Q: We get to know Grace a bit more intimately in Episode 510. What was it like peeling back the layers and playing with that vulnerability?
As we get to know her and she finally starts to open up, it’s so wonderful to see someone who might not necessarily be as extroverted as some other characters but to still talk about things that affected her from childhood, how that has played a huge impact in her development and the way she sees things in life, and how she deals with challenges and trauma. It opens all these deep-rooted wounds that she had. I think part of Grace’s survival is to just stay focused on the task at hand, which is to clean up this mess that she feels heavily responsible for. If she allows herself to open up and feel even an ounce of emotion, it would lead to her breakdown. When I look at that, I see a blessing in disguise. When we break down and hit walls, that’s when miracles happen. That’s when the healing process can begin. Getting on that plane was a big step for Grace. It gave me some hope that she might dare to try to live beyond today and see if she could live for tomorrow. She’s been so scared to open up and allow herself to feel. Our bodies and minds go into shock mode as part of our self-preservation. We have to switch a button off and it desensitizes you. You kind of want to be like The Tin Man.
Q: The mall seems like a pretty cool backdrop amid an apocalypse, right?
A: That was magical, but I can’t look at an escalator the same way. [Laughs] We went into the mall off-hours and you can hear the echoes of your footsteps and your voice. It was so surreal and eerie and palpable. The minute you walked in, you were very much in the apocalypse. You begin to reminisce on times where there were families and children playing in the mall and going on that merry-go-round. There used to be life there and everything’s just left the way it was. You’re haunted by the past. It was such an amazing experience.
Q: What was it like filming there – especially the merry-go-round scene with Lennie James?
The merry-go-round scene was so joyous and magical. I felt so alive. It brought so much relief in both Morgan and Grace’s journey. They have a moment together as friends to experience a childhood-like laughter and innocence that we tend to forget as adults. That’s important to ignite in our souls again. Moments like that are worth everything. As children, we laugh and play and feel things fully. We commit to things fully. And to see Morgan smiling… front page news! I tease Lennie so much about that.
Q: In the end, Morgan chooses not to join Grace as the group goes out to find the ranch. After all of the moments they’ve shared, how does this land on her?
A: It’s a mixed bag of emotions. This is uncharted territory for her. Opening up to someone and daring to think she has a future beyond today – this is such a huge step and Morgan’s played such a definitive part. She’s in a bit of shock. They just spent so much time together and bonded. It really pains her to see him go, but she understands that he’s been through a lot of trauma as well. It’s hard for him. That’s something she can relate to. They’re so close and yet so far away. She doesn’t know if she’ll ever see him again. Her clock is ticking and something can happen to her or to Morgan. She took this huge leap and all of a sudden, it’s like ten steps back. Reading that scene in the script, I just felt my heart crush for Grace. She has to respect that, even though it hurts.
Q: What’s the significance of her putting her audio book on normal speed?
A: In this world, it’s those little things that count and that mean so much. That little thing is such a colossal step in her journey. It’s symbolic of her willingness to try to be open and hopeful for another day. For another week. Grace and Morgan always put themselves last and value other people’s lives more than their own. That has a great deal to do with how much loss these two characters have been through and this constant questioning of their existence post-trauma. These little things play such a huge part in Grace trying to make good on the choices that she regrets. I’ll take ‘em! I’ll take those little triumphs. I’m excited for her. As we grow older, we realize how special time is. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for Karen-kind.
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