Linda Emond, who plays Connie on AMC’s Lodge 49, discusses Connie’s complicated relationships with Ernie and Scott, her reaction to being fired, and the truth behind her reaction to the corpse.
Q: What did you respond to about Lodge 49 and Connie when you first read the script?
A: When I read something, it’s usually the story as a whole that grabs me. In this case, I felt like I could just hear it. I felt I could hear [Creator/Executive Producer] Jim [Gavin] and recognize what he was doing and writing about. It’s real people. It’s weird people. And we’re all weird. Life is weird. The script was beautifully and wonderfully weird. Its social-political heart was something I really responded to. Also, the pain below the surface. Mostly, I have to say it cracked me up. It’s not a given that when you read something, you’ll laugh out loud. The humor was always mixed back in with the hard stuff below the surface of it. Beyond all of that, there was such a palpable sense in the script of yearning for there to be more to their world and to their lives. As a part of that yearning is that yearning to connect and to relate.
Q: Where is Connie in her life? How important is the lodge to her?
A: As any good journalist is, she’s a very curious person. I loved that about her. As Jim said to me early on, she’s seen the last of the “nicotine-stained newsrooms.” With that life and history as an old-school journalist, her view of the world is very eyes wide open. I think she’s had to have a dark humor because when you really have your eyes that wide open, you have to figure out a way to get through. I think she has subsisted for years on men and booze and the adrenaline of deadline writing. She’s being brought to her knees by whatever is wrong with her, which is only partly known but seems pretty bad. Time is on the table for Connie. Working on her was fun and sometimes dark because of her fears and losses. Connie is new to the lodge and only about a year in. The lodge brought an unexpected person back into her life. It’s a social place, for sure. I don’t think she, at least initially, is pulled into the alchemical stuff. Her love and curiosity are more in the same realm of the life that she’s had in bars and communally and wondering about people and what the city of Long Beach is going through. She sees those stories and follows them.
A: I think the love she experienced with Ernie, which was deep love, was real. Even though they were very young, it was the real deal. The racial divide at that time gave it challenges and also a potency and the need to go beyond those societal structures because the love was just that deep. Ernie is the past, is comfort, is of a more innocent time. He sees her as she was and he feels really good. Because Ernie doesn’t know there’s something off with her, she can be in that place that just feels really good. When it starts to get confusing, she starts to pull out of that. She doesn’t want to put Ernie through that. Scott is really the only person who knows that something is wrong. As such, he stepped up and became kind of a knight for her. There’s safety in him. I also think they have a blast. Scott’s character lives a great, active, committed life. Eric [Allan Kramer] and I worked to make sure that there’s real love and affection there. That’s really what we saw.
Q: How do the pressures of carrying on an affair affect Connie?
A: I think she wants to believe that she can totally maneuver through this, but there’s something wrong with her and time is on the table. With Ernie, because of the depth of feeling there and how good it feels to be with him, this has really complicated it for her. In the past, I think this kind of thing probably happened and worked OK for Connie, but it’s more complicated this time because of how much Ernie means to her and because she’s not quite sure what’s wrong with her.
Q: In Episode 3, Connie loses her job. What do you make of her almost amused reaction?
A: That scene is such a great piece of writing and it’s a microcosm of the show. She’s being asked to write some stupid ass article about seals and that’s the reality of her life. It’s so ironic and deeply humiliating. She’s at a point in which she feels she’s finally found something important to write about and is inspired. She really feels this hook about the closing of the Orbis plant and what’s happening to these guys. She looks around and sees that there are many stories here. She believes for a minute that the editor will let her do this. For a moment, she’s committed to an idea of having more purpose in her life and doing something important. Right at the moment, she’s fired. For Connie – given what she’s been through and I also think she’s a jaded person about life – there’s little else to do but go, “Yeah right!” and also, “F—ck you!”
Q: Ernie and Connie plan to spend the entire weekend together, but it’s cut short by Connie’s attack. Why do you think she hasn’t told Ernie about it?
A: The seizures are the awful present and Ernie is the deep and beautiful past. He thinks she’s great and perfect and magic. To tell him would mean that she would have to look in his eyes and see what’s happening now and what she is now. I think that’s why she wrestles with both longing for Ernie and is wrecked about the possibility of losing Ernie. She genuinely loves him, but to lose him is to lose a place where the truth doesn’t exist – the truth being that something is wrong with her.
Q: In Episode 4, Ernie is obviously confused, but he makes a declaration of love. How does Connie process that? How hard is it for her to ask for a break?’
A: It’s brutal for her. Being with him feels like the most comfortable place in the world. He wants the future and she doesn’t know what that is. She’s not sure that even exists. The way that she’s keeping herself sane is to live right now. Being asked for more than right now is not something she can do, even though it’s brutal to think of losing him.
Q: Do you think part of the reason she returns to Ernie again and again is because Scott knows about her medical condition and she wants to get away?
A: There’s definitely comfort and discomfort with Scott. There’s comfort in that he’s there to take care of her and will be there to take care of her. She’s really grown to love him and have a great time with him. He’s a really good guy. There’s a real marriage there. With Ernie, there’s the comfort of the history and the past and the discomfort is lying to him. That’s hard when you’re in a place with someone where you feel such open connection.
Q: Connie’s reaction to the corpse is different from everyone else. Is mortality on her mind?
A: For everybody else, it’s weird and freaky and gross. For Connie, it’s a death thing. With the fears that she has, she has to face them for a minute. She avoids that and that’s a thing that Connie would certainly do. I think Jim wrote Connie as a person who would be able to laugh off just about anything and she does that at various times. I think it’s all the more daunting to her that she isn’t able to shake that fear. I think she’s really trying to have a good time. It’s just harder in the face of it. She can’t ignore what’s going on.
Q: What’s it like playing one of only a handful of women in the male-dominated Lodge?
A: First, I’d like to note that I’m terribly proud that we have a broad range of ethnic diversity on our show. And that the women’s parts are unusual and interesting. As far as the lodge itself is concerned, I’ve never thought of it as a man’s world. It isn’t anymore. Connie sees that it once was and that pretty much everybody in the old pictures on the walls of the lodge is white. She can’t pass up the opportunity to make a comment about that having been a great time for “white guys with crew cuts”. But these days, it’s pretty cool to her that there’s a broad range of men, women, lots of different ages and ethnicities. It feels like the real world to her. Connie wants to live in the real world.
Q: Any favorite moments or takeaways from the first season?
A: We had a blast. Every time we shot in the lodge, it felt like we were all hanging in the lodge. You didn’t want to leave. We’re all so weird. We’re all different people and we really liked each other, which is good. It’s the fun that you have of hanging out with a lot of weird and wonderful and talented people who are yearning to make something meaningful and good. There are so many surprises on the show. I loved the surprises.
Read a Q&A with Sonya Cassidy, who plays Liz.
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