Natalie Brown Talks For Love and Honor, The Strain, and Channel Zero [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
It’s always fun when folks from our series switch gears into something complete different. This weekend, The Strain‘s Natalie Brown gets to lighten things up considerably when she stars oppositeÂ Good Witch‘s James Denton in Hallmark Channel’s For Love and Honor. I chatted with Brown about the film, what’s next for Kelly in Season 3 of The Strain, and her recently wrapped role in Syfy’s upcoming Channel Zero: Candle Cove.
Brown was offered the role in For Love and Honor this spring as she finished filming on The Strain. “I was brought straight in for a chemistry read. It was the last day of Season 3 of The Strain,” she recalls. “They asked ‘Can you come by and do a quick scene with James Denton?’Â I hadn’t had any time to read the script. They told me to come by anyway, and I did, and he was wonderful.Â I got the call the next day asking how soon they could have me.”
“[The film is about]Â a military man who wants to turn around a military academy. I play Caroline Foster. I’mÂ the DeanÂ of Academics. I have a personal, alternative approach to learning and connecting with kids. That includes yoga at lunchtime to help with concentration and relaxation.”
“I call the kids by their first names because I feel that’s a better way to connect.Â [James Denton] is Colonel Tom, an alumnus. We butt heads until we find a way to respect each other’s differences and work together and find a surprising kinship that wasn’t expected.”
Brown says the shoot, and the material,Â set the tone forÂ the project. “We were so collaborative and were allowed to find the joy and levity in the scenes. I really liked how respecting different opinions and finding compromise often brings about the best results,” she explains.
“It’s two very different views–one very conservative and one very liberal. By listening and respecting one another, something beautiful can come from that. That’s what resonated with me. My character wasn’t completely right and neither is his. There’s beauty in both approaches.”
She loved shooting near her hometown, which allowed family to come visit. “It was nice to be able to go back and have my cousinsÂ come to set and shoot in a really beautiful part of Canada,” she shares. “And have a lot of local people come out and be able to take part in some of the scenes.”
One of the key turning points in the film is an honor ceremony and Brown was moved by the work the cast put into creating the scene, and the scene itself as it all came together onscreen. “I wasn’t familiar with the honor ceremony. It used to be one of the shining moments in a cadet’s life. [Watching] the actors and real cadets andÂ [Denton’s son] SheppardÂ work very hard at learning complex choreography to present this beautiful performance was very moving,” she says.
“Even in the rehearsal, I was moved to tears. The cadets were really great in showing the actors how to do it. At the end, you couldn’t tell the actors from the cadets. They all did a fantastic job.”
The Strain returns toÂ FX on August 28th, delayed by the Summer Olympics, and as we begin, we’ll pick up withÂ Kelly Goodweather now in custody of her son, Zach. Brown says Kelly’s struggle this season will be to balance that last grasp of motherhood with her new duty to the Master.
Brown wasÂ excited to still be involved in Season 3, given thatÂ the series veered away from the books last season with the death of Nora. “I did know that with Nora’s demise that anything is possible. In the books, Kelly is almost catatonic,” she points out. “I was thrilled to be given a better platform from which to play [her].”
“No one was ever sure from script to script where our characters are heading. I was thrilled to [play her] not only with the prosthetic makeup but also as her human self with the ability to speak and having been made a sentient Strigoi [which allowedÂ her] to connect with her son. The more access to her former self she was given, the more tragic it was that she couldn’t connect with her son in the way that she now knows how.”
“This season is an exercise in restraint for Kelly. I think she’s hopeful she’ll be rewarded for her allegiance.Â [The Master’s]Â control is such that she doesn’t have a choice. [Her arc this season] isÂ trying to find a new way to connect and serve her needs as a mother while also honoring the will of the Master.”
“The longer leash he lets her out on, it’s harder for her toÂ rein herself. I compare it to a yoga class, you may have a voice that’s gently guiding you to do things that you might not want to do, but the voice gently guides you [and you do it]. The Master’s omnipresentÂ voice guides her along the path despite the thoughts and wishes she may have of her own.”
She also compares the restraint toÂ her experience with aÂ juice cleanse. “The disdain I had for people eating was what KellyÂ goes through inÂ Season 3. She’s never wanted anything so badly that she couldn’t have,” she says. “I got a little bit hangry and thought, ‘We have to feed Natalie if we can’t feed Kelly.’ It’s that constant need and deprivation and trying to fulfill a greater purpose.”
After For Love and Honor completed production in May, Brown went right to work in Winnipeg on Channel Zero‘s first season. She couldn’t tell us much except to say that it’ll be super creepy good. “It is a psychological horror based on a short story on the Internet. It’s a miniseries. The series is called Channel Zero and the first season is called “Candle Cove,” she says. “[Each season will]Â tell very distinct stories with a very different cast, characters, and director and the same writer, [Hannibal‘s] Nick Antosca.”
“We follow the main character, who’s played by [The Divide‘s] Paul Schneider. I knew him from comedy. The subject matter could not be darker. I said to the director, [The Boy‘s Craig William Macneill] ‘I snap the necks of small vampire children on The Strain and that has nothing on some of the things in Channel Zero.'”
“It’s very much implied. A lot of it is psychological horror.Â [Craig is]Â not interested in anything that’s gory or in your face. It’s set in the present. [Paul’s character] isÂ a child psychologist who’s brought back through things in his past to the small town of Iron Hill, where he’s from, to try to resolve darker secrets.”
Brown adds that it was nice to switch between horror and comedy. “They both bring something so distinctly different,” she says. “I actually now enjoy some of the heavilyÂ dramatic stuff as much as I do the comedy. I was craving comedy and I’d forgotten how hard it is. The timing and the chemistry with your co-workers can be tricky.”
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