The Global and NBC show Midnight, Texas is led by two Canadians, Dylan Bruce and François Arnaud. While both are great, a standout performer on the thrilling new show is the absolutely sweet and down-to-earth Arielle Kebbel, who plays Olivia Charity. The series is based on a series of books by Charlaine Harris, who was also the writer of True Blood. We spoke with Kebbel as she was on her way to San Diego Comic-Con to present the show to a legion of fans. Oh yeah, she was on the train.
Brief Take: Like an Amtrak?
Arielle Kebbel: Uh…yeah! *laughing* I’m sitting here with the other cast mates and you know, we’re the MTX family. It’s good to be in the Fam.
BT: We’re really intrigued with Midnight, Texas. There is so much more to learn about your character Olivia.
AK: *pauses* There is. And you know, we have a *huge* season finale and big twist of a surprise that comes at the end. There’s so much more to learn about this character. You’ll just have to keep your fingers crossed!
BT: We know only that you are an assassin, but perhaps one with noble intentions?
AK: Why, thank you! I believe that she does. You know, she’s one of my favourite characters to date for that very reason. I think, “how do I get inside her head and how do I myself train my thought process to get inside a trained assassin?” The thought process is to develop her skill set, and understand who she is and also what keeps her at Midnight, how deeply she cares about the people in this town, and try to find the balance between what she does for a living and who she is in Midnight. Those are two different things. She is a lot of fun to play, because on the one hand, I get to go on these hits and completely be in disguise and do my own stunts and do these fun action scenes. But on the other hand, I have these really intimate moments with Lem [Peter Mensah], Fiji [Parisa Fitz-Henley] and the Rev. [Yul Vazquez] and developing my relationship with these characters was exciting in a very different way.
BT: So there must have been a fair bit of training as well?
AK: This is the most physically intense character I have ever played and I loved it. I begged for it. Depending on what we were working on, there was two to three hours of training a day, some days I would have weapon training, which would add on another hour.
My fight choreographer and trainer John Koyama, he is a legend in this business. He really taught me everything I know. Day one *laughing* we had a lot of work to do. I love being athletic and I’ve always wanted to play an action role, but this is my chance to do it, and I took it very seriously. I trained with John every single day. If we had a fight coming up, we would train for the fight, but if we didn’t, we would continue conditioning and continue learning moves. So a daily practice would be warming up, conditioning, boxing, kickboxing, weapon training. Monica Breen, our show creator, who has been one of my favourite people with whom to work of all time, was open to us for ideas. If we had a fight coming up, John and I would work on training and a skill set that wasn’t necessarily in the script, but we would work on it and master it and bring it to her and say, “hey, we’ve been working with sticks, can we have that in there?”, and she would write it in. It became this really cool collaboration. They let me do it all!
BT: Your show has an important message of inclusiveness and tolerance.
AK: Yes! I’m very proud to be on the show. I think that throughout our series, we share a number of important messages. The fun thing about doing sci-fi is that we can do it in an elevated and tactical world, and it’s not like we’re hitting you over the head with these messages, but yet they are intertwined and they are everywhere within our show. And I love that each character is so diverse and that we really need to recognize each other’s differences to be stronger. It’s a beautiful message.
BT: It’s a nice looking apartment, too.
AK: It’s a very sexy apartment. *laughing* I mean, honestly, I want to live there. She’s like…Olivia is my inspiration.
BT: The red calls to mind your upcoming role as Gia Matteo in Fifty Shades Freed.
AK: Oh right, different kind of Red Room, huh?! *laughing*
BT: Did you have a blast filming that movie?
AK: I love filming in Vancouver. I’ve been really fortunate through the years and I’ve filmed there a number of times. It’s starting to feel like L.A. North, it’s like a second home. It feels good.
BT: And Toronto, too! You filled in as a guest host on The Social.
AK: My gosh, I’m so impressed. Thank you for researching.
Brief Take: Researching? We watched the episodes at the time. We’re big fans of The Social!
AK: Oh my God! So cool! I had such a fun time doing that. I love those women. They are so smart and witty and funny and educated. I was really flattered to be next to them. The audience members were so great and vocal. I really enjoyed myself. I would do it again in a heartbeat!
I have always respected the work that journalists do. Working on that show, I had a new respect for what these women do and what any on-air talent does in their lives because we were actually backstage, doing a thirty second countdown, before we go live to the show, and the news just broke that Prince has passed away, and nothing had been confirmed yet, but people backstage were devastated, and we thought, “What do we do? Do we record this? do we not…”. It hasn’t been confirmed, so we made a collective effort to report the news as has been recorded, which was not official yet but we felt people needed to know and it was breaking. I’ll never forget the audience’s reaction and the stories that had come out about it. He had actually performed in the very studio in which we were recording, and it just really shocking. It was a humbling experience because I really understood the responsibility that newscasters and journalists have to break tough news on a daily basis.
Brief Take: You’re very passionate about efforts involving Free Wild Horses. Could you tell us a little about that and how to get involved.
AK: Thank you for asking. I’ve been tweeting about this. If the Congressional Committee has their way, over 45,000 wild horses will be slaughtered in America, so we can’t let that happen, is the bottom line. You can go on my Twitter or Facebook to see how you can call or email or text to Congress to tell them why you’re against this, and there are so so so many other options. This isn’t the only way to try to control our land. We can’t let this happen.
The series premiere of Midnight, Texas airs Monday night at 9 pm on Global TV, and will then move to Mondays at 10 pm beginning July 31st.