The Secret Circle: Natasha Henstridge on Her Character’s Motivations and More!

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Today we bring you Part 2 of our San Diego Comic-Con interviews with some of the cast members of “The Secret Circle”; we thought we’d close things out with long-time genre favorite Natasha Henstridge (Species, Ghosts of Mars), who portrays school principal Dawn Chamberlain in the series.

Natasha Henstridge, The Secret CircleAmong a few other things, we discuss her cult status among horror fans, working with co-star Gale Harold, and her character’s motivations.

With her very avid fanbase in the genre, we wondered if she felt extra responsibility accepting such a highly visible role on “The Secret Circle”. She replied, “I didn’t think about that so much, to be honest. It wasn’t lost on me obviously that it was going to be supernatural, in that genre, and it probably wasn’t lost on them either when they cast me, but I just had a responsibility to do something I wanted to do and something I enjoyed, and I thought this was really good. Kevin Williamson is obviously super talented, and everything he touches turns to gold, and it’s nice to be on a show that people want to see. He has that history. It’s great to do all these really obscure, interesting roles and things, but then nobody gets to see them. That’s no fun. You work your tail off, you want people to watch it, and I’m sure they’re going to be watching this.”

Given her experience with the paranormal (Natasha appears in an episode of “Celebrity Ghost Stories”), she was asked about her feelings on the use of magic in the context of the series. “Well, my grandmother’s passed away, but she would have said, ‘That’s the devil’s work, Tasha! That’s the devil’s work!’ [laughing] I’ve done so many things she would have said that about, I guess we’re in the clear! I just think it’s really fun. As soon as you have any sort of supernatural elements to a story, it makes for really good storytelling. It can also be an easy way out of stuff and an easy way to try and make something interesting. But I think in this case … for me the character itself is less one-dimensional. Kevin’s got a really beautiful way of making things really full and rounded. Each character is not just one thing or the other so that was exciting to me. I thought that was a fun way to play it. And already in the first script up after the pilot, I was really surprised by what I was reading. I was like, ‘Oh, interesting that she does this, but then she’ll do that.’ That’s fun to play, something that’s not completely ‘moustache-twirling’.”

Along the lines of her character’s motivations, her generation, the “broken” one, orchestrates Cassie (Britt Robertson)’s return and empowers their children, but now they want to rein the teens in. Is it for a greater good or their own motives? According to Henstridge, “It’s for a greater good. They think they’re doing it for a greater good. My character genuinely thinks it’s for a greater good. All of those things can change, and things happen, but I think she’s willing to do lots and lots of terrible things [laughs] but really somewhere in her head thinks it’s for the greater good eventually.”

The “elders” were brought up, and Natasha wondered, “Which elders? Because actually there are three generations involved in ‘The Secret Circle’.” She elaborated, “You have the elders, the grandparents. And then our circle. Our circle lost a bunch of the circle and don’t have the power because of that. The elders, however, could have the power, but they banished magic from a long time ago because of horrible things that happened. And then of course the young ones are the ones that could have all the power because they have a full set. A full deck! [laughs] They’re stacked.”

The Secret CircleSpeaking of the young ones, her character uses her child, Faye (Phoebe Tonkin), to get what she wants. How does she relate to something like that? “I don’t relate to that at all. I would never use my child … to do anything harmful to my child. But the thing is, in some ways the character is not … she definitely has her eyes on the prize and the greater good and getting the power back, and I don’t even know all the reasons for that myself yet, but they’ve given me a general sense of what it is. And in my head I think it’s all for the greater good. So in the character’s head it’s for that. She does have limitations as to what she’ll do. I’ve seen that in the first script. There are lines that she won’t cross. I think she does use her daughter, but she’s also trying to contain her daughter. Like the Gale [Harold] character, her daughter also seems to be a wildcard, and I think she has a good relationship with her in many ways. It’d be interesting to see how that develops. She’s intrigued by her daughter’s fierce independence, but also it’s about containing that and all about getting that circle together and the greater good. She’ll do a lot of things, but she does have a morality as well, which I see in the next episode.”

Since she mentioned Gale Harold and his character, Charles Meade (father of Diana, a member of Cassie’s circle, played by Shelley Hennig), we commented on their great onscreen chemistry and inquired as to what the dynamic between their characters is like. Mysterious? Ulterior motives? “Ulterior motives is a good one,” Henstridge offered. “Yeah, we just always have motives! It’s great, it’s fun. I get to sort of put him up to things, too. It seems like it’s sort of unraveling in that way where he’s not my minion (he’d hate it if I said that) … he’s got his own set of things. He’s like fire in a bottle, and he’s excited by the magic, and I have my eye on the long-term, big scheme. Working with Gale is great; he’s an unusual fellow. He is really super creative, and he’s interesting. He’s really interesting.”

Delving a bit more into what’s in store for Dawn Chamberlain, as the school principal, how involved is she going to be with the teens and the magic? Henstridge said, “She’s like the overseer, and no better place to be than the principal at the school where all the kids go so she’s in a really lucky position there. I don’t know if it’s lucky or by design – probably the second. She is very pivotal, and it’ll be interesting to see what my relationship will be like with Charles, Gale’s character, but certainly, like I said, I think he is very excitable and very excited by the power and the things he can get from that, and I am trying to contain him as well.”

We concluded with everyone’s favorite topic at Dread Central – how dark the show will be considering its demographic. Do they push the line for a series aimed at teens and even pre-teens? Henstridge’s response was semi-reassuring, “I guess the demographic is what it is. I don’t know if it’s necessarily so pre-teen … I’m sure that will be part of it. I think those things are always left to the parents to decide what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable for kids to watch. People were asking me — I have a 13-year-old son — if I’m going to let him watch it, and I let him watch the pilot, and I think that people are exposed to, unfortunately, things far darker and more graphic than this show is. And I did let my son watch it, and he did absolutely love it. You’ve got so many elements that are fun to watch. The relationships and then of course the special effects and the drama and the magic. There’s a lot to like.”

We’ll be looking forward to seeing how much we like of “The Secret Circle” when it debuts on The CW on Thursday, September 15th. From what we’re hearing, like most new series, it takes a few episodes to get going so we’ll be tuning in for at least the first several of them in hopes that it’s a good match for us and our readers.

As always, thanks to Natasha for taking the time to speak with us and to The CW and Warner Bros. TV for arranging the interview.

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Debi Moore

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