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Natalie Brown Talks The Strain, Vamping Out and the End of the Season [Exclusive] 

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/FX
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/FX

 Warning: Spoilers Ahead

I have a confession to make here. I stated in past articles that Mr. Quinlan was my favorite character in The Strain trilogy and while that is still true, the fact is Kelly Goodweather comes in at a very close second. So, when the character was finally able to step up to front-and-center in last Sunday’s episode, “Loved Ones,” I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Of course, if you were a viewer who was not familiar with the source material, you never could have guessed that Kelly was going to turn out to be a lot more than the quiet schoolteacher who was infected by her new boyfriend and had to be put down by her ex, Dr. Goodweather. And with the ending of the last episode and the Master speaking to her about embracing her “glorious fate,” it seems pretty clear that Kelly is going to serve a much larger purpose. I think it’s a safe bet she’s going to be around for a while.

I was fortunate enough to be able to chat exclusively with the immensely talented Natalie Brown on Friday about the recent turn of events for her character, what’s in store for Kelly and what goodies we have to look forward to heading for the end of the first season. One of the biggest questions on my mind was, given the fact that Kelly may not be going anywhere (well, at least a strigoi Kelly), should we be looking forward to a totally vamped-out Natalie Brown in full strigoi make-up anytime soon?

Natalie Brown: “It’s definitely a possibility. As far as where this goes for the end of the first season, you’ll have to wait and see. But where it goes from there, I’m really not sure because some things have adhered quite closely to the books and other things haven’t. I’m actually really, really curious myself as an actor, the direction they might take. As we’ve seen in the season thus far, the virus affects everyone differently, people metabolize the virus at different rates. Also, the Master uses people for different purposes, he turns some people more slowly. He definitely has a master plan, no pun intended and I’m not 100% sure what purpose Kelly will serve. I also know when Leslie Hope‘s character, who plays Joan Luss, was turned, she actually was down on all fours. Some of the vamps go all the way down to the floor, they have pretty good agility. So with Kelly, it’s something we are still looking to discover, how the strain will affect her.”

For those who are curious as to what the Master may actually want with Kelly, she said everyone will just have to watch and see, but did state that a good possibility might be to use Kelly as bait to get to Ephraim, since he is a part of Setrakian’s group. And we all know how the Master feels about him. That definitely sounds like a good theory to me! Hmmmmm…

Photo Credit: FX
Photo Credit: FX

Regardless, a lot of the characters on the series aren’t as fortunate to be able to portray a fully-turned vampire for any period of time and instead, are immediately killed and that’s the end of their character. A good example is the Jim Kent character played by Sean Astin. He was infected but we never got the pleasure of seeing him vamp-out because he was killed in “Creatures of the Night.” Not true for Brown’s character and so, I asked her what the most challenging — but also the most fun — part was about playing Kelly Goodweather on the series.

Natalie Brown: “I think those two great questions actually have the same answer. What I found to be the most challenging was the physicality of Kelly when she turned and trying to retain some humanity and some elements of Kelly that are still sympathetic. My goal was to try and keep her from turning into a monster and still be sympathetic. I had the good fortune to work with great writers and Roberto Campanella, who is the choreographer that Guillermo [del Toro] had hired to work with all of the actors on the physicality of the movements of the vampire. So, I ended up working with him for weeks on how the virus would affect a human body and specifically Kelly’s body.”

Of course, I had to ask her about the way Kelly was infected and the whole worm-in-the-eye thing. I don’t speak for everyone, but for me, that was one of the biggest gross-out moments of the show. But it was also so great and so cool. It definitely will be a scene that all fans will remember.

Natalie Brown: “Of all the ways people can become infected by the strain, that was definitely the one that jolted people the most. I mean, it made a lot of people squeamish, but I thought it was so, so cool! On the show, the worms actually are CGI, but they did give me a special insert and put some of the white vampire blood on my face and had to re-shoot a few times with special, extreme close-ups. I think the campaign with the worm in the eye that disturbed so many people was a brilliant campaign that garnered a lot of attention — good and bad. I just thought it was expert-level marketing, and eventually it was my eye. [Laughs] I wasn’t aware of that at the beginning because it was a blue eye, but yeah, it was me.”

Photo Credit: FX
Photo Credit: FX

There are only three episodes left and fans are already starting to get pumped and excited for a big ending to an already fantastic season. So without giving too much away, of course, I asked her about any goodies we have to look forward to in these final three episodes and going into season two.

Natalie Brown: “Well, we’ve had quite a few storylines and I’m anxious to see all of them finally intersect. I actually haven’t seen the final cuts of the other episodes and I’ve watched the last couple live with everyone else. There’s been so many great characters that we’ve introduced so far — all of Setrakian’s group, Mr. Quinlan — and hopefully, they will finally be able to come together. I’m anxious to see how Kelly will fit into all of these stories.”

As for season two, I think a lot of it is still up in the air and I know the writers have gone back to work. I’ve heard some ideas, but at this point [I] wouldn’t want to speculate. Some characters like the blonde hacker, Dutch Velders, she wasn’t in the books, but she’s great and I’m looking forward to that. Eichhorst, who is actually two characters at once from the books, it’s going to be interesting to see where they go with that. But, I’m just as curious as everyone else to see where they go. Shooting for season two does officially begin in November.”

The Strain has quickly become one of my favorite shows and in my opinion, seems like one of the most fun shows to be able to work on. Natalie laughed and immediately agreed, saying that she is just having the time of her life and that it’s a dream come true.

Natalie Brown: “I really am having fun, we’re having such a great time. Most of my early scenes were in Kelly’s home in Queens with Ephraim and Matt and Zach and we have a great time on set. But, there’s also the get-along gang, the motley crew of Setrakian’s crew. I love Nora’s character. I’m such a fan of Kevin Durand and his character. Everyone on the show is so great and everyone has such a good time. It truly has been a blast.”

Interview edited for space and content.

For those who missed last week’s insanely good episode, “Loved Ones,” that featured the Kelly Goodweather character, you can check out my review by clicking here.

And below is a preview of what is to come in tonight’s episode, “The Third Rail.” And yes, Kelly is back! Well, kind of… Just watch the episode and you’ll see what I mean.

The Strain airs on Sundays at 10/9c on FX.

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