The Telefile

Interview With a Terminator

by admin September 11, 2008 4:24 pm
Interview With a Terminator A bunch of us blogger types were recently invited to get on the horn with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' newest cyborg, the fabulous T-1001 Shirley Manson, to discuss all manner of things, including her longtime love of the Terminator franchise, acting without training, recording soundtrack material (that voice singing at the beginning of Monday's episode was Manson after all), impending new albums, and why Glenn Close is totally a Terminator. Read on for choice quotes from the conference call while you still can, lowly humans!

How did this role come about, and what did you think about when you found out you were going to be playing a terminator?

Shirley Manson: Well, Josh Friedman contacted me; I was a friend of his wife's. His wife had mentioned to me that Josh was interested in putting me in this show and had jokingly asked me if I was interested in participating, and I jokingly said that of course I would be. Then later on, it turned out he was interested in me playing a terminator, at which point, I got very excited and jumped at the opportunity, I went to some of the auditions, got the role, and here I am. It's very, very surreal.

Are you a science fiction fan? Were you familiar with the Terminator universe coming into this?

SM Absolutely, I was a big fan of the Terminator movies and I'm not a huge sci-fi freak or anything, but I'm interested in the genre. But specifically, I was a big Terminator fan.

Can we expect an album anytime soon?

SM: I hope so. I have a lot of material. I'm intending actually to go in and start recording some of the songs live next month, so we'll see if I manage to pull it off.

What are your thoughts or impressions of Catherine as a character, and how do you plan to play her?

SM: She is embodying a human being, so she's still in the identity of Catherine Weaver. So that in itself is sort of interesting to me because, obviously, she's physically like a human being, but she's unable necessarily to bring what is essentially human all the time to the table. I felt that was kind of interesting -- it's a sort of rumination on what it is like to not have emotions and not have necessarily a logical thought. I suppose the whole time I'm on the set I'm trying to imagine what that is like, so that's been an interesting discipline for me.

It's harder to be a robot than one would think because you realize they would probably be very economical with their movements, so I've tried very consciously to be as undemonstrative as possible, and that has been a challenge in itself. Being a musician, when I'm on stage I am very demonstrative, so it has been quite a challenge.

Why a urinal? Is there any sort of an inside joke there?

SM: Why not? I don't know, I don't think it's an inside joke. I think the idea was that this -- I think I should probably let Josh Friedman speak for himself. I do know that he found it amusing that it was every man's nightmare, sort of a male bastion if you like, of security in the urinal. I think he liked the idea of a woman who had already irritated this particular man being able to infiltrate somewhere where he felt he was very safe. I thought he thought that was a true terror.

Did you take acting classes in advance of this?

SM: It was pretty intense. It was a real challenge, in large part because I'd had no real training, but then, I'd never had any training for being a singer either, so I decided I was just going to throw myself in and see what I could do. It was very intimidating and I really had a hard time keeping my heart rate and blood pressure down. I was really pretty freaked out and somewhat overwhelmed. It's getting a lot easier now, I'm feeling much more relaxed on set, and being able to have a lot more fun. It was a challenge.

Did you go back to look [at Robert Patrick's T-1000 performance] so you could have some shades of that performance?

SM: Actually, no. I didn't want to try to replicate his performance. I think that would have been the most obvious thing to do. My two muses really, were -- I thought a lot about Glenn Close in Damages, because I felt she was very threatening and very powerful in that television show and her performance is incredible. I think it's rare when you see a woman on screen where you truly believe she's capable of unworldly deeds, so she was a muse.

Also, for some inexplicable reason, I also thought of Margaret Thatcher. She was really a very powerful and seeming unassailable character when I was growing up, and I really didn't think very kindly of her, so I thought she was really someone who was a great inspiration for a CEO of a company who didn't have the kindest and warmest of hearts. So I looked her up on YouTube. My performance is nothing like these two characters, but they certainly informed me.

Given how popular the franchise is, how did you handle the pressure of stepping into the show?

SM: I just didn't think about the pressure, to be honest. I've been under a lot of pressure in situations in my life through being a musician, and a touring musician, and I have just come to realize, in life you just have to block out people's expectations and hopes and just try to concentrate on enjoying yourself and having fun. At the end of the day, that's really all you have. Life is so short and you really just have to engineer having a blast and freeing yourself up, and not being scared to take chances. Otherwise, I think life can become really boring.

At what point in the process did the song [that aired in the Season 2 premiere] come about?

SM: Josh Friedman, the creator of the show, took me out for dinner, wined and dined me, and then after my fourth glass of champagne, introduced the idea ... To be honest, I was a little wary of doing the song because I understood I was really setting myself up for a lot of flak, or certainly making it harder for the audience to believe my character...I think that is what is so hard for musicians when they step into acting -- they're not coming in as a blank slate, they're coming in with a real set idea of who they are, where they're coming from, what their politics are, what their tastes are. I didn't really want to remind the audience I was a singer. I knew that would create difficulties for me. At the end of the day, Josh asked so nicely, he'd given me such a great opportunity in this show, that I just bent to his will in the end, and I did it as a favor to him.

Would you be excited to do a car chase, shoot a gun, or get into some kind of a fight?

SM: I would love to do something like that, but whether I'll get to, I don't know. I do know my trainer has started having me box a lot more in the off chance they're going to ask me to do some stunts. Who knows? I would like to do something like that for sure. We'll see.

Read our weecap of Shirley's debut episode, and then get chatty about it in the forums!




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