Penny Johnson Jerald took on the role of Capt. Victoria "Iron" Gates at the beginning of Castle Season 4, replacing the 12th precinct's beloved Capt. Montgomery in the process.
Now heading towards the end of Castle season 6, I had the chance to speak with the actress about her upcoming sister act, the blue-eyed stare... and why Castle is her fine dessert.
It looks like we're going to meet Victoria Gates' sister in Castle Season 6 Episode 19. What can you tell us about that?
Well you know what's really special about this episode? It's not only that I have an on-screen sister but I also have a real life sister who is going to make a special appearance on this episode as well. That's pretty cool. It's kind of like a sister in an episode who's not my sister but my real sister will be there too. I'm finding that when that happened I was so excited. I was beside myself. I said to Andrew (Marlowe - show creator), I'm going to be the best little student you've ever had. So I'm excited to see it on Monday.
Will we be meeting the rest of Gates family. Her husband or kids?
I certainly hope so. According to my sister played by Salli Richardson, when she was telling me the back story that she created in her mind, you better meet my family because according to her, they're a trip. We laughed a lot about how I could end up being called Iron Gates with what kind of family and support system I would have back there. However I think that Andrew hits the nail on the head when he introduced the Elizabeth character, Salli's character to show that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. So we're like right there on par with one another and that's really dynamic.
What do you think of Gates' evolving relationship with Castle? She certainly wasn't a fan of his in the beginning. Where would you say they are now and why has it changed?
I think that the only real change is in letting them know that I know. I think she still doesn't quite understand why he has to be there but she is finding an appreciation for the insight that he brings to the precinct and to the different cases. I think right now that the back and forth is the treat. I don't think that we should be all the way on the other side of the fence because then that's not real because he still isn't a detective. He's still a civilian in her precinct and she runs everything so by the book. But she's accepting because he's starting to rub off on her.
I'm sure it wasn't easy walking into a hit show going into its 4th season. How long did it take to feel like a part of the team?
I would say, the moment the cameras rolled on the first scene with Stana (Katic, Kate Beckett) where I said, You can call me Sir. I think that broke the ice, the writing for that. Castle is a whole different animal than any other show that I've ever been on in that everyone is kind of inside of each other's lives on and off screen. It truly is that old familiar word, family. Castle is a family. It starts from the top and it's the way that Andrew runs the whole outfit over there.
Everyone is loving on one another. I mean right now I've never seen a group of people get together when someone is hurting in this family and not just the cast members but production, the crew. And we get together and we try to make it the best for that person. That doesn't really happen. You know, you kind of hear about it and you go, Oh, that's so bad. So sorry, and then you get on with your work but not with this show. They made me feel like I was part of the family.
I didn't feel like I was stepping on anyone's toes because my character, the Captain was being replaced not the actor because there's certainly the knowledge that the love for the Montgomery character is still there too. It was just so accepting from day one.
Have you had a favorite moment or episode thus far on the show?
Oh gosh. You know, every time I think I have a favorite moment or a favorite episode it changes because the next episode happens. As my pastor says, It just gets gooder and gooder. And it just gets gooder and gooder. I mean the episode I'm reading today, it's so wonderful. I think I've had favorite moments but it hasn't been particularly on camera that I can pinpoint. My favorite moments are my hugs from the cast members and the 15 minute blue eyed stare. I mean 15 seconds. 15 minutes would create something else! That's something that Nathan (Fillion, Rick Castle) and I do. I just stare into his big blues for 15 seconds every time that I work and he allows it. Then we do a little smile and we get on with it.
What started that?
It all started with my little granny baby, when she realized that Nathan was a real person and she said, And he has blue eyes! And she wants to see them so I look in his eyes for her every time I work.
What's been your most memorable role over the years?
Well the most memorable is the one I'm doing today because that's what I can remember, just having had a birthday. But the most delicious and the most fun role to date has been Sherry Palmer character (24). I really do and I think what I was going through at that particular time in life. A parent to a teenager/woman and really going to bat with being a great parent and at the time it was mirroring what was going on with 24 with Sherry. She first started out defending her children like any wolf would do for her cubs and then it became something so delicious it went back to the the theater.
I felt like I was back doing the classics. It was Shakespeare, I was playing Lady M. That's a feeling that is going to be hard to top but I certainly hope that it's not over. I hope that I get to play something equally as delicious as Sheri Palmer and just as wonderful with Castle. I put it to you this way, The Larry Saunders Show was like my hors d'oeuvre. 24 was the meal and Castle is a fine dessert. Whatever happens after Castle will be my cordial, my nightcap.
There's only a handful of episodes leading up to the season finale scheduled to air May 12th. Anything you can share with fans about the remainder of the season?
I can tell you this and I said this earlier this morning. When I read the episode that we are about to do which is second to last, I nearly fell off of my treadmill. It's whoa! It took the wind out of me. It is so exciting. I can not wait. And Rob (Bowman) is directing it and when he directs it's like a movie. I can't wait and if I can't wait I know the fans are going to be…to say the expression, they're going to pee their pants. It's going to be so good.
And that's not the finale, it's the one before the season finale?
It's the one before the finale so you can imagine what the finale might bring out.
Castle airs Monday at 10/9c on ABC.