splurges
Starting off my morning with warm lemon water is really nice. It sets my stomach up so that I can digest better. So I find that when I do eat in a healthy manner, I feel great and energized and it just boosts everything for me. But I love drinking a cup of coffee. I love going out with a good girlfriend and having a cookie or a treat or a dessert in any cafe somewhere. So it’s good to have this kind of food base because I feel like I have the freedom to go and chase things that maybe aren’t traditionally considered healthy but in balance, it’s all good ultimately.
A little furniture shopping for the soul
I have this guilty pleasure. When I’m kind of stressed out or bummed, I really love going to furniture shops. And I love just walking around a really beautifully arranged furniture place. In L.A. there’s a number of course, because there’s a great design community over here. So just walking through like JF Chen or HD Buttercup or Pacific Design Center and Restoration Hardware, those are really nice places for me to get inspired and also rewire my thinking for a minute. So that’s one thing that I do. I get very inspired by architecture and design and beautiful furniture. So just getting exposed to that, I find it really calming and it just rewires things from me for a bit.
And then in addition to that, definitely meditation. I find that at a key tool. The first time I meditated, it was a guided meditation in my high school English class. And it really hit a chord with me. So I find that that’s a great resource, especially given what we do as actors and also given the kind of character that have just played recently in Emily for Absentia. I’ve found that that was a nice resource to have during filming days.
You can find all the photos and videos of Stana promoting Absentia in Portugal and Spain last week below!
For eight seasons, Stana Katic made Castle a must-see for crime TV fans.
The actress stole the show as detective Kate Beckett. And alongside her co-star, Nathan Fillion, she turned the series into one of the best shows on TV.
Which is why it came as a complete shock when the star was released from her contract ahead of the show’s ninth season.
Unsurprisingly, Castle was cancelled shortly after.
Luckily for us, the 39-year-old is back on the small screen. Catching up with TV WEEK, Stana chats about her role in Amazon Prime’s latest drama, Absentia.
What is Absentia about?
We start the story six years after my character, Emily, has been kidnapped. She was an FBI agent who was on the hunt for one of Boston’s biggest serial killers. Emily is believed to be dead and is declared so.
At the beginning of the story, we’re in court with the person who is believed to have killed her.
But we find out that she’s actually alive. She has been in what is the equivalent of a torture situation for these past six years.
Why did you think this was the right role to bring you back to television?
When I spoke to my agents about what we should be on the lookout for, I told them I didn’t want to play a mum, and I didn’t want to play someone’s girlfriend.
Traditionally, from what I’ve seen, those characters are tools in the story. They’re not actually driving the story.
Then, when I read for Emily, I was really surprised to find a character who happened to be, in so many ways, all of those things.
She held all of those titles, but was very much driving this story forward.
How is it different to Castle?
Castle was beautiful because it was a romantic-comedy procedural. It was charming. This story is challenging.
Filming Absentia was also challenging because we cross boarded the entire series. That means, we shot any episode at any point in time throughout the series. So I had days where I was shooting episode one in the morning, then episode five in the afternoon and episode three in the evening.
Have you made peace with how Castle handled your exit?
I was confused by the entire experience, and I was hurt. But that was two years ago. Since then, I genuinely look back on that experience and am thankful to have been part of that project.
It’d be a disservice to the work I did to be anything but grateful for an awesome run.
On whether she feels there is a bit of a societal pressure now happening finally:
This is an exciting, wonderful gift we are being given. It’s not just women. It’s minorities. It’s people who perhaps have different sexualities. An underrepresented group, suddenly gets representation in a position of decision making that has reverberating effects across the globe.
For that reason, our stories will only become more and more interesting. We will have a broader range of stories to tell. I want to see those stories. I want to see the stories about the Deep South and I want to see the stories from minority groups in the middle of Thailand or what not. I want to see those stories, those are true. I relate to those stories because those are human stories and it’s not man/woman, black/white, Asian/European, those are human stories. That’s my soapbox.
On whether she has found her voice especially as an executive producer of “Absentia” and after her abrupt exit from “Castle”:
Do I think I found my voice? Good question. I feel like I am growing constantly. I feel like I am learning and understanding what it means to take on these different positions and roles in filmmaking and in entertainment. I am fortunate to be partnered up with Sony on this project because they have been so welcoming. A lot of our Executive Producers are women and I think that they have just approached it in a very kind of, let’s come to the table, best idea wins sort of way and that is a really wonderful and really comfortable space to work from. So I feel like I am growing into what it means to have that voice and be that collaborator and truly trying to be the best partner that I can in that situation.
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.
Home > Magazine Scans > 2018 > TV Guide – February 2018
Editor’s Note: This is part of a new GoodHousekeeping.com series, Month of Me. In January, we’re officially banning “should” (as in, “I should go on the treadmill,” or “I should clean the garage”) and encouraging you to give yourself a break after the holiday season. All month long, we’ll be sharing personal essays and more inspiration to help you take time for yourself. Here, Stana Katic, who plays Special Agent Emily Byrne on Amazon Prime’s Absentia, shares the many ways that she refuels her body so that she can successfully hunt down serial killers on TV.
On the benefits of nature:
Right now, I am growing a few sprouts of tomato plants and chard in a little terrarium. There’s nothing better than home-grown, chemical-free fruits and vegetables. Working with the earth is peaceful for me. I even have an herb wall that makes for great picking when I need a relaxing dose of lemon verbena or mint tea.
On my passion for yoga:
I got introduced to yoga in drama school. It’s now a mainstay in my life, ever since I got instructor certification at a teacher-training intensive. I even occasionally guide an intimate class of friends and family, but mostly the training was to serve and deepen my own practice.
On the unifying power of food:
I would not say that I am an “aficionado” in this arena by any means; however, over the past few years, I have been studying the history of the cuisine of a small region in Dalmatia (my family hails from there). The experience has been almost like an archaeological/anthropological adventure. And, over time, I’ve found the wonderful connective power of cooking and sharing food. It can surpass many hardline differences like age, politics, and religion. So, now it’s become a bit of a passion project that inspires me whenever I have a free moment.
On the joy of pets:
My dog gives me such joy and makes me laugh incessantly. His quirky personality, his intelligence, his kindness, his spooky intuition, his fuzzy ears … and yes, he is literally the smartest, handsomest, most magnificent human on the planet (not biased at all).
SHOP STANA KATIC’S “MONTH OF ME” KIT:
Terrarium ($24, amazon.com)
Tomato seed kit ($20, uncommongoods.com)
Yoga mat ($68, lululemon.com)
Absentia premieres on Amazon Prime on February 2.