Exclusive Interview with Jessy Schram – From Princess to Villain (Once Upon a Time, Falling Skies, Last Resort)| August 18, 2012 at 6:12 PM EDT
Chances are you’ve seen (or will see) Jessy Schram on your TV screens at least once this year. Do you like Science Fiction? Maybe you’ve seen her as a villain on Falling Skies. Or maybe you prefer romantic fantasies? Then I bet you’ve seen her as the princess Cinderella (aka Ashley) on Once Upon a Time. Do you love an intense military/conspiracy drama? Check her out on Last Resort premiering in the spring. The point is, Jessy Schram is a busy girl, but she took a time out to speak with me about her many roles.
When I spoke to her she had just finished talking to some Navy Wives as research for her role on Last Resort. But before I got to that show, we started out talking about Falling Skies, which airs its finale this Sunday on TNT.
Jessy Schram on Falling Skies
Small Screen Scoop (SSS): When you signed on to play Karen, did you know she was going to be essentially the villain? Was that made clear? I’ve been curious about that because I found it so surprising.
Jessy Schram (JS): No. No. Not in any way shape or form. When I signed on for Karen the initial story that was dropped on us was to have the love triangle between Karen, Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) and Hal (Drew Roy) and kind of play that out with them. And she was just the dirt bike riding scout and you would see how their romance grew and she was one of the fighters, one of the soldiers. So getting captured was a surprise to me as well. They decided sprinkle her where they needed to and then season 2 came around and even in the finale of last year – being the vocal chords of the aliens was a huge surprise. Every step of the way it’s been something that’s just as new to me as it is to the audience. When I signed on I was not the villain, it just kind of happened that way. It’s funny, they kind of saw me and said, you can do that!
SSS: I think it works because you’ve got the sweet face thing going on…
JS: Right? There’s this kind of innocence that comes with Karen, I feel like. And they are like, wow, this is a lot creepier than we thought it would be. And it works!
SSS: And it really worked with the scenes with Ben (Connor Jessup). You almost wanted to believe that she was actually trying to be good with him.
JS: That was a huge thought process with those scenes too because when I was reading those I didn’t know what the next script was going to be so I was trying to figure out how much Karen was actually there. A lot of it was really genuine, to be completely honest. There was the not knowing what was genuine and what’s not, but I loved the interactions with Ben when Karen comes around and what people are going to consider the manipulation. What a lot of people will consider evil was just kind of the plan for Karen.
SSS: Are you enjoying playing a villain?
JS: I’m loving it! It’s definitely been an adjustment. There will be some things that come up in the script where you think, ‘Oh! I don’t want to have to do that! I don’t want to have to be that person!’ But then at the same time it’s been a fun challenge. And because it is, what I’d consider, far from myself it’s really fun to act that and put on that character.
SSS: Is there anything you can tease about the finale? I know going in, the main group seems to have as much to fear from the leaders in Charleston as they do the aliens, which has been interesting.
JS: Well, I was reading the script again last night because I haven’t seen the finale yet, actually, and one of the things after watching this whole season that really became apparent is, in the finale, there’s a lot that ends in a lot of different ways. But at the same time there are so many new beginnings in just this one episode. A lot of things come to a close, but so much more opens.
(Below: Falling Skies Season 3 Spoilers!)
SSS: And will we see you in Season 3, or can you not tell me that?
JS: [laughs] Well, when we leave off, Karen is alive. I can say that. Karen is alive.
Jessy Schram on Once Upon a Time
SSS: Okay, on the completely other end of the spectrum, there is Once Upon A Time where you play Cinderella. What is it like to play such an epic princess?
JS: It’s been so fun because, yes, I’m playing this epic princess but we are playing the story of before she got there and during when she got there. We’re not playing the happy ending yet. I think that’s the most fun part about playing Cinderella, we’re playing all the other lines. There is no such thing as a happy ending. So it’s been fun to put those shoes on and to take on a little bit of that responsibility of bringing her to life as a person you can connect with, as opposed to this person that you dream about being.
(Below: Once Upon a Time Season 2 Spoilers!)
SSS: Are you going to be in Season 2?
JS: You know what, I’m not sure because of the other shows. I know that it’s an open ended story as well because all of our characters are still living in Storybrooke. Season two they are introducing so many new characters like they did throughout season one. There are so many of us in there, including Cinderella, and when the story lines match up to when she is needed, I’ll definitely be there.
Jessy Schram on Last Resort
SSS: And then there is Last Resort. First of all, I have to say, of all the new fall pilots, this is one of the top ones I am looking forward to.
JS: Oh good! That makes me so happy!
SSS: When they were casting it, I was pretty sure [creator] Shawn Ryan was casting it just for me. I was excited with every new casting announcement.
JS: Oh it’s a huge cast! And honestly, it’s such a good cast. I remember reading the script, loving it. Doing it, we’re all very separate in the worlds we are in and it happens so fast. When the pilot came out I just remember feeling so… so lucky to be part of that cast because I’m in awe of everyone’s performances. I think, ‘What? I’m part of that?’ [laughs]
SSS: Also, personally, I watched Felicity, soooo….
JS: Ahhh. Yes. My sister grew up watching Felicity and I watched a little bit. And I’ve known Scott Speedman’s work just from over the years seeing him here and there. It’s been really great working with him, but only recently did I start watching a bit of Felicity.
SSS: So tell me about your character, Christine. I know she is a Navy wife…
JS: Yes, she’s the wife of the XO [Executive Officer] on the ship, Sam Kendal, which is played by Scott Speedman. She is definitely a strong, independent, patient woman who married into this, but at the same time didn’t really sign up for it. So, I’m playing the wife, but there’s really no such thing as just a wife. In the pilot you see that the submarine defies orders and and a nuclear weapon is fired in the seas across America. So from that, because my husband is the XO, Christine, my character, is taken under the microscope as well. So even though she was not physically with him, she is very much involved in the decision that was made just as much as he is. They haven’t been married that long and they’ve been apart more than they’ve been together and it’s kind of this, um, Odyssey feel where they are going to get back together no matter what. They have this connection and this loving relationship, but during that the Greek Gods are going to throw in whatever they can to keep them apart… You’ll really see the relationship when it comes to the husband as well as figuring out how important it is to know those people you surround yourself with. At the end of the day, do you trust yourself and what do you trust when you do surround yourself with these people?
SSS: Awesome – I’m excited to hear how she fits in because in the long promo you could see she is separate from a lot of the action.
JS: Yeah, it’s tricky because it’s such a large show and there’s ten series regulars on it so you have many different perspectives from the one extraordinary instance that’s going on. I’m definitely part of the east coast world, the Washington DC world. They are starting to weave it in in a really beautiful way. The home life is just as important as what you’re actively doing all he time.
SSS: What has it been like to, practically simultaneously, play three completely different characters? Within one year you’ve covered all ends of the spectrum. What has that been like as an actor for you?
JS: You know… it’s a little confusing. I’d be lying if I said I had it down pat. But it’s been a blessing. It’s been a bit of a mind trip. I carry around the script to each show just to remind myself what’s going on and center myself. It’s been really fun. It’s been challenging. I love working, so to work and to challenge myself and to be a part of these shows and these different stories is a blessing. It raises your A game.
SSS: Are there any other shows you would love to be on? Not that you aren’t already busy enough…
JS: Oh yeah! Well, I’m getting into Homeland and I love Mad Men – that’s a whole other realm. But I’m starting to look into the movie field. I’d love to bring a character to life for something that’s entirely set up as opposed to an open ended story.
Schram and I talked for a few minutes about loving Veronica Mars and how now that she has started to do more press and appearances (like Comic Con for Falling Skies) almost every other person she talked to mentioned how they loved her character Hannah and was hoping there would finally be a movie. Oh, Veronica Mars fans, you are a wonderfully loyal bunch. (Editor’s Note: Shout-out to Jason Dohring.)
And for the person who was curious – she is not actually the same person as Brittany Snow! She thought that was very funny. They may look similar but they have been in the same room at the same time. And if you lovely casting directors at Last Resort ever need to give Christine a sister, I think you know who to call.
You can catch Jessy Schram on the Season 2 finale of Falling Skies on TNT this Sunday at 9pm.
Once Upon a Time Season 1 is available on DVD and BluRay August 28th and Season 2 premieres on ABC Sunday September 30th at 8pm.
Also on ABC, catch Schram’s latest outing, Last Resort, premiering Thursday, September 27th at 8pm.
Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae
Photo credits: Bobby Quillard, TNT, ABC
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