What would you do if you were mistakenly transported back in time 50 years with a group of terrorists who you are meant to be trying to stop? That is the strange predicament Rachel Nichols’ character Keira Cameron is placed in, in the new television show Continuum. We had the chance to speak with Rachel about what it’s like to play a strong female lead in a futuristic world.
Q: When you first got the script what did you think?
Rachel Nichols: The story is really interesting about how I got the job because my friend Stacy originally got the script to me and I read it and I was about 10 pages in thinking this is fantastic. The show sounds incredibly cool and interesting with the future. I thought she kicks ass and she’s got a husband and a kid. I thought this is a dream role. Who wouldn’t want to play Keira Cameron?
Q: Did that whole futuristic element draw you in a little bit?
Rachel Nichols: Yeah, definitely. When a script is written in the future and a big part of it is going to take place in the future if it’s written well your first reaction is ‘this is going to be so cool.’ Your second reaction is ‘ I wonder if they are going to make the production value of the show as good as it’s written.’ Sometimes it’s written so well and you think that’s going to be expensive and unattatainable. Having seen it, I can honestly say that everything from post-production and things that they added in future 2077 looks even better than they wrote it.
Q: Was there any fear of taking the lead role of a television show?
Rachel Nichols: I’d witnessed Jennifer Garner do it when I was on Alias. I was on Criminal Minds for a season. I did a very short lived series for Fox before. I hadn’t really taken this big of a leap yet with 10 episode in the lead character, but I did know the work that would be involved. If you are going to sign on to a one hour drama, which is a grueling schedule no matter what, you have to really really love the show and really love the character. Since I knew what it entailed and I loved the character so much, I went ‘I can do this!’ I signed up for it and thought come what may, sink or swim, let’s give this a try.
Q: Was it important that she is such a strong lead character?
Rachel Nichols: Yeah, I love playing strong women from Scarlett in G.I . Joe to Tamara in Conan, I like to play these strong female character because they are fun. I love doing action stuff as well, so it’s the best of both worlds. The character is really exciting to play and the physicality is exciting as well.
Q: Yes, I noticed that there is an element of action to most of your roles. Do you like to get dirty and jump into the action?
Rachel Nichols: Oh yeah! I will do as much action as production will let me do without worrying that I am going to get hurt in any way. I love it. There is something really exhilarating about shooting fight scenes, learning a fight sequence, doing stunts, riding a horse, firing weapons, using swords. I am one of those girls who was born and raised in Maine. We played outdoors a lot. That is right up my alley!
Q: I guess since you were from Maine, moving to Canada wasn’t that much of a big shock for you.
Rachel Nichols: No it certainly wasn’t. I’ve worked in Toronto, in Montreal and Calgary. I’ve had a great experience being partially Canadian for the time that I have been here. Vancouver was a little bit different. There wasn’t that insanely harsh winter. It wasn’t anywhere near as cold, but the rain gets a bit intense. I had a fantastic time. I had never been to Vancouver before and I loved it.
Q: Especially if you like doing all of that outdoorsy stuff. It is the perfect place to be!
Rachel Nichols: Exactly! Except I wasn’t allowed to ski which was a big bummer.
Q: Oh no, not when you are right there in the mountains.
Rachel Nichols: Yeah! I grew up pining for one day I am going to go to Whistler. One day it is going to happen! Here I am only an hour and a half away and I can’t go.
Q: How would you describe Keira to someone who hasn’t watched the show?
Rachel Nichols: I would describe her as… she’s a lot of things. She has a lot of fantastic qualities. The interesting thing is that I would describe her in two very different ways depending on where we are in the time line. In 2077, Keira knows exactly who she is. She know exactly what she is doing in her life. She knows who the good guys are, who the bad guys are and that she’s fighting the good fight and is on the good side of the line. She’s a wife and a mother who wants justice and will do anything to see that come to fruition. She loves her job and is very self-assured. It’s interesting because then when she finds herself trapped in 2012, after a while she’s faced with the need to revisit and reassess and think that maybe the things that she was 100 per cent sure of in 2077, she’s not 100 per cent sure of in 2012. It makes her open minded even if it is a painful realization. That’s some thing that I really admire of her as well. That she can be so sure of herself in 2077 and in spite of everything, she can still be open minded in 2012 and think ‘do I need to change my view points and ask myself these questions about good and bad?’ I like that about her. She’s very strong, but also open minded, She really cares about the world. I think that’s important.
Q: What do you hope for her?
Rachel Nichols: It’s interesting. For Keira, I want her to go home. I can only imagine in my wildest dream to have a husband and a son and be taken away from them and not know if you are ever going to see them again. The idea of that is absolutely horrifying. For Keira, I wanted her to get home. I want there to be a way for her to get home. For Rachel, who would like to do many more season of the show…. If Keira goes home the show might be over. I do eventually want her to get home, but maybe not for many more seasons. The interesting thing about Liber8, the terrorists in the show, is that in 2077 Keira is sure that they should die and deserve to die because they tried to execute members of the corporate congress. She wants them put to death. She starts asking herself a lot of questions in 2012. For me and for the show and for Keria in many ways, I want her to do the right thing and be able to take down Liber8, but I want their to be the realization of are we doing the right thing. I want those questions to be asked and I don’t know what the outcome will be, because frankly I am sure Simon Barry has some other crazy things in his head that I would love to get out of his head so that I could see what other secrets I am going to find out in the near future.
Q: Do you think that there is room in the show for it go from 2012 to other time periods be it further back or into the future?
Rachel Nichols: Oh yes! I think that’s one of the things that I loved when I read the show and say the bible for the first 10 episodes that we shot. The show is very smart and there are a lot of questions that you ask yourself while watching it. The finale episode will answer about 5 questions and you will end up with 20 more. There are a lot of ideas of who travelled back and are there others and is it possible and are there different time zones. There is that Back to the Future complex idea on what happens if we do something in 2012 that effects 2077 and then there is nothing to go back to. There are so many places this could go and I find that really exciting. At the end of the last day of shooting I asked Simon a question about one of the characters in the show, his answer to me, although I can’t repeat it, totally blew my mind! I was like Gasp! ‘ You are kidding me! That is awesome!’ I think we could go on doing this forever. Although if we go on doing it forever, I may not be able to wear that jumpsuit.
Q: Was there ever a concern about using the terrorist angle with everything that has gone on in the world and is going on?
Rachel Nichols: There wasn’t. If anything, with the Occupy movements and Liber8 that we focus on in the show and then the real world issues, it made me pay attention to things more. It did make me think a lot more than I normally would have.