A Chat with “Harper’s Island” Victims #2 and #3

If you’re particularly persnickety about the death count on “Harper’s Island” since its debut last week, then you’re probably grousing about how, although we referred to Uncle Marty – who’s half the man he used to be – as the first victim, he was really the second person to be murdered within the episode. This is completely true, of course, since I think it’s fair to say that we collectively shuddered as Cousin Ben bought the big one at more or less the same moment the boat left the mainland dock and began its voyage to the island. Similarly, there were actually three deaths in Episode #2. So why are we only citing two of the victims here?

Here’s the thing: we’re only counting the people who appear on the list that CBS and the show’s producers have helpfully provided us to use as a scorecard of sorts. If they’re not on the list (which you can find right here), then we’re not counting them in the grand total.

Okay, now that we’re all on the same page about how the victim count works, let’s prepare to chat with Victims #2 and #3, shall we?

If you’re not up on who plays who in the series, here’s the 411:

• Sarah Smyth is Lucy Daramour, a.k.a. The Socialite. She’s one of the bridesmaids and one of Trish’s childhood friends. It must be said that her most notable characteristic is her tendency to carry her little dog, Gigi, everywhere she goes, but per the character’s bio on CBS.com, Lucy’s and Trish’s families traveled and summered together, and although Lucy is more of a socialite than the other bridesmaids, she’s trying to find her own way in the world by attending law school. One presumes, however, that being drenched in gasoline and flambéed has put a damper on her future plans.

• Anna Mae Routledge is Kelly Seaver, a.k.a. The Outcast. She has a unique connection to Abby: both of their mothers were killed by John Wakefield. Kelly opted to remain on the island, however, which means that she hasn’t progressed nearly as far in her attempts to deal with the events of the past. She’s struggled with depression and suicide attempts and a secret belief that John Wakefield is still alive and coming back for her. At the very least, she doesn’t have to worry about that any more.

Sarah Smyth and Anna Mae Routledge: Hello, Will!

Premium Hollywood: Hello! How are ya’ll doing?

SS: Good!

AMR: Good, thank you!

PH: So, Anna Mae, you got the big hanging scene this week, inspired by the murders on the island seven years earlier.

AMH: Yes!

PH: But, first, let’s talk about your scene in the bar with Abby. It’s fair to say that you come off more than a little stalker-like, but you also manage to be somewhat sympathetic as well. Nice tightrope walk.

AMH: (Laughs) Yeah, pretty funny, huh? My favorite part…when my first line happens, when I said “hi” on the stairs, it was a very awkward moment. But I had a living room full of friends when we were watching it last night, and when I said the line, “I think I scare a lot of people,” everyone cracked up!

PH: Did you find it hard to get that balance between creepy and sympathetic?

AMH: Well, that was kind of a moment where the director said, “You know that you’re odd.” So that was just her owning up to who she was and saying, “Yeah, it’s true, I think I do scare a lot of people.” And because it was such a really honest moment, it wasn’t hard to find the balance at all.

PH: A few minutes after that, you acknowledge that you’ve been seeing John Wakefield not in your nightmares but, indeed, for real. That was creepy on a completely different level.

AMH: That was one of the eeriest scenes to shoot. The energy in the room was really ominous, and it had almost a supernatural feeling, like we were being watched. It was a pretty intense scene to shoot.

PH: How was it shooting the scene immediately after your liaison with JD?

AMH: (Cheekily) Oh, well, hey, that was pretty hot and heavy! (Laughs) I feel really bad for my dad, because he’s had to watch his little girl with tattoos and, uh, all kinds of interesting things going on. We had a lot of fun doing that scene, you know? Who gets to act out their dark fantasies in front of ten million people?

PH: Precious few of us.

AMH: I mean, other than porn stars. (Giggles)

PH: So who do you think will react most dramatically to your character’s death: JD or Shane?

AMH: Oooooh. Good question! Well, Shane and I have a history, y’know, as we learned in the first episode. He gave me tattoos, and to let someone tattoo you, I think things have got to be pretty intense. And I just kinda met JD, so…we’ll have to see how that plays out. Who fell for Kelly more?

PH: Who fell faster?

AMH: (Laughs) Who fell hardest and fastest for that dark woman, Kelly?

PH: Sarah, you definitely had the most impressive death of the episode, getting covered in gasoline and set on fire. Not to diminish the impact of Reverend Fain’s decapitation, but yours is certainly more visually impressive…and definitely lasts longer.

SS: Uh, yeah! (Laughs) I don’t even know if we actually got to the point of my dying before we cut out! It was definitely interesting.

PH: And definitely disconcerting! So how did you and your little dog get along?

SS: My little dog and I got along very well. I felt very protective of my little dog. Working on set with animals is always interesting, especially on a set like this, where there are lots of loud noises and it was raining a lot and kind of cold. That little dog didn’t have much body fat… (Laughs) …so we cuddled and kept warm. I hadn’t been a small dog before working on the show, but I really got attached to that little dog.

PH: How did you feel playing the scenes with him, where your character is, I think you could say, maybe a little overprotective of him?

SS: (Laughs) Well, that helped a lot! I think the hardest scene to shoot with the little dog was in the first episode, when we had the seagull come flying at us, and I’m holding the little dog and trying to keep it calm! But, you know, I think it worked, because, naturally, the character would want to protect the dog. So it felt natural.

PH: You also get a big dramatic scene, with you and Trish discussing Hunter. How do you enjoy playing a scene like that, where you know that you’re talking about events you won’t live to see?

SS: Well, I think that’s just life, right? You have conversations, and you don’t know what the outcome is going to be, so you just play it for what it is. You sit and have conversations with your friends, and you don’t know what their final decisions are going to be or what choices they’re going to make. You just give them the advice you think is best. So I think it’s not actually that difficult to put yourself in those shoes of not knowing what the outcome is going to be.

PH: This one’s for both of you: when you came onto the show, how quickly did you find out how soon you were going to be off the show? Was it as you were filming your final episode, or did they tell you when you signed on?

SS: No, we didn’t find out right away. Everyone kind of came in not knowing how long they would be on the show, but then at the end of the first episode, as we were getting our second script, the producers let us know. Or let me know, anyway.

AMR: The producers pulled me aside and said, “Anna Marie, we’re gonna see your death this episode.” So we both found out on the last day of shooting the first episode…but both in different ways, though. I got the cold tap on the shoulder from death’s hand. Sarah, I think you had a little bit more of a public execution?… (Laughs)

SS: Well, I was one of the first of the wedding guests…all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen and stuff, we had all of our main scenes together, so we were sitting underneath the cast tent, and one of the producers came by and said, “We’re gonna play a little game and find out who’s going home next week!” And they kind of did a little bit of a reality-show type thing of, “Okay, Trish, you’re safe. Henry, you’re safe.” And then he got to the bridesmaids and said, “Oh, maybe you’re not safe.” And he kind of let me know in front of everyone, which was kind of a relief, because I didn’t have to show up on set the next day and have everyone go, “Oh, I’m sorry, I heard…” (Laughs) But I think I was the only one who got that unique “death.” It was very reality show, but it was good. I didn’t mind having it done with everyone.

PH: I had visions of them saying, “Okay, everyone take a step forward who’s going to be on the show next week. Hey, hey, not so fast, Anna Mae and Sarah…”

SS: (Laughs) Yeah! But, y’know, it was good to have it out of the way pretty quickly.

PH: So are you two watching the show along with the rest of us, then? Based on what you said a minute ago, Anna Mae, it sounds like you certainly are.

AMR: Absolutely! I’m thrilled to watch the show. The preview that we saw after last night’s episode made my heart race. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to find out who the killer is!

SS: (Laughs) Yeah, I’m really excited! Especially because, as you get to know the actors who play the characters and you see what happens to them, it’s really interesting to find out what your friends got to do. So, yeah, I’m really excited to watch.

PH: So is this the kind of show that you’d normally watch? Are you horror fans?

AMR: No! (Laughs) I am petrified of horror movies. I can’t watch them alone. So my plan is to have a big party every week and have as many people over here as possible, so I don’t have to be scared by myself!

SS: Yeah, I really like watching scary movies! I really like not knowing what’s going to happen next. So I definitely think I would’ve watched whether I was on it or not!

PH: What are your favorite horror flicks?

SS: I actually grew up with an older brother, watching scary movies, so I kind of got used to them really early, but one that’s always scared me is “Poltergeist 2.” (Laughs) The creepy old man who’s walking down the street, whistling, with his little black hat on…? For some reason, I don’t think anybody in a movie has ever scared me as much as he did. And he didn’t even have to do anything! He was just that creepy! And I really liked the first “Saw” movie. I thought it was really original. It was a surprise.

PH: Who’s been your favorite person on the cast to work with? Either someone you were familiar with beforehand, or someone you met for the first time.

AMR: Ali Liebert and I actually grew up together in Cowichan Station, on Vancouver Island. She and I met in grade 3. She plays Nikki, the bartender. She and I hadn’t had the opportunity to work on anything together yet – this was the first time – and we had such a good time reconnecting. I look up to her so much, so it was really fun to work with someone you’ve kind of idolized and modeled yourself after.

SS: I didn’t really know any of the cast when I got there. Other than Harry Hamlin…we didn’t really have any scenes together…I hadn’t really heard of anybody except for Christopher Gorham, from “Ugly Betty.” So I thought it was kind of fun to meet him. But he played a really different character than his “Ugly Betty” character (Henry Grubstick).

PH: I would say so.

SS: (Laughs) Yeah! So that was interesting. But I thought it was just having such a huge cast to get to work with, and to meet not only Canadian actors but a lot of the American actors who came as well.

PH: Actually, Sarah, I wanted to ask you what it was like working on “Alien Trespass.” I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know how big your role was, but I’ve seen the trailer, and it looks like a really fun movie.

SS: Oh, it’s so much fun! (Laughs) I loved it. It was an amazing experience. Bob Goodwin, who was one of the executive producers and was one of the directors of “The X-Files,” was the director, and he really had a vision to make a movie that was not a spoof or a parody but was actually made exactly the way that a movie in 1957 would’ve been made. So all of the same cheesy special effects, green screens and walking beside cars that aren’t really moving, and all of that fun stuff. I actually had a supporting lead role in that, so I worked on it for pretty much the entire project…and didn’t die in that one! But it was a lot of fun, it was a really great cast, and that was exciting because I got to work with Dan Lauria, who was the dad in “The Wonder Years,” which I grew up watching.

PH: And Anna Mae, I know it’s not a huge role, but you’re in the upcoming disaster film, “2012.”

AMR: Yeah! That was a really fun film to work on. I was thinking about it afterwards, and it was the biggest green screen I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It was so big that you kind of lost perspective as far as how big or small you are… (Laughs) …and it was tons of fun. A really great cast, as you can probably imagine, and the director was a lot of fun to work with. There was a lot of creative license, and it’s another one of those things where you get scared for whatever might be appearing in front of you and try to react accordingly!

PH: Who did you actually get to work with in your scenes?

AMR: I got to work with Chiwetel Ejiofor. He and Miss Thandie Newton were around when my character was reporting on various things that were going on in the ship. I also got to work alongside John Billingsley, and we had a really great time.

PH: He seems like he’d be a lot of fun. I remember him from “Enterprise.”

AMR: They were a lot of ufn! They were really gracious actors, and they were very supportive, calm, professional, and respectful to everyone around them. There were no divas on set. The person who probably surprised me the most was Oliver Platt. He was fantastic. He was really exciting to have on set, and he was a really, really great guy. It was a pleasure to be in the presence of such greatness. (Laughs)

PH: Well, I’ll keep you two on target, but it’s been a pleasure speaking with you, and I hope you continue to enjoy watching the show as much as I am!

AMR: Great!

SS: Thank you very much!

Missed our interview with Victim #1? Go check it out!

  

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