Kerry Bishé, who plays Donna Clark on AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, discusses the major changes in her character’s life by the end of Season 3, whether Donna regrets the decision that killed Mutiny, and if Donna is the new villain of the show.
Q: Were you shocked when you learned about all the changes that came with the time jump?
A: It was really liberating, actually. I remember shooting the first couple of scenes of the flash-forward where Donna is a little sexier and more comfortable with her power. She’s really become an influential person in this world. We arrive in 1990 at a moment where she watches as they put her name up as a partner of the venture capital firm that she’s been working at. I think we meet her again when she has achieved all of her ambitions and she realizes in that moment that it isn’t enough. It’s not really what she wanted. I think that’s what spurs her to go back to that creative world with Cameron, Gordon and Joe, and back to that thing that was so electrifying for so many years.
Q: What were your feelings about the end of Gordon and Donna’s marriage?
A: It makes perfect sense to me that their marriage ended. I actually really love that we don’t see the marriage end and that the writing is on the wall by the end of Episode 8. By Episode 9, I was actually really pleasantly surprised by how copacetic their relationship became after they were no longer married. You get to see what you’ve never seen on the show, which is a glimpse at why they got married in the first place and what they really like and enjoy about each other. It’s funny to only see that now that their marriage is over. It’s a complicated place to be. There are a lot of extreme feelings in both directions. It must be incredibly liberating to no longer have that albatross around your neck, but I think it must also be incredibly painful and sad. We see both those sides of that relationship in Episode 9 and [Episode] 10.
Q: Looking back, do you think Donna regrets the IPO meeting and the way Cameron was treated?
A: I imagine there is probably a lot of regret, resentment and anger still. I’m pretty sure Donna never says she’s sorry. There isn’t a sense of remorse. I think there’s regret for the way things happened on all sides, and I think it’s fueled by the fact that they’ve all gone out in the world and none of them have found a relationship as motivating and electric as the ones they shared with each other. I think that’s got to be why they get the band back together again despite all of the pain, hurt and suffering they’ve caused over the years.
Q: Of all the characters who’ve interacted with Joe, Donna has always been the most steadfast in not really trusting him. What do you think it says that she calls him to get to Cameron?
A: I think he’s not her first call. He’s a last resort. She’s right to have trepidation – he doesn’t even do the thing she asks him to do. She ends up having to go to Comdex herself. Donna and Joe operate on almost completely opposite wavelengths and yet by Episode 10, what they bring to the table is actually really similar. I think Donna is a person who got a handle on the big picture now, and Joe has always been the “ideas” guy who’s learned a lot more of the technical specifics that Donna has always had. I think, in a certain way, they’ve become pretty formidable opponents, and I think there’s a grudging respect that the two of them share for each other. It makes me very curious about what could happen going forward after this huge — and what I imagine to be irrevocable — rift carved at the end of Season 3.
Q: How hurt is Donna by Cameron’s words at the end of the finale? Does Donna believe there is any truth to them?
A: It’s devastating. It’s completely devastating, but out of those ashes, someone arrives with more grit and determination. I think it’s a gross mischaracterization that Cameron makes about Donna. I don’t think Donna is a person who will toss someone aside. I think she’s a person who would do anything necessary for what she thinks of as the greater good, and in a lot of these cases, the greater good was what she thought Cameron needed. So, the mistake might be in underestimating Cameron’s ability to take care of herself. But I think anyone could forgive Donna for underestimating that. [Laughs]
Q: Speaking of rising from the ashes, it seems Donna might try to go around the group to get what she wants. Is Donna the new Joe?
A: I think she’s learned lessons from Joe. She’s been put in a situation where she’s willing to engage a little more in those gray areas. She watched Joe succeed, and I think that motivates her. I do see a lot of Joe reflected in Donna by the end of Season 3 in a way that I think is fascinating.
Read another interview about the season finale with co-creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers.