Women take over television – talking to Stana Katic from ‘Absentia’
For eight years she played a tenacious detective alongside Nathan Fillion. Now she returns to television in a darker production – Absentia. We were able to meet Stana Katic and talk about work on the set and what really happened in the final episode of Castle.
DAVID MUSZYNSKI: Your new series debuted on AXN, with you in the lead role. Can you briefly introduce your new character and tell what’s going on in the whole production?
STANA KATIC : I play Emily Byrne, an FBI agent who was kidnapped and considered dead. This happened before beginning of our series. Emily is found in the first episode. It turns out that she was held against her will and tortured for six years. She returns to a new reality; her husband has a new wife, a woman her son now calls “mom.” Her father became very ill.
Is Emily a tough woman or rather mentally broken?
This is definitely a tough woman that can survive under the harshest conditions. Of course, what has changed has changed a lot. Whether the changes are for the better or worse, the audience will have to decide. I know you’ll ask if she’s like Kate Beckett from Castle. The answer is no. Emily is more real. She experiences the real problems that ordinary people face every day. When we omit the topic of abduction, it seems to me that viewers can calmly identify with her. Kate lived in another ficitonal world. Her obstacles were not as real. Castle was a typical entertainment show where we had a case in each episode. The protagonist’s problems were more about entertainment.
You’ve said that you took this project very seriously.
Yes, because under every emotion we try to show important things. I read a lot about the behavior of women who have been held against their will for a long time, for example a decade, and how it affected their psyche. I wanted to gather as much information as possible about my character so that my character was convincing, but also so that the audience knew what these women had to deal with. I read diaries of people who survived even World War II to understand what keeps a person in good spirits after seeing such cruelty firsthand. What made these people continue to live on.
But you don’t feel that Emily has a lot to do with Kate?
At first I had the impression, but then I began to see a lot of differences. Emily is the new archetype of a female heroine. She is a mother, wife, but also a warrior who will stop at nothing to achieve her goal. I liked that although there are a lot of men in the cast, my character is the strongest. She plays the leading role. This time Patrick Heusinger is making the handsome addition (laughs).
You also emphasized during our conversation that Absentia was the greatest acting challenge in your career. Why?
For the first time, I shot a ten-episode series as if it were a movie. Continuously. I spent a few months in Bulgaria, where there was a severe winter and I had to pretend I was in Boston. It’s not an easy job. We previously had a break between the episodes. We could go home, see the family. There was no such possibility this time, just like on film sets. You go to one location and you sit there until you’re done. What was also a plus, because Bulgaria is a beautiful country, is that I was able to get to know and see what their culture looks like. I’ve tried the kitchen, felt what every day living here is like.
Is the series dark?
Dark and brutal, though we wanted all scenes of violence to be perfectly justified so that the viewer, sitting in front of the TV, did not say it was pointless. Violence is a very important part of our story, not cheap entertainment.
I noticed that you are also a producer of the series. Have you ruled a little on the set in this regard?
A little (laughs). I have tried to make everyone have the most comfortable working conditions so that they do not detract from their creativity and performance. It was a very big challenge to take that responsibility. But it’s also a great joy when watching the fruits of your work on television. I also made it a point to tell a proper story about important issues. I was paying attention to more detail than when I was just a regular actor. You probably know what it’s like to have something under your own care. I treated it as an independent film created for American television, and this does not happen very often. In my opinion, independent cinema in today’s times tells the most interesting stories. The kind that people want to see and touch on. This is a field for experiments and some risk.
The question is, does AXN see this too?
I guess so. They signed a contract with us (laughs).
Finally, I would like to ask you about the end of the Castle series . Richard and Kate die or did they survive?
I would like to believe that this story has a happy ending, that they actually lead a happy life with their children. However, it seems to me that it was just a dream and more likely the first version. However, this is one of the endings that’s left open to interpretation and for fans to choose the one they think is best.
But if they actually died, it would not be a happy ending.
Life is not always as joyful as we would like it to be!