Graceland’s Jamie Gray Hyder Analyzes Her Character and Teases “Pinon Tree” [Exclusive]
WARNING: Graceland spoilers
One of the most intense storylines on USA Network’s Graceland has to be the one that involves Johnny’s deepÂ and turbulentÂ undercover op. Originally, he caught the eye of Carlito, the dangerous son of the head of the Solano drug cartel. His work and personal life blurred big time when he actually fell in love with Lucia, Carlito’s beautiful sister.
What started out as a twisted love triangle eventually imploded at the end of Season 2. This season, a crazy Carlito is the boss and he’s holding his sister hostage. Johnny continues to work for him because he has no other choice while at the same time he tries to figure out how to save the woman he loves.
Last week’s Graceland focused primarily on bringing down Armenian sleazebag, Ari Adamian. Tonight, the Solano story comes back into play. Once again, I got the chance to chat with Jamie Gray Hyder, who plays Lucia, a personÂ who’s unlucky in love…and family.
Gray HyderÂ analyzes what’s going on with her character, looks back at the relationship between Lucia and Johnny and, most importantly, teases what’s ahead in tonight’s episode.
TV Goodness: When did you realize that your storyline was going to continue in to Season 3?
Jamie Gray Hyder: Honestly we had high hopes upon Season 2 ending because they had already told Erik [Valdez, Carlito Solano] and I all the ways that we were gonna die at the end of Season 2. We were very aware of our dramatic and violent deaths and then they told us that they were going to keep us around. You know, they wanted to keep us around. We weren’t sure, you don’t really know anything for sure until it’s actually happening. So we both were optimistic when Season 2 finished. And then we were waiting if there was even going to be a Season 3. And when we got renewed for Season 3, Erik and I got a call shortly after saying that they were gonna bring us back and they went over what was going to be the context of our actions — we were excited.
TV Goodness: What has Carlito been putting Lucia through? In the episode where we saw her at the dinner table looking a mess with her makeup all over the place — it was scary.
Jamie: Yeah, people have just been wondering what she’s been going through and what they revealed in our second episode — it was episode three in fact — they kind of show where he’s been keeping her. Carlito’s been keeping Lucia locked up in a shed providing her with minimal food and water and she’s kind of got a toilet in there and he’s basically just holding her hostage so that Johnny will continue working for him. Carlito has definitely gone off the deep end and Lucia is definitely done defending him. As you’ve seen at the table scene, she was ready just to kill him. She would have taken his life right there which is a huge 180 from where we saw her character last season.
TV Goodness: Exactly. And I was pulling for Johnny to do exactly what Lucia asked him to do. (laughter)
Jamie: I know! Can you believe it? How many times does a girl have to ask?
TV Goodness: We’ve only gotten a little taste of what Lucia went through so my imagination keeps going to the worst places.
Jamie: We did toy with some pretty dark stuff that we actually chose not to do if you can imagine. But kind of where we are now is pretty bad. Lucia has lost a lot of herself. Carlito’s lost his mind and Johnny has lost control. So it’s kind of this huge, chaotic situation that I think we’re going to see really come to a head especially starting on Thursday of this week.
TV Goodness: Do you think Lucia thinks Johnny’s doing everything he can to save her or is there something else he should be trying?
Jamie: I mean, he’s doing a whole lot of trying but he’s not getting a whole lot of things done. I think in the end Lucia would love it if he could really just protect her from her brother. And I think honestly, no one can. I think that’s why Lucia is in such dire straits that she’d even consider killing her own brother after spending so long defending him. Against her better idea, she decides she’s gonna go against all that and do a 180 and decides she’s gonna kill him. I think that’s because she sees that there’s nothing that Johnny can do or that he’s willing to do. And that really affects the way she sees him, too. She doesn’t really accept that he’s just in a bind. This goes beyond work. When two people are in love you expect more of them; you expect them to maybe stretch their own boundaries on your behalf. And she’s just not getting that from Johnny. I don’t really know how much longer she’s gonna hold out for him to do something because he’s had so many opportunities and done nothing about it.
TV Goodness: So what can you tease about this week’s episode?
Jamie: Things are really gonna come to a head. This is sort of the episode I think most people have been waiting for for the last season and a half — for my character and for Johnny and Carlito. I think a lot of questions will be answered. I think a lot of people will be very surprised, heartbroken…there’s so many things that happen. This episode, for me, is one that I’m really excited to get all of the fans’ feedback on because this is quite a doozy.
TV Goodness: What kind of Lucia are we going to see?
Jamie: I think actually we may get a little of the old Lucia back. I think she’s really striving to break free of her brother’s hold and take her life in her own hands because she can’t count on anybody else. Much like she hasn’t been able to count on anyone else her whole life. She had her dad around and he’s gone. Her brother doesn’t have her back and now Johnny doesn’t really do much to help her despite wanting to. So I think you’ll really see Lucia have to take matters into her own hands and kind of regain some of her independence in the whole situation this week.
TV Goodness: That’s awesome. I’m totally waiting for that. I’d love to see Lucia take matters into her own hands because right now nothing’s getting done.
Jamie: You know, we’ve had time as viewers — people have had time between the end of last season and the beginning of this season. Sometimes even as an actor for me to go back and look at where Lucia started and where she is now…it is just so heartbreaking to see. She was really trying to hold her own and was really in control of both situations and you just see her become completely broken down. As an actor these roles are amazing to have because you really have a full arc. And as a human to watch a character — to watch this human go through this experience is just so heartbreaking because she started off in such a strong place and now she’s just been broken and you’re seeing a completely different side of her.
TV Goodness: Do you think that Lucia and Johnny were doomed from the beginning?
Jamie: I think most people would say that. I think…nothing goes right for Lucia why would it start now? She never expected it. I think Lucia as the season progressed in Season 2, you start to see her pull away more. She doesn’t expect as much from the relationship. And she in fact tried to end it on several occasions and Johnny’s always the one saying no, please, please. Don’t do this. She’s constantly telling him don’t worry about it, it’s never gonna work. He’s constantly the one convincing her. I think that Lucia has had a realistic view of what’s going to happen here. And while she hopes for the best, she’s always expecting the worst because, sadly, that has been her life.
TV Goodness: What kind of feedback have you gotten from fans about this storyline and your character?
Jamie: It was such a pleasant surprise how much people really latched on to my character’s storyline and my storyline with Carlito. It’s touching as an actor when people care about your character. It’s a product of yourself so for me, I have an emotional attachment to Lucia. People wanting good things for her is one of those feelings as an actor where…you’ve done your job. If you can expect people in that way where they have an opinion about what happens to the person you’re representing — as an actor that’s like the greatest reward I can receive is have people care. Or have people disagree with what’s happening with your character on the show. ‘Oh no, you can’t do Lucia like that’ — we get tons of Twitter feedback and it was really interesting to me to hear what other people want for my character and that they actually care what happens.
TV Goodness: How do you think Johnny will deal with not having Lucia in his life anymore — if that’s what ends up happening?
Jamie: I don’t know what Johnny would do without Lucia in his life at this point. I mean everything Johnny’s been doing is based around being with her. As much as it’s work-related and all that, he should have stepped back a long time ago and made his job a lot easier for himself but he chose to continue to be involved in this. I think that he might find that he has a lack of purpose if she were to leave him, you know?
TV Goodness: What was it like to work with Manny [Montana, Johnny] and Erik?
Jamie: It was awesome. From day one we all got along so well. We just would laugh, have a good time. You take seriously what you need to take seriously but we would always have a good time shooting. Erik is like my brother in real life. We’re both so very fortunate to have been able to work with each other and formed a bond. We love to spend time together now that we’re back in LA. It’s been an awesome experience working with Manny, working with Erik. My only regret is that our storyline doesn’t really involve too many of the other characters on the show. I would have loved to have been able to work with a lot of the other cast members but, in passing, everyone has just been so awesome and welcoming to Erik and I over the last couple of years.
Graceland airs Thursday nights at 10/9c on USA Network.
Interview edited for space and content.
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