WARNING: This interview contains spoilers for 12 Monkeys season 2, episode 8.
Brooke Williams is no stranger to genre television, but it’s likely that few of her roles have evoked such powerful emotion from viewers as the recent introduction of her new character to 12 Monkeys. Without delivering a single line, Williams was able to make many fans of the show cry simply by revealing her identity as Hannah, the daughter Dr. Katarina Jones thought she lost to the plague.
Part of why the moment worked so well was because of the painstakingly deceptive manner in which the time travelers of the show had to make Jones believe her daughter was dead so that the remorse would force her along the path to invent time travel. For though Jones may have been motivated by trying to save Hannah’s life, it seems that her time machine is necessary to save time itself. But the return of Hannah brings hope to the guilt-ridden scientist along with the possibility of a re-established relationship with the child she thought dead for 24 years.
In the moment of their reunion, Hannah appears hesitant at first to embrace her long-lost mother, but when she does, she dissolves into joyful tears. “It’s a huge thing to have your whole identity shifted like that,” explains Williams. “To have your idea of who you are and where you have come from turned on it’s head. It’s a real mixture of emotions. This new relationship will shift her perception of herself, her values, everything she knows about herself. It’s a very exposing moment for Hannah.”
“I felt very emotional shooting this scene,” admits Williams. “It was my first scene, and I had just met everyone. I was so blown away by the intensity of respect the cast and crew have for this story. There was a real gentleness and a tenderness on set.”
The intensity of the scene was felt by everyone behind and in front of the camera, even without the music that accentuated the emotions in the final episode. “The soundtrack is obviously incredible and adds so much for the television viewers,” Williams agrees, “but in the moment, the rawness of two humans finding each other and the messiness of the grief, relief, guilt, shock, confusion and joy make the silence on set feel really loud and full.”
She also credits Barbara Sukowa’s brilliant portrayal of Katarina Jones for a lot of the impact of the scene. “Barbara is obviously just incredible,” praises Williams. “It’s impossible not to feel a storm swelling up in you when you meet her eyes.” It’s no wonder that the audience felt this rush of emotions as well!
Williams will add the character of Hannah to her many acclaimed genre roles throughout the years including Jennsen in Legend of the Seeker, Aurelia in Spartacus, Eva in The Almighty Johnsons, and Catania in The Shannara Chronicles. As a member of the Daughters in 12 Monkeys, hopefully her character will shed some light on the history of the development of the group founded by Jennifer Goines.
What will Hannah’s relationship be like with her newly re-discovered mother? Will she become a part of the mission and of Katarina’s life? Or will she have difficulty adjusting or remain in the Daughters’ camp with only occasional visits. Admittedly, with a performance as powerful as the one Williams gave in her initial appearance, viewers can only hope with their hearts on their sleeves that Hannah will remain a big part of the emotional strength of 12 Monkeys for episodes — and seasons — to come.