Looking back at The Strain since season 1, Kelly Goodweather is the one character I think most fans would say has grown the most, and in fact, it has probably surprised a great deal of the viewers. Unless you have read the books of the trilogy, you probably would have guessed that Eph’s soccer-Mom wife was on the fast track to being strigoi chow and may have even written her off after she was initially infected. Who would have thought Kelly would go on instead to be the Master’s “chosen one” and work at the right-hand of Thomas Eichhorst (Richard Sammel).
Last Sunday’s episode “Intruders” was a perfect example of just how far Kelly Goodweather has come. With just a few makeup tips and guidance from Eichhorst, Kelly and her feelers take Red Hook by storm and even with Justine Feraldo’s road-blocks and screenings, dang near succeeded in capturing Zack. Will there be a round 2? You can count on it. I was fortunate enough to participate in a press conference call this week with the immensely-talented Natalie Brown to get all the deets on Kelly’s evolution, some great behind-the-scenes intel on Mama Strigoi and her spidey children, and what we can expect the rest of the season. Check out what she had to say:
NATALIE BROWN: Hey, Mary, how are you!
TV GEEK TALK: I’m good, what about you?
NATALIE BROWN: I’m good too. And, thank you so much for all of your positive articles about the show.
TV GEEK TALK: Oh, you’re welcome. “The Strain” is an easy show to love because it’s so fantastic. Speaking of which, loved last night’s episode. Can you talk a little bit about those creepy feelers? I assume they are kids, so how were they cast and how those scenes were shot?
NATALIE BROWN: “They found the actors from various dance studios in the Toronto, and they hired some of the most gifted dancers and acrobats. Most of them were girls, but we had a few boys, a few boy feelers. [Laughs] They are so physically gifted that they’re creepy-looking enough on their own, but they’re also aided with the help of visual effects in speeding up their movements And, they would employ the use of trampolines to help with the springing. Generally, they come across pretty creepy once they’re processed with their hair and makeup, and they were such a joy to work with. They were so enthusiastic, and they loved the makeup process. They did all of Kelly’s dirty work, and they’re the ones down on their hands and doing her bidding. So, yeah, we had a lot of fun playing make-believe and turning some of the darkest subject matter to some of the most fun days on set.”
TV GEEK TALK: You know, I’ve actually been calling the feelers the gift that just keeps on giving because just when you think they’re all gone, poof, a couple more pops up. So, is it safe to say we might see some more of them, or are all of them dead now?
NATALIE BROWN: “I can’t really say for sure, but yeah, there just might be a couple still lingering in the nest.”
QUESTION: In last night’s episode, we also kind of see Kelly and Eichhorst bond when he teaches her how to apply her makeup. How will we see that relationship progress over the course of the season?
NATALIE BROWN: “Well, I will say that one of the most poignant scenes in season 1 was Eichhorst ceremoniously putting on his face. And, I had joked with some of the writers last season that now that Kelly has become a strigoi, my only wish would be to hang out with Eichhorst and to bond over some concealer. [Laughs] You can imagine how thrilled I was when that wish came true, and Eichhorst being one of my favorite characters from season 1 and being one of the most fleshed-out strigoi, I couldn’t ask for a better mentor. And, Richard Sammel portrays Eichhorst superbly, and he has coined the relationship as a kind of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ partnership, and I’m very fortunate to be able to work [with him].”
QUESTION: Now that Kelly is becoming more sentient, do you feel her human nature is coming more forward, and is it so forward that her desire to protect Zack might make her at some point turn against the Master?
NATALIE BROWN: “He is the Master, and he is in control and at the wheel. But, the emotional palette is running deeper the longer she is a sentient being, and with access to the memories, she definitely feels a need to connect, and there is a possibility for more connection, and possibly confusion. But, the Master is at the helm at all times, and so, I think once you are a strigoi, your only desire is really to turn. So, I don’t know if it’s something necessarily that would go against her new instincts, but I do still think she wants to protect him.”
“I also think some of her circumstances before she was turned are retained in her memory and fuel the feud that was between Kelly and Eph. I had said this before, but Guillermo described this as ‘the custody battle that never ends,’ and I now know exactly what he’s talking about. [Laughs]”
Just so everyone knows, I have already screened Sunday’s episode, and what Natalie said in that last sentence turns out to be quite on point. I don’t want to say too much, but I can tell you that Kelly is still pretty pissed at Eph, and that is made clear in the opening scene.
QUESTION: Does she want to turn Zack, or does she want to be with him and you know, hang out?
NATALIE BROWN: “[Laughs] It really is one of the same. I think a vampire turns its loved ones because it’s a way to be with them and a way to protect them. To offer them protection from the things they are vulnerable to as humans, and that is still the goal.”
QUESTION: Can you talk about the process of getting into your strigoi make-up? And, also which Kelly do you prefer? Queen Mother Strigoi or human soccer-Mom?
NATALIE BROWN: “I’m not going to lie, a costume change and a little lipstick can go a long way to make a strigoi happy. But, the 4 1/2 hour makeup and prosthetic process is something I really enjoy. The gifted artist that works on the hair and makeup makes my job really easy. But, being able to experience Kelly as a human-turned-vampire-turned-back-to-human-looking is a challenge that I really relished in. It was really pleasant, a trip to the Day Spa for Kelly. [Laughs]”
QUESTION: Also, can you talk a little bit about how you get into the strigoi character, because you really don’t use words, at least until now?
NATALIE BROWN: “After having gotten the hang of the physical [attributes] of a newly-turned strigoi, the challenge at the beginning of season 2 was letting go of all those affectations and becoming a more sentient being. And, in episode 8 “Intruders”,” then it was a matter of restraint, keeping a lid on my own human tendencies and speaking less articulately and moving more mechanically is something I worked hard on as an actress. Our director was quick to remind me of when to hold back and when to let the foot off the pedal so to speak. She now has access to all her memories and emotions, and it’s like hearing an old familiar song and knowing all the words. It’s like an old familiar sweater.”
TV GEEK TALK: What about the physicality of your role? Have any scenes been particularly challenging and if so, do you do your own stunts?
NATALIE BROWN: “I love attempting my own stunts. I love being physical, and the stunt coordinator I’ve told I’ll give it a go as long as it’s safe. In the episode you just saw, I was not able to leap off a 2nd story to get to Zack. But, I wanted to! [Laughs] That’s when they bring in the professionals. But, I did study a variety of different movement classes and tried to prepare more physically this season. It’s really nice to be more physically foreboding and am glad to be more physical this season. It all depends on what the scene demands, what physicality I’m restraining and what I’m acting on. That is, human tendencies vs. strigoi tendencies.”
TV GEEK TALK: One last question. 4 1/2 hours is a long time for make-up. I’m curious, do you take the longest for makeup, or is there another character that takes longer?
NATALIE BROWN: “You know, I’ve been told I take the longest. Kelly is kind of high maintenance. [Laughs] Although Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) and Bolivar (Jack Kesy) have more body makeup because they’re shirtless. Kelly actually has more transfers, which are layers of silicone that blend the prosthetic pieces. Actually, I would love to share with you when the time is right a time-lapse video of the make-up process. Rupert did it as well, and he seems like he’s more of a meditator during the 4 1/2 hours, whereas I’m chatty Kathy. But, anyways, I’ll post that in the coming weeks so that you can get a sense of what 4 1/2 hours look like when condensed into 28 seconds.”
Okay, Natalie, we will hold you to that on posting the transformation video! I, for one, have been curious since all the way back to the season 1 finale about Natalie’s makeup process and personally can’t wait to see this footage.
In the meantime, we’ll see on Sunday what Kelly’s (and Eichhorst’s) next move may be. I can tell you there will be a 2nd attack, and you thought last Sunday’s episode was intense? That’s nothing, just you wait.
The Strain airs on Sundays at 10/9c on FX.
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com
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