REIGN: Megan Follows, Craig Parker and Laurie McCarthy Interviews (2015)

Craig Parker and Megan Follows (photo credit: Tiffany Vogt)
Craig Parker and Megan Follows (photo credit: Tiffany Vogt)

REIGN’s third season will offer three queens: Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane), Catherine de Medici (Megan Follows) and Queen Elizabeth (Rachel Skarsten).  It will be like a high stakes game of chess with one too many queens on the board.  So just who will be the queen knocked off?  That is exactly what Catherine and Elizabeth are scheming to do — take Mary right out of the game.  But even with such a vicious game afoot, there will still be plenty of romance to distract the players and perhaps tip the scales to one side or the other as a result.  But will Catherine be distracted by love?  Will Elizabeth allow a mere king interfere with her plans for domination?  Will Mary continue to be able to keep both her kingdoms safe and intact?

At the recent CBS Summer Soiree event, stars Megan Follows and Craig Parker and executive producer Laurie McCarthy talked about what Season 3 holds in store for Queen Catherine, Narcisse (Craig Parker) and the woman between them: Lola (Anna Popplewell).


Megan Follows & Craig Parker

Laurie McCarthy mentioned that Catherine and Narcisse are not quite over yet.  
MEGAN:  I hope not!
CRAIG:  She said we’ll be together again.

Isn’t that lovely and dangerous?
CRAIG: I live for it.

It’s the only time that we seem to see Narcisse squirming inside his skin, any time he is around her, as he is not sure whether he is going to live to see the next moment.
MEGAN:  But you see, he likes that.  It keeps him honest.
CRAIG: Initially, I think they were destined to hook-up right away — and I slightly regret that — they never actually got to be happy together.

I think there was a moment towards the end of these season, maybe just a moment, where they were happy.
MEGAN:  A moment.
CRAIG:  Maybe, yes, one beat where it was like, “This is nice.”

But then it went to pieces because nobody gets to be happy for long.
CRAIG:  Yeah. That’s true.


Megan Follows

So Catherine goes to her mortal enemy Elizabeth at the end of Season 2.  That was a pretty big play.
MEGAN:  I know.  It was fun.  I think Mary finally crossed a line and was unforgivable.

That is like the darkest place I can imagine Catherine going — to go to somebody like Queen Elizabeth and saying, “I need you to help me with my situation in France.”
MEGAN:  Yes, well, she’s desperate.  She’s been exiled. But she’s a game-changer.

But she chose Elizabeth opposed to Louis (Sean Teale), who got away, and Louis at least is a Frenchman.  Maybe that might have been a safer alliance.  To go to Elizabeth, how did she know that Elizabeth would have just taken her head off?
MEGAN:  That’s true.  But Elizabeth is very smart and she is thinking about alliances on a world stage.  I think Catherine would have been a brilliant chess player.

We now know that there are three queens in play: Catherine, Mary and Elizabeth.  It is the greatest game of chess you could ever imagine for Season 3.  Are you looking forward to all that?
MEGAN:  Absolutely.  It’s good. Rachel is a wonderful addition to our show.  I don’t truly know where we’re going to be going and what we are going to be doing.  But it will be a lot of fun.  I’m looking forward to finding out.

Would you like to see Catherine more in exile, or would you like to see her back in France right away?
MEGAN:  I’d like to see Catherine doing interesting things.  If that’s in exile, I’m fine with that.  If that’s back in the castle, I’m good with that.  I like to be busy.

It sounds like it.  They are going to be intro ducting the whole English Court.  
MEGAN:  Yeah, that’s a huge thing.

As announced, REIGN is now going to be on Friday nights, which means the show can be a little bit more risqué, which could be a lot of fun.  Is there any kind of risqué stuff you’d like to see?
MEGAN:  That’s good.  What I love is that you saw Catherine briefly having a relationship and being intimate with somebody and that is a big part of our world, so I think it’s good to see that.

At least she didn’t kill this lover [Narcisse] and we know she has a habit of killing her lovers.
MEGAN:  I know! She has done that in the past.  But she did not do that this time because that’s how good he is.

We kind of wonder if perhaps she has fallen in love.
MEGAN:  I think she did.

That’s a vulnerable place for her to be.  
MEGAN:  It is and I think it’s a terribly lonely what she is up against. She has been so by herself.  I do think she fell in love with him.

If it came down to it, do you think it would be the matters of the heart or the matters of head that is going to rule her?
MEGAN:  I don’t know.  That’s a great question.  I think those two things will be in battle.  That would be really fun.

It seems like she has gotten to a point in life where she appreciates love and what it feels like and what it means to have that and that’s why she hasn’t killed Narcisse yet.
MEGAN:  I think so.  Let’s be honest: she could have.  Many, many times.

I’m surprised she didn’t take out Lola right away too as her rival.
MEGAN:  I know!  I’m sure if I were Lola, I’d be little nervous around Catherine right now.  But there is the fact that she is the mother of Catherine’s grandson.  (Laughs)  It would be hard to talk about at the Christmas party if you killed your grandson’s mom.  That wouldn’t go over too well.


Craig Parker

What did you love about Season 2 since the new characters were introduced in such a big way?
CRAIG:  I came into the show having never seen it before and I didn’t know what to expect. So I was catching up furiously on the plane, and the very first day the whole cast was there and they were delightful and funny and there were no divas.  It was just immediate joy and welcoming atmosphere.  They keep us in the dark about what is going to happen, so every episode it was like: “I’m doing this week.”  I never knew what to expect.

Narcisse became such a vital character, developing and developing as each episode went along.
CRAIG:  I loved it.  It is so wonderful. I cannot emphasize enough how lovely the cast and crew are.  It is playtime for us.  The show is a drama, obviously, but it is such a joy to play up there — even in winter when it is freezing cold.  I had a very happy nine months in Toronto where we shoot it.

Maybe you can comment on Narcisse and Lola as that turned out to be a fan-favorite relationship.
CRAIG:  The lovely Anna Popplewell, who is just a dream to work with. I was torn because I love Megan Follows so much, and right at the beginning we were sort of paired for each other, so I was all set for that. Then this Lola-world sort of developed and it’s impossible to not fall in love with Anna Popplewell.  She’s just remarkable.  So it was a fun dynamic and it now seems that we are now clear to see what happens next season.

Isn’t that fun and tantalizling?
CRAIG:  I can’t imagine that Catherine will remain out of the game for too long.

She’s not going to let Narcisse go that quickly.
CRAIG:  She’s certain to do something.  (Laughs) No, I don’t know anything.

Laurie McCarthy said that Narcisse would get further involved with Catherine next season.
CRAIG:  I hope so.

Do you miss getting to work with some of the other male characters as Narcisse is always surrounded by women?
CRAIG:   I did a fair amount with Toby [Regbo], which is so much fun, and Sean [Teale] — we started together.  We just got to spit at each other in our scenes together.  (Laughs) And we had a lot of party scenes and we’re all there for those.

What do you think Narcisse is going to do the next time he gets his hands on Louis, since he has betrayed France?
CRAIG:  A big fight.  We never got to fight.  (Laughs) ‘Cause we’re both useless at fighting.  It would have been a challenge.

Fist fight or sword fight?
CRAIG:  It would have to be a sword fight.  I’ve never punched anyone in my life.  I wouldn’t know how to do it.  Sword fights are easier.  That’s what it’s been all along — a sword fight.

Narcisse was kind of a quasi-villain all season, yet he ended up being the funniest character in nearly every scene he was in.  We were never sure if we were supposed to be laughing or very worried about him.
CRAIG:  For good reason, Mary killed his son.  Plus, he was only blackmailing Francis to make him a better king.  He just believes that this is how the world should be run and he needs to teach the children how to do it.  Catherine is the villain.  She kills people all the time!

Laurie McCarthy and Craig Parker (photo credit: Tiffany Vogt)
Laurie McCarthy and Craig Parker (photo credit: Tiffany Vogt)

Laurie McCarthy

Catherine going to her mortal enemy Queen Elizabeth just to take down Mary seems a bit extreme.  Like why would Catherine think that is her last resort?
LAURIE:  You know, Catherine can always poison people.  She needs to take down Mary in a way where she won’t be fingered for it.  There’s lots of different ways to take down your foe.  So there is something very specific about Catherine needing Elizabeth’s help and she went there for that.

It was also always interesting to see Narcisse and Catherine together as you sense that he was in such fear.  Like if he did not acquiesce and be pleasant with her that he would have died very quickly.  Craig Parker did such a phenomenal job in that role.  He also played with such lightness to such a dark role.
LAURIE:   I love him.  He’s so good and so funny too.  I think with Catherine is that if she could just relax into the relationship, like it could have really gone far.  Like if she had just gone with it.  But it’s a lifetime problem of her not trusting people and clearly not trusting men.  And whenever we write for Catherine, I see her point of view completely.  I know that she is doing something terrible, yet we always understand her point, which is: men need to be trained — and she keeps them on a very short leash and that’s her version of training your mate.  But Narcisse is the wrong guy to do that with.  I like them in each other’s orbit and I don’t think the fact that their relationship has ended is doing to end their dynamic, necessarily.

You also threw in the element of Lola and Narcisse’s heart kind of wanting to go that direction and that being such forbidden-fruit.
LAURIE:   It’s forbidden-fruit. I think it’s partly forbidden because he wants to be with her and he’s drawn to her, but also because he wants to be the kind of guy that can be with her. That’s different than being that guy.

He’s not that guy, but he desperately want to be that kind of guy.
LAURIE:  He wants to be.  But he’s not.

I get the sense that she’s just amused by him.  She knows that’s playing with fire.  
LAURIE:  I think she’s really drawn to him.  And people like to play with fire.  He’s been the most consistent suitor that she’s had and she’s in a unique position at Court.  I think she’s in a position where she can try somethings, more than some of the other women at Court.  I like that “triangle” and I like that dynamic.  I like also that it’s not a traditional “triangle.”

Since it was a darker season, there was an element of fun to the “love triangle” between Catherine, Narcisse and Lola and it was nice to enjoy that with them.  I enjoyed the fun moments amidst all the darkness.  
LAURIE:    Me too.  I want next season for the show to get back to more of those.  I miss the fun.  I miss the gaming and scheming at Court without such heavy consequences.  I think we’ll get back to that next season.  It’s not going to be as dark.

It was also always nice to see that Kenna (Caitlin Stasey) and Bash (Torrance Coombs) had a quiet moment or when Narcisse popped in because you knew he would bring a bit of lightness to it — and he shouldn’t have, but he did.
LAURIE:  This next season will be much more fun.  We’ve got three strong women in power and the Court of Elizabeth is going be a great opportunity to do some unexpected stories for her.  We’ve got Mary and Francis are back together again.  We’ve got Mary and two of her Ladies back at Court with her right from the get-go now that Greer’s back at Court.

Is there any hope for Greer (Celina Sinden) and Leith (Jonathan Keltz) at this point ’cause it seems like that relationship is just done?
LAURIE:  I don’t know.  I think there is a dynamic that is bubbling up with Claude (Rose Williams) and Leith.  And I think sometimes if you try something and try something and it doesn’t work in many different configurations, then it might be time to move on.  But don’t worry about Jonathan [Keltz]. He’s going to do great.  He’s not going anywhere.  We love him.  I want to tell stories for him.  I just think it might be with a new configuration.

Leith and Claude were always fun together because they seemed to have mad-cap adventures.
LAURIE:  They do.  They started out with a real brother-sister kind of vibe, but I think we’ll see that shift.

Is there some question as to Claude’s sanity because she keeps seeing things?
LAURIE:  She’s actually seeing something because we saw it too.

Hey, you never know ’cause the show has supernatural elements to it.
LAURIE:  That’s true. (Laughs) But she’s perfectly sane — and completely spoiled and a lot of fun.   And I feel like she’s got a good heart.  All she really wants is to not be in a bad marriage.  She doesn’t want to be sold off in trade.

Season 2 was a darker and more tormented season for all the characters.  It made sense that Mary’s assault proved to be an impetuous that explained how she ended up with Louis (Sean Teale) and it explained the rift with her and Francis and it also propelled all these major political moves that were suddenly out of control for all the characters. But it was hard to watch all that.
LAURIE:  It was definitely a big year for us to portray the brutality of the times and to test Mary’s strength, and to make the politics incredibly personal.

It also showed the weight of what Francis and Mary had taken on as king and queen.  There was such a naiveté and an innocence in the first season that the fans kind of got lulled into that with them.  So the darker stories really changed the flavor of the show in Season 2.
LAURIE:  It was different and it left them in a different place.  It left them not much older, but very much wiser.  One of my favorite things is a line that Catherine says, which is: “How dare you judge me?” Because Mary sent so many people to their death and Francis did kill his own father. And I thought we ended Season 1 with some extraordinary brutality, especially when you look at what King Henry was doing.  He was strangling women in bed, and yet nobody seemed to have a problem with that at all.

Catherine also killed off one of her lovers. Season 1 was brutal on many levels and it always had a sexual tone to it.  But there was almost a frivolousness to it.  Yet Season 2 seemed to offer the consequences of sexual brutality.
LAURIE: Everything really landed last season — and I think this next chapter will feel really different.  I don’t want the show to always feel the same.  I want it to always be shifting because I feel like their lives would always be shifting.  Who you are as a young girl or in your first year of ruling or your first year of marriage is very different than who you will be the next year.  But you have to love them for trying.  (Laughs)  You wouldn’t want them to go into it thinking: “Let’s be bad people.”

I enjoyed how the show introduced Queen Elizabeth (Rachel Skarsten) at the end of Season 2.  I didn’t think the show would dare to go that far, and yet it did.  But we’re hooked.
LAURIE:  Anytime we talk about something in the writer’s room and think “wouldn’t that be a great story, but do we dare?”  We always do.  On our show, there is so much to be gained from moving ahead in the story that there is no reason not to.  It moves everything onto a bigger world stage and that is really interesting.

This was a season of consequences.  Every action they seem to have taken, even in the first season, had a huge ripple effect and they all paid such dire consequences as a result.  So then in the midseason, when it looked like Francis was dying with an ear infection and Bash was stabbed with the sword, I remember thinking, “oh my god, is this all really happening already?!”  It was a terrifying moment when you realized that the show was not messing around and their lives were suddenly on the brink.
LAURIE:  There was a huge ripple-effect for everything. If you’re ever wondering if there is something that we are going to come back to, then the answer is yes.  The story is deliberately woven that way.

In the Season 2 finale, you left Kenna in such an interesting circumstance. It makes you wonder just what is she doing.
LAURIE:   She’s landing on her feet. The fans are going to have to wait and see what happens to Kenna.

That was a crazy situation because for a moment you really wanted to believe that she and Bash had reconciled.
LAURIE: When she got pregnant with another man’s child and had she have told him, they might have reconciled.  But it was not in the cards.

Bash’s tolerance level is so low right now.  At this point, he is not willing to tolerate any level of deception.
LAURIE:  He’s not.  He’s had it.

It does not seem like Delphine (Alexandra Ordolis) is exactly right for Bash either since she has manipulated him in odd ways, as well.
LAURIE:  Once someone uses a blood-bonding spell to draw you closer, it’s hard to come back from that.  It doesn’t mean you won’t come back from it, but it won’t be easy.

The way Delphine escaped being burnt at the stake, you really start to see that she is a witch  .
LAURIE:  That is what you are meant to believe.  I had read online that people thought we had her coincidentally jump off that post.  But it was supposed to seem supernatural. There is supposed to be a mystery of:  How did she do that?  It will be explained.

Then Louis (Sean Teale), of course, rode off into the sunset when we last saw him.  Is he going to be back next season?
LAURIE:  I don’t know. (Laughs)  People have to wait and see.

Now that REIGN is going to be on Friday nights, does that mean you’ll be adding some more eye-candy to the show to spice things up?
LAURIE:  We are going to be on Friday nights, and within the world of the show, we’re also going to be populating the Court of England.  So definitely lots more men.

Look for all new episodes of REIGN when it returns its third season coming Fall 2015 on Friday nights at 8:00 p.m. on the CW.

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