A Conversation with CASTLE Star Stana Katic

After spending fifteen minutes on the phone with CASTLE star Stana Katic yesterday, one thing became abundantly clear: Fifteen minutes wasn’t nearly enough time! Evidently, Katic and Kate Beckett, her small screen alter ego on the hit ABC series have more than just mesmerizing good looks and a killer smile in common. As luck (or hard work) would have it, Katic is that rare Hollywood specimen that has the brains to match the beauty. A conclusion we reached following our all-too-brief chat in which the actress was kind enough to take some time from her busy schedule to discuss the recent CASTLE season finale, her first meeting with co-star Nathan Fillion, Emmy possibilities and of course, hair!

As much as I detest incredibly obvious first questions, there is no getting around this one. Beckett and Castle together! Are you “for” or “against”?
Stana Katic: I think that those two characters make a lot of sense together. I understand that lately, many people have this belief that all the romantic tension and comedy will stop when a couple gets together. But I believe that whether they’re together or whether they’re not together, that tension and sexual swordplay should still be available. I might be overly romantic, but I think that if a couple gets together there is still an element of spice in a relationship.

Agreed! In fact, as someone who watches a lot of TV can attest, if anything, shows such as PARENTHOOD and MODERN FAMILY illustrated that marriage (or a relationship) isn’t the death of comedy and drama, but rather the start of it. Is it possible almost too much has been made of the “will-they-or-won’t-they?”
I kind of agree with that idea. Married couples, or people who are together should still be able to have that wonderful back-and-forth that a man and woman can often bring to a story. There are so many great examples like Adam’s Rib where Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy and playing off of each other beautifully. Even something as recent as Mr. & Mrs. Smith, I mean they’re married but they just throw it at each other, it’s so sexy.

After a shaky first season, CASTLE really seemed to come into its own this season. Do you attribute anything specific to that?
Every show kind of evolves throughout the years. I remember watching some of THE SOPRANOS first episodes and thinking the premise was fantastic, but it wasn’t necessarily indicative of what the show would eventually become. I think for this one, especially in a network television environment, the powers that be are really concentrated on first establishing the story, ensuring people know what the story is going to be about, then kind of retelling that until they gain a certain amount of audience appeal and then moving from there. This year what we got to do is grow from that initial outline and I think that branching out really just offered a lot of interesting story lines and wonderful character growth, which I thought was appealing for everybody.

Has creator Andrew Marlowe given you any indication on where things are heading in the third season?
I just walked out of a meeting with Andrew and they’re definitely in the early stages of developing story, creating the first chunk of episodes and trying to figure out how to come back from summer vacation. One of the commitments they made is they really enjoyed the opportunities that were afforded by having the two-parter last season. It was a monumental thing to do, there was a lot of action, extra characters, and it was really a bigger show for us. But I think they had a really nice return from it in terms of audience response so they’re definitely committed in the writer’s room to creating another two-parter. Where it will fall and how many I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure they want to create something that has just as high stakes. Plus, for me it was so fun to do.

It was fun. I particularly enjoyed when Beckett got a glimpse of the fact that she could be both successful at her career and in life. Is more of Beckett’s personal life something you’d like to see explored in season 3?
I’m really hoping so. That as an actor is the most interesting thing to play. It’s my belief that Beckett is probably a lot more like Nikki Heat than I think Castle realizes and I’d love to see more of that tone coming out. Not just in characters talking about it, but actually seeing it in action on the screen. It’s so fun to play the real underneath of a character on screen. I’d love to explore it.

This season CASTLE will get a new time slot competitor in CBS’ much-anticipated reboot of HAWAII FIVE-O. Have you given any thought to it and are you at all concerned about the competition?
Well you know I think the viewers that have created an allegiance to CASTLE are there for a reason. Something like HAWAII FIVE-O is a different show entirely and I think we’re going after different audiences. That said, I’m sure producers are aware of it, they’re all smart people. And if CASTLE is capable — at least from my understanding — of bouncing of CSI: MIAMI that means it has got some legs and I’m sure that will help us sustain its own sort of audience.

One of the things that keeps me personally coming back to CASTLE is the chemistry between yourself and co-star Nathan Fillion. Was that something you two had to work at or was it right there from the get go?
There are a couple of things that are involved in creating a really nice chemistry with a costar. First and foremost, one of the elements is writing. If you have the writing to bounce back and forth with your co-star, good writing as a foundation kind of lends itself to a real natural chemistry being brought there. So we started there, there’s a great sense of play. And one of the things when I spoke to [creator] Andrew Marlowe the first time, trying to find out about things like tone and where he felt that the show was going to live he mentioned the Thin Man series, which is a real old series with Myrna Loy and William Powell and had that wonderful sense of quick banter and play between the guy and the girl. And then of course you have to have the person to bounce the ball to who will bounce it back. Nathan [Fillion] has been doing television for a very long time, he was very comfortable with it but then he’s also got a great sense of play so it’s nice to be able to jump into something like this with someone like him.

I’ll tell you one of the first experiences I had with Nathan and I don’t know if he has ever heard this story… I was testing for the role and the thing was I was actually living in Newport, which for your readers who don’t live in the LA area is quite a distance away from LA. I didn’t have time to shop for the right blouse so I just grabbed this blouse that I had and thought I’ll make it work. When I got to the testing area, they were doing the makeup, hair, fiddling with my clothing and of course it wasn’t working. There I was, trying not to stress out because I’m about to be on camera for about 40 to 50 people in about 10 minutes. So I step out, grab some scissors from the hairstylist and think to myself that if i can’t find a mirror, maybe I can do it myself. There was Nathan grabbing a coffee, he says, “Hey, how are you doing?” I’m like, “So can you help me out for a second?” He responds, “Sure, do you want to run lines?” And I’m like, “No. Can you cut a straight line?” And he stops and is like, “I can try, but I’m not promising anything.” So he cut my shirt, removed the lower tunic part and it’s funny because the producers kind of walked in on the two of us being co-criminals and I thought that was just a real wonderful kind of taste of what the camaraderie would be in the future on the show.

At least according to your imdb profile, at 56 episodes and counting Beckett will be the longest role you’ve ever played. How do you keep it fresh and interesting as you head in to the third season?
Yeah I know! I think the further we delve into Beckett’s personal life, the more interesting it is as an actor. Obviously it’s my job to keep it interesting for me, let alone for the people who are viewing it. But as an actor you just try to attack a scene that you might have done 30 different ways already and find the 31st way. Its really just a day-by-day thing and life influences you differently and I think as we keep exploring her inner life and peeling away layers of her there will be so many more beats to play. I think we found a really great rhythm last season and this year they’ll be able to build on it even better because they know even more so than they did last year what really clicks and where our opportunities are.

As you may-or-may-not-know, at the end of this week is when Emmy nominations are due. Are awards something you spend a lot of time thinking about?
You know I just came back from shooting a film in France, and as we were shooting all throughout the north and south of France I passed by the Cannes Film Festival and I thought to myself “Gosh, that would be so amazing to attend the Cannes Film Festival and be a part of a film that was featured there.” But I can’t even fathom the concept of being individually selected for something like that, that’s just beyond my imagination at this point truthfully. I think just to be a part of a project that gets recognized and is loved it would be a tremendous honor. Especially by so many of these wonderful award shows that are created by peers, co-creators of film and television, it’s a tremendous honor to be viewed as something that is entertaining and worth watching by our fellow actors and directors.

And I’m really sorry to have to end this interview off on a slightly embarrassing note, but fans will kill me if I don’t ask… what is probably the dumbest question of my career… Beckett’s hair, which by the way fans love, has seen quite a shift in style between the first and second season. Should fans brace themselves for yet another change come season three?
[Laughs] I have a feeling there will be a change so get ready guys!

Any truth to the rumor that you’ll be attempting the Justin Bieber look?
[Laughs] Maybe I’ll try a faux-hawk!

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  • Sclc85

    As a loyal Castle viewer that has never missed one episode and has her husband hooked all I can say it “Stana and Nathan, don't worry. Your fans will not abandon you”. Hawaii Five-0 is a remake and we all know how well they do LOL. Second, the lead actor is way too young to carry off that role and his accent is laughable. I wouldn't miss a beat worrying about that show. Actually I read posts form the lead's fans who actually said they are worried about Hawaii going up against Castle and they themselves are huge Castle fans. I can't wait for the season premire of Castle.

  • Farzan

    I enjoyed reading this interview and I'm still looking for next season to come out. I really like the chemistry between two lead characters in the Castle which indicates dialogue smoothly. Actually I can't wait too much but I hope to see more comedy and drama in the next season.