Midnight, Texas, NBC’s newest series, premieres tonight at 10/9c! We were actually able to visit the set of the series earlier this year in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While on set, I sat down with Arielle Kebbel, who plays Olivia on the new series, to talk about her character, what drew her to the series, and what she can tease for the first season!
What brought you to this project? And can you talk about your character a little bit? Who is she?
Arielle Kebbel: I was on “Baller” and I came off of that asking myself, “What do I want next for myself as a life experience, as a woman, as an actress’ and started reading all of the pilot scripts and was like, “Oh my gosh!” They sent me this one and I thought it was like nothing else I’ve read, and I knew that it would be a risk and that it would either be totally ridiculous or a flop or it would be brilliant. Either way, I wanted to be on for the ride and risk doesn’t scare me. I want to know more. The audition felt the same way. I walked in and it was just one of those auditions where everything felt like it, fell into place. I literally felt emotions I didn’t know I had. They were coming through me and I walked out and was like, “What just happened? I love it!” I t’s very rare when that happens, so when it happens, I always pay attention. It’s an unplanned thing. It’s like a total divine moment outside of anything I could have created myself. I knew then that I wanted to be a part of it. I am so thankful that I was.
As for Olivia, she is such a badass! She’s like cooler than I’ll ever be. I have gotten to do some really awesome training this season. I immediately understood her pain and anger and wounds. There is a lot in myself that I hide or that I haven’t necessarily let out, because sometimes anger can be seen as a negative emotion. This was an opportunity for me to really show that it’s important to let those emotions out, and it doesn’t need to be a negative thing. Also to show, what a woman with a horrific childhood and past looks like. Telling her journey… she is so tough on the outside, she’s a badass and she can handle anything at any moment. I really wanted the audience to see the pain behind her eyes, because that’s something you can’t hide. I felt like it would be a challenge to be her, and I would learn a lot by being her.
What did you learn from playing Olivia?
Arielle Kebbel: I’m still learning… I feel like I’m just beginning. She’s taught me a lot about rooting myself and grounding myself. For someone that is so aware… I learned that it’s not that you have to be hyperactive you actually have to be hyper-balanced. There’s a calmness that is required and that was fascinating to learn. Also going back to the anger, and the emotional journey she has had… I don’t have the exact same past as her, but my job as an actress is to get in touch with things that may have made me feel the same way and bring those to life. If I’m feeling them than this character is feeling them and that means the audience is feeling them and at the end of the day I want to connect us. I’m still learning so much, but I’m very grateful that she came into my life.
What can you share with us about Olivia’s relationship with Lemuel Bridger?
Arielle Kebbel: Lem! They’re quite a power couple. I can say that Olivia loves all of the Midnighters but she doesn’t necessarily say it, she shows it, in her own way and most of the time it’s by protecting them. The only person you ever see her feel safe enough to open up to is Lem. Through the season you’ll see some quiet moments between them behind closed doors that reveal not only their relationship but also her painful past and his painful past. Obviously, he is centuries older than her but they’ve both had horrifying life experiences along the way. Which allows them to really see one another in a way that no one else does and that’s how they connect. The leaching… I remember talking to Monica about it and I was like, “this is more intimate than sex” and she was like, “I know right!” So, I felt like it needed to be a beautiful moment because there literally keeping each other alive. We’ve all felt those days when we’re going to explode, and Lem releases those feelings from her. He’s giving her life and in turn she is giving him life because he doesn’t have to feed on blood, he can feed on her anger and her emotions. When you understand someone that deeply there’s a connection where words just don’t do it, it’s so much more. That is where they reside.
What kind of badass training did you do? How well did you take to the training?
Arielle Kebbel: Honestly, I took it to a level that they weren’t even expecting… Because they were like, “You just need to do your stunts” and I was like, “No here’s the thing about her… she eats, breathes and sleeps in this awareness. She’s an assassin. She’s prepared for anything, at anytime. She’s been around the world.” I have never done any of that. In order to make this real, I needed to know what it feels like to be so strong in my body that I walk a different way down the street, I get groceries a different way, I think a different way when I see someone on the street. So when I’m on set it’s not even a thought. Or if I see a fight coming on or I know we’ve been working on a different move… I can add that in and make it even more believable. My goal with her and her training was to constantly be pushing the envelope and bringing things to the table, so it wasn’t just… okay this is an action day… it’s more like, this is who this woman is. We started with conditioning because… I mean, I did yoga but I wasn’t in the best condition… in the very beginning, sometimes we trained three hours a day, almost everyday, on top of 16 hour film days. We have the best people working with us.
He had me doing all of this crazy stuff from kickboxing, boxing, escrima sticks… all different types of gun training. It was non-stop! I worked out on the weekends. It has been the most physically demanding role I have ever been a part of and not to mention we’re in elevated altitude so my lungs had to adjust. I remember when I first started jumping rope, to warm up, I was out of breath in 10 jumps. It’s been incredibly challenging for the physical aspect of the training with the altitude, the climate and then to add the emotional roller coaster of what it is like to live in “Midnight” and fight all of the things that are coming into town. I’ve loved it! I’ve never been so tired, but it feels good! It feels really good!
Is there something that you still need to master from your training?
Arielle Kebbel: Always! We just did something last week, where they threw something at me… I’m not allowed to say what it was but let’s just say there were moving targets involved and it was like 30 degrees. My fingers felt like there were knives being stabbed into them. The one thing I noticed was I needed to slow down my breathing, because it’s so easy to get filled with adrenaline in those moments. It felt like I was breathing underwater so I was telling myself, “slow it down.” I can’t wait for you to see it! You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you see it but they would kill me if I told you!
With the emotional and physical connection you have with this character is it hard to shake it off?
Arielle Kebbel: Yes, that is such a great question! One of my acting teachers once told me, “actors are paid to learn what to do when they hear action and many of them forget how important it is to call cut.” It’s really easy to take your work home with you. Part of the job is to build these characters when we’re not at work so that when we come to work, we are ready to work. There is a lot of background that I’m building when I’m not on set, so after I’ve used it I can throw it away and be present with what is happening in the moment. I do exercises in my trailer… I’ve noticed that it’s different for every role. When I was doing comedy I didn’t feel the need to disconnect, because it didn’t feel emotionally dangerous if I stayed connected to it. With supernatural shows, there is so much magic and synergy… some days we would all come to set tired and realize we all woke up at three a.m…. stuff starts happening. It’s really important to call cut and know the difference between what’s happening in “Midnight,” what’s happening in real life, what’s happening with Olivia, and what’s happening with Ariel. It doesn’t mean I can’t have anger come up the way she does, but I have to filter it in a different way than she does. I do exercises in my trailer that help me connect back to myself. I get out of my wardrobe and do a few things before I even walk to my car, so that by the time I’m in my car we’re separated.
How is your style compared to Olivia’s? (We loved her nails!)
Arielle Kebbel: She is so cool! Like with my nails! I made it a “thing” and everyone was like “Why? She’s a badass! Why do you care about her nails?” I said, “First of all, it’s in the books so ask Charlene. Second of all, I’m going to do a lot with them! In different episodes, I themed her nails to different emotional journeys. I’m not allowed to say much… other than “thank you for noticing and there is silver on the ends these ones”… so if you know anything about supernatural… just saying. Ariel has never had nails close to this. The producers keep asking, “Why is there another nail bill?” I told them, “It’s going to pay off! You’ll see, I swear!” Everyone’s going to want Olivia’s nails! Please start the hashtag #OliviasNails! Please tweet it to the producers!
Midnight, Texas premieres on July 24th on NBC at 10/9c! Will you be watching? Let us know your thoughts below!