Interview with Josh Friedman and Lena Headey

Recently, I was able to get in on a conference call with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles creator Josh Friedman and star Lena Headey to talk about the upcoming 2nd season!

In the beginning, you talked about having somewhere to go with your character. Could you talk about what the gradual progression of Sarah will be this year?

L. Headey: It’s been an interesting season. I feel that Sarah has taken a, kind of a backseat in terms of being proactive and taking care of business. I think that we’re going to see a lot more of John taking control and then becoming, making steps towards becoming the man he has to be to take on his tasks. And I think this season for Sarah is kind of her losing slight control over everything pretty much, and my feeling is that I think there’s a slow madness sort of happening in her because she feels that everything’s kind of out of reach right now.

They also revealed at Comic-Con that someone is going to die. Do you feel pretty safe because it is the Sarah Connor Chronicles?

L. Headey: I don’t know. You can never feel safe, to quote Sarah. I don’t take anything for granted.

What can you tell us about the death?

J. Friedman: Well, I mean, you’ll know it when you see it. …You won’t have to ask about it. I definitely don’t count, I mean, I do think there’s obviously some stuff in the first episode kind of thematically about dying and resurrection and reorientation of all the relationships, but when the character dies, I think we’ll know.

And would you characterize Shirley’s character now as a nemesis? Are we allowed to call her evil at this point?

J. Friedman: Oh, I think evil’s a bit strong. I don’t think of any of these characters as evil. I think that they’re very focused. They have a plan. It’s not personal, like there’s some evil back story where there’s revenge necessary. I think that there’s a plan that she has in place to try to grow the Turk, but it’s not necessarily that she’s, it’s like Jessica Rabbit.

Have we seen the last of John in high school? Because now it looks like they’re on the run from that entire life.

J. Friedman: We’ve seen just about the last of John in high school. I think John and Sarah have either wisely chose homeschooling for John at this point. It doesn’t mean that we’ve seen the last of John interacting with people from his high school, but I think the days of seeing John sitting in class, yes, are pretty numbered.

Are you going to develop the story line from last season of Sarah’s trying to deal with her cancer?

J. Friedman: Lena?

L. Headey: I don’t know. It’s in your hands, Josh.

J. Friedman: Well, you know, there is some of it. I mean, thematically, we definitely visit it again this year, and an early episode kind of brings it back up, and I think it’s sort of investigated. It’s sort of explored in a kind of oblique way in one of the early episodes. It’s definitely not something that we’ve forgotten about, but I also don’t think you’re going to see her in bed with chemo anytime soon.

Lena, there could be a love triangle brewing between your character and Reese and your former fiancé. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on how you’d like to see that resolve.

L. Headey: Well, I think that Derek and Sarah’s relationship is more a little of already-divorced parents. I think the fact that he’s John’s uncle would be weird, seeing as his brother was the love of her life, so I don’t think there’s going to be any development there. I certainly wouldn’t want it. I think it would be far too obvious.

J. Friedman: I completely agree with her, by the way. It’s not something that we’ve contemplated at all.

L. Headey: And as for Charley, who knows with Charley? I think that’s always an open door at the moment.

As of the finale last year, the FBI agent pretty much was thrown into this world where terminators really do exist. Will he meet up with Sarah and the rest again?

J. Friedman: I don’t know that he’s necessarily going to hook up with them. I think that he is on a quest to kind of figure out, now that he knows for sure that they exist, I think he’s sort of determined to figure out why he’s a part of this arrangement. I think that Comartie’s particular suggestions to him indicate that, and the fact that he’s been left alive indicates that he may have a larger part of the plan, so I think you’re going to see Ellison kind of trying to figure out what his part in the larger puzzle is.

Josh, to return to something you said a little bit earlier about the issues of faith and face, which have always sort of run through this franchise, in the last couple episodes of last season and particularly in this season’s premiere, they’re articulated a bit more concretely. Could you talk about going in that direction and bringing the religious aspects to the forefront?

J. Friedman: Yes. I think you hit it on the head. It’s something that’s always been in the franchise. I think that Sarah as a very, very radicalized Mary figure and John as sort of a Jesus figure has always been in the franchise, and it’s stuff that, thematically, is interesting to explore. And I’ve kind of become fascinated with it through the Ellison character, and part of it was just because Richard T. Jones is quite religious and I’d spent some time talking to him about it, and I figure it seemed like a really natural place to sort of explore some of those themes. And especially with him, regarding whether or not his faith is either confirmed or challenged by, you know, with the things he’s seen. I think it’s easy to assume, oh, because there are terminators in the universe that that means that God doesn’t exist or something, but I don’t think that that’s necessarily true. So it’s interesting just to see people with particular ideologies have to try to fit radical world views into it.

And going back to something else that was discussed earlier, you have one character who obviously is supposed to eventually be the salvation of mankind, which makes him obviously pretty central. But that being said, the show is called The Sarah Connor Chronicles. What’s the balance you have to be walking at all times, sort of remembering what the name of the show is and who the star is, but also looking to the future?

J. Friedman: Well, it’s challenging. I think that it’s very doable. The Sarah/John relationship is the central, I would say that it’s the central relationship in the show, and I think that, at different times, there can be different shifts in terms of the power dynamic or the proactivity. Lena talks a little bit about her character taking a back seat to John. I think that it’s a parent/child struggle, and I think that, as a parent, I’ve kind of, well, my child was a lot younger, but kind of watching the push and pull of that dynamic, to me, is fascinating. So I sort of look at them as a pair. Ultimately, yes, it’s called The Sarah Connor Chronicles and it’s about how does this parent of this special child deal with that, and it’s challenging. I think it’s challenging for any parent, and it’s challenging for this particular parent because of who he’s supposed to be, but I don’t believe that she ever has to stop being Sarah Connor. I think it’s just the challenge is kind of figuring out who that is on a daily basis.

There seems to be a lot of anger in your portrayal of Sarah Connor, could you talk about that and whether she’s kind of partly angry at John because he’s the reason she can’t have a normal life?

L. Headey: Yes, I think there’s some truth in that. I think that Sarah’s pretty complex. You take a normal girl who’s suddenly, thanks to this conversation, gives birth to Jesus, and was in love, I think was truly in love with this man and he dies and leaves her with this legacy. And I absolutely think that her anger is partly at her son and her situation, obviously. And I think that’s what it is, her frustration in dealing with that as she can’t really throw down with her son. But I think there’s a rooted anger also with everybody that comes to advise her and say she should do this and look at it this way, and I think she would love to say, “… you all,” and she can’t for various reasons. So yes, I think you’re right. I think it’s in the mix. Well, I know it’s in there somewhere.

What the plan was or why was the choice made to add the Derek Reese character as a series regular?

J. Friedman: Well, people really liked him and we really liked him. I think he added, he adds something to that dynamic. I think that John’s always been looking for father figures, and I think it’s interesting to have one around who is a blood relative, but his back story is complicated. I like the fact that Derek represents the human face of the future war and kind of the cost, so he’s sort of like a, to the extent that he’s sort of this damaged war vet who is in the scenes. You always have a sense of the stakes of what they’re fighting and what you don’t want to see someone become, which is Derek. And he was out doing lots of auditions, so we thought we’d lock him up so that no one else could take him.

So now that Brian Austin Green is on as a series regular, has there been any talks to try to get Michael Biehn in as a guest spot as his father?

J. Friedman: Do you know they’re friends? Brian and Michael Biehn are friends. I don’t know if you’re asking seriously or not. I’m really kind of anti bringing in people from The Terminator movies in guest spots. I kind of feel like we’ve worked really hard to try to make the reality of this show with these actors be our universe, and I think it would be weird.

Are there any guest spots you can tell us that are coming up for this season?

J. Friedman: Busy Phillipps from Freaks and Geeks and Dawson’s Creek is going to come on for a few episodes. Most of the guest stars die when they come on. I don’t know. I can’t really say.

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