Here’s Part 2 of our reporter call with Sarah Wayne Callies! You can read Part 1 here.
How would you compare Colony with the Walking Dead? I mean, both deal with society rebuilding after a major event.
Sarah: You know, with all due respect, I don’t know that I would characterize them that way. Colony isn’t about a society rebuilding. The society is built and it’s fully articulated and it’s a dictatorship. It’s a hyper-organized state with massive amounts of flaws and oversight.
Whereas, the Walking Dead is a world of anarchy and of chaos and a world in which people are trying to move on. I don’t know the extent to which there’s any rebuilding insofar as I don’t know that there’s anyone who’s organizing people into like a police force (unintelligible) first season. And by that, I think it seems to be more of a kind of survival thing. So I think one is a story of anarchy and the other is a story of dictatorship.
What are your thoughts on the historical aspects and the social commentary of the colony as it compares to other occupation style stories? You know, like historically with America’s Japanese internment camps or fictionally such as the original V show with its World War Two allegory.
Sarah: You know, it’s been so long since I’ve seen V that I’m not probably real equipped to speak to that. I still have it, but I have it on like VHS, which makes it a little tricky to watch — although I think I’ve got a VHS player somewhere.
I mean, you know, I think in the great tradition of science fiction, Colony draws very heavily from history. When I first read it, I actually – the first thing it put me in mind of was Sinn Fein and the IRA during the Troubles. And when I spoke to Ryan about it the first time, you know, he told me that it was based on the Nazi occupation of Paris. Juan Campanella has brought wonderful insight into life under dictatorship, which you know, is how he grew up.
So I think we’ve – you know, it was really smart to bring up Executive Order. And I know with the Japanese internment camps and everything, I think there’s – you’d be hard-pressed to find a country that doesn’t have either a history of being an occupier or being occupied. And so hopefully this story becomes portable in that sense in that it feels personal to a wide audience who bring their own history and their own experience to it.
I mean, I’m sure that, you know, there are probably indigenous communities in North America who would watch it and feel like they’re living in a colony right now.
This is related to the previous questions that you were asked. The characters of Katie and Lori Grimes in the Walking Dead, they’re sort of in a similar situation — they’re trying to hold their families together and preserve some degree of normality despite, you know, what’s a big shock to the society they live in. So, can you compare and contrast those two characters a little bit?Also as a sort of follow up to that, can you tell us what you consider to be Katie’s biggest strengths and weaknesses?
Sarah: Sure. You know, I think the main amass of difference between Katie and Lori, who feel incredibly far apart. I mean first of all, when you start the show at the beginning of Walking Dead, even before the apocalypse happened, Rick and Lori’s marriage was really in trouble. We met them at a time when even though they had a long history together and a ton of love, they weren’t – it wasn’t working between the two of them.
And when we meet Will and Katie, they’re rock solid. They’ve been through incredible challenges and they are having a very difficult time individually, but I think they’re doing a wonderful job of supporting each other and they love the shit out of each other.
So right there, you know, sort of setting off on different tracks. And then Katie has available to her what Lori never did, which is a viable alternative for the life, the circumstances of the life that they’re living right now, right? You know, there’s no like zombie resistance movement. Nor is there a collaboration movement because zombies don’t represent an opinion. They don’t represent – they’re a threat. But they’re not organized and they’re not intelligent and they’re not actively oppressing people. They just sort of are as predators.
Whereas – and so there’s no ideological attack to be mounted, right? You can’t sit there with a bunch of zombies and be like hey listen, we’ve got to talk about this. Like that’s just not a part of that world. Whereas the world in which Will and Katie are living is a world where the physical manifestations are brutal and vicious, but they’re physical manifestations of ultimately an ideal, a position, which is there is an outside force saying you are only worth what we decide you’re worth. We’re going to completely control you, extract what we need, and as far as we know, we’re not going to feel bad about that.
So Katie is in a position to, you know, forgive the quote but take on this situation. And that I think does something important internally, which is when people feel that they’re able to take steps to move towards a more hopeful future, they feel better, for lack of a better, more blunt way to put it. You know, there’s something that can – I think as difficult as the Resistance work is and a compromise that it is, Katie kisses her kids when she puts them to bed at night knowing Momma’s fighting for you. As opposed to Lori, who I think was in a position of having to like, I’m doing my best but there’s not that much I can do.
What was your most memorable episode to work on and why?
Sarah: Probably episode nine. There was – the big fight scene argument between Will and Katie outside was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever shot, worked on. And it became a really extraordinary experience actually, because Josh and I and Ryan and Carlton all had really important things that we wanted to say and be said in the course of that scene. And in a way, that scene is the culmination of every move that Will and Katie have made in this chess game until then.
And so we came into it with so much passion and the scene went through lots and lots of revisions — both getting up to it on the day that we were shooting it, as we were shooting it. We had to go back and reshoot a few things because we changed some things.
And it was one of those creative experiences that gave me so much faith and gratitude for the people that I work with, because you know, it’s Ryan Condal, Carlton Cuse, Josh Holloway, and me. All three of them are my bosses, you know, like Josh is an VP on the show. And one of the most successful showrunners alive. Ryan, you know, he and Carlton created the show together and at no point did anyone assert like dominance over anyone.
At no point did Carlton go, hey fuck you guys. Just write what I wrote because I’m Carlton Cuse and (fuck) it. Like, never. It was that he was so respectful where everybody was heard. Everybody had a chance to work with one another, and I came away from that, you know, and then so it’s written and then Josh and I just go ok and like how to do our thing.
I came away from it with such respect and gratitude for the people that I work with. And really thinking, well since we’ve been through this together, we’ve now achieved a new level of trust. We can now do so much more — dangerously, creatively, collaboratively — next season. It was, yes, it was really meaningful, that one.
We produce a weekly podcast all about Colony (TalkColony) and have commented since the pilot episode that Katie has such a big heart. And I know that you do as well. Can you give us an update on your important work with the IRC (International Rescue Committee) and tell us how that work might influence your portrayal of Katie’s compassion on Colony?
Sarah: Wow, what a cool question. And thanks for the podcast. That’s amazing. I’ve never listened to a podcast in my life. I don’t know how, but if I did I would listen to you guys. That’s really great.
Well, I actually just got back three weeks ago from Serbia. I was with the IRC there following the refugee route from – actually I started in Macedonia, so going up through (unintelligible) all the way up through Belgrade and then up to (Unintelligible) on the Croatian border. Sort of it felt like it was, you know, kind of checking in on my friends, right? But a few years ago, I was teaching camp back in Jordan and (unintelligible) this kind of following the route.
You know, it was a – refugee work is always surprising to me. I always, you know, you go in with things in your head and they all turn out to be wrong. I can’t tell you how many people, refugees that I spoke with, at the end of our trip with the bearers and said, may God bless you and may you be safe and I hope you’re well. And I’m going, I am. Thank you. I’m fine. It’s no, God bless you and may you be safe and may you be well. I mean, there’s such a large (estimate) of generosity of spirit. You know, I came away from it really hopeful and positive because of work that the IRC and all of these amazing international aid agencies are doing. It’s really working.
There’s a lot of protection. There’s a lot of services. There’s a lot of information. There’s a lot of dignity and humanity being delivered to a population that has had very little of either in the last five years with this eternal war that’s been going on.
And the thing that everybody kept saying to me was as long as the borders stay open and as long as the aid keeps coming in, we can do this. And there’s such smart, creative people who made up all of these amazing solutions. The day I left, Macedonia started restricting people and Austria started restricting people and borders have been slamming shut ever since.
And so what breaks my heart is knowing that we had a working system in place of getting people from these terrifying, horrible war zones into safety, and the route is almost gone now. And (question) – no one’s going to go home, right? No one’s going to be like, sorry. They closed the border? All right. I’m going to go back and live in Homs in my pile of rubble with no food and bombs dropping every day. No one’s going to do that. So they’re going to try and find another way to get there. And that puts them the way of smugglers and traffickers and they’re going to end up in sex slavery and young boys are being routinely raped and you know what I mean? We haven’t solved the problem. We just made sure that a population that has already been suffering is going to continue to suffer. And that kind of breaks my heart.
As for how that folds into Katie, I don’t know. I think, you know, for me personally maybe the part of it that really changed in me, I’ve never been afraid to do refugee work before. But getting on the plane, I was scared. Not scared of refugees — I’m not scared of them. But ISIS has been hard (unintelligible) aid workers this past trip with the Middle East. And I had a few moments of going maybe I shouldn’t go. I have children. I have family. And the choice to me was to try and walk through the fear hoping that on the other side I would be able to say to people (things) are ok. We can (speak) for compassion without it breaking us.
And I think that Katie’s really close to me and so I think Katie represents a similar kind of perspective, which is that maybe we can’t be so narrowly focused on the needs and wants of our own family that we turn our backs on needs and wants of other families that can’t provide for themselves.
I guess the problem with being last is that all the great questions were asked. So, I’ll go a different route and congratulate you, first of all on your luckiness with working with great characters or great men such as Wentworth Miller, Josh Holloway, Andrew Lincoln. I know we were talking greater good here and global consciousness, and I almost feel this is a bit shallow. But Sarah, I want little scoop on some of those guys. Could you give us a little of that today?
Sarah: You know, I will say I don’t know how this happens. Careers have been characterized by some of the most handsome leading men alive. I don’t know. I don’t get that. It’s certainly – like it’s not a requirement, you know, if you’re thinking that I took the job with Colony because I was like, “another staggeringly good looking co-star. I’m in.” I didn’t even know Josh was playing the part when I auditioned and stuff. It’s kind of crazy.
I will say that, you know, the great bonus is some of those people become such incredibly close friends. And it’s not always that way, but you know, by and large these are men who are as kind and talented and devoted and funny as they are handsome — which is saying something.
You know, it’s nice when you can walk away from a job with a real friendship, and you know, some of those friendships have really endured. I’ve known Holloway for ten years. Our kids are almost the same age, you know, we’ve both been married since the dinosaurs roamed the earth. There’s a sense of history and camaraderie there that’s been wonderful. And you know, whereas like Andy Lincoln and Jon Bernthal have become really good friends. You know, I was in the hospital when Jon’s daughter was born, and we were at Andy’s house just before Christmas this year. I didn’t know either one of them until the show started. And I think Josh and I had the great good fortune of being able to work together
knowing coming into the job this is someone I like. This is someone I trust. And this is someone with whom I can really play and try and grow and learn more as an actor. That’s the cool part for me, for sure.
You realize, we were talking about double standards. If I was a guy and asked that of the guy and, you know, a pretty woman, we’d probably, you know, be calling sexual harassment or something. We can’t ask that. But thanks for answering the question.
Sarah: Well, for what it’s worth, I mean, I’ve also worked with a huge number of really extraordinary women, you know? I mean, Amanda (Righetti), who plays my sister Maddie on the show is just such an awesome, wonderful person. I can’t believe we haven’t had that many scenes together. We had to resort to taking our kids together to the park on the weekend because we didn’t work much.
Kim Rhodes is absolutely amazing. Just – Melissa McBride, Laurie Holden, like I’ve had people I’ve worked with because they’ve been my (unintelligible) and they’ve been romantic stories and all of that. But there have been an absolutely equal number of powerhouse women in my career. And I’m as grateful for that as I could be.
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