LAST RESORT: Autumn Reeser Interview (2012)

"Last Resort"
“Last Resort”

The new ABC drama series LAST RESORT looks at the intriguing idea of a nuclear submarine crew being marked for death by their own government, and their one ally on the outside is a Washington, D.C. lobbyist who is trying to figure out what was really going on: Why would a U.S. submarine get suspicious orders to attack a foreign nation from a back-channel? And why then attempt to sink the sub for questioning orders? In a recent press conference call, Autumn Reeser shared what drew her to this remarkable series and her sexually-charged role of Kylie Sinclair.

What drew you to the role of Kylie?
AUTUMN: I read the script and I fell in love with it. It was nonstop, bold, ballsy, and exciting. I couldn’t put it down. I loved the description of Kylie and I immediately wanted to play Kylie, who described as having a personality of a prizefighter. She is ambitious and self-serving; and she’s not a good guy or a bad guy. I like that because I think that’s true of most human beings. It’s one of my favorite things about the characters in Shawn’s work. They tend to be gray. They’re a little good; they’re a little bad. And they walk the line in between those two things — and I really like playing in that world. Kylie is a lot of fun to play.

We’re introduced to Kylie in a very dialogue-heavy scene. For that scene, how much difficult is it to deliver that sort of expository speech when you’re asked to perform in lingerie?
AUTUMN: It’s much more fun, to be honest, because there’s two things going on within that scene. It’s a seduction scene. It’s getting the information across to the other character while seducing him or to seduce him in the case of that scene. I think it’s reminiscent of the scene from “Network” where Faye Dunaway is getting dressed, and part of her fashion comes from talking about television numbers. Part of Kylie’s passion comes from selling her family’s weapons, like it’s all tied very tightly together. And that’s so fun to play because there’s more to do there.

Do you have any input into your character as they started developing her?
AUTUMN: Yes, the lines of communication are really open between the writers and the actors on the show. We all had the opportunity to sit down in the writing room with everyone for a couple of hours before we started shooting, just for them to get to know us and know what makes us kick and for us to get an idea of where they were going to take the characters this season. I’ve never had that happen before on a show. So I love that idea of the writers being open to that and us having the opportunity to get to know them and it not being the sort of faceless-exchange. It was really cool. To tell the truth, I haven’t had to do that at all because I think the writers understand Kylie. We all have a mutual understanding of Kylie and who she is. From what I’ve heard, the writers really enjoy writing her. She’s a fun character for people to write. So, in Episode 4, I just got some really fun lines in particular. You can tell the writers really just enjoy playing with Kylie’s character. So that’s obviously fun for me. You can tell when the writers are paying attention to your character.

As you read through the scripts, do you find it hard to keep up with the storyline?
AUTUMN: There’s so much happening and there are so many characters on this, so it is really packed, each episode. I really find that to be such a nice change. We don’t talk down to our audience. I feel like we challenge our audience every week. You might need to watch it a couple of times. I definitely will watch it a couple of times, and that’s a good thing. Each time I find new things and new layers every time because the show is so much about conspiracy and what’s happening behind the scenes and who’s pulling the strings. So it shouldn’t be simple. It should be complex, and it should be difficult to sort of figure out what’s going on politically because that’s the state that the characters are in. But I think we balance that really nicely with simpler human moments of romance and of brotherhood in just relationships between people. I think that’s one of the things that’s really good on the show. It really is character-driven.

Which one of the other characters do you like best?
AUTUMN: I find Daisy’s character really interesting. The idea of the woman officer on a sub, which is a newer position for women. It’s only been recently that women have started to be trained to serve on submarines. So I think that’s a really unique position. Both Daisy’s character and my character are women in a typically male-dominated world. They both approach that challenge differently. So I’m always interested in Daisy’s storyline. She and I talk a lot about the fact that we have a lot of similarities in our characters that way. But they approach their worlds really differently, like Daisy’s character has to conceal what are typically considered to be feminine characteristics to survive in the world that she’s in; whereas Kylie exploits hers to succeed in the world that she’s in. So that’s really interesting to me, in general, the idea of how women use and manipulate and conceal what they have in order to succeed in the world that they’re in. It’s an interesting story path for me.

You mentioned that your character is going to exploit her sexuality a lot to get what she wants. Is it hard for you to shoot these scenes?
AUTUMN: It’s okay for me. I was a dancer and I view my body as a storytelling tool as well. I think we tend to be, overall, a little too — gosh, how do I even put this? — A little too prudish about bodies in general. I guess what I’m saying is, no, I don’t have a lot of hang-ups about it. I’m an artist and it’s part of what I have in my toolkit to tell a story. And I like Kylie’s story, and I want to serve it as best I can. That’s the only thing going through my head at that point.

LAST RESORT seems to have a majority of male characters, with Kylie being one of the few women characters of the show. How has that been for you?
AUTUMN: I think we have a pretty even split between men and women on the show. We have five female leads on the show, which is a lot, I think, and they’re all strong women, which I really appreciate. They’re all strong in their own ways. Everyone is not strong in the same way. Then we have some really fabulous female guest stars as well. What is interesting is my character was actually originally written as a man and was changed to be a woman, which I like.

What would you like to see change over time with Kylie’s character as she transitions from ambitious rich girl to doing what’s the best thing for the future for, not only our country, but the world?
AUTUMN: That’s a good question. I would like to see Kylie go all the way in that direction of the pursuit of truth because it’s the right thing to do — maybe this is kind of a masochistic — but I’d also like to see her world fall apart in the process and see her continue to pursue it because of that. Then at that point, I would like to be able to see flashes of the old Kylie come in, that just when you expect her to do the right thing because that’s what she’s doing, she doesn’t. She makes a decision to serve herself. Because I think that’s interesting and unexpected. I hope that Kylie never becomes squeaky clean because I don’t think she would be Kylie then. That was actually one of the things that the writers spoke about with me that they’re not going to turn her entirely into a good guy, which I don’t think she should be. I think it’s vastly more interesting to have a character that walks this line in between the two, good and bad.

Do you agree with Captain Chaplin’s decision to check the orders before launching the missiles? Would you have done the same?
AUTUMN: Oh, that’s such a tough question. I’ve asked myself that same question and I honestly don’t know. I honestly don’t. I can see it going either way. I really could. I really think there’s a lot in this show also about the declaration of patriotism and what does that mean, because it means different things to different people. And that’s part of the conflict on the boat. Some people think that it means following orders from the top no matter what, and that means you’re a patriot. Other people think it means serving your country and protecting your country, and that might mean you need to protect your country from the people at top. That’s a really interesting question and conflict that Chaplin and Prosser are embroiled in. I don’t know what side I would have fallen on. But I would not have been on the submarine in the first place because I’m afraid of submarines. So hopefully I would never have had to make that decision.

How long will it be before we see Kylie on the island?
AUTUMN: I wonder the same thing actually. I could see, based on where the storyline is right now. There’s definitely a possibility that she could go out there. I can see a couple of different ways of that working. I think, right now, Kylie best serves the story by uncovering the conspiracy in Washington. I mean that’s the central mystery to our show, and Kylie is really the only person in the position to be able to do so. So I think she should stay in Washington, DC right now and get to the bottom of something rotten in Denmark. And after that, perhaps, maybe she’ll go to the island to check everyone out.

Is there any actor that you would like to work with on a series that you haven’t gotten to work with yet?
AUTUMN: Everybody! We have such a talented cast. And that’s the majority of the appeal for me of getting Kylie out to the island, is the opportunity to work with all these wonderful actors we have on our show. So, yes, hopefully it’ll happen down the line.

What can you tease about the new episode that’s airing this week?
AUTUMN: So Marcus Chaplin has declared a “no man’s land” around the island and there are a bunch of ships lined up just outside that island. So they’re facing threat from these external ships. Then Sam ends up having to deal with the threat on the island as well. So there’s a lot of danger in this episode. It’s the first time since our crew in the pilot got over the crisis of being fired upon, and they’ve had a slight breath by finding this oasis, this island, and now, all of a sudden, it’s crisis time again. That’s going to be what happens on the show a lot. They’re facing dangers from every different direction, and it’s about how they handle the crises.

To see what kinds of tricky political situations Kyle finds herself as she begins to unravel the government conspiracy, be sure to tune in for an all new episode of LAST RESORT on Thursday, October 4th at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.

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