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SciFi Vision - Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Spotlight: Midnight, Texas Set Visit - Arielle Kebbel on Olivia's Backstory & Kicking Ass

Arielle KebbelIn NBC's Midnight, Texas, supernaturals are drawn to the town which sits on a weakening veil between the living and the dead. Arielle Kebbel plays the part of Olivia Charity, one of the few humans on the show, who is an assassin who helps protect the town. She is also in a relationship with local vampire Lemuel "Lem" Bridger (Peter Mensah).

Kebbel recently talked to journalists during a press day on the set in Albuquerque while sitting in Olivia's apartment.

The actress talked to SciFi Vision about how her character fits in with the others in town. "I feel like she loves each and every one of these Midnighters, dearly. She would never share how much she cares and loves about them, because that's not her way of showing it. Her way of showing it is like, 'I'll kill for you. I'll protect you, and at the same time, if push comes to shove, and I need to do something to protect the town, you know, you may or may not be on the other end of [laughs] the scope.'

Arielle Kebbel"But I think that the couple, Lem and Olivia, they're kind of like the protectors of town. They're like the power couple who show how they love the other Midnighters without words. They show it in their actions. And I think a lot of the other Midnighters maybe show it through their words or their vulnerabilities, but that's just not who our two characters are. And that's also why we get each other, and why we have separate conversations behind closed doors."

She also talked to the site about her fantastic assassin wardrobe that is full of disguises.

"When I walked in, when I saw Olivia's apartment, I wanted to move in. I was like, 'Oh my God; she's so much cooler than me. I love her.' She has the queen bed, which is fabulous, and then her one closet is full of her armory, and the other is every shoe, wig, and dress under the sun.

"And that's just who she is, you know; she's just fabulous, and she needs to be ready 24/7 for whatever comes up, so she's got everything she needs right here.

"And my favorite part too is how it's like a James Bond type wall. The whole like clicking of it is fantastic."

Other things of note that Kebbel talked about with the press, is what spoke to her about Olivia, her character's backstory, Olivia's relationship with Lem, and more.

Be sure to tune into Midnight, Texas Mondays on NBC.

Check out the full transcript below.

Midnight, Texas
Arielle Kebbel

January 30, 2017

How do you like New Mexico? What have you found about the experience that's been exciting?

Donkeys!

Donkeys?

Yes. We filmed the pilot here. I love traveling, and obviously with my job I get to travel a lot, and I was actually really surprised during the pilot; I had a really hard time here. I wasn't adjusting well to the altitude. It was really hard physically on my body, and then this character is obviously very physically demanding. So, it was really the first time ever that I found myself really struggling. It brought a lot of concern, because obviously I wanted the show to get picked up, but I was like, "How am I going to do this?"

Arielle KebbelSo, when the show got picked up I was thrilled, and then I was like, "Okay, how am I going to take care of myself now?"

I grew up riding horses, and the one thing I did notice about New Mexico was how magical the land is and feels. It feels so spiritual and so full of so much life. So, I just kind of said a prayer and asked, "Where can I be [where I can] take care of myself outside of work, that will nourish me?"

And I found an amazing place in Los Ranchos. My favorite place now is Los Poblanos; I go all the time. I love driving down Rio Grande and just seeing the horses and the farm land. And I happened to find a guest house that has donkeys and sheep in the backyard, and my neighbor built a little chapel in her backyard, so we're like a little community. They invite me over for dinner with like fresh picked eggplant from their yard, and I just have this beautiful community now that I would have never had if it weren't for the show, so I love it.

This isn't your first genre show. Can you talk a little bit about what spoke to you about the character and the concept.

All of it!...What spoke to me about this show, is it was the dreaded pilot season, [laughs] which everyone knows about, and I was coming off of Ballers, and I knew that I wanted something different. That's a thirty minute comedy, so I was like, "How am I going to challenge myself as an actress and as a woman in my next phase?"

And I read this script, and I thought it was so unique, not only during pilot season, but in general, that I was like, "Oh here's a risk." And I love taking risks.

And I thought it was either never going to go, and it would be so weird [laughs] and kooky, or it would be the ride of my life. And I thought, "Either way, I want to be on that ride; I want to take the risk."

And I remember, even the first audition, I walked in the room, and just everything thing about it felt like it was meant to be. That doesn't happen very often, so I pay attention when it does feel like that.

And through this whole process it's felt like that. I just feel every day I'm here; I'm grateful for it, and it's a tribute to the show that they've learned how to connect supernatural to humans to love stories and make it all very current in what's happening even in today's world.

So I feel like what makes it special, is that there is something for everyone. It's not a supernatural show, and it's not a drama; it's anything and everything in between.

What was risky about Olivia? What about Olivia attracted you to that role as opposed to maybe one of the other female characters on the show?

Arielle KebbelWell, that's who they wanted me to audition for, so there's that. [laughs] No no no, good question good question. But going back to talking about the risk, what felt risky in playing Olivia, was the anger within her and learning how to bring that to light and let it out, but also not letting it own who she is, because she's so controlled and strong, and there were like these layers with her that I'd have to build and create.

And with the anger, I think in society that's a scary word in general. You know, it's like, "Oh, well, we don't want someone to get angry with us," so angry has like this negative connotation, when actually, it's a very real, raw emotion, and the more you contain it, the more dangerous it is. I think the more you let it out, the more freeing and healthy it is.

So, for me, it was about learning how to get in touch with that within myself and not being afraid of that, because I realized I was. And then Olivia almost gave me this like emotional freedom to release some of my own personal demons along the way.

Her closet is full of clothes that allows her to turn herself into somebody else. How much of this season is of us getting to see who the real Olivia is? You know, the layers of what she puts on the outside, versus when we come to see who she really is.

Yeah, such a great question. I don't know that you ever will.

One of the elements that keeps repeating, is the building of a family, albeit a little strange family, but a family.

Midnight is a family.

Exactly. So can you talk about the building of a family both within with the other actors, and then without in the scenario of the series, and how [has] it evolved as a family for you?

Arielle KebbelYeah, absolutely. I just want to add to that because I think that Lem is the only one who really sees her, so you'll see that journey, and through that you'll see a much more vulnerable Olivia, but the Midnighters don't necessarily see that, so the journey with the audience will be through those distinct moments with the two of them.

With regard to family?

Yeah, I mean, we are a family. The thing I love about this show is every single character is so different, and every cast member is so different. So, in the show, like it or not, we each bring a unique quality to Midnight. You know, Lem's the wise vampire; I'm the assassin. Manfred (François Arnaud) has the psychic abilities. We all have our thing that we can build on and make a village out of, but yet in real life, you know, art imitates life; life imitates art. It's the exact same thing. You know, some people on set are the funny ones. The other ones are the kind of more introverted technical ones. We all have our place, and so I feel like in season one as we were creating these characters and this family, we were also learning how to do that in real life.

And for me, one thing, every day we go to work right now with the news and headlines changing quickly and abruptly. Then the one thing we keep talking about is how Midnight is a place where people go to feel safe, and that these characters wouldn't normally or necessarily be friends in today's society, because they're so different, and yet they're differences and their strength is what brings them together, keeps them together, and really showcases what a true village looks like.

And the fact of the matter is, Lem might be a vampire, but he's a lot less scary then the neo-Nazis that come to town. And what does that look like; how does that translate into today's society and what's happening in our world right now?

SCIFI VISION: I know you can't give details, but can you talk about how she she fits in as an assassin, like what role does she kind of plays in the town in that aspect? Like obviously she protects the town, but...

Yeah, I feel like she loves each and every one of these Midnighters, dearly. She would never share how much she cares and loves about them, because that's not her way of showing it. Her way of showing it is like, "I'll kill for you. I'll protect you, and at the same time, if push comes to shove, and I need to do something to protect the town, you know, you may or may not be on the other end of [laughs] the scope."

But I think that the couple, Lem and Olivia, they're kind of like the protectors of town. They're like the power couple who show how they love the other Midnighters without words. They show it in their actions. And I think a lot of the other Midnighters maybe show it through their words or their vulnerabilities, but that's just not who our two characters are. And that's also why we get each other, and why we have separate conversations behind closed doors.

Arielle KebbelA lot of the characters have flashbacks; we assume you're going to get one as well. Can you talk a little about maybe how much we're going to learn about the character or what we're going to learn. Can you tease that?

Yeah, you know, I talked about Olivia's anger issues that are very real. If you've read the books, you know she has a really horrifying childhood, and it's part of her outlook on the world now, especially towards men. And it's part of why she does what she does for a living. It's how she's healed herself.

So, through the season, we will see moments [where] she's always hiding from Dad. So, we'll definitely see moments where there's the threat of, "Is this another coincidence, or is this Dad?" And through those storylines we'll be learning a bit about her childhood, and yet still there's so much more to go.

Monica [Breen] did an incredible job of taking each of our characters on during this year, and for my character I can say that the way you see her start the season is the exact opposite of how you see her end the season. Even I was surprised [laughs] at the journey she went on. So stay tuned for that!

SCIFI VISION: I was just going to ask if you could talk a bit about your awesome wardrobe back there.

Oh, thank you, aren't here closets great?

SCIFI VISION: Yes.

When I walked in, when I saw Olivia's apartment, I wanted to move in. I was like, "Oh my God; she's so much cooler than me. I love her." She has the queen bed, which is fabulous, and then her one closet is full of her armory, and the other is every shoe, wig, and dress under the sun.

And that's just who she is, you know; she's just fabulous, and she needs to be ready 24/7 for whatever comes up, so she's got everything she needs right here.

Olivia's closetAnd my favorite part too is how it's like a James Bond type wall. The whole like clicking of it is fantastic.

You read the books?

I did, all three, yeah.

Oh really, because other people haven't, so that's interesting to see who does and who doesn't.

[Dylan Bruce walks in]

Well this one, he's the A+ student. He sped read all three of them in like four days. He's like, "Hey guys, you read all the books? I did!" We're like, "We're reading them now! We're reading them now!"

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