Soulmates Q&A — Betsy Brandt (Caitlin)
Betsy Brandt, who plays Caitlin in this week's episode of Soulmates, talks about questions surrounding the test, Caitlin's immediate connection with her soulmate, and how she finally comes into her own.
Q: Have you ever worked on a project based in the future?
A: I don't think so... certainly not a concept like this. The idea of the test is such a conundrum. That's the thing that, when I talk to people about the show, that just invariably comes up. Would you take the test? Do you think you'd take the test? How do you feel about taking the test? Would you not take the test? Why wouldn't you take the test? Why are you worried about taking the test? We talked about this when we were working on the show. I believe I wouldn't, but until that test is out there you really can't answer that question.
Q: What drew you to this project?
A: I hadn't played this [type of character] yet, and I loved the idea of this journey for her. I loved the challenge of finding a way to get there and be really invested in it. I wanted to be really believable and just honest in the journey that she takes in this chunk of time that we get to see her.
Q: Caitlin is a very layered character. How did you prepare for this role?
A: It's funny because she's absolutely layered, but when it comes down to it, she's pretty straightforward. There's a struggle in her and they had already tracked that in the script for me, so all of those moments were there. I just tried to make sure that I was really clear in all the choices that I made along the way—that her journey made sense to me, makes sense for her, and for the audience. When you see her question, "I'm a good person, right?," to me that was such a watershed moment in playing her. When I read that in the script, I thought, she's been fighting who she is for all these years because she knows that's the right thing to do.
Q: You played such a rule-follower in your infamous character on Breaking Bad. Here you're playing someone who is wrestling with her instinct to break the rules in a significant way. Do you have a preference between these types of characters?
A: For me, it's thinking about what did I just do? So I spent four fantastic years on Life in Pieces, a comedy at CBS with Dianne Weist, and loved it. After that, I wanted to look for something different. That's the reason I was really eager for The Michael J. Fox Show, [which] came up for me after Breaking Bad, because it was such a polar opposite of the previous show I'd done. That's incredibly fun for me, and guides me as an actor as far as what to do next. It also helps me keep my focus on my work as an artist. Following what I want to do and what feels right to me. Part of it is just using the muscles that you haven't used in a long time.
Q: What does it say about Caitlin that she's with this "companion" who clearly doesn't care much for her?
A: Oh God, I think it says so much about her—we're also not surprised. The surprise is when she has this difficult conversation with him. She brings back-up, so she can say you have to get out. She would not have done that without someone that she trusts urging her to do so, [telling her] that she can and that it's okay. She's such a rule follower and she never wants to upset anybody. She'll never say anything, and she does whatever people want. She'll work your shift. People know who to go to. They know to go to her. No matter what she has on her schedule, she'll do it if you need her to because she doesn't want to disappoint you. She wants to do the right thing and be a nice person.
Tom [Goodman-Hill] is so great and I loved him in that role [of her companion]. He was absolutely perfect. I will never forget in the scene where—I wouldn't call it making love because there's really no love there—I said to him, "Don't worry you're going to hurt me. Go ahead and squish me. My feelings aren't on your radar and that's okay." That's who this guy is. It was also I think really, really funny, and I loved that there are some moments of humor in this story, which can be pretty heavy. It brings a sense of fun to the story that you wouldn't really expect. But Tom was just perfect in that. So then we all kind of root for Caitlin. We want her to get out of that relationship. This guy is no good.
Q: What do you think she sees in her soulmate when she first meets him?
A: Oh my God, she feels like she won the lottery. It's a pinch yourself moment. He's handsome. He's dashing. He's a doctor. He's beyond charming. I've never had it so good. What did I do to deserve this? And then that he's so interested in her. I loved the moment when they first meet at the coffee shop. The way that he's revealed to us, and then seeing her response, her reaction to seeing him. The shock and awe, in a fantastic way. She allows herself to be vulnerable and to be honest about being so nervous, which is, I think, a really beautiful moment between them. It was so easy because JJ [Feild]'s so great. I wanted them to have a moment where you see the connection between them. We don't know all the details about it yet, but you see that. I was really young when I met my husband, but I felt like I'd met him before. It was eerie, but in a fantastic way, different than anyone I'd ever met. There's that moment when you have a connection with someone. You can't put a finger on it and sometimes we're aware of that and sometimes we're not. I wanted that to be there.
Q: She doesn't tell the 911 operator what she saw her soulmate do and she lets him into her home after seeing it. Why isn't she afraid of him?
A: She is. I think she is. To me, that moment was just fantastic to play, because there are so many layers there and her mind is going a mile a minute because there's so much adrenaline, fear, and excitement. He's got her trust. She trusts him more than she's ever trusted anybody. I think she wants him to explain it and that it's not what she thinks, and then also be honest and say this is what it is and it's okay that you feel that too.
Q: After she decides what to do with her soulmate, has she changed or has there been a part of her that was always like this?
A: I think the seed of that was there. Once she does it, it's a feeling she couldn't have imagined. Even though there's a part of her that doesn't want it to, it feels really good to her. It feeds something in her. She's been trying to fill that void in other ways her entire life, and now she found this. I think that, in her mind, because he targets women she thinks she's doing a good thing. Like he targets women, I think she targets men that aren't great to women. I think that's what she does. So there's a justification there that also makes it easier to commit an act like that. I say this like I know! I've never killed anybody. Like, I catch spiders and put them outside of my house.
One of the reasons I loved getting to play Marie for six years—she was so different from me and I loved it. I loved her. She was so tightly wound and I just loved that, and this thrilled me in the same way. Like there were times as a viewer, I would be saying to Caitlin, "God, get some backbone, lady. Stand up!" And I played her so I loved her. I still love her. I'm not going to lie about that. I think you have to love every character that you play. I'm not condoning what she does, but certainly in some aspects, I'm proud of her. Because I think it's exhausting to constantly lie about yourself, and I feel that's kind of what we learn to do the older we get. I like to think I've been pretty honest all along, because why not? But I think [killing Nathan is] such a release and such a relief for her. All the good things and "nice things" that she would do, it never really fit. So it's a tragedy also, but she doesn't really come into her own until she does this.
Q: Has she picked up where he left off?
A: Yeah, oh God, yeah. It was so fun to play this character. It's the same person and she's in a completely different place than when we meet her—we get to see how she got there. She knows exactly who he [her date at the bar] is too. I mean, whatever that guy did, does he deserve to see the fate that he's probably going to see? No, but in her mind this is what she can put out into the world. There's one less bad guy on the street.
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