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Interview: Kai Bradbury talks Freeform’s Motherland: Fort Salem

[WARNING: Season One Spoilers]

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/Freeform

It’s always fun to discover a new original supernatural series, especially one that’s not based on any existing intellectual property like a book or movie. 

Freeform’s Motherland: Fort Salem comes from the mind of creator Eliot Laurence (he’s also the creator of TNT’s Claws) and has turned out to be a hidden gem of a show. Its “what if” premise propels viewers to an alternate world where a deal to end the Salem Witch Trials was struck. What that means is witches are alive and well and integral to the society of today. No longer facing persecution, they are the ones comprising the military. They’re the ones battling enemies far and wide for their country using their considerable combat magic skills and potent spells.

Photo Credit: David Bukach/Freeform

At the heart of this YA-type drama are three supremely fierce and flawed female characters who form a powerful — yet dysfunctional — team of witches: Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams), Raelle (Taylor Hickson), and Tally (Jessica Sutton). They’ve enlisted in the U.S. Army and are currently in training to one day get sent to the frontlines of wars against foes like the deadly Spree. 

Along the way Abigail, Raelle and Tally are learning how to fight, they’re developing their rocky friendship and they’re discovering who they are especially when challenged with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. And, yes, they’re even falling in love or in lust, whatever the case may be.

While women awesomely take front and center on Motherland, there are characters of the male persuasion present. One of these guys is Gerit, played by Canadian Kai Bradbury

Photo Credit: Freeform/David Bukach

This season Gerit and Tally quickly sparked a connection that beautifully came to life in episode four at the celebration known as Beltane. Then real life intruded in a big way. Tally found out Gerit’s engaged — it’s an arranged situation — but this was definitely a blow. However, the two have reunited despite the less-than-ideal circumstances. Who knows how long they can keep their reconnected relationship on the down low.

Photo Credit: Jason Sakaki

TV Goodness recently sent a few questions over to Bradbury, who answered via email. The Japanese and Scottish actor talks about Motherland, his character’s relationship with Tally, and he gives us the rundown of some of his most significant professional experiences to date.

TV Goodness: Why are you happy to be a part of Motherland: Fort Salem?

Kai Bradbury: I love the fantasy element as well as its rich representation and diversity. Motherland has allowed for actors and characters of all races, genders, sexualities and body types to stand at the forefront. 

TV Goodness: Your character was introduced in episode three. Describe Gerit.

Bradbury: Gerit Buttonwood is a young male witch who initially arrives at Fort Salem for a sacred festival called Beltane. He’s a High Atlantic witch, this means he comes from a high society family with wealth and military status. Gerit is deeply passionate and a bit of a flirty jokester.  

TV Goodness: The fourth episode was a big one for Gerit and Tally. What makes Gerit and Tally a couple to root for?

Photo Credit: David Bukach/Freeform

Bradbury: I think they have a bubbly innocence to their relationship that makes them very sweet and endearing to watch. They are a perfect match so against all odds, I think audiences want to see them fight to be together.  

TV Goodness: And talk about filming that episode. What was it like? How long did it take to learn that dance? Was it challenging?

Photo Credit: David Bukach/Freeform

Bradbury: Episode four had complex elements of intimacy as well as the big dance. We learned two versions of the choreography on two long days leading up to the shoot. Myself and Jessica both had prior dance experience, however, working on such a huge scale was of course challenging and thrilling.  

TV Goodness: What’s it like working with Jessica Sutton (Tally)?

Bradbury: I am so grateful to have joined forces with Jess; she is a giving scene partner who has endless energy and passion. Working with her felt like a perfect match!

TV Goodness: What can you tease about your character in the episodes coming up?

Bradbury: No spoilers of course… but now that we’ve learned of Gerit’s prior engagement, shall we say, there is certainly tension between them.  

TV Goodness: What kind of feedback are you getting on social media?

Bradbury: It’s been overwhelming seeing the tweets, posts and comments about us and the show. Lots of support for the characters and reactions like that from the audience, means we’ve done our job. 

TV Goodness: Have you found that people are shipping Gerit and Tally?

Bradbury: Tally and Gerit are certainly being shipped together with #Cravenwood – a combination of their last names. Fans seem to be very emotionally invested in their relationship.  

TV Goodness: You’ve been a part of so many great projects. What did you enjoy most about appearing on the following?

The Man in the High Castle: My first job in TV, wide-eyed, wielding guns and yelling in Japanese!

The Terror: My first Guest Star role, profoundly emotional content and George Takei.

The Boys: Shoveling gruel in my mouth and pretending fall in Toronto was a hot tropical jungle. 

Supernatural: Fire truck pulled into frame while we were shooting and I met Amanda Tapping who I worked with again on Motherland: Fort Salem.

Warigami: My first series lead role, fast fight training, challenging and moved to a new city to shoot.

Altered Carbon: Most expensive costume and coolest studio set I’ve ever seen.

Photo Credit: Jason Sakaki

TV Goodness: You’ve done a lot of musical theater — what’s your favorite musical? What musical would you love to be a part of and why?

Bradbury: In the Heights makes me cry. Sweeney Todd is a masterpiece. Little Women is grossly underrated. There are many shows I would love to do, but Jay Kuo’s Allegiance based on George Takei’s experience with Japanese-American internment during WW2 is at the top of my list.   

TV Goodness: If you could guest star on any show currently on TV/Streaming, what would it be and why?

Bradbury: Stranger Things comes to mind right away for its incredible sci-fi storytelling and I’m also a big fan of retro fashion. 

TV Goodness: What TV show can you binge over and over again? Why?

Bradbury: I have never re-watched any series in my life but I binge sci-fi fantasy and reality TV the most of any genres.  

TV Goodness: If you can say, will you be appearing in the second season of The Boys?

Bradbury: I cannot say!

Photo Credit: David Bukach/Freeform

We had to try. Motherland: For Salem airs Wednesday nights at 9/8c on Freeform.

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