Stana Katic: “’Absentia’ is SO not a procedural!”

by Jenny Cooney June 16, 2020
Actress Stana Katic

Lionel Deluy

Stana Katic was struggling with phone reception when we caught up to talk about the long-awaited third season of her drama series, Absentia. The actress previously known for eight seasons as Detective Kate Beckett on the series Castle, says her technology issues are not surprising, as she’s been spending her Covid19 lockdown on a remote Californian property she describes as “off the grid”, with husband Kris Brkljac and their extended family, including parents, nieces, and nephews who are all helping tend the veggie garden and feed the chickens.

Her Absentia character, Emily Byrne, is not so lucky. It’s been a long journey since we first met the tortured FBI agent who returned after being declared dead in absentia, to find herself the prime suspect in a string of murders. The third season takes place three months after the shocking Season 2 finale that kills off a pivotal character and Emily is now near the end of her suspension from the FBI while working hard to be a good parent to her son, Flynn. What could possibly go wrong? jokes the 42-year-old actress.

What can we expect from the third season? Is there any trauma left that Emily hasn’t already experienced?

What’s going on for Emily is finding a new normal. This was really exciting for me because in the past she’s been a victim and now our protagonist becomes a character that is truly dictating her own future. You’ll also see her son Flynn (Patrick McAuley) initiated into manhood throughout the season and step up and truly become his mother's son.

Emily and Cal got close last season. Where will that go?

We have a storyline that is really about these wounded warriors and their healing. It was a really interesting story to dive into for me as an actor, because there are people who choose to do really horrendous things and they don’t have to, but they make those choices against humanity. And then there are people who are thrown into it against their will or, naively perhaps, enter into that world. And I think in Absentia, two of our characters, Emily and Cal, are those characters; they didn’t necessarily make the choice to dive really deep into their own dark sides but in spite of that happening, now they’ve chosen to swim towards the light in themselves.

What else can you say about their relationship?

Our audience doesn’t yet know about a part of Cal’s past, but we will uncover that as the season goes on, and Emily will discover it as well. There’s been a connection because of that and an attraction between the two of them but we’ll also understand what his past means for the two of them and any potential future.

A scene from "Absentia"

Stana Katic in a scene from season 3 of Absentia.

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How would you compare this type of drama in which you’re an FBI agent with your law enforcement character on Castle?

I think before the series launched, at some point it was being compared to an FBI show or a procedural and I was like, ‘what?’ This is SO not a procedural (laughs). It’s very graphic novel-esque - and the only reason I say that is because those are modern-day myths and this story to me has that Greek feeling to it because the things that happen are big. So, when I compare what my character goes through in that way, she’s a female version of Odysseus to me.

How do you feel about your large fan base and supportive audience?

I am grateful for any audience and I love that so many of them followed me from Castle to Absentia. I don’t think I’m stronger than the next person or have it all figured out more than the next person. I think I’m just being a person who figures out how to lay boundaries and that’s always been a bit of a learning process as I’ve gone through this job. So ultimately, I just want to be as an authentic version of myself as possible and if that encourages other people to take steps towards being that for themselves, that’s great.

Looking back on seven seasons of Castle, could you have imagined then what the best role of your career would look like?

I had no clue what was happening, none at all! So, to have had this opportunity - and not just as an actor, but also to be a part of the producing side of this series – has been such a blessing. I don’t take any of it for granted.