In our conversation with Slasher creator Aaron Martin, we learned about Sarah, her tragic past, and her return to her hometown as an adult that kicks off a new wave of murders. Sarah is played by none other than Katie McGrath of Merlin fame, and we were lucky enough to sit down with her on set in Parry Sound last September. In our chat, she gave us some great intel on Sarah and her relationships to the people of Waterbury.
Read our full interview below, and catch Katie McGrath in the series premiere of Slasher, premiering tonight on Chiller in the US, and next month on Super Channel in Canada.
What were your initial impressions when you read the script?
My agent called me up and said that she’d been approached by Shaftesbury with this project, and she was a huge fan of Being Erica. She was like, “Listen I want you to read it because I loved Being Erica and I really respect this creator.” It was a long weekend and we [were going to talk on] Tuesday. Tuesday morning I get an email saying, “You’re ready, you’ve read the script?” I totally forgot, long weekend. Oops. I said, “Call me in an hour.”
I sat down with my cup of tea and went through it. She rang up and asked, “So what did you think?” [I replied,] “Guys, don’t hate me, but I actually think it’s really, really good.” I’ve never had everyone on my team agree that they really liked it. It’s rare that you get something that is well written, especially when you’re a woman and especially with female characters. At first I thought it was written by a woman. Is that really bad? It’s very rare that you get somebody who doesn’t make a caricature, especially in horror. You get quite a lot of horror scripts and it’s very typecast. Sarah wasn’t that, which was what I liked. I loved the scripts.
Your character, Sarah, has a very dark past. She was born in a small town where a lot of horrible things happened. What is it that brings her back to Waterbury?
What brings her back — and what attracted me to it — was [that] she wants to face up to everything. It’s about her no longer being a victim and wanting to take control of her life. She’s tried to ignore it, she’s tried to move on, she’s tried to do a lot of things and none of it’s worked, so the last option available to her is to face up to her past and then she can hopefully move on. That’s what she’s doing coming back to Waterbury. She’s got this amazing and supportive husband in Dylan who wants to come back with her, but everything isn’t as it seems.
Dylan’s also a journalist who finds an opportunity to break a huge story right after their move.
And here I was thinking it was because of my fantastic cooking and amazing wit, but apparently not.
Sarah’s return appears to be the catalyst for new killings in Waterbury. Are the townspeople blaming her for them?
It’s not only her who’s being blamed, she’s blaming herself as well. She turns up and then straight away it all starts happening again. How does that not play into the guilt that you already have, that you’re the survivor. In all these situations the only common point is you. It’s not just the town, which does happen, but it’s her as well and she’s dealing with that.
Does Sarah have many existing relationships in the town although she’s been away for so long?
She’s trying to reestablish herself in this town, very much so, but she does a pre-existing relationship with Cam, who is played by Steve [Byers]. They’ve been quite close since their early teenage years and he’s gone through a lot of her dark times with her because it was around that time that she became aware of her past. She has that very close friend who’s looking out for her in Cam, and she would know his wife, June. It’s a new beginning. She’s coming into this situation where everybody knows who she is. It’s a small town and she’s this infamous person from this infamous time, but she’s trying to acquaint herself with it and show herself as a person not as the victim.
Sarah also makes a new friend in Waterbury that adds a lighter element to the show.
Yes, Robin (Chris Jacot). It’s just brilliant, and such a change because many of my scenes are so weighted. Then you get to have a day with [Chris] and it’s easy.
How does Dylan feel about the friendship that Sarah develops with Robin?
He’s all cool. He’s committed to making himself a Pulitzer Prize Winner.
What’s happening in Waterbury isn’t great for Sarah, but it’s fantastic for Dylan because it could further his career.
I think he’s probably quite conflicted about that. It’s a big part of him. He’s conflicted between wanting this story to keep going and wanting the murders to happen, but as time goes on he sees that his wife that he loves is at the centre of it all.
I’m getting a real sense that Sarah is not a damsel in distress. Can you tell us a bit about what she’s like under these circumstances?
What’s really great is that at the start she has what you would assume would be the standard response for a normal horror genre movie where the girl is freaked out and doesn’t know what’s going on. Then a point happens where she realizes that she’s the catalyst and not the target. So she’s like, “Well if that’s the case then I’m the only one who’s safe, so I’m the only one who really is safe to figure this out.”
She becomes very involved in the storyline of Ariel, a young girl who had been kidnapped. She really feels for this character and becomes involved in attempting to save her. In that case she becomes strong, and is the least victim-y person ever at that point.
Ariel’s mother, Heather, is played by Erin Karpluk who starred in Being Erica, and it sounds like you have some really meaty scenes together.
Their stuff is great, and her character was one of my favourite ones in it. I thought there was a lot there. It’s so hard to get crazy right without it being comical, and she’s not comical at all. It’s just heartbreaking. It gives you so much to play in the scenes because you feel for this person. It really resonates with Sarah, and once she finds out more about Heather, she sympathizes with her and everything that she’s gone through.