Ex-‘Castle’ star on new series: ‘Really nice to have a voice’
After her abrupt, controversial exit from ABC’s “Castle,” Stana Katic wanted more creative control over her next TV project, “Absentia.”
“They were open to the idea of me participating as an executive producer,” she says about her new Amazon series. “It was really nice to have a voice. In today’s landscape in Hollywood, I think it behooves a woman — when we have the opportunity to have a seat at the table — to take it.”
Like “Castle,” “Absentia” concerns crime, though that’s where their similarities end. While “Castle” — in which Katic co-starred with Nathan Fillion — was a dramedy procedural, “Absentia” is a thriller. Katic plays FBI agent Emily Byrne, who reappears six years after she’s declared dead. To make matters worse, she has no memory of the missing time. Upon her return, she finds that her husband has remarried and she’s implicated in a new series of murders.
After “Castle’s” eighth season, ABC announced that Katic would not be part of a potential ninth season with Fillion, reportedly due to “budgetary reasons.” It was an unpleasant surprise for Katic.
(And “Castle” never did return for a ninth season.)
But Katic says that filmmaking is also one of her longtime interests — another reason she was drawn to “Absentia.” “Regardless of any experiences in the past, for me it really is important to be engrossed in as much as the creative process as I possibly can,” she says. “I was surprised with how much the eight years I spent on ‘Castle’ actually serviced that. I ended up, in a way, having a free education on that show.
“I would always ask a lot of questions of the producers and the directors. It was a subtle absorption of information that I was able to then turn around and, I believe, created added value for this new project.”
One unexpected aspect of her “Absentia” role, however, is the fact that Emily is a mother. Although Katic had many offers after “Castle,” she had specific limits in mind.
“I [told my agent], ‘This sounds terrible but I don’t want to play a mom and I don’t want to play a girlfriend or the wife-of.’ In many stories, those characters are just worrying and that’s it,” she says. “That’s their role in the entire movie or series — they just worry and they’re not a part of the actual arc or engine that moves the story along.”
But when “Absentia” came to her attention, she perked up.
“This is one of the few roles that I saw where, yes, this woman has a kid and that plays into the story, but she has an amazing relationship with this child. She’s so much more. She’s a badass, she’s a survivor of something extreme. Being able to play with all of those dimensions was really exciting.”
Her main sources of inspiration to play Emily might be surprising: Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy.
“I love Cillian Murphy’s character in ‘Peaky Blinders’ and Tom Hardy’s in ‘Taboo’ — theses are characters that as audience members, we follow along with and root for,” she says. “But our own morality is tested throughout that journey, because these characters ride a thin line between morality and amorality.
“I think that’s really interesting.”