Exclusive: Katherine McNamara Talks Clace and Team Dark

Katherine McNamaraTonight, Freeform airs the newest episode of its series Shadowhunters. In the episode, while Alec (Matthew Daddario) and Izzy (Emeraude Toubia) continue to look for more information on the tortured Downworlders, Magnus (Harry Shum Jr.) looks for new options for magic, and Jace (Dominic Sherwood) takes Clary, played by Katherine McNamara, on a date on the ice.

Recently McNamara talked to SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about playing a darker version of Clary, Team Dark, what’s to come for Clary and Jace’s relationship, and more.

SCIFI VISION: It seems like from the previews that we’re going to get a dark Clary. Can you tease about Dark Clary and how that will affect her relationship with Jace?

Katherine McNamaraKATHERINE McNAMARA: This is what I can tease at this point. Clary is really being forced this season, as we’ve seen, to confront her relationship with her brother and to confront the Morgenstern part of her that she’s worked so hard to push inside her for so long now.

What she finds through that, is that there’s only Jonathan (Luke Baines) who can really understand where she’s coming from, and what it is to have Valentine as a father and to have Jocelyn as a mother, and the sort of mess that those two left behind for their children and for this relationship that is so strained, merely because of circumstance, and because Jonathan never really had a chance to be human, and Clary never really had the chance to develop into the Shadowhunter that she could be. Even though, you know, she’s getting there because of Jace and everyone else.

But it’s interesting how it affects her relationship with Jace, because as she explores that Morgenstern side of her, Jace is maybe the only one who can understand, you know, flirting with your dark side, because of what he went through with the Owl and with having to be aligned with Valentine for a little bit. And through his journey, he has had massive amounts of guilt for everything that happened in 3A. And now Clary, you know, depending on how far she goes, could potentially be in the same place.

And it equally pushes them apart and pulls them together, because they’re trying to rebuild who they are, being these people who have nothing but good intentions but have been pushed by circumstance into making choices that don’t align with who they are.

You mentioned that she never had the chance to develop into the kind of Shadowhunter she could be. So, do you think she’s still adjusting to that world, or is she comfortable? Is there still more for her to discover?

Absolutely. You know, if you think about it, we as an audience and as the cast and crew have had the show almost four years now, but if you look at the actual timeline for the series for the characters, it’s only been about four or five months that Clary’s been a part of the shadow world. And it’s been a very, very quick process.

She does have an advantage given her angel blood and given the fact that she’s had such a wonderful supporter and teacher in Jace and Alec and the other folks that have been a part of her life, but she still has a lot to learn.

And I think the biggest growth in Clary, is this season she’s aware that she has a lot to learn, and she knows what her capabilities are, but she also knows where her weaknesses are and where she has some room to grow.

Are we going to get any Team Evil?

Yeah, there is quite a bit of [it], and this is why I’m so excited for 3B, among many things, because it definitely delves into Team Evil and into Jace, Clary, and Jonathan and many of those iconic book moments that people know and love so much.

Katherine McNamaraLuke has been a friend of mine for years, and obviously, you know, Dom and I have been close for a while now with the show, and we were friends before. Getting to bring those moments to life with characters that we’ve all spent so much time building, but also with people that I genuinely adore, it really, really has been the biggest gift.

So, did you enjoy playing the darker side of Clary? How was it different for you as an actor?

It was completely different, and in the best possible way, simply, because, you know, I’ve been playing this character and developing this character for so many years now. Getting a chance to do something that is such a departure, that is so truly and completely opposite as an actor, you know, it’s creative soul food. But then alternatively, to get to see the character kind of depart from everything that she is and has been for so long. It’s very interesting to see, and I think it will be for the audience as well.

And it made for a lot of creativity in the choices I got to make and in exploring the different options of what this could mean.

And that’s something that actually Luke Baines, who plays Jonathan, and I did together, being that the twinning rune affected both of us. We had to kind of have a lot of conversations between ourselves and with the writers as to, “Okay, now this event happened, how does that affect things, and what does this actually mean? And if this is happening to him, do I feel it, and if this is happening to me, does he feel it? And where is that line drawn? You know, how does that affect each of us moving forward?” It made for a lot of fun in sort of creating that mythology together.

Can you talk about filming the love scene between you and Dom in the last episode? Was it awkward, or because you’re friends, did that make it less awkward?

You know, it’s funny with scenes like that, because it’s never not awkward, but it’s not because of anything that we’re doing. It’s because we’re trying to catch a very intimate moment surrounded by fifty crew members and two cameras about three feet from our faces.

We’re trying to create this intimacy and this beautiful moment, and we have somebody yelling “cut” from across the set, or we see, you know, the shot of the crane moving over our heads as we’re in the middle of some completely romantic moment.

But because of the fact that Dom and I have worked so closely together for so many years, there’s really an inherent level of trust there. The ice has already been broken, if you will.

It’s just work. It’s so technical at that point, there’s no sort of muddling of emotions or anything that people sometimes assume. It’s just about creating the moment and dealing with the humor of the awkwardness that comes with it together and making something great for the characters and for the relationship that we worked so hard to build.

[laughs] But I guess the most indicative example of these kind of moments is the first scene where Jace and Clary kiss, back in season one. It had this sweeping kind of circular steadycam shot that we filmed for a long time in slow-mo, so they had all the pieces to cut in.

And what that actually was on the day, was Dom and I just kissing back and forth while they did the shot and having a director yell “Switch! Switch!” every twenty seconds or so as we were to switch the angle of our heads. So, that’s the sort of quote unquote “magic” that goes into [laughs] creating these romantic moments that you see on screen with flowing music and roses in our eyes.

Katherine McNamaraWhat’s been your favorite Clace scene, maybe one that’s coming up?

I can tell you, but I can’t tell you much about it, but it’s the last scene that I ever filmed for the series, and it’s one of the last scenes between Jace and Clary in the series finale. It just happened to be a day on set where we were in the Institute and pretty much every character that’s ever been on the show was on set that day for the scenes we were shooting.

Just doing that scene with Dom and looking around at the family that we’ve created among the cast and the crew, things really did come full circle. And it kind of was all encompassing for the series and for my journey with the series.

It was very emotional, but I also think it was some of Dom’s and my best work on the show, because we have put blood, sweat, and tears and so much time and energy into creating these characters, and that has all paid off, because of the family that surrounds us. And I’ll always be grateful for that.

Can you talk about filming the ice-skating rink scene that appears in the next episode?

[laughs] Yes so, this is a little thing that a lot of people may not know about me. I’m a dancer; I always have been. I’m a fighter now, because of the amazing stunt coordinators we have, but I have never, ever been an ice skater or a roller skater or anything that involves taking away the friction from beneath my feet. I am Bambi on ice and always have been.

So, I get a call for the beginning of 3B from Todd (Slavkin) and Darin (Swimmer), our show runners, and they say, “Hey, you ice-skate right?” And I laugh, and I say, “No, I don’t, why?” [laughs] And they go, “Oh we’ve written this episode where Clary and Jace go on an ice-skating date, and you’re supposed to be really good at it, and Dom’s not.” And I go, “Ooh. Okay, so, can we work on that?”

And they were very kind to get me a coach and to really help me learn quite a bit about ice skating. And it ended up where I’m now competent at it, and if you saw the episode, I actually started to have a lot of fun.

Was Dom good at it? Did he know how to skate already?

Oh, Dom is very good at ice skating. He was really good at it and actually helped me quite a bit.

I also discovered that one of our stunt coordinators that day was a hockey player at one point, and he had taught a lot of actors on hockey movies how to ice skate very quickly. So, he knew how to talk to me from my perspective and help me out in that way.

Once he started kind of coaching me, I very quickly learned the things that I needed to do. You know, with my dance background and by learning things quickly, as an actor you learn to pick up skills that you may not have had before very quickly. And it worked out in the end.

Before we talk about the end of the series, I have a couple more questions. You may not know this, but do you know who the artist is who creates Clary’s artwork?

Katherine McNamaraThat is someone in the art department*, and I don’t know their name, but I’m sure if you talk to Freeform, they will have it for you. But they are so fantastic, and I am such a fan of their art and have been. I’ll never forget the first time McG, who directed the pilot, showed me Clary’s artwork for the first time. I was floored and astounded, and my wildest expectations were exceeded, simply because of just how on the nose this artist was with everything that Clary is. You know, it has such a gothic beauty and a darkness to the art as well as having sort of this angelic and pure quality to it, that it sort of hits all the points that I could have ever asked for as an actor. And, you know, my grandmother’s a watercolor artist. I have such respect for art and always have for something I really do appreciate.

Next, are you going to get a fourth rune tattoo to commemorate the end of the season, and if so what and why?

I’m actually not. I thought a lot about this, and I wanted to sort of leave it at three, because we have three seasons. And the series finale, even though it’s two more episodes, there’re so connected to the rest of the series and what it is, and I’m just going to leave it at three. And the three runes that I have are so in [line] with what the journey has been and what the journey has been for my life as well, that, you know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Can you tease something about the end of the season to get people excited?

Well, here’s what I can say. I’m actually very, very excited for people to see the ending, because when I first read it, I was a bit unsure about it, because it is very bittersweet and very surprising in a way that, you know, it’s not what people are going to expect it to be. And I thought a lot about it, and after we shot it, I was so onboard with it. I really found a lot of great things with it, and I thought it would turn out great.

And then now I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the last scene of the show, all put together, and I think it’s just perfect. It’s bittersweet and beautiful, and there are so many little nuances in it, that it leaves a giant question mark. And I think people are going to have a lot to say about it, and there will be a lot of opinions, because it was really left with an openness to the fandom’s interpretation of what it actually means and what it means for the future of these characters, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the barrage of discussions that will happen once it airs.

Other than the cast and crew, who I know you’re going to miss, what will you miss the most about working on the show?

The thing about Shadowhunters, is that it from day one, it’s been family. You know, the cast create a family, and then as we’ve had the same crew for several years, they were a part of that family. And now the fandom is a part of that family now as well, because we’ve all grown so close.

And going to work every day with people that you genuinely care about and you genuinely respect personally and professionally and have love for, is really amazing. It allows for such creativity, and it allows for such a truly magical [laughs], for lack of a better word, work experience. I’m really going to miss that, you know, being a part of such a beautiful, wonderful, positive environment.

Not to say that any other sets I’ve been on haven’t been that way, but you can definitely tell that Shadowhunters was lighting in a bottle, and it was rare.

Katherine McNamaraThat family is something I will miss, but I don’t worry about it, because I know those people. I will work with them again, and I will see them again, and they’re not leaving my life just because there are no new episodes. And that’s something I keep trying to tell the Shadowfam out there as well, because so many folks are so sad that the show is coming to an end. And I say, “Look, the fandom, this community, this wonderful little ever-growing bubble of love and positivity and acceptance doesn’t have to go anywhere. These bonds that we’ve created aren’t going to go away just because there are no more new episodes. That’s something that will continue to grow and continue to be with us and be a part of our lives forever.”

Thank you very much; I appreciate your time. I received a lot of questions from fans and a lot of people telling me to say they love you and don’t want the show to end. It is really a fantastic show; I love it too.

Please give my love and thanks back to each and every one of them. Thank you so much.
*SciFi Vision is currently looking into this.

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