By Curt Wagner
7:51 PM CDT, August 19, 2012
Spoiler alert: If you haven't seen the Season 2 finale of "Falling Skies," stop reading.
Jessy Schram's character Karen broke out some new Spidey powers in the Season 2 finale of TNT's "Falling Skies," but the actress reveals a dirty little secret about Karen scurrying up that wall in "A More Perfect Union."
"That was my very beautiful stunt woman," Schram said by phone last week from Hawaii, where she's now filming "Last Resort." "I remember that they were going to put me in a harness and bring me up half the wall and do a little bit of that. And time got really short and I needed to fly out, so they were like, 'All right, Jessy, now turn around and jump like you're going to go up the wall.'
"And so I'm doing all these little [jumps], feeling really funny doing it in front of the whole crew. And then all of a sudden she just sort of passes me going up that wall. And there are little steel flakes falling everywhere, and she just disappears into the darkness. We all just had our mouths open staring up at her. I'm like, 'So my little jump there probably isn't going to be believable?'
"Yeah, so I will admit that those superpowers were done by my beautiful stuntwoman. ... That spider-power was all her."
But the 26-year-old did inhabit Karen throughout the second season, seeing the character, which had been pretty much a side role until the Season 1 finale, grow into an antagonist at the center of many of Season 2's most pivotal moments. Schram said she was honored to have the opportunity to step up this season.
"They sprinkled Karen through the first season where they kind of needed her, and now they're bringing her in to kind of drive the story to a whole different place that you didn't expect," she said. "Especially in the finale, that's something where I was reading the script going like, 'Do I really need to do that? This is not how I--what?'"
In the finale, Karen and the aliens took members of the 2nd Mass hostage, then she kissed Hal Mason (Drew Roy), depositing another alien bug in his mouth that appears to have taken charge of Hal. That's just one of the cliffhangers to be resolved next season, which was to begin filming in Vancouver this week.
"I think they set it up in a way where it can go in so many directions," Schram said. "I don't know what's going to happen yet, so I'm excited to see. But there's no way that that [alien bug] can't play a part in Season 3."
Schram, who doesn't know exactly how much Karen will appear in Season 3, talked about her approach to the character this season.
When we first met Karen, she was sweet and Hal's girlfriend. Then she's harnessed by the aliens and becomes downright mean.
[Laughs.] Yeah. You know, everyone has their own definition of what mean is, or what evil is. That was the most interesting part with Karen; we would read the scripts and somebody would be like, "Oh my God she's so evil." Evil is a really bad direction because it's so open [to interpretation]. It's how it makes you feel. Reading through [the scripts] I'm like, "OK, well, in reality if I can side with the alien Karen here for a second, she's really not evil. She just very passionate and faithful to what she's doing." You can take every spin on it, but she definitely has a twist, and her mind is unlike ours.
She's just good at her job, right?
She's damn good at her job. [Laughs.] I would say so. And she's got a little extra adrenaline in her.
She has messed with practically everyone in the 2nd Mass.
Oh yeah, like everyone. Even Tom's character, even Weaver's character; she brings this unsettling feeling and makes everyone question things and go against themselves and each other, and ultimately her.
Did you know after the first season that they were going to make Karen such a pivotal person in Season 2?
Absolutely not, no. I had no idea. Like I said, it was something that I feel lucky every time I get a phone call, "Hey, are you available next week, because we have these ideas for Karen?" So I was very much in the dark about it ... I knew Karen would be involved in some kind of way now that she's a voice for the aliens, I just didn't know how and in what direction it would go. Every time I get a script I have the reaction I think a lot of the viewers have. I'm like, "I don't know if I like that. I don't know if I like Karen."
Have you been playing Karen as if she still has memories of when she was not harnessed?
That's a very interesting question. It depends at which point. I think she has an awareness [of her past], but her feelings have changed. When she's talking to Hal in the scenes when he first finds her [in "Homecoming," Ep. 6 of the season], she's aware of Tom and Hal and what they mean to her, but at the same time she has a higher purpose now. So she has these feelings but they're not as intense or they're not as available to her as they would be to everyone else. ... There are definitely moments, like on the rooftop when she looks at Hal and she's about to leave him and she does remember that feeling and those moments, but she can't turn back now.
I was thinking specifically of the finale when she kisses Hal. She drops that the little insect thingy into his mouth. It just made me wonder, "OK, is she picking him because she's already kissed him as her human self?"
She has these memories and these connections, but they're just not how we would normally feel them. ... Hal was her first love, and that is her family. So there's the recognition of knowing, "OK, these people were my base." And with Hal, I think she definitely picks him for a personal connection. There's that familiarity; he was her love even though it's not at the forefront of her mind or her being anymore.
We have not seen the last of Karen, have we?
No, I don't believe we have. ... I think it's safe to say that Karen, when we leave off, she's still very much alive. But I think that's pretty much all I can and want to say.
Schram and I talked more about "Last Resort," "Once Upon a Time" and her early days in Chicago. I'll have that interview later this fall.
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