Showcase has a new series premiering on Showcase and Syfy on January 16, 2015.. The anticipated series is called “12 Monkeys,” which is based on the film of the same name, but that is where the similarities end. Amanda Schull, who is not only an accomplished actress but also a professional dancer, has been featured in “One Tree Hill”, “Pretty Little Liars,” and “Suits.” I asked Amanda, who will play the role of Cassandra Railly on “12 Monkeys,” what to expect. Check out her reply after the jump.
Marie Gilbert: “Hi Amanda.”
Amanda Schull: “Hi Marie. How are you?”
Marie Gilbert: “Fine. It’s such an honor to chat with you and I am excited about this new series.”
Amanda Schull: “Thank you very much and I’m excited to chat with you.”
Marie Gilbert: “I’ll start my questions off with what drew you to the part of Cassandra Railly and are you a fan of science fiction?”
Amanda Schull: “I’m definitely a fan of science fiction, now. It wasn’t as familiar a genre to me before I started working on the series, but I think it’s really a smart genre because a lot of it is really thought out. It’s not sort of happenstances or dribble and this is really an interesting revelation for me with this genre that I’m becoming more familiar with now.
What drew me to the part of Doctor Railly was a lot of the reasons that I now appreciate science fiction, which is that she’s smart, she’s strong and she’s completely capable and independent. I think it’s really exciting to play a role like that also, the material is really well written and the execution has been has been great to be a part of. Everyone loves their job and I think it shows with the finale product.”
Marie Gilbert: “I noticed that about Railly when I saw the pilot. Since there is such a fan base for the film, 12 Monkeys, is there pressure on the series to live up to the film?”
Amanda Schull: “I think in some ways there is pressure just because people are so fascinated still with the film and still admire the film so much, so we did feel the pressure to honor that and to make sure that we live up to everything that the film established, but at the same time, we are not remaking the film. It is an adaptation of it and, it’s a recreation of some of the storylines and a reimagining of a lot of the possibilities that the film touched on that we can sort of go off on a different tangent with, so while we have the initial pressure we also have the wonderful luxury of being able to recreate a whole new world and in a whole new direction.”
Marie Gilbert: “When you started working with Aaron Stanford, the actor who plays Cole, did the two of you click right away? Was it easy for you to go right into doing your roles?”
Amanda Schull: “To be completely honest with you and, I know that people probably always say this, but yes we really did click right away. We met first when we were doing the chemistry read and, I read with a few guys and with him it was instantaneously different. The director of the pilot asked us to improv. He didn’t want us to say any of the words written in the script and it was the scene where they first meet in the car where he basically kidnaps her.
Arron and I improvised a totally different scene and then we improvised another scene that is later on in the pilot as well and it was easy. It was easy and comfortable as well as interesting and exciting to act opposite him. He’s obviously very good at what he does and he’s very smart with the choices he makes and, it never felt like we were working at trying to establish chemistry. It really felt like, right of the bat, we had the dynamics and could just pick up and sort of take with us.”
Marie Gilbert: “It does make it easier to work together.”
Amanda Schull: “It really does.”
Marie Gilbert: “As the series moves on will they show more of Cole’s futuristic world? More of what they didn’t show in the film?”
Amanda Schull: “You’ll see a lot of Cole’s future; absolutely. You’ll see a lot of what 2043 looks like. You’ll see what his life was like before meeting Dr. Railly. You’ll see a lot of his backstory within the next few episodes.”
Marie Gilbert: “That’s great.”
Amanda Schull: “It is very interesting and you’ll see the whole situation and the plague’s effects as well as the attempt to thwart it from a lot of different characters’ perspective.”
Marie Gilbert: “That’s awesome. I was wondering as an actress, did you find it confusing to do your part because of Cole jumping back and forth in time? Was it hard to remember what time period you were dealing with?”
Amanda Schull: “That’s a good point. There were a few days when it was a little bit confusing. I’m a pretty good note taker. When I work on any character, I have pages and pages of finely lined notes and so that was just something that I had to make sure that I kept up with the role, especially for that reason. There were a couple of days when we were doing reshoots on episode 3 and we were shooting episode 5 and 6 all of which took place during different time periods and I just made sure that I had my notebook handy to remind myself of everything my character knew at that point and everything she didn’t know and just allowed all of that to fall into place with each scene.”
Marie Gilbert: “Did you have to do a lot of research in order to feel comfortable about fighting pandemics and time travel?”
Amanda Schull: “I did do quite a bit of research. I am very fortunate that I don’t actually have to write the script (laughing) I don’t have to create the dialogue. I just have to understand the dialogue, so that saves me a lot of the leg work, but you’re right, I did have to do research to understand what my character would understand and to be able to know what I’m talking about and to be able to pronounce what I’m talking about. I did do research.
I watched documentaries, and gosh, how lucky are we to have the internet at our fingertips where I was able to a lot of international pandemic research without having to actually get on a plane and drop myself into the middle of an international pandemic.”
Marie Gilbert: “Yeah and, after what happened this year with the Ebola breakout, do you feel that would encourage people to watch the show because a pandemic does play a big part in this series?”
Amanda Schull: “It is timely for sure and, it was unfortunate that it was timely because it was not intended to be shot simultaneously with something as horrible as the Ebola outbreak and epidemic, but I do think that it has brought up questions to the forefront that people may not have necessarily considered and the fact that… this is a possibility. Disease, as un-charming a topic that it is, it’s not an unlikely possibility, especially with international travel, which I think is a concern with people about outbreaks. Now when you travel, you always get asked if you’ve been in contact with somebody who has the virus. I think people are more aware of these types of diseases than they were a few years ago.”
Marie Gilbert: “I felt that way when I was reading the notes for the show and that this topic was so timely. It hits home and will draw people to the show. I have one personal question to ask you. You are a professional dancer.”
Amanda Schull: “I was, yeah!”
Marie Gilbert: “How do you take the discipline that you put into your dancing and bring it to your roles in dramas?”
Amanda Schull: “Well… and thank you for recognizing the discipline that goes into dancing. I think it’s just something that’s been ingrained into me from a very young age, because you don’t just accidentally fall into the world of professional dancing. It’s not possible to just learn those things overnight, so I think I sort of attacked acting with the same mentality. I’m not just expecting to understand a character or expecting to understand emotion overnight.
It’s something that I constantly need to work on. It’s a muscle that constantly needs to be exercised. I try to be in acting class as often as possible to make sure that I’m always staying on top of it because it is a discipline as well as an art form and it’s something that I take very seriously. I love what I do and I enjoy it immensely, but it’s a lot of work that has to go into every single day that I am fortunate enough to set foot on set.”
Marie Gilbert: “Is there anything you would like to say to the folks out there about “12 Monkeys” on the Syfy?”
Amanda Schull: “January 16th at 9 PM in America on Syfy, and 10 PM on Showcase in Canada and I would just love to say that if I weren’t in this, I would still be a fan of the show and I mean that with all sincerity. The show is really well done. Everyone who is a part of this really put their heart and soul into the show and it’s smart and it’s creative and thought provoking. I really encourage people to tune it from the very beginning because it hits the ground, running, as you saw from the pilot. From there, it only gets better, so if people watch from day 1, they’ll understand that this was really a project that we all believe in.”
Marie Gilbert: “I want to thank you for the interview, Amanda. I’m excited about the show and will promote it. I fell in love with the show as soon as I saw the pilot.”
Amanda Schull: “You’re very kind. Thank you very much, Marie.”
I think we have a hit on our hands and I know I’ll be watching 12 Monkeys on January 16th. Will you?