The Strain's Natalie Brown Talks Bigger and Bolder Episodes Ahead! - Dread Central
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The Strain’s Natalie Brown Talks Bigger and Bolder Episodes Ahead!



The character of Kelly has come a long way since being turned into a strigoi back in the early days of “The Strain” Season 1.  With Season 2 now well under way, we had a chance to hear from the actress who portrays the newly sentient ex-Mrs. Goodweather, Natalie Brown.

During a recent roundtable interview, Brown discussed the process involved to turn her into the monster that she has become – both via makeup and her own techniques; working with the “Feelers”; what’s ahead for her ever-evolving character, including more Kelly/Eichorst bonding moments; and lots more.

Read on for the highlights, and be sure to tune in tomorrow night for Episode 2.09, “The Battle for Red Hook.”

THE STRAIN -- "Intruders" -- Episode 208 (Airs August 30, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Natalie Brown as Kelly Goodweather. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Q:  Can you tell us about getting into your strigoi makeup?  And now that you’re kind of back to your human version, which do you prefer?

Natalie Brown: I’m not going to lie.  Costume change and a little bit of lipstick can go a long way to making even Ms. Strigoi happy, but the four and a half hours of the prosthetic makeup process is something that I really enjoy.  The gifted artists that work on the hair and makeup make my job really easy.  They definitely bring the terror before I’ve even set foot on set, but being able to experience Kelly as a human turned vampire turned back to human looking is a challenge that I really relished…  and the products are a lot better smelling, shall we say.  A little more pleasant.  It’s like a day trip to the spa for Kelly.

Q:  And what about getting into the character itself?  Your movements and manner of speaking now that you’re evolving?

NB:  After having gotten the hang of the physical expectations of a newly turned strigoi, the challenge at the beginning of Season 2 was letting go of a lot of those expectations of a newly turned strigoi and becoming a more sentient being, more regal if you will. And in Episode 8, “Intruders,” then it was a matter of restraint.  Keeping a lid on my own human tendencies and speaking less articulately and moving more mechanically is something you’re required as an actress to not do, but our director, Kevin Dowling, was quick to remind me of when to hold back and when to let the foot off the pedal, so to speak.  She does now have access to all of her memories and emotions, and it’s like hearing an old familiar song and knowing all the words.  It’s like an old familiar sweater.

Q:  Now that you’ve played through three phases of the character (human, strigoi, and now sort of a hybrid), have you approached it as three different characters, or just sort of three evolutions of the same character?

NB:  You hit the nail on the head.  It is three different evolutions, and it’s been a process of adding and eliminating and being expertly guided by our vamp choreographer, Roberto Campanella, as well as the writers and directors. And it’s just a matter of choosing what to keep and what to throw away, what to layer on, and just knowing… having that sense of restraint at all times…  The character just keeps growing in complexity and more nuanced, and with each evolution of Kelly I enjoy more and more…  You’ll just have to see what’s in store to see how much better things continue to get – or worse, depending on your perspective.

Q:  Can you talk a little bit about working with those creepy Feeler kids?  How did they come to get hired in the first place?

NB:  They had castings at dance studios in the greater Toronto area, and they hired some of the most gifted dancers and acrobats.  Most of them were girls, but we had a few boy Feelers, and they’re so physically gifted that they’re creepy looking enough on their own, but they are also aided with the help of speeding up their movements with visual effects, and they would employ the use of trampolines to help with the springing side.  Generally, they become pretty creepy once they’re processed in hair and makeup, and they were just a joy to work with.  They were so enthusiastic, and they loved the makeup process.  They did all of Kelly’s dirty work.  They’re the ones down on their hands and doing her bidding.  So we had a lot of fun playing make believe and turning some of the darkest subject matter into the most fun days on the set.


Q:  In the last episode your companion Feelers were killed.  Is it safe to assume we might see more, or were they the last two?  If you can say, that is…

NB:  I may not be able to say, but there just might be a couple still lingering in the nest.

Q:  When you’re this strigoi character and you have to go to some pretty dark places, what do you tap into to get you through that darkness of your character?

NB:  It’s that burning desire to connect with her dearest one… that has not gone away.  It has changed.  Human love does turn to vampire need, but that longing, that yearning, that fight for Zach is still very much alive.  That’s what makes vampires different from other monsters… that they still feel.  They still have purpose.  They have drive. There are different levels of course, and Kelly, being a more sentient one, has special gifts bestowed upon her, and what a blessing because all vampires once newly turned want to connect with their dear ones, and she’s just very fortunate to have been blessed with the assistance of Eichhorst and Feelers, and she’ll stop at nothing.  So she’s still very much focused and driven by that desire and need.

Q:  We got to see Kelly and Eichhorst kind of bond when he was teaching her how to apply her makeup, etc.  How will we see that relationship progress throughout the rest of the season?

NB:  Well, I will say that one of the most poignant scenes from Season 1 was Eichhorst’s ceremoniously putting on his face, and I had joked with some of the writers last season that now that Kelly has become a strigoi, my only wish would be to hang out with Eichhorst and maybe borrow some concealer.  You can only imagine how thrilled I was when that wish came true.  Eichhorst would be one of my favorite characters from Season 1, and being one of the most fully fleshed-out strigoi, I couldn’t ask for a better mentor.  Richard Sammel portrays Eichhorst superbly, and he has coined the relationship a “Bonnie and Clyde partnership.”  I’m just very fortunate to be in his—or to be his people.  I look forward to more of the Eichhorst/Kelly relationship.

Q:  Now that Kelly is more sentient, do you feel that her human nature is coming forward more, and is it so forward that her desire to protect Zach might make her at some point turn against The Master, or is she still in control?

NB:  He is The Master, after all.  So he is the wheel.  But the emotional palette in the well is running deeper the longer that she’s a sentient being, and access to the memories definitely fuels her need to connect, and there is a possibility for more connection and possibly confusion, but The Master is at the helm at all times.  So I think that once you are a strigoi, your only desire is to connect, and that way is, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, to turn.  So I don’t know if it’s something that would necessarily go against her new instincts as this new being, but I do think that she still ultimately wants to protect him.

Q:  So then, does she want to turn her son, or does she just want to be with him?

NB:  I think they’re one and the same.  I think that a vampire turns a loved one because that is the way to be with them, that is the way to protect them, to offer them protection from how vulnerable they think they are as humans, and that is still the goal…


Q:  Is it just that she wants to get Zach, or is she also trying to hurt Eph at the same time?  Is she that aware of what she’s doing?

NB:  I think she will take no prisoners, and whoever is in her way will have to suffer the consequences.  I think that a lot of the circumstances that were present before Kelly was turned are retained within her memories and fuel the feud that was between Kelly and Eph.  I’ve said it before — and Guillermo [del Toro] had described this as “the custody battle that never ends” in the first audition — and now, I know exactly what he was talking about.

Q:  What can fans expect the rest of the season and into the next?  Because it seems like the stakes are getting higher and higher…

NB: I know… the battle lines continue to be drawn.  Alliances continue to be formed and made.  Alliances continue to be crossed.  This story just get richer and more exciting by the episode, and I’m as anxious as everyone else to see what the writers have in store next season and can’t wait for everyone to see how the rest of this season unfolds.  It does only get bigger and better and bolder.

“The Strain” Episode 2.09 – “The Battle for Red Hook” (airs 9/6/15)
Justine (Samantha Mathis) takes drastic measures to counter a surprise invasion. Nora (Mia Maestro) and Fet (Kevin Durand) perform a useful mission while Eph (Corey Stoll) and Setrakian (David Bradley) face off against an old foe.

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