On THE NINE LIVES OF CHLOE KING, Skyler Samuels portrays Chloe King and Amy Pietz plays her mother, Meredith King.
How would you describe this show in comparisons to other shows?
Skyler: I don’t think I could compare CHLOE KING to any other TV show or movie. It’s kind of its own special package. In an hour, you get drama, you get romance, you’ll laugh. It’ll leave you on the edge of your seat. So it’s got a little bit of everything and it’s like the most perfect balance you could want.
Amy: I totally agree. I try to explain it to my friends using a little something more that they can relate to. Sometimes I use BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and there’s a little GILMORE GIRLS mixed in there. But Skyler’s right. It’s really balanced. It has romance and it has action — and the action is what really turned me on the most about the show — and it’s funny.
Skyler: It is fun watching the action sequences — not only because it is a girl kickin’ butt — but it’s very inspirational for women to watch and feel empowered. It’s funny too because Chloe always bites off more than she can chew. She’ll say ‘oh, I can take you’ to the villain — only he’s like 200 pounds and who’s like 6’4” and I’m like this little scrawny girl whose got to fight the bad guy. It’s also funny because sometimes in the middle of things, Chloe will do funny things or she’ll make jokes. She’s always got that clever wit which kind of makes the action portion fun and funny to watch.
Amy: And I love how the female emphasis on the show is healthy. There is a good relationship between Chloe and her mother and Chloe and her best friends. They’re not talking about money and sex all the time – it’s not GOSSIP GIRL. It’s something I would allow my daughter to watch and be proud of it. I’m not embarrassed by it. It’s an ABC Family show. I am proud of this show.
Skyler: And it’s a very realistic portrayal of what a 16-year old girl would be experiencing and that might sound funny because there are all these supernatural elements, but that’s kind of what makes the show work. There’s this practical aspect. She’s trying to figure out who she is, how to talk to a boy, how to maintain a relationship with her two best friends, and how to talk to her mom. Dating or putting away laundry, all the usual things and at the same time she discovers that being a teenager just wasn’t enough. She’s got this added factor — these supernatural abilities that she has and because of that, it’s kind of a fantastical way to look at how a teenage girl lives — having to deal with all these things and becoming a young woman.
Have you seen the pilot?
Amy: I sat through it with my stepdaughter and we’re forming a new relationship. I must say that playing Skyler’s mom on TV is making me a better stepmom and being a stepmom is helping me be a better TV mom. I get the importance of these issues now. While [my stepdaughter] was under the covers, she was also thrilled with the Twilight aspect. I mean the guys on our show are —
Skyler: They aren’t too hard on the eyes!
Does this show have vampires or what exactly is the mythology of the show?
Skyler: No. Without giving too much away, the basic mythology of the show comes down to an ancient Egyptian myth that, in more or less terms, the Mai resemble humans but have cat like sensibilities — kind of like the Sphinxes and pharaohs. It has this kind of ancient mythology. But there’s more to it than that — in the most relatable sense that’s what we have going on. We have claws – half-cat/half-human. But it’s a very interesting thing because some of the powers are physical. She’s really fast. Very quick to move to run away from someone or someone can be swinging a pole at my head and at the last second I can duck out and pounce on them — and it’s super awesome. She also has these emotional abilities. Chloe is an empath and the difference between being empathic and an empath is: if I lost my cell phone and you lost your cell phone, we can be empathic about the situation; but being an empath is this supernatural way of experiencing empathy. So Chloe finds herself drawn to these people, complete strangers, because she suddenly gets these empathy images where she can look at someone and she can feel terrified because they are terrified. It’s kind of how she is able to help everyone because she is discovering these random strangers who come into her life and she helps them and saves them.
Amy: Chloe is the leader of the tribe called the Mai and this tribe of other half-cat/half-human are throughout the world and they look at her as the leader of this group, which she doesn’t discover until her 16th birthday. Thus, her powers don’t come into fruition until then.
Does the mother know that the daughter has these powers?
Amy: No. I don’t know how long we are going to draw that out, but probably until the end of the first season, she doesn’t know.
Skyler: It’s hard for Chloe to tell her mom and the development of the storyline is kind of ‘to be continued’ or ‘to be determined.’ But Chloe is adopted and her adoptive father is no longer in the picture – he disappeared about 10 years ago.
Amy: It’s more like the single mom GILMORE GIRLS type of story.
Skyler: But I think Chloe is a little nervous about bringing this ‘thing’ up to her mother because it’s like ‘how do I tell her’ and ‘maybe she won’t love me anymore’ or ‘what does this mean.’ What does she know? And it’s trying to figure out who Chloe is throughout the show. It’s her biggest struggle. It’s how to embrace these new things in her life and make it a part of her life and to feel comfortable with her life as it is now. As the story develops she kind of begins to own it more and I think, sooner rather than later, Chloe’s mom is going to find out.
Amy: Also, the biological father has been communicating with Chloe in very secretive ways – and the adoptive father and Chloe’s mom is unaware of that, so that will be revealed.
Is there any comedy out of this since cats are not known for their empathy?
Skyler: There is a lot of cat jokes and that is why I say cat, but loosely cat-like, because there are some differences there. We poke fun at the fact that Chloe has these powers which I think makes it nice because a lot of these supernatural shows take it SO seriously. If you can’t make fun of yourself, then why do it. So Chloe’s best friends Amy and Paul, who she’s never without – they are like the little trio – and they always poke fun with like “oh I can’t open this container want to pop a claw out for me.” They are constantly teasing Chloe about her abilities, but I think that’s what makes it fun is that they accepted it and they get it. The other thing to go back to the mythology of it all is that the reason that there is this tension and the importance of Chloe being the leader is that in ancient times between the Mai and humans, there was a partnership. They were very loyal with one another. There was a very strong relationship and throughout history this rivalry began to grow and it became that the humans were out to kill the Mai and vice versa. But when Chloe discovers that she has all these powers, she doesn’t think that is how it should be anymore. You shouldn’t have this division and her goal is to bring these two very different people to exist simultaneously and happily. So it’s a big job for a 16-year old girl – high school and world peace.
Were you able to use any of your experience from working on THE GATES for this show?
Skyler: I wouldn’t say that the supernatural factor of the show helped me with this because the two characters are very different. But I will say the experience of filming a whole series has been the most valuable experience ever. That was my first series and it was definitely a wonderful experience — how to work with special effects and being on sets for long hours and doing crazy things. And with this show there is definitely a lot of that. We have a lot of special effects and we do even a lot more crazy things. But it’s all good practice.
How do you prepare for a role like that?
Skyler: Before the pilot started, I had only read the pilot, so I didn’t know what the rest of the season had in store, but I knew I had to run a lot and there was a lot of physical work – a lot of fighting – I was the most uncoordinated, un-athletic human being on the face of the planet – I couldn’t run 2 feet to save my life – and before the pilot started I got on the treadmill, running 3 miles a day. I was practicing boxing and Pilates and strength training and I’ve kept up with it ever since, and now it’s like second nature. But it was a complete physical overhaul to become Chloe King, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Adding to the cast of the show, Grey Damon portrays Brian, one of Chloe’s friends and the new guy in town, and Benjamin Stone portrays Alek Petrov, one of the Mai who has come to train Chloe as she discovers her extraordinary abilities.
Do either of you play one of the Mai, the half-cat people?
Benjamin: I do.
Grey: You play a full cat person, but cat persons are half people.
Benjamin: It’s kind of weird that people keep saying ‘cat people.’ We have cat-like powers. We have nine lives. Thus, it’s a dead give-away that there’s a link there. So there is a feline link. We come from the Egyptians, like Sphinxes and stuff, and I have nine lives so I’m the character that helps Chloe figure out her powers and train her and teach her the history. Making sure that she knows how she is important in our race.
Grey: She’s the most important person to your race.
Benjamin: She’s hot too!
To Grey, are you a human-human or are you a human/something else?
Grey: I think it’s kind of open. Everybody gets cool abilities but me! No, seriously, as of right now, I’m human.
What power would you like to have?
Grey: Laser vision. That would be cool. Kind of like Superman. Doesn’t he have laser vision?
Benjamin: X-ray vision.
Grey: I don’t know about that. I want laser vision. That’s all I have to say.
Did you study cats for the role of Alek?
Benjamin: You mean, did I follow cats around the street when I got accepted to the show? No, I didn’t really. But for the fighting scenes, we try to put a slight sort of style to it, so that it’s not just humans fighting. There’s slight elegance to it. It’s more just of a vibe. You get a sense that they’re not human.
Grey: They have good balance and certain abilities, but they really don’t take on cat-like behavior.
Are there contacts, claws or makeup used to distinguish the Mai?
Benjamin: Yeah, we have claws. Each finger has a separate claw. We don’t have contacts. That’s all done with CGI. The only sort of prosthetics we have are the claws.
Do your characters Brian and Alek interact on the show?
Benjamin: Not yet. Well, if you mean, him talking to Chloe and me standing 10 feet behind watching them, then, yes.
Grey: I kind of have knowledge about him. In fact, I’m the most oblivious character on there. I just don’t know what’s going on at all, ever. If Chloe’s going to hang out with me and be cool with me, I’ve got to let her do her own thing.
What one quality do you appreciate about your character?
Benjamin: It’s quite fun being arrogant. It’s a lot of fun. My character likes to mess with people and kind of have fun. And for me it’s fun to do ’cause I don’t have to focus on anything serious going on, just focus on making the other person laugh. So it’s pretty fun.
Grey: [Brian’s] quirky and fun. I have a quirky and fun side too. But I don’t get to exude that in the characters that I’ve done. Actually, that’s one of the major reasons I took on Brian — I mean it’s a fun role to begin with, but he’s quirky and fun and just nicer than the characters that I have played, who have been very arrogant and snooty and just guys you just really don’t want to hang out with . . . Brian is a really nice guy. He puts up with a lot. But he gets abused by his dad all the time and Chloe doesn’t kiss him. Chloe can’t kiss him. It’s just not a possibility.
Does something bad happen if she kisses him?
Grey: I’ll die.
Benjamin: By die, he means paralysis or death, well then yes. Any Mai can’t kiss a human or they’ll probably be paralyzed.
Are Brian and Alek on opposite sides of the drama?
Benjamin: When it comes to Chloe, we both like her.
Grey: That’s what’s really interesting about this show, is you really don’t notice it right away, but what we know, the lines of who’s good and who’s bad is kind of blurred. I mean, Chloe is obviously good. But my character — my father is considered bad — but you sort of later learn why he does the things he does, and I start to get involved with my father and because of that, you kind of wonder what my motives are. What everyone’s motives are. That’s something that’s intriguing. How the lines get kind of blurred. Especially since it seems pretty black-and-white at first and then you sort of realize when you really think about it . . . we don’t really have all the answers right now. We learn things as we go. But we know enough that it’s a theme where the lines between good and bad blur. I think in a lot of shows we have trouble seeing why a bad guy does what he does. It is sort of interesting to see the other side of things. Sort of ‘play it like this, but mean it like that.’
Benjamin: If you say so!
THE NINE LIVES OF CHLOE KING premieres Tuesday, June 14th at 9:00PM (following the return of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS) on ABC Family Channel.
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).