The Event has been a solid addition to NBC's new Monday night lineup and, as we reported last month, The Event was given a full-season order by the network. The series airs at 9 PM ET on Monday nights and, recently, actress Laura Innes, who plays Sophia, and executive producer Evan Katz held a conference call to discuss this new series. Here's what they had to say:
Laura, can you talk about how you are able to identify with Sophia and the spot she's in with Thomas? In some way, is she becoming more human because of Thomas' recklessness?
Laura Innes: Gosh. Is she becoming more human? You know, I wouldn't say that she's becoming more human, but I do think she's being challenged in ways that are very complicated for her. I think the character of Sophia to me has been fascinating to play, because so much is unspoken and so much is unknown. And so for me as an actress, there's a huge amount of imagining her back story, imagining her circumstances, and also keeping in mind the overall goal. So I think she is a highly ethical person, but at the end of the day, she has a priority beyond her relationship with any one person, even Thomas, who she has this very intensely close relationship with. So certainly, he pushes the boundaries of her negotiation skills, her morality, her emotions, and it makes for a very rich acting experience. And in Episode 7 coming up and then again in Episode 9, that relationship is explored very deeply. And, it's been wonderful to play with Clifton Collins Jr. and to try to navigate those characters. I guess circling back to your original question, I guess in a way he has made her be more human in that he really forces her to examine her own motivations and forces her to examine the length to which she's willing to go to protect her people.
Evan, can you talk about Sophia's moral compass and how we can expect it to evolve now that she's caught between Thomas and the President?
Evan Katz: I think there's two things that are going to happen as this season progresses. One is you're going to sort of learn who she really is, because you've really mostly seen her in captivity playing sort of a Nelson Mandela like role to the President. But the next batch of episodes, I think you're really going to see obviously she's a leader for a reason. You're going to see her steal. You're going to see the difficult and sometimes shocking and ugly things a leader has to do. But, her moral compass, I think she's essentially been a very honest character. But you know, in the next couple of episodes you're going to learn what her true relationship with Thomas is, what her real priorities are now that she's out, and a little bit more about the structure and challenges to her leadership.
Laura, now that you're back to NBC, I was wondering if you could reflect on first impressions of two roles. Just real briefly, what was your first impression of Carrie Weaver the first time you saw that role? And then, add a little more on what your impressions of Sophia were the first time you saw that on paper.
Laura Innes: Well, with Carrie it was interesting because we shot four episodes of ER before any of them aired, and I just loved the character. I loved that she was so unadorned. I loved that she had no vanity. I loved that she didn't care what people thought, but was completely smart and driven. And, I think it's interesting to play characters that lack self-awareness in a way. I loved that she was so expert at what she did. And, I do like characters that you wonder what really makes them tick. I think I benefited from having that time where I played the character without any feedback from the audience, because I think I would've tried to soften her, because the reaction to her when the shows first stated airing was like people just - I mean, I was in a department store the day after the first show aired, and I overheard this woman saying, "Oh, I just want to slap her." I think if I'd known that, I probably would've made the less - the character a little less interesting, because it's so hard not to be liked, you know. I always loved that character, and I never quite understood why people hated her so much, but that's okay. And a lot of people adored her, too, and they also wrote lots of wonderful things for her. So, I loved it. I loved that she was so different than anything that I saw. And then, I guess I would say the same about Sophia. The character that I play was originally written for a man, and they changed the character into Sophia. And I love the fact that like Carrie, she is very secretive, that she is by necessity private. I really like the fact that she has this back story that only we know about. You know the writers and creators. And to some extent, only I know about because there is so much that is unknown and undecided you have to make it up. And at first, that seemed frustrating; now it just seems kind of fun. Like, I've realized, "Oh. I can make up anything I want," about why she is who she is and what her capabilities are. What her history is, you know, in this prison for 66 years. What her upbringing was like. What her relationship with these other people is. I mean, one of the fun parts about doing this kind of show and the place my character sits in the show is that you just can let your imagination run wild. I do think both characters, even though they can come off in ways that aren't particularly warm and fuzzy, both characters are very moral you know, in their own way.
I know in talking to you so many times on 24 that - you know, whenever you guys started the season, you had a certain number of episodes mapped out, but not the entire season. I was wondering what your modus operandi is with The Event?
Evan Katz: It's similar in that we have a larger roadmap. We know where we want to end. We have a couple of benchmarks that we want to hit along the way. As we do episodes, we make sure we leave room for us to discover the story on its own and evolve what we discover about the stories and about the actors. And you know I can tell you for instance, that in Laura's case, her strengths and her ability to have an edge in sort of an unpredictable way kind of has dictated where we've gone with her character, where I don't think that was originally part of the plan of the series.
Laura, why is Sofia opposed to Thomas' methods, and how does she sort of see her people furthering their agenda?
Laura Innes: I think she's completely opposed to his methods, because basically, he's a terrorist and he wants to harm and abuse innocent people. I think that ultimately her first choice would be diplomatic, peaceful resolution to a conflict. Now if that's not possible, then she's willing to take the next step, but I think that she will do almost anything to avoid harming people who are innocent. Thomas has a very particular character, which is sort of the antithesis of her. He's a rogue. He's a loose cannon. Whatever you want to call it. And as the episodes go on, you begin to learn more about their relationship and, for me, it was very interesting. It's very layered. It's full of contradiction, and Clifton Collins Jr. does a great job in the part. He's sort of a damaged character in a way that even though the scenario is this sort of outsized situation, it's a pretty relatable relationship in certain ways. It's been great to play, but I think absolutely she at least would see herself as antithetical to Thomas and his ways of dealing with conflict and trying to get what he wants. What she wants has remained the same you know. We find out more about that specifically in these episodes that come up, Episode 7 and Episode 9 and 10.
We sort of ended the last episode of The Event in quite a suspenseful place for Sophia. Can you preview what's going to happen for her next episode when we saw her disappear down a little hole?
Laura Innes: A little rabbit hole. Yes, let me see. Well, the plot thickens - as they say. Episode 7 was I think the first episode where I feel like she's got to kind of bust out a little bit, and Evan and the gang kind of gave her a great scene with the character of Thomas, and you start to see her really express her real feelings. So, that was fun to do. It's fun for her to be out. It's fun for me to be able to wear different outfits. That's always nice. And then in Episode 9, that just was a fantastic episode for me to - that they wrote for me and that I tried to navigate, because it is very intense and it's very sort of shocking what she does and what she feels she's forced to do. It's been an incredibly rich character to create, and challenging because so much of it is unknown and so much of it is created through imagined circumstances. And also, I think as an actress you feel like, "Okay. I have to figure out a way to make this huge like unimaginable situation real for me and grounded." And so you know, I was saying to one of the other writers that at first that felt frustrating, because I don't know so much and we all don't know so much about what's going to happen and what our back stories are. But then, it felt very liberating to really try to imagine, "Okay. What could put someone in this spot and make them do the things that they do?" So, it's been really a fantastic experience to play this part.
A lot of fans have speculated that perhaps the extra terrestrials are perhaps time travelers, more evolved humans from the future. Can you comment on that theory?
Laura Innes: Well certainly, we're more evolved. I would say - no, I'm kidding. You know, I don't know any of that. I don't know if that's true. I know what I imagine in my mind, but that has nothing to do with where the show's headed. And, I just love that people are interested in talking about it and speculating, and we've heard every possible scenario about who we are and where we came from. So, it will be discovered by all of us as we go on.
Evan Katz: I would say there is a surprise - a big surprise coming about who they really are. But, I don't think anyone's really hit on it yet, exactly anyway.
Can you say when The Event actually happens?
Evan Katz: The show's designed so that every season ends with a big event, so I can say that there's a tremendously big event at the end of Season 1.
How does having 22 episodes as opposed to 13 effect your game plan for The Event?
Evan Katz: Well, I was able to put a new roof on my house. Basically, the game plan has always been 22 episodes. I guess the challenge would've been what would've happened if we didn't get 22 episodes. You sort have to go into something this hoping for success. It just sort of means we're going according to plan.
Laura, you know what The Event is. You've said that before. As the series progresses, what are your feelings about where this series is headed as we get closer to that event?
Laura Innes: Well, I know what The Event was when I was - I don't even know if that's different, frankly. And I mean, I'm certain that things are different, because when Evan came on and when the show became a reality, my suspicion is that things shifted and moved, and the timetable shifted in terms of when these things happen. And, we sort of moved from this idea that there was one event that everyone had to wait five years to find out what it is to you know, every season ending with something that impacts - that is an event and then impacts the future of the show and it breaks off in different ways. The information that I have certainly informs what I do, but I'm not sure how much of that will change.
Evan, I was really intrigued sort of by the structure of the last episode where you had big flashback elements with Agent Lee that was a little different than the previous flashbacks. I'm curious if you found something in there that you might continue going forward or was that kind of a special case?
Evan Katz: I think that you will see more flashbacks that are sort of like that in that they tell a character story in a relatively linear fashion. We're not sort of dedicated to one set of flashbacks per episode. I think that multiple point flashbacks in more than one story line was frustrating. So, you'll see this coming week Blake Sterling gets the same treatment that Simon Lee got the last original airing. We're going to use them really to enhance character and we're going to use them when they can enhance character, but we're not religiously slaving to a certain number of flashbacks in every episode in multiple storylines.
Laura Innes: I directed a lot of ER's and I directed a lot of West Wing's, and when I left ER, I was primarily directing. I don't know. It will sort of be something that we talk about down the line whether they think that's a good idea. I think I'd like to do it, but I will say you want to make sure you have a good experience because it's your day job. You don't want to go in there and not have a fantastic experience, because you're be coming back to work there. So we'll see. It's in conversation, I'll put it that way.
I want to know about Scott Patterson's character. When we can see more of him and if you can tease a little bit about what we can expect from Michael Buchanan?
How big a role is Paula Malcomson going to be playing in coming episodes? It was such a delight to see here in the last episode.
Evan Katz: Yes. She's wonderful. She comes back in this next episode, and there are a bunch of actors who are quite wonderful who come in and weave in and out of the show based on the story lines we're exploring. And you know, I think she'll be back, but you know nothing specific is planned right now.
The Event airs on Monday nights at 9 PM ET on NBC.