I have had the amazing opportunity to interview one of my favourite and one of the nicest actress, Katherine McNamara. She is best known for her roles in Maze Runner:The Scorch Trials, R.L. Stine’s Monsterville and now Shadowhunters.
What was the auditioning process like for Shadowhunters?
It was quite a long one. I had several audition reads with the producers and directors and then I ended up doing some chemistry reads, on with Dom and one with Alberto. Alberto, Emeraude and I were all part of the same group auditioning for the show and it was very exciting when we all ended up being cast; we came out the other side going ‘Hey guess what, we all been through this together and we made it.’
Did you ever estimate the fans reaction on social media about the show and the casting?
I did not. I mean I knew the books had a huge following and I knew how great they were but I didn’t expect this level of excitement for the show. We are all so thankful for it and we feel the excitement so much and it’s pretty fantastic to see the fan’s reactions.
When did you find out that you got the role of Clary?
I found out around ten minutes before it was announced on Twitter. I saw that they had tweeted out that they were going to announce who Clary was in two hours and I hadn’t heard a thing. So I assumed it wasn’t me and it must’ve gone in another direction. But then I got a call from my team and they said “Hold on, they haven’t given us word yet. Just hang tight, we’re going to find out who it is.” I was waiting and waiting, I went to the gym to try and work off some of the tension because I couldn’t stand it anymore and then ten minutes before they announced it on Twitter, they called me and said Congratulations and then get ready. My phone then exploded ten minutes later and it was really fantastic to have such warm welcome to this world from the very beginning.
Is there anything about Clary than you can relate to?
Absolutely! Clary is the closest character to who I am as a person that I have ever played. I love her fierce loyalty to the people that she loves; she would do anything for them or will sacrifice anything for them and I would like to think that I am very similar in that sense. Another thing I love about her is the blend of strength and vulnerability and throughout the season and there’s a nice kind of ebb and flow of those qualities in her. And as you know, every time Clary thinks she has a handle on the situation, something else will happen which will be much more difficult than the original situation. And that was very interesting to get to explore and play with in shooting.
Did you ever feel pressured living up to the expectations of Clary in the books or did you try and put your own spin on it?
Yes and no. The books are so great because Cassie has created such rich characters for all of us to explore and they all have so many qualities to dig into. But because I had this fierce support of the fandom and the love for the story, it ends up being a sense of responsibility – through reading these books you have such a personal relationship with these characters, to some people the characters are their heroes…it’s a huge honor but it’s also a huge responsibility. My main goal in all of this is to do justice to this character and the story.
How did you come about Clary and did you read the books before auditioning?
It has been on my list for a long time but I’ve never actually gotten round to reading them until the audition process. I was reading the books whilst shooting but the long hours and the script got in the way. I’ve picked them back up right now and I’m almost finished the series. I just adore it. I love Cassie’s writing. I think it’s so romantic and the way she wrote it is just so fascinating.
She visited the set for a day or two. Did you ever ask her for any advice?
I did actually. It was lovely having Cassie around because we can ask her questions that only she knows the answer to. Even though we took a different interpretation and perspective on the story, it’s nice to have her opinions and thoughts of the choices that we make every day.
What was your first impression of the cast?
I knew Dom for a while. He and I have been friends before the show even happened and he’s one of my favourite person. So being a part of this process with a good friend has been an absolute blessing because when you’re in a relationship like Jace and Clary on screen, it’s nice to have a level of trust and respect off screen as well. All of the cast became great friends within the first 3 days; we were all thrust into Toronto not knowing each other, not knowing the city or anything, so that brought us closer. I was one of the last to arrive in Toronto and I’ll never forget, when I got there and I walked into the hotel where we were all staying in, everybody was sitting in the lobby waiting for me. They swept me off and took me to dinner and we just spent the entire night laughing and getting to know each other (laughs). When you’re spending such long hours with each other and doing some intense scenes, it helps that you can actually enjoy each other’s company.
Who’s the biggest diva on set?
I don’t think we had one. That is something that I have to say that we didn’t really have a diva on set and that was the biggest blessing. Oh goodness. I think if I had to put a finger on it…No. There wasn’t one. Wait actually the biggest on set was the weather. We kept having rainstorms during shooting and we kept having to stop because there was lightning outside.
That’s the one thing that is so great about the cast is that we are all so close and we all get along with each other and we give each other trouble about everything. Yet we are there for each other in every respect. I got to learn so much from them, both personally and professionally, and I’m so thankful for that. I have each one of them to look up to, being the youngest on set, and it is really phenomenal.
Speaking of trouble, have you ever pranked or been pranked by someone?
Well I’m definitely the prankee more often than not (laughs). I don’t know whether or not I got away with pranking anyone on set. I’ve thought about it, I’ve tried planning it but I never followed through with it. I am very easily startled and very gullible and I ended up being the little sister on set which is great and I love that. I think it’s great that they know I am going to be a good sport about it and they are okay with pranking me because things are so intense and so dramatic on screen. It’s nice to keep it light off screen.
Who’s the biggest prankster?
Oh Dom hands down. Dom Sherwood is the best prankster of the cast. He got all of us several times and I think the only person who was able to prank Dom was Isaiah.
Oh what did he do?
He found ways to jump out and scare Dom which none of us could and that blew our minds.
They showed a small clip in Beyond the Shadows of Dom scaring you which was pretty funny.
That was quite a common occurrence and that just happened to be caught on camera. I am very easily startled and in Shadowhunters, there’s a lot of dark corners on set, so that gave him tons of opportunities to scare me. But that one in particular was just a short little scene where I would be running in, look at Dom doing whatever he was doing in his room, and then leave. So I ran in, I did it a few times and they kept rolling. Then the director said alright let’s do one more and keep it rolling. So I went back, ran to my mark and Dom’s not even there. I was trying to figure out what was going on and he jumped up from behind the door and scared me (laughs). That was unfortunately caught on camera.
Did you find anything challenging either emotionally or physically?
Yeah all the characters have such an emotional journey in the story. Especially Clary who is constantly being thrown off and things are being ripped from her. She’s making mistakes and goes through all of these problems in a world that she didn’t even know existed and that is a lot. That had a lot of emotional stuff so that was a challenge but I’m always ready for a challenge. Challenges don’t scare me. Nobody becomes an actor to play it safe; you become an actor to take risks.
The physical stuff was challenging too but we had kind of a fun bonding experience because we all train together, we all went to the same fitness trainer and we also did gymnastics together so we can do our own stunts. That itself became a very interesting experience for all of us we learned a lot and we had a lot of fun.
Were there any scenes in particular?
There were a few. Looking back at the season, she doesn’t do a ton of fighting because she’s still learning how to be a warrior and how to be a fighter that she will soon become. The times where she does get into a fight, she’s always in a dress and heels. And you know Clary, she’s never in dress and heels. So I kept thinking throughout the series why she is in 5 inch heels and a dress right now. But you know it turned out for the best and hey, now I know how to fight in a dress and heels now.
So is Izzy as well. Always in heels.
Yes that’s the other thing. I don’t know how Emeraude did it! She did an entire sequence in stilettos and I gave her so much credit for it. I started off with stilettos and as I had to do more running and fighting, I ended up in chunkier boots.
Your character and Emeraude’s character built a friendship in the show. Could you please elaborate on that?
Absolutely. Clary and Izzy’s relationship is something that I find so refreshing because in so many other stories that we’ve seen, you put two strong female characters in this situation where one is established to the world and one is new to the world and it becomes a competitive relationship and all this pitted against each other so something that I love about Clary and Izzy’s relationship on Shadowhunters is that never happens. They never even remotely go there and that something that’s so progressive I think for our show. Off the show and Emeraude is just like a sister to me and it was nice to bring that on screen.
What are you most excited for fans to see?
I’m more excited for fans to see the story come to life and the relationship that these characters end up in and the journey that they take. As you know, the relationships in the show are crazy wild and they take lots of twists and turns. We definitely explore that and more. I’m really excited for people to see the relationships they all know and love, some new relationships and unexpected friendships and alliances. Sometimes on the show, which is kind of touched on in the books but we really emphasis in the show, is the generational gap between Robert and Maryse Lightwood especially and all of us. It mirrors the real world where relationships are changing and the statements that older generation has broken down and we go into that in our show. Younger Shadowhunters are finding solutions to old problems by just being open and dissipating old assumptions and stereotypes.
If the cast of Shadowhunters were in the Hunger Games, who do you think would win?
Ooh that’s a tough question. I think it could be either Alec or Jace because they’re the best fighters and they would probably be the final two. But I don’t know who would win because they’re parabatai – who would be able to kill the other? I don’t know.
You can watch the sneak peek of Shadowhunters here!
Don’t miss the Shadowhunters premiere on Tuesday, January 12 2016 at 9pm/8c on ABC Family, soon to be Freeform.
Shadowhunters follows a young girl named Clary (Katherine McNamara) who discovers on her 18th birthday that she is not who she thinks she is, but rather comes from a long line of Shadowhunters — human-angel hybrids who hunt down demons. Following her mother’s kidnapping, Clary is thrown into the world of demon hunting with mysterious Shadowhunter Jace (Dominic Sherwood) and her best friend Simon (Alberto Rosende). Now living among faeries, warlocks, vampires and werewolves, Clary begins a journey of self-discovery as she learns more about her past and what her future may hold.