Rachel Nichols Interview

Completing our Continuum interviews leading up to the season three premiere, we speak to Rachel Nichols about her thoughts on Kiera, the suit and some behind the scenes dirt on her co-stars.

In season three of Continuum, Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols; Criminal Minds, Alias) faces the immediate consequences of Alec Sadler’s (Erik Knudsen; Jericho, Scream 4) betrayal at the end of season two – when he disappeared in a flash of light with the time travel device Kiera hoped might send her home. Alec’s impulsive decision sets in motion a chain of events, which pushes Kiera into a shocking alliance with a former enemy.

Kiera must also contend with a newly strategic Liber8 organization, and a growing darkness in her police partner, Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster; Castle, Melrose Place). Ultimately, all roads lead through young Alec Sadler, and with his genius never having been more tested, his choices force Kiera – and everyone – to examine all they hold dear.

First of all, congratulations on your recent engagement and your Saturn Award nomination.

Thank you! 2014 is treating me very, very, very well.

Based on what we have been told by Erik and Victor, and having seen the 10 minute teaser online, season three looks to be just as action packed, if not more so than season two. What are you most excited about this year?

[pullquote_right]I don’t think anyone is expecting what’s going to happen[/pullquote_right]You know, where we left off in season two obviously Kiera thought she was going home. Alec was manipulating her to get the time device so he could go back and save Emily, Kiera was in a glass box at the Freelancer facility and everybody is thinking ‘how is she going to get out of this?’ I don’t think anyone is expecting what’s going to happen, but clearly I don’t spend the entire season in a box. Somehow I get out! (laughs) But I think one of the things I am most excited about this season is Kiera’s interaction with Garza (Luvia Petersen). They really do an interesting job of creating a relationship that is still full of ass kicking and betrayal and can we trust each other, but it is there and I have so much fun shooting those scenes with Luvia, that I really am interested to see where that goes.


It looks as though you have an uneasy alliance with Garza fighting against a common enemy…

Yeah, it’s interesting this year dealing with Kiera and the knowledge she has absorbed while being in the present day, from season one where it was all about ‘I’ve got to get home, I’ve got to get home’. Season two was about responsibility. She still wanted to get home, but she had to acknowledge that her actions in the present day, Alec’s actions in the present day and Liber8’s actions in the present day were going to affect the future – that sort of butterfly/ripple effect – action and reaction, and season three for me from what I have seen for Kiera is for the greater good. It is less about wanting to get home and more understanding the idea that if she is fighting to save the future that she came from, just to get back to her son and her husband, knowing the future she came from was actually not a great place, that’s a pretty selfish move. So she has a moral dilemma here.

I think your performance makes Kiera one of the strongest female characters on television. She can be tough without it seeming forced and at the same time has a vulnerability that makes her very sympathetic. Are you picking up any of Kiera’s personality or is she becoming more like Rachel?

[pullquote_left]Humans in 2077 are far less human than they are in the present day[/pullquote_left]Thank you. I think it’s about 50/50. I mean I wish I had a CMR, a multi-tool and a super suit to go around scanning people and breaking into cars and doing all the cool fun stuff she gets to do, but I think we have rubbed off on each other. I think Kiera has given me the desire and the motivation to sort of look at what’s going on in our world – the social commentary that is provided by the show I’ve become much more interested in as it can be paralleled in many ways to a lot of our episodes. I think Rachel has rubbed off on Kiera in the fact that I have always said that humans in 2077 are far less human than they are in the present day. If you remember season one at the beginning, Kiera arrives sort of very robotic, she is almost like The Terminator. She looks through people because she is using her CMR; she doesn’t know what it’s like to trust her gut. As the seasons progressed, she learned how to trust her gut because I don’t have a CMR and Rachel trusts her gut, so there is an interwoven feel that’s comfortable and means we are sort of sharing in the best parts of each other.

Continuum continues to grow such a huge and dedicated fan base. Have you had any particular feedback or fan encounters that made you see the show from another perspective?

Very much so. I have been to conventions in Vancouver and Calgary and just got back from ComiCon in Toronto and it is wonderful seeing how much the fans really love these characters. One woman the other day asked me if I thought that my son Sam could be one of the Freelancers from the future and I was floored! I had never even considered that.


In season two we saw Kiera somewhat coming to terms with the possibility of never seeing her family again. One scene in particular happened in the episode ‘Second Opinion’ when her on-board computer therapist presented her with a hologram of her son. That was an extremely emotional scene where we saw Kiera face some fears and essentially break down. How tough a scene emotionally was that for you?

[pullquote_right]That scene was the hardest thing I have ever shot and I can still not watch it[/pullquote_right]You know; the beautiful and wonderful thing I have to say about the writing on the show – Jeff King and Shelley Eriksen wrote that speech where I say goodbye to Sam and the speech came very, very naturally. I don’t have children of my own – I have always loved children, but the speech was written by people who have children. Shelley said she imagined saying goodbye to her daughter and for me – we do a table read, we do rehearsals, and I could never actually read those scenes then. I saved it all for the day because just reading those words, it brought up the emotion – I didn’t even have to try, it just broke my heart. It’s a testament to the writing on the show. That scene was the hardest thing I have ever shot and I can still not watch it. I saw it once and it was very difficult for me to watch – not as difficult as it was to shoot, but it’s heartbreaking. I imagine having to say goodbye to my kid brother. I mean, he is 30 but I still think of him as 15. There was a lot of work that went into it and I am really proud of the product that came out of it.


In the first season all the episode names had the word ‘Time’ in them. Season two had titles that all contained the word ‘Second’. The season three premiere episode is titled ‘Minute To Minute’. Can we then assume that Season 4 will be ‘Hour’?

(laughs) You know what, I haven’t seen any episodes for season four yet, but I should run it by them because that’s a good idea, if they have not already thought of it!

What really happened on Kellogg’s boat?

(laughs) I love that question because it is so up for debate. I know some fans were unhappy that Kiera would deviate from the path of her husband and hook up with someone from Liber8. There is the ‘did she’ or ‘didn’t she’ – I’ll never tell what I think. Maybe you can get it out of Simon Barry (Continuum creator) what he thinks, but he and I have never talked about it. That’s something to be left up to the imagination because I think a lot of people have their own interpretations of what happened and I wouldn’t want to crush any of their dreams by telling them either way.

I prefer to think that it was just two people who had some adult beverages and retired to separate rooms for the evening.

 (laughs) You know what; Rachel tends to agree with you – Kiera might not.

Victor mentioned he was petitioning for some love scenes with Kiera but it doesn’t look as though that is going to happen. Continuum is not going down the typical ‘two leads have friction and then fall madly in love’ path that many shows go down. You two have never hated each other…

[pullquote_left]If there is one thing I can guarantee it’s that.[/pullquote_left]…And we’ll never have the falling in love. If there is one thing I can guarantee it’s that. I would love if it were going there but it’s not going to happen and it’s not predictable. Although I was such a huge fan of ‘Alias’ and remember rooting for Agent Vaughn and Agent Bristow to kiss – to finally kiss, and when they do you are so excited!…..but that’s not Carlos and Kiera. (laughs) They are more than co-workers because she has told him the whole story, and she’s from the future and he has had to deal with that. Their relationship goes through a lot of ebbs and flows; it oscillates constantly but I like the fact that no matter what happens, no matter how at odds they are at times, they end up being woven back together in this partnership that will always remain platonic.


You had a small role in the brutal fight film ‘Raze’. You are no stranger to action, with roles in GI Joe, Alex Cross and with Kiera, but this movie took the fighting to a whole other level. How did you get involved and did you have to go through any special physical training for that?

No; you know my friend Josh Waller directed that and he is very close to Zoë Bell and he directed my portion before I left to shoot the first season of Continuum. He asked me if I would do it and originally it was going to be a webisode and people got wind of it and wanted to do funding, so he turned it into a movie and all my scenes were shot before they did any other scenes with anyone else. I flew to Vancouver and they shot the rest of the movie. As far as fight training, I started that when I was on ‘Alias’ and it’s like riding a bike in that you never forget how to do it and learning a fight scene is like learning a dance.  You put some pieces together, then three together, then five, then nine and it’s this dance. I have known Zoë since ‘Alias’ where we did a scene on an oil rig and she is the best in her business, so it was super brutal but super fun and working with friends is something that I really love, but I didn’t have to do any extra training. I stay in pretty good shape in the off season and when you get a role like that you just have to rehearse a lot.

You can’t watch that emotional scene from Continuum – have you watched your scene in ‘Raze’?

Yeah. It’s brutal and even though it’s me and it’s fake and it’s Zoë and friends of mine, I still have to cover my eyes for a lot of it. When she breaks my arm… oh that was bad, and when she beats my face in…no one wants to see that.

You touched on Kiera’s ‘Protector Suit’. Is it just the one suit you have to get into or do they have different suits for different types of scenes?

The ‘hero suit’ is the one that I use most. For fight scenes I have three or four black suits and three or four different copper suits that get beat up and run around, and I have one ‘hero suit’ that is for a lot of the shots and the promos or for anytime we have to focus on the suit. Between the two colours I think I have fifteen suits in total.

Do you plan on taking one when you leave?

[pullquote_right]I would sooner burn one than take it with me![/pullquote_right]Oh good Lord no! I would sooner burn one than take it with me! (laughs) I always tell people it looks fantastic when it’s on, but getting me in and out of it is not an attractive process. It’s all moving, trying to get my arms in the sleeves, is my sports bra right, how are my Spanx fitting today. There is a lot of wiggling that goes on and it’s not hot…there is nothing sexy about that.


If you could travel into the past, is there any advice you would give yourself from the future?

That’s interesting. I would go to my junior high/high school self. I was dorky and skinny and I know you probably hear that all the time, but I really was. I was very insecure and I was shy – all these things that I am not now, and I would really want to tell myself ‘don’t worry about it – it’s all going to work out – it’s all going to be ok’. I never had a date in junior high so I’d tell myself ‘don’t worry, someday some cute boy will love you’. Just telling myself it was going to be ok is probably all I would tell myself.

So you are another one of those women who was a model, yet claimed not to have ever had a date in junior high…

Yeah, I was really gangly and was a big dork. I couldn’t flirt with boys and anytime I liked a boy I would just stare at him for a really long time, which is super awkward. I was always the one who got passed a note in class to give to my friend Jenny – ‘Jenny, do you like me? Yes or no, don’t write maybe’ – I was always the messenger, never the one who got the message. Looking back on it now, it probably served me well.

When we spoke to Victor Webster, he let it slip that Erik Knudsen is pretty much the weak link in the cast with his onset demands and diva-like behaviour. Erik told us that Victor was just bitter and jealous of his pale skin and slender teen-like physique.
What are your thoughts on these two co-stars? Any behind the scenes dirt you want to share?

[pullquote_left]Victor does spend an inordinate amount of time on his hair[/pullquote_left](laughing) Victor does spend an inordinate amount of time on his hair; he is VERY particular about his hair. But then there is Erik and he loves makeup so much…I think he wears it home. Between Erik’s makeup and Victor’s hair, I take less time to get ready than both of them. I have it easy; I go in, I go out, they stay there – there’s a lot of primping going on, they flex in the mirror. A lot of flexing. Victor is a lot taller than Erik, so sometimes Erik will be curling with ten pound dumbbells while Victor is doing presses with Erik. (laughs) They get along really well. The big buddy and the little buddy. Erik is the brains and Victor is the brawn.

If it wasn’t for those two, do you think the show would have even more fans?

(laughing) We have the best cast! Yesterday I shot a scene with Victor and Erik and before that I did one with Garza, Sonya, Travis and a whole bunch of others, and it was so nice to have all of us laughing, joking and running around the set. We have all been friends since day one. Nothing has changed, no one has turned into a huge diva and we give each other the gears all the time. Victor is constantly trying to scare me and get it on video so he can put it on Twitter! I know it sounds corny but we all get along so well and have a lot of fun at work.


Well, thank you for this and we wish you the best for your career and continued success with the show.

Thank you so much, it was really nice talking with you.

Be sure to follow Rachel on Twitter! Rachel Nichols  @RachelNichols1

The third season of Continuum will premiere on March 16th in Canada on Showcase and April 4th in the United States on SyFy.