I had the pleasure of speaking to Kathryn Prescott about her new series Finding Carter. She was brimming with enthusiasm for both the show and her co-stars even though she was running the gauntlet that is TCAs – a very full day of back-to-back interviews. Her enthusiasm would be contagious even if I hadn’t already seen the show and loved it. The show has an easy tagline – girl abducted at three is reunited with her “real” family at 16, finding out she has a twin sister and younger brother – but it’s much more than this with well drawn characters and a cast brimming with talent – both old and new. The relationships are complicated and promise a bright future for this show which premiered with solid ratings.
You may know Kathryn from Skins or you may have seen her on Reign. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing her earlier work, it may surprise you that she is originally from the UK. If you have had the pleasure of seeing her previous work, you know that Kathryn falls into the category of both old and new talent – she may be young enough to play a 16 year old, but she has the acting experience to carry the lead in this show. Finding Carter is filmed in Georgia. Other cast members include Cynthia Watros (Lost, House) as Elizabeth, Alexis Denisof (Angel, Grimm) as David, Milena Govich (Rescue Me, Law and Order) as Lori, and Meredith Baxter (Family Ties) and Chris Pine (CHiPs)as her grandparents. Rounding out the cast are Alex Saxon (The Fosters) as Max, Anna Jacoby-Heron as Taylor, Jesse Henderson as Gabe, and Zac Pullman as Grant.
As usual, Q = question and K = Kathryn. You can find Finding Carter on MTV, Tuesday nights at 10/9C. If you missed the first two episodes, they’re still available online!
Q: The show if filming in Georgia?
K: Yes. In Atlanta. It’s really nice. It’s kind of hot... it’s really hot! It’s 96 degrees now with really high humidity, but the people are so nice, and the food is amazing, and there are loads of museums and galleries. It’s a cool place.
Q: The cast is terrific. Zac Pullman who plays Grant is amazing...
K: Yeah. He’s so cool.
Q: What’s it like with the whole cast of Finding Carter?
K: It’s been great – really, really. I’ve never worked on a show where I’ve gotten on so much with everyone. Not even just the cast. The producers, the directors, the cast... everyone! Every single person is really nice. There are also a lot of women – which was not done on purpose, but just happens to be. Like the Director of Photography is a woman (Alison Kelly), a lot of the producers are women, the executive producer is a woman (Terri Minsky and Deborah Spera are both listed as exec producers), the creator is a woman (Emily Silver). I think it’s great, and all the women in the cast and all the men, they’re just awesome. They all have real hearts, and they’re all like real people. You can have conversations with them. They’re just really supportive, and funny. I just really love them.
Q: That strong female presence comes through in the storylines. I wanted to hate Elizabeth, but I couldn’t. Cynthia (Watros – Elizabeth) is very... 3-dimensional.
K: Yeah. That’s what I love about all of the characters on the show is that they’re not these two dimensional characters that are black or white. You see them at first, and you hear the storyline, you’re like, without seeing the Pilot, you’re like ok, I get it. There’s some evil woman who’s kidnapped this girl, and her poor mother must be this poor woman, and then you meet them, and you’re like, this woman is a bit of a bitch. The adopted mom is really lovely, and then you come to terms with that and you’re like, oh wait a second, Elizabeth isn’t a bitch. She’s just been through this trauma and oh my God, I feel sorry for her, and then you find out stuff about Lori and you’re like oh wait – who is everyone? And I think it’s great because in life, people aren’t just all black or all white and you shouldn’t pigeonhole people because no one is all good or all bad, and if you put people on pedestals or if you think people are all bad then you don’t give them a chance to show you otherwise. I think it’s very true to life. Nobody is just a two dimensional character.
Q: This is a smart show. You expect your viewers to realize that some of Carter’s choices – drinking, doing drugs – come with consequences.
K: I think the thing about the drug thing is that Carter only takes drugs once. Well, that’s not true, she does smoke weed sometimes, but the only time she takes hard drugs is when she takes the pill. And that whole time, when you see the beginning of that episode, it’s one month later, and you see her dancing around and in slow motion and having a great time. And you’re like, ‘wow. She’s a wild child, she’s having loads of fun. She must be getting better.’ And what I love is that that’s not real. Everyone I have ever known who’s ever gone off the rails like that is not doing it because they are just a wild, free spirit. If you really go off the rails like that you’re doing it because you’re trying desperately to escape something, some kind of pain that maybe you haven’t even come to terms with or are consciously aware of. And I think with Carter even in that first bit, you think you’re going to be watching a show about this really cool girl who’s dealing with it and blah, blah, blah, but then through that episode you see that she’s actually broken inside. She’s really, really hurting. And there used to be a line, which they actually cut which I was sad about, that Max said when he and Taylor come into the party and Carter’s going mad, and Max says, “Oh wow. Carter used to say you had to be really low to want to get that high.” And I think that’s a great line and Carter isn’t the sort of character that just wants to go and take drugs and get really drunk for the hell of it. I think she’s a bit more mature than that, but this is just her – she’s just gone into self destruct a little bit. And I think that’s another thing about not really being sure what you’re watching – it’s a three dimensional character kind of thing.
Q: It’s a smart show. It makes you think about what are the characters doing and why. It makes sense psychologically. It’s not just preachy to kids.
K: Right. And it focuses on adult relationships almost as much as it focuses on the relationships between teenagers.
Q: I know you are a twin in real life and you and your sister have played twins together on Skins, so what’s it like playing a twin with someone who’s not your real-life twin?
K: There’s been a big thing of people asking why they didn’t cast my twin in it. It really confuses me because we’re not the Olsen twins. We don’t do all of our work together. I know that’s not what you were implying, but on Twitter, people were saying this all the time. I get what they’re saying because we are twins and she used to act, well she still does, but she’s writing now. That’s what she’s doing. After Skins, she decided she wanted to write. It would be weird if they just cast my real twin because there would be nothing for Carter to reject about her new family. It was so obvious that we were related if we looked that similar. Do you know what I mean? I like that we’re fraternal twins that don’t look exactly the same. Fraternal twins sometimes really, really don’t.
Q: And you are so completely different. It made sense to me that they didn’t cast your sister because Taylor is so different, not only because she doesn’t look like you but because she’s had such a different upbringing.
K: Yeah. Exactly.
Q: I was wondering if it was harder to play twins... but you don’t really know Taylor anyway...
K: You know what? The fact that we are twins? I always remember that I am a twin, and I always when we do scenes about twins... the good thing for me is I can picture what it would be like if my twin said that to me. But I don’t need my twin there to picture it. And I love Anna so much. She’s so awesome. I’m so pleased she’s playing my twin. I love my sister as well, but we already worked together. It’s interesting to be working with someone different. It is just a huge coincidence that I’m playing a twin again.
Q: I know that you are really into photography, so is it possible you might like to get behind the camera at some point?
K: Behind the video camera? I always think about that when I watch the camera operators. I think I could maybe one day when I’ve actually learned how to, I’d really like to do that. I think there might always be a part of me... because I did set photography for a while, and I was just no. If I’m doing something with production, unless it’s writing or directing, maybe not even directing, if I’m doing something on set, I want it to be acting. I think if I was doing anything else, I’d be thinking I wish I was over there doing the acting. I got like that when I was doing the set photography. I love doing photography, but cinematography would be so cool. I’d love to do that as well. There is so much more photography stuff that I want to do. I’m planning my next exhibition. Whenever I get some down time, I can start it.
Q: Will Carter, Gabe, and Max be a triangle?
K: Carter’s relationship with Max – they’re not dating. They’re ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend who are friends. They are so platonic, even if they weren’t in the Pilot, by the second episode - even in the Pilot that kiss, that almost kiss was just that they’d been drinking, they were friends and they had dated before in the past, but I think it’s that thing... It’s not a love triangle, and the thing with Taylor and Gabe and Carter is not a love triangle either. Carter genuinely doesn’t understand how much Taylor likes Gabe because Carter has a really good male friend who is really good looking but who she’s not interested in dating anymore, so it makes sense to her that Taylor also has a good looking male friend who she has no interest in sleeping with or dating. Even if Carter thinks Taylor likes him, I don’t think she thinks Taylor wants him. And in episode two and definitely by episode three Taylor and Carter have come to realize that their relationship is way more important than their relationship between guys. I think that’s another cool think about the show. The women aren’t always is competition with each other over men. They actually, on many occasions, pick the relationship they have with each other - a lot of the women, not just Taylor and Carter – over a relationship with a man.
Q: It’s interesting that the younger characters have better relationships than the older characters.
K: Yeah. That is really interesting. And they’re more innocent or pure relationships which is almost weird because you’d think that when they’re young, they’re all messed up. It’s an interesting contrast.
Q: Will we see more of Lori in the future?
K: You are going to see more of Lori. You’re going to see a lot more of Lori. You see her in flashbacks, but you also see her in the present day. The characters get really explored and explained. The circumstances under which Lori did what she did were extreme, and were very rare, but ... I don’t know exactly what they will be because I haven’t read 11 and 12 yet. We haven’t gotten them yet because we’re still shooting it. So I don’t know how it’s going to end really, but I do know from speaking to the writers that the situation under which Lori took Carter was an exceptional situation and almost makes you empathize with her.
Q: Again, such a great cast. Meredith Baxter and Chris Pine as your grandparents – amazing!
K: They’re so cool! He cracks me up! He’s the funniest person, ever. We had a scene – I don’t know why it was making me laugh so much. He said it funny once, and then I couldn’t stop thinking about how funny it was, and it was just “oh. I just got myself some cheese” and I just couldn’t keep a straight face.
Q: I was hoping to ask a few questions about Reign. You were Penelope. Reign shoots in Toronto, and you’ve also worked in the UK. How would you compare Toronto, London, and Georgia?
K: London and Toronto are far more similar. Georgia is nothing like England and nothing like Canada. Canada and England – there’s something about them. I’ve only been to Toronto in Canada, but just the vibe is very similar. I don’t know what it is, but I hear this from Canadians all the time as well. I know they speak with an accent, but there aren’t as many cultural differences between Canadians and the English people as there are with English people and Americans. And that’s not a good or a bad thing, that’s just something I observed. There are far fewer differences between England and Canada than England and America, particularly England and Georgia. It’s a very, very different place. Just the size mainly. Cultural differences and such. I just loved Toronto. I really love Canada. I really love Georgia as well and the US, but it’s all different. All have their pros and cons, including London.
Q: The last we see of you on Reign, Penelope is going off to be groomed to be a member of the Flying Squad, so is it possible that we’ll see you again on Reign?
K: Yeah. It’s possible. I don’t have plans right now to go back. I have not heard anything, but who knows.
Q: That was such a great run and such a great character.
K: She was so much fun to play. So much fun. They made that dress... everything about it was so fun. I got to go to Toronto. The people on that are really lovely as well. I say especially, only because I hung out with them more, but all the young girls in it. They are all just so friendly and so lovely. It was just really fun to play a bitchy, sort of – explainably bitchy – but bitchy, strong female character in that. I love that.
Q: It’s someone coming from the servants who you wouldn’t expect to be that savvy and cunning.
K: Yes. I think she’s aggressively not wanting to go back to that old life. And aggressively wanting a better life for herself. She’s going about it all the wrong ways but maybe she had no one to guide her properly and show her how to get the things that she wanted without threatening people over.
Q: But not so different from Catherine (Megan Follows).
Q: I have to compliment you on your accent – your American accent is amazing.
K: Thanks. I’m always paranoid about it, and I’m always, oh God, everyone’s going to think I’m making fun of them, which I’m really not.
Q: What drew you to the part of Carter?
K: What I loved about Carter was that she’s a 16 year old girl but she’s not written like your average teenage girl in a show about a teenage girl. I’ve never seen a 16 year old written like that before, which was weird because I feel like I know a lot of 16 year old who do have opinions and do have a bit of sass, but weren’t too snarky or brashish, and I hadn’t seen that really before that often. And I remember when I went for my third audition, the director said to me, the thing about Carter is that she’s kind of an adult stuck in a teenager’s body, and I loved that. Someone once asked me to describe Carter with two words and I said ‘old and young’ because she has this maturity about her. She can work people out very quickly. She’s very adult in the way she handles peoples and sees people, but then on the other hand she’s still very much a 16 year old girl and still has that slightly ‘I know it all’ attitude, sometimes, that 16 year olds sometimes have.
Q: Carter seems to be learning some things from Taylor and Taylor is learning things from Carter. Carter also seems to be getting closer to the kids than the parents. Are these going to be trends that continue?
K: Definitely. The thing I always think about Carter is that it must feel to her in some ways that her other mom – her kidnapper mom – died because suddenly, she’s just gone, and Carter just has to get over it. And she’s got no closure, and she doesn’t know where she is, and she can’t talk to her, and she’s got this new woman coming in and saying no that wasn’t your mother, I’m your mother. And it must be very, very traumatic. David obviously has these obligations to stand by Elizabeth, but at the same time, David’s not replacing anyone and that’s why their relationship, I feel, is easier than Carter and Elizabeth. And with Taylor and Grant, I feel like Carter’s never had siblings before so number one they’re not replacing anyone in her eyes either, but number two, she’s desperate for some sort of realness and connection and some relationship that has no other agenda and some kind of honest relationship. I think she finds that first in Grant but also in Taylor. Maybe not as quickly as in Grant, but definitely with Taylor there’s that close connection.
If you’re interested in knowing more about Kathryn’s photography, you can visit her website here. If you’re lucky enough to be in London, UK, you can catch her latest exhibit at St. Martin in The Fields Crypt Gallery, Trafalgar Square from September 18 – October 13. If you want to know more about Finding Carter check the MTV website. Don’t forget to watch the show on MTV, Tuesday nights at 10/9C!