Stana Katic: “There’s an assumption that you may not be as intelligent as they are”

The 'Absentia' star talks about her experience on crime series 'Castle' and how her current role is different
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Former Castle star Stana Katic is back as previously presumed dead FBI agent Emily Byrne in Season 2 of Absentia (on Amazon Prime Video now – watch the trailer below). Here, the 41-year-old actress previews the new season and reflects on the lessons learnt during her time on Castle and the tumultuous way that series ended, with her being let go from the show shortly before it was cancelled completely.

Where do we find Emily at the start of Season 2?
One of the driving points for Emily in the first season was the knowledge that her son was still alive and maybe one day she could survive everything and reunite with him. And there is an event at the end of the first season that puts everything into question. At the top of Season 2, she is trying to figure out what happened when she was in captivity and who it was that took her down. The secrets everyone else has been hanging on to start unfolding and characters that were at one point working in support of Emily, we uncover some of their dark side.  

You get put through the wringer playing Emily. How tough were the water torture scenes?
We shot it for many days – bloody hell! I said, “Guys, can we just put this in a big basket of water torture so I don’t have to do it again?” If there is a third season, it would be lovely if we just had that in the bag and we know we can go to it.

Can you snap out of the role easily?
It was challenging, for sure. We were shooting it in Bulgaria, and I was there [without my family] for a good chunk of it. So luckily they were spared any of the fallout. But there is nothing a glass of wine cannot heal at the end of the night. 

What’s it like working with our own Matthew Le Nevez, who plays FBI agent Cal Isaac?
He was phenomenal. I have seen all 10 episodes, and you guys are going to love him. Matt is one of those guys who just sparkles. 

It’s been three years since the end of Castle. Do people still ask you about the character when they recognise you? 
Yeah, people still approach me and still are excited about that character, because it is still airing internationally. And I love it when they know my name and maybe not my character’s name, or maybe as well as my character’s name. I worked very hard on that show, and for it to have success and for it to be dear to an audience, that’s important to me. And I feel like I have to protect that for audiences, especially because so many of them really adored it.

You starred on Castle for years at a time when women didn’t always get the same respect as men in that world. What lessons did you learn during your time on the show?
Patience, consistency … There are so many times I go out there and it’s just assumed, because I have the title actress, that I am perhaps not necessarily as capable in the moment. And so you just have to bear with it and be like, “OK, it’s that kind of a situation.” I have walked into rooms where I know there’s an assumption that you may not be as intelligent as they are. But I also worked with some really wonderful people. Especially right now, we are having a great collaborative experience. And so I don’t know if it’s a male/female thing or it’s just actors in general, but I know that having the patience to kind of deal with that assumption and then the consistency to keep performing at your very best, it usually sheds those preconceptions and then we can get to work.

Did you learn how to ask for the respect that you deserve or have you always been able to speak up?
No, I have not been always able to speak up. And I have not been good at setting boundaries either and that is something that I am still learning. But, I do believe that nothing creates respect and an engaged creative space like consistency and hard work and patience does.

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