Fan favorite Sara Wayne Callies is back on a new sci-fi show. Colony, which premiered on USA on January 14, tells the story of an alien occupation of Los Angeles. Callies and Josh Holloway play a married couple who have different takes on how to deal with the occupiers marking the central question of the show: Collaborate or Resist.
I first saw Callies in Prison Break, where she was so beloved that even decapitation in season three couldn’t stop the fans from demanding her return. She did die for real on The Walking Dead, but hopefully she’s here to stay on Colony. I met Callies at the NBC party for the Television Critics Association, USA being one of NBC’s cable networks. We spoke about the upcoming season of Colony, Thursday nights on USA.
Now that you’re wrapped, how do you look back on the first season of Colony?
I loved it. It was such a crazy ride. As an actor, sometimes you read a pilot and the worry, because you’ve got to sign a seven-year contract before you sign on, the worry is that the pilot will be the best episode of the whole season, maybe the whole show. Because all the great ideas are there but then maybe they’re not fleshed out. I remember reading episodes two, three, and four. They sent them to me in a block and I just burst into tears. I thought oh, okay, you’re not shying away from the complicated parts of this. You’re not dumbing it down. You’re fulfilling the promises of the pilot. I was relieved, and I remember telling that to Josh Holloway and he just went, “Oh yeah, you’re on a Carlton Cuse show.” Like, you’re in good hands. You can relax.
What new corners of Colony do you get to explore as it goes on?
You get to see deeper into the resistance. You get to see deeper into the occupation. I think what they lay out in a way that is really beautiful and smart is a legitimately grounded ethical case for both positions. You get the reasons to resist, you get the reasons to collaborate and I think that’s a very balanced representation.
Is that what made The Walking Dead work too, that it was really people dealing with real power dynamics?
Yeah, look, I think we’re all human beings and we’re all interested in exploring our own humanity. Our storytelling is how we figure out what we’re capable of and what the parameters of our world actually are. The zombies gave us an opportunity to explore certain things in The Walking Dead and the occupation gives us an opportunity to explore certain things on Colony. But fundamentally, these are stories about people and the ways in which people either double down on their humanity or start to erode them.
Is there an episode coming up where you really get into Josh Holloway’s face where you really disagree on something?
I think Will and Katie aren’t necessarily people who get in each other’s faces and I think the stakes of the story become so high that what you get is a slow suspicion on both of their parts that something is rotten in Denmark. I think for both of them, they care so deeply about each other and need each other so much that they’re both very reluctant to risk an explosion between them because that kind of rift could be profoundly dangerous.
The first three were directed by Juan Campanella. Is there a big shift when other directors started coming in?
No, I think Juan had established such a specific vision and all the directors coming in had seen the pilot so they really had a sense of what the show should look and feel like. Nelson McCormick is another one of our executive producers. He directed three episodes and he was again marvelous at continuing that continuity that Campanella had established. He came in and directed episode four, six and 10. So he was able to keep the vision steady. Because he was an executive producer, he was there with every subsequent director to help guide them.
Have you gotten any new bumps and bruises since working on the pilot?
You know, I finished my last job. I was doing a movie in December and I’ve had four weeks off to heal up. So my only bumps and bruises are from being in a hotel room and walking into a wall trying to find the bathroom.
But shooting Colony, did you get banged up doing stunts?
You know, when you see episode nine, that’s probably the biggest stunt one for me, and three. I love it. Those are some of my favorite days on set because there’s no acting involved. If they’re dropping you off a building, you don’t have to act scared. You’re scared.
But you let them do that?
I’ll do anything the insurance company will let me do. Every now and again, an insurance company steps in and goes, “No, you’re not going to run her over with a tank.” Everything else I do myself. I love it.
Now that Prison Break is really happening, have you discussed with them and do they have an idea to bring you back?
There are discussions happening. We’re trying to work out the Tetris of everyone’s schedules and shows we’re on. There’s a lot of good will on both sides to try and make it happen.
Would they have had to come up with a good angle before they even started working on the schedules? Are you happy with the idea to bring Sara Tancredi back?
That’s a writer question. For me, every job begins and ends with a script and I haven’t read a script but it’s a project I loved and a character I loved.