Warning: General spoilers ahead
With The Strain being one of my favorite shows on television, all of its characters pique my interest in some way or fashion. However, one that intrigues me in particular is Kelly Goodweather played by the immensely-talented Natalie Brown. Here you have a character who started out in the series as a regular soccer Mom, working at a school, raising her only son, and trying to move on from a recent divorce. Then, last season, that was all turned upside down with Kelly going full strigoi, thus adding an extra challenge to Brown’s portrayal of the character. Then, compounding that complexity this season with Zack being back in the picture, Kelly is now forced to become a mix of the two. You have the warm, loving Mother that Zack still remembers and loves, but because Kelly is still a very underdeveloped strigoi compared to someone like Eichhorst, the vamp side of her is still readily apparent. What’s more, things are about to be kicked in high gear with Eph and Quinlan having officially gone rogue to lure the Master, and Kelly, out using the Lumen as bait.
Fortunately, I was able to recently chat with Natalie about season 3, the evolution of her character, and what we can expect heading into Sunday’s highly-anticipated episode. Check out what she had to say:
TV GEEK TALK: First, congratulations on a superb season 3 premiere! I loved it, and the fans certainly seemed to have loved it too. So, if I’m not mistaken, I think a week has passed since the events of the season 2 finale. That means Zack has been with his strigoi Mom for almost a full week. Can you talk some about Kelly and Zack’s relationship and where it’s currently at?
Natalie Brown: “Kelly and Zack are trying to find a level of comfort, and Kelly is doing her best to put on her brave Mom face, which Zack is helping her do in the first episode. And, she’s trying to establish some trust. We’ll see that Eichhorst has been [continuing] to help Kelly, and the Master has been giving Kelly a much longer leash with which to reconnect with memories and emotions of her old self to make Zack feel more comfortable.”
TV GEEK TALK: Also, now that Kelly has been reunited with Zack, your character has gotten to take a more human-life appearance this season. And, not just in appearance, but in demeanor. We can see that Kelly is trying very hard to be the loving mother, but of course, there’s still that restless vamp inside. What has it been like going back and shooting those types of scenes?
Natalie Brown: “It was an interesting process to layer the vamp on top of the human Kelly and then, the human Kelly on top of the vamp. There’s many layers of Kelly. Some compare it to an onion, but I prefer to [call it] a flower. But, yeah, she has to keep a lid on so many impulses, and we had the benefit of the first 2 episodes being both directed by J. Miles Dale. So, we started off season 3 with Miles, who knows the show inside and out, and we were able to hit the ground running. He was also very helpful [with the Kelly character] to let me know when I was too human or too vamp and to be able to ride that vamp/human line. And, as an actor, she tries to be very articulate and present, but at times, maybe she needs to not be too articulate or too present. So, it was finding that balance between strigoi and soccer Mom.”
TV GEEK TALK: And, do you have a preference of which version of Kelly you enjoy portraying more?
Natalie Brown: “Playing a vamp was such a challenge initially, but I was starting to get quite comfortable in my new rotting skin. It’s funny because in season 2, I had the benefit of 4 1/2 hours of make-up and being with the prosthetic make-up artists who did a lot of heavy lifting for me. I had the little feelers do my dirty work. Then, I had Miles Dale help me step into strigoi Kelly shoes and simply be the character with the wig this season which was an interesting challenge. But I found myself missing the make-up. As much as it was a welcomed reprieve!”
TV GEEK TALK: Now, last season, Kelly spent most of her time with Eichhorst, but this season, she’s with the Master. Can you talk some about this new-found relationship with the Master?
Natalie Brown: “He’s like an ever-present voice in my head. And, not just in the sense that all vampires hear him at all times, but it’s also like that guiding guru who is steering you in the right direction. And, like a lot of classes that we take, whether it’s a yoga class or any class that has an instructor, your body may want to do very different things, but it’s a voice that’s constantly guiding to do the things that you may not really want to do. And, although she has to fight with every fiber of her being not to turn Zack, she knows it’s for a greater purpose.”
TV GEEK TALK : I also think it’s cool that even though you have your son back, you still got to keep your feelers this season. What has it been like back working with the feelers on set? I bet it’s a blast.
Natalie Brown: “Oh, yes, they were my favorite people to work with last season, and I’m so glad I got the benefit of working with them again. They bring so much to every scene, they bring so much to the set. They are little dancers and acrobats who are so darn cute. So, yeah, I’m so happy to have them back this season.”
As kind of a teaser leading up to Sunday’s episode, besides flashbacks of Quinlan, we also have a very good flashback of Eph and Kelly when Zack is born. The birth is shown to be what is called an “en caul birth” meaning the baby emerges still fully entombed in the amniotic sac, and it’s quite rare. There’s a great deal of superstition behind caul births, and some cultures view those born “en caul” to be “Kings by right” due to the distinct leadership abilities they often are found to have. And, in fact, some Buddhist groups insists that a Dalai Lama must be one who is born en caul. Regardless, this flashback scene is very powerful and provides a foundation for the very strong bond between Kelly and her son, as Natalie explains.
Natalie Brown: “I love that scene, and I can’t wait to see it when I actually watch the episode. Some of the flashbacks of Eph and Kelly in the books were so informative for me so that I could understand what forms the connection between the mother and the son. That flashback and the significance of a caul birth connects Kelly and Zack beyond what would be considered a regular mother/son bond. And, I mean the caul baby itself, it’s just so moving. The tears are very real in that scene.”
You may not have already heard, but if you read my review of last night’s episode, you know that this Sunday’s episode is a big one. It has a major plot twist that I don’t think anyone could have anticipated, and the good news is I also was able to speak with Natalie after screening the episode. So, be sure to check back after the East Coast airing for Part 2 of this interview where Natalie discusses filming the groundbreaking episode and hints of what the shocking ending may mean for the remainder of the season.
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