As audiences need not be reminded, last season’s CASTLE finale left us all in shock, not to mention a bit tear soaked over the death of beloved Captain Roy Montgomery and the shooting of Kate Beckett at his funeral. With Richard Castle’s “I love you” being perhaps the final words Beckett heard, tonight’s third season picks-up to find out (1) if Beckett survives and (2) whether or not she heard Castle’s confession. Then joining in the ranks to take over the precinct is Penny Johnson Jerald as Captain Victoria Gates, who has no preexisting relationship with any of them and who has a decidedly different view on whether Richard Castle, as a writer, should be allowed to shadow a lead detective into harm’s way on a regular basis.
While attending this summer’s Television Critics Association in Los Angeles, CASTLE’s newest cast member Penny Johnson Jerald spoke with press about her controversial new role as Captain Victoria Gates and replacing Ruben Santiago-Hudson as the popular Captain Roy Montgomery.
Who will you be playing on CASTLE this season?
Penny Johnson Jerald: I play Captain Victoria Gates, aka “Sir Iron Gates.” You don’t call me “ma’am” you call me “sir.” And “iron” is because she is by-the-book and nothing will get past her. So I find that extraordinary.
Had you watched the show before being cast as Captain Victoria Gates?
I watched the final 2 episodes of Season 3 prior to meeting the producers because it is just smart to know what you’re in for. But after I got into it, I actually asked for every episode because if I’m coming onto the set there’s a different rhythm to the show, different people; the show itself, the style of the show is different. So I’ve been watching every episode since the pilot to see how things change — especially hair!
How has it been for you joining an established show and blending in with those who have been there from the start?
I definitely believe that you reap what you sow, and I have been fortunate to have been on some incredible television series where people come on as guest arcs and then they come on later as regulars, and I thank god that I’ve been one of those people who welcomed them in with open arms, just being so wonderful and nice and respectful of the fact that they are new ’cause right now that is happening for me. I’m the new kid on the block and everyone has been great in embracing me and making me feel comfortable — comfortable enough to just do my job and to make mistakes and in “Penny’s book” you don’t make mistakes but it is nice to be comfortable enough to be around people where it is okay to do that.
Does it mean anything special in particular being a female police captain?
I’m glad that they did go female because I learned recently that it’s not to far fetched. In Los Angels there are more than five female captains running precincts and they’re not all these humongous statuesque women, they’re these tiny petite women who run a whole precincts where the men and women under them have to adhere to their authority. So I’m really excited that the audience doesn’t have to think, “Wait a minute, that’s a woman” because it is very real, honest and true to life.
What can you tell us about the character?
She is rather exciting. I love complex characters and I’m so glad that she’s not one dimensional. She may be on a narrow path of ‘by the book’ and stern and not your typical nurturing captain, but she calls it what it is and I think she is a wonderful mirror to show both Castle and Beckett not what they want to see but what is actually there. She’s really going to stir things up. I liken it to a great stew or gumbo which is spicier. I might be the new sausage but they can’t tell, is it beef, pork or chicken kind of thing? They’re not sure but I know that I’m sure and they will have to rise up to my level.
Your predecessor on the show, the dearly departed Captain Montgomery was rather lax in his approach to Richard Castle. Is Captain Gates more hard-nosed and how does that play out with Castle, who is “I’ll put my nose where it doesn’t belong” in the series?
I don’t know if you’re too young to remember this but there was a time when parents would actually put a little leash on our children so that you could pull it just like you do with an animal. Suffice it to say, Gates’ leash when it comes to Castle and Beckett is really short. It’s like taking them to Disneyland and they are right there, I’m watching them and nothing they can do is going to get past me. So unlike the Captain before, I don’t think they’ll be able to get away with a lot of things because she sees everything. Hopefully it plays out to be great television because there will be some tension between the two of them. She is not like her predecessor. He had that charm old-player attitude about him, nurturing and warm — the “alright kids, you can do it” attitude. She’s a bit different. It’s like, “okay this is the job, you’re going to do it.” It’s more of a tough-love, if love is in the equation at all. But it is about pushing them to do their job.
Aside from letting Castle and Beckett pretty much run the show, another thing your predecessor will be remembered for is his penchant for harboring dark secrets. Is there any chance your character has a few secrets of her own?
You know, I’ve learned in all the series that I’ve done is that they don’t even know that! I think that’s something they invent as we go alone, but I’m speaking and not really being in the minds of the writers, but I don’t know of any dark secrets, i’m sure there are, because real people have real secrets and I’d like for them to write me as a real person.
And finally, where does Captain Gates stand on the subject of inter-office romances?
She’s aware that something is going on, what she does with that though I don’t know as we haven’t gotten that far.
CASTLE returns with new episodes on September 19th at 10PM on ABC (CTV in Canada) and stars Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan, Molly C. Quinn, Jon Huertas, Tamala Jones, Seamus Dever and Penny Johnson. Catch up with past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv.
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).