Tell me Cassie's death scene in 12 Monkeys Season 1 Episode 9 didn't get you all choked up. The performances were brilliant!
I had a chance to chat with Amanda Schull this week, and she was kind enough to discuss that scene, how she keeps track of all the timey wimey stuff, the joys of live-tweeting and a lot more.
Read on for our exclusive interview with the leading lady of Syfy's 12 Monkeys.
TV Fanatic: I'd like to start by saying congratulations on the renewal!
Amanda Schull: Thank you very very much! Oh gosh I am so excited!
TVF: I've had a chance to talk to Terry [Matalas] a couple of times and I'm psyched because I know he and Travis have a solid plan for the show.
AS: Yes, they're geniuses. I mean, I think it's sort of inherent in the genre that you have to be, I dare say, more creative than a regular television writer. Something like a time travel show, you have to have so much forethought, and the fact that they're creating these other universes and these lives and storylines and everything. I think the world of Terry and Travis. They're two of the brightest people I've ever met in my life.
TVF: I know you were familiar with the 12 Monkeys film. How did you feel about this new re-imagining? It was a risky move.
AS: I think the concern is more with other people. It's not so much that I was concerned that they were actually going to try to take it in a direction that was close to the original that would feel strange, like we were trying too hard. And I didn't think that we would stray so far, that it wouldn't be similar enough because I know how strongly they [Terry and Travis] feel and how fanatic they are about the original themselves.
So it's more just like other people having a preconceived idea about what it is to make a television series that's the adaptation of an original film. I was more worried about people just walking into it with positive or negative ideas, and then being disappointed or expecting something that they didn't get. Or that they keep naysaying until they see what these guys have created.
TVF: Was it hard to keep track of where your character was at any given point in time? I mean with all the timey wimey stuff.
AS: Yes and no. We have really wonderful script supervisors on set, and I take a lot of notes. I also make sure that I do my own timeline with every episode. I love the fact Terry and Travis try to make it to set as much as possible, but we've had some sort of a writer/producer on set with us.
And so, if I have any questions I can always turn somebody and ask or I can just send out a text or a phone call and they will answer them immediately. Because it is important that all the time lines are sort of kept in mind for every single episode, and every single scene. Nobody will let us forget about it even if I weren't as meticulous, but I am a little bit anal with it.
TVF: Did the producers pitch the entire season to you guys; like a general idea? Or were you surprised as each script came in?
AS: I had a general idea yeah. They pitched the season loosely, and I noticed that they pitched it individually, for the most part, to all of us. We all went in and met with the writers. And then, of course, what happens from that meeting to when we actually get to that particular episode, it's subject to so much change. It's subject to so many rewrites, to so many people's input when it's a television show on a network, a lot of people need to weigh in on storyline and so from that moment to fruition is a very different thing.
But I noticed that when they pitched they story to us individually, they tailor each pitch to the person. So, I would say something to Aaron or Noah about a storyline. Well I know in that episode my character blah blah blah and I realized I had no idea what his character was going through in that particular episode because they only told me about my character.
And that's sort of smart in a lot of ways, in particular with Noah and myself being in one time period only. My character wouldn't know what was going on with people in other years. It was a surprise when I would eventually get things with just a rough outline of my understanding.
TVF: Let's talk about Cassie's big death scene. We all knew it was coming, but it was devastating nonetheless. What was that like to shoot?
AS: It's funny, Travis was on set for that scene being shot and he didn't talk to me a lot during it. But afterwards, I heard him go up to Terry and say yeah man I kinda cried or something along those lines. And I thought, okay we're on the right page. We're doing this the way they want it to go. But they didn't say much of anything when we were doing it. They had stressed the importance of that scene, and my character says at one point, "A lot has happened between the two of us" in those two years.
She says something along those lines, and Terry gave me a few ideas of what has happened between Cole and Cassie in those two years. So, I was able to take that and do some homework and kind of, in my own way, sort of imagine and live out the life that these two had lived during those two years. So that's what I was thinking about during that scene.
TVF: That's where I was going next, can you talk about those two years at all? Or is that season two stuff?
AS: I think it'll probably be season two stuff, but good try! [laughs]
TVF: Terry debunked the theory that Jones and Cassie are the same person. Can you debunk the other theory, that Cassie is her daughter?
AS: Cassie is not her daughter, as far as I know. I think Cassie is too old to be her daughter.
TVF: Yeah, because Hannah is the name of Jones' daughter right?
AS: Exactly and I didn't want to reference that just in case you had forgotten or hadn't noticed it. But yeah, of course on the blanket that you saw in the chest there was a blanket with the name Hannah stitched into it.
TVF: With 12 Monkeys Season 1 rolling out the last few episodes, do you have a favorite?
AS: I think every episode I watch. It's hard because we shot a lot of them simultaneously, and some of them we shot so quickly or it seems like so long ago. So I'll watch an episode and I'll think oh my gosh I forgot about that stuff, I love it. And then the next episode will happen and I'll think oh my gosh I forgot about that one.
TVF: Right and they're all so different.
AS: Exactly, it's not like your typical formulaic television program, where you know the murder is resolved at the end of 42 minutes and everybody walks away very happy with themselves. Every single episode has a totally unique mythology, there's a little puzzle piece that's revealed and you learn more about different characters lives and histories and everything.
And so, I love a lot of the episodes that I didn't get to participate in as much and see a lot of the stuff going on in 2043. I love the Deacon episode with Todd [Stashwick] a few weeks ago. He was fantastic in it, and you know I didn't get to work with him. So just getting to see his take on a character that I had only read on paper was wonderful. I loved it.
TVF: Yeah that was definitely a cool episode. And the "Night Room" I thought was phenomenal as well.
AS: You liked the Night Room? Oh good! [Laughs]
TVF: You seem to enjoy the Friday night live-tweeting. What's your favorite part about connecting directly with the fans?
AS: It's a really interesting instant feedback from people that we get. That's not something I ever thought about being able to have as an actor in television and film. It's something that you get more so with theater. I used to dance professionally, and you get that energy from the audience coming at you and you obviously get the applause and you feel their emotions instantly.
This is the first time I've ever really done a live-tweet thing, and it's the first time I've ever had this kind of access to people. It's really nice to see and read people's reaction so spontaneously. It's a real privilege.
TVF: This episode is a game-changer. Have you seen it and is there anything (not too spoilery) you can hint about it?
AS: I haven't seen it. I don't watch any of the episodes until I watch them with everybody. So, when I tweet I'm watching it for the first time also. I obviously know what happens, because I read the scripts and everything. But I don't know how they get edited together. Sometimes things get edited together differently and little things are left out or little things have been added that I didn't realize.
I see a little bit when I get to do ADR work. So I see little snippets that I'm in. This particular episode was really fun and it was directed by Magnus Martens, who was a lot of fun to work with. He has a very dry sense of humor, and we had a great time working on it.
12 Monkeys Season 1 Episode 10 airs tonight, March 20 at 9/8c on Syfy