Marvel’s Runaways had all 13 episodes of season 2 come out on December 21st, so there was really no better time to speak with star Ever Carradine (who plays Janice Stein on the series) than that very morning. As we are kind of the biggest fans of The Handmaid’s Tale (on which Ever Carradine is featured as Naomi Putnam and which films in Toronto), we decided to change up our regular format a little bit. Instead of doing our usual ‘Brief Take’, we decided to do a bit of a long take with the charming actress, but we assure you that this interview is totally worth the time.
Here is an extended (but still condensed and edited) version of our interview with the uniquely talented Ever Carradine. (*Spoilers ahead for Runaways season 2*)
Brief Take: How much do you lean into these shows, Runaways and Handmaid’s Tale, as metaphor?
Ever Carradine: I don’t ever think about them like that. I’m dreading that this is going to sound pretentious, [laughs] but I always gravitate to the emotional life of everything that’s happening. Maybe later, maybe a couple of years from now, I will be able to look at it objectively but not quite yet. Why, what’s the metaphor?
BT: Fighting the patriarchy.
EC: That is true for both of them! The resistance in fighting the patriarchy. What I feel about these shows is that both of them really spark a conversation, and sometimes they’re difficult conversations, but nothing changes if you don’t discuss it.
BT: And on Runaways, the new order is being destroyed by the old order.
EC: I think that the parents, I think that they got into pride thinking that they were doing the right thing, and thinking that they were doing better for their generation. Granted, they got lured by the money and the power of it all, and I think that Jonah was never really honest with them about what was happening and that once they figured it out, I think that they were in too deep.
BT: And what about Gilead?
EC: I remember being on set last year and looking around, and everybody’s miserable in Gilead, but they did this to themselves! [laughs] They are miserable by their own design. At the end of last season, we saw Yvonne (Strahovski)‘s character Serena Joy speaking up for the younger generation and then the repercussions of those actions.
BT: I read that you had a discussion about whether Christmas is celebrated in Gilead and you decided it wasn’t.
EC: Since it’s not in the Bible, no! We have one girl, she plays Leah on the show, her name’s Angela (Vint), she’s a local Canadian actress; I love her. She also teaches Sunday school and is a pretty conservative Christian, so she’s always my go-to for Biblical questions. [laughs] But we think that there would be Easter. Not like the bunny and Easter eggs, but you know.
BT: What do you think is the secret to the success of The Handmaid’s Tale?
EC: I think what the show does so masterfully is that right when you think that you aren’t going to like anybody any more, there’s some ray of humanity that you see that makes you feel for them. Like Lydia getting pushed down the stairs or the stuff with both Commanders. We were starting season 3 and there was a scene that we were all shooting, and it came to me again, this idea that they’re all just people trying to do their part in Gilead. And when these actors are good – I’m speaking about Ann Dowd specifically here – they’re just so good, they pull you in, you can’t help but feel compassion for them. I know that cast, everyone works really hard, everyone knows their characters inside and out, and I think that it really shows.
BT: What about Naomi Putnam? Is she entirely villainous or just trying to make it through the day?
EC: I don’t think that Naomi thinks of herself as villainous at all. I think that Naomi is just trying to do right, and she gets in her own way, sort of with her crazy uptightness and her raging insecurity. [laughs]
BT: What about how dismissive you need to be toward Amanda Brugel‘s Rita?
EC: I love Amanda so much, but I have to make a conscious effort because we are so conditioned to say please and thank you, or smile at someone when they do something for you. You really have to make a concerted effort not to acknowledge the Marthas or to thank them for their work.
I had a thing all last season, in Season 2, it’s the only job I’ve ever had that when I get there, and Elisabeth Moss isn’t Lizzie, she is Offred, and I get overly invested in how I’m going to get her out of Gilead, like me, Ever Carradine, not Naomi Putnam. We were coming back from the Golden Globes last year, me and Lizzie and Max (Minghella) were all on the same flight. They were walking in front of me to Canada, and there were Lizzie and Max, arm in arm, and it said “Welcome to Canada”, and I was like “they made it!” [laughs] “June and Nick are out!” I’m totally crazy. I told Lizzie the next day and she was like “did you take a picture?” and I was like “no! I was so overcome, I couldn’t even take a picture!” [laughs]
BT: What do you think was with the backlash that the series faced? It’s the best series on television, period.
EC: I think that people are very invested in June getting out of Gilead, like me and my crazy story about seeing her and Max and the “Welcome to Canada” sign, and I think people were really disappointed with June’s decision to stay. I know that when I first read the script, I was so mad. I didn’t think that it was bad, I thought that it was brilliant, but I was really angry, and then I went and picked my daughter up from school, my eight-year-old, and I was like “obviously you stay. You stay in Gilead and you fight from the inside out. You don’t leave and try to get back in”. People tell me that they can’t handle watching the show, and I say, “you know, the show’s fake”, and it’s really nice to watch something that makes you feel something. I understand wanting an escape, this is a different escape, an escape that you know, cattle prods your heart a little bit.
BT: What was it like to win the Golden Globe and the Emmy?
EC: I mean I was just so glad because I’m there. I’m not there as much as everyone else, I go back and forth, like my base is in California, but just for the amount of work, you know, there’s no accidents on the show. Nothing happens accidentally, it’s all so deliberate and everybody works so hard. The writers too; the writers are so detail-oriented, the research that they do, I was so glad to see that recognized, for everybody. I would have liked to have seen Yvonne win, that was my only bummer for this past year. But the good thing is that it’s not a limited series, it’s going to go on year after year, and I feel like every year has gotten better and stronger. You don’t necessarily need an Emmy to feel that way. I just feel like it has gotten better and better.
BT: When did you know that you were going to be an actress as your profession?
EC: I’m third generation in this business, so it was always in the back of my head from when I was little. I grew up on sets and around actors, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I was able to tell more than my friend journal that this is what I wanted to do. [laughs]
BT: Do you feel like this is the time when you are finally telling the stories that you want to be telling?
EC: I feel like I love my 40s and I feel so grateful for the work that ever since I turned 40 and I had my second child, the work that I’ve been given is so different, from Goliath to Shameless to Handmaid’s to Runaways. They’re all such different worlds but they’re rich characters from incredible showrunners and amazing directors. I feel grateful every day, and I don’t mean that in a trite way, like I actually and genuinely feel grateful and excited to go to work.
BT: And you make a difference in people’s lives.
EC: You know, something that I have learned, the older that I have gotten, that these days are long on set and I love hanging out with our crew and talking to them about their lives. I think that when I first started out, maybe you’re nervous or you can’t talk and engage with everybody, but when I’ve gotten older, I realize what a treat it is to be plunked in these different worlds with this whole different organism of people who all do their work and get to know them. Especially when it’s season after season, you actually have some time to cultivate a relationship.
I think on Handmaid’s Tale, Lizzie is an incredible number one on the call sheet. She is there, first in, last out probably every day, five days a week, and she carries that show. I have never seen her grumpy, I’ve never seen her snap at anybody, I’ve never seen her unprepared, and it falls from the top. If that’s who is your number one, everybody around you is really going to show up and do the same.
BT: Do you get a lot of feedback from viewers?
EC: I do, actually. And a lot of feedback that I get from viewers is that they want to see a lot of Naomi Putnam’s backstory, like who she was before Gilead, which I’m dying to see too. So that’s one thing I always get.
BT: Tell me about working with Stephen Kunken.
EC: Myself and the actor who plays Commander Putnam, Stephen Kunken, get along really well, so whenever I’m in Toronto and he comes in from New York, we work all day, but then we go out to dinner. Where do we go? All over Toronto, we go to Pai, that’s a favourite, we haven’t been to Kiin, their other restaurant yet. Sweet Jesus is a favourite, I love Arepa on Queen Street, Hot Black Coffee, we have our whole Toronto routine.
BT: What do you think makes Marvel’s Runaways successful as a Marvel series?
EC: I think that what makes the show really work, while it’s all Marvel-ized, it’s all grounded in reality, do you know what I mean? I think that is why the Marvel stuff plays, because we all just treat it like it’s real. If we saw Fistigons or a dinosaur and we’re shocked in a winking at the camera way, I don’t think it would work in the same way.
BT: What did you like about Runaways Season 2?
EC: Season 2 of Runaways wraps up in a similar way as The Handmaid’s Tale, which is that The Pride Foundation gets blown up and we’re going to start anew hopefully for season 3.
I was just so happy that Janet got to show off a little bit more of who she is and her smarts, that was a lot of fun to play. It was quite fun.
BT: What about when your cousin Sorel played Janet Stein’s younger self?
EC: That was so great! My cousin as young Janet! I was hoping that for season 3, I mean I’m hoping obviously that we get picked up, and that she gets to come in and do that again because so many people were like “did you do ADR on the voice?”, and “how did they find a girl that sounds and looks like you?”, like “it’s my cousin!'” Yeah, Patrick Rush our casting director, came in and was like “are there any young actresses that remind you of you?” Like “funny you should mention that, Patrick!” [laughs] She teaches Pilates out here in L.A. and during classes, women are always looking at me and looking at her and they can’t figure out what’s happening. [laughs]
BT: What do you think of the Stein family dynamic?
EC: I think the thing that’s really interesting about Janet’s arc in season 2 is that not only does she get to show some of her education and her smarts, but when Chase does come home again, he’s not living in the same house because the dynamic has completely shifted.
BT: What is it like working with your “son”, Gregg Sulkin?
EC: I love Gregg! I constantly refer to him as my “fake son” all the time, and he calls me “fake mom”. He’s such a great k…I want to say kid because he plays a kid, but he’s not a kid, he’s a man. He’s just a lovely, lovely man. He’s a really great guy. I loved the scene in which Janet and Chase sort of work together to figure out that Victor’s been possessed, for lack of a better word, by Jonah, and that we need to go fight him. I love that scene. Because it’s three pages and so much happens, and we really had to figure out how to get from A to B really quickly. He’s such a good scene partner.
BT: Ariela Barer raved about you as well.
EC: That’s because I’m obsessed with Gert. I wanna dress like Gert, for two years now I’ve wanted to be Gert for Halloween but I can’t get the wig right. I love all the kids, though, and I’d have to say, Josh and Stephanie somehow managed to assemble, you know there’s a group of 16 series regulars? It’s so rare that they’re all good people. You usually have two or three that are a little weird or cranky or misbehave a little, but it’s a great group of working people. They’re wonderful to work with, I love ’em.
A lot of these people on both of these shows have been doing this a long time, I mean even the kids on Runaways, they’ve been doing this a long time. I think that there is an overwhelming sense of gratitude and pride in the work, and I think if you have that at the base of it, and everybody feels that, then you can just get along and be together as friends because you all have the same underlying work ethic.
Brief Take: And just feeling Pride?
Ever Carradine: Yeah! No pun intended. [laughs]