I had the pleasure of interviewing Alisen Down, who plays Kathy Eaton on Gracepoint, in the lead up to that show’s finale. Though Down was understandably tight-lipped about what will happen (and in fact, knows as much as you or I about the final reveal), she had thoughts to offer on the series, how it sets itself apart from Broadchurch, and how she got the role of Kathy, who was initially written as much older.
Jordan Ferguson: How did the role of Kathy Eaton come about for you?
Alisen Down: My agent sent me the material for the audition and my husband and I taped it in our dining room after our son was put to bed. The producers came back and said they loved my performance but I was too young and too pretty for the role. They asked if I would be willing to cut my hair (it was quite long) and put grey in it in an attempt to make me physically fit the role. I said sure and a day later was on a plane to Victoria.
JF: I know the character was initially written to be older, but was aged down to allow you to play the role. What did you bring to Kathy that changed the conception of the character?
AD: Well we tried to age me up a lot more but for camera decided it would be more believable to keep her in her early 40s. The producers just seemed to really like what I did and so worked hard to make me physically fit with their vision of Kathy.
JF: Your character is an investigative reporter in a town full of secrets. How does Kathy fit into Gracepoint, and what role do you think she plays in the town?
AD:I think Kathy is essentially the moral compass of the town. She’s the voice of Gracepoint in a sense because as editor of the local newspaper, how the town is perceived to the world is filtered through her.
JF: Were you familiar with Broadchurch when you were cast?
AD: I was vaguely familiar but didn’t actually watch the show until after I was cast. It’s amazing!
JF: Does the fact that the show is a remake of another series inform your performance?
AD: No, not at all. Gracepoint has its own voice and feel so I didn’t feel that.
JF: How important is the mystery to your conception of the series?
AD: Very important because the mystery encompasses every part; from the murder to the secrets the town seems to have buried.
JF: How much did you know about the resolution of the mystery, and when did you know it?
AD: They only gave us the pages each character was in at the end. So I was just as in the dark as you all!
JF: The cast of Gracepoint is full of very talented performers playing some very intense, dramatic material. How did that affect the atmosphere on the set?
AD: Yes, so much talent. You know what, everyone was so nice and friendly and lovely that it was actually a really relaxed and friendly set.
JF: The season of Gracepoint is longer than Broadchurch, but shorter than average for network television. How do you think the show benefitted from its particular structure?
AD: I think we were able to put some different story points in the show to make it more “ours” because of the two extra episodes and as a series “event” I think the amount episodes is just enough.
JF: Though it is being billed as a “ten episode event,” the source material is continuing for subsequent seasons. Do you know if that is a possibility for Gracepoint?
AD: I am not sure yet. I’d like to know too!
JF: What can we expect going into the finale?
AD: A continuation of quality tv and engrossing story telling! It will be well worth it.
JF: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me!