Sarah Shahi is set to return to the small screen as she reprises the role of Kate in hit TV drama Fairly Legal.
I caught up with her to talk about what we can expect for the second season as well as what movie work she also has on the horizon.
- Fairly Legal Season 2 is about to be launched on the Universal Channel here in the UK so what can we expect from the series this time around?
This year the goal was to make Kate incredibly uncomfortable, the thing about last year was she was a little too comfortable in her own skin and this year we are going to take some of that away; we are going to take her boat away.
We take the boat away, Kate becomes homeless for a while and then there is a big revelation with Justin; something happened during in their marriage that kind of influences Kate in her decision about what to do with that relationship.
Then there is a new guy in the office and if Kate is a tornado than he is a hurricane and the two of them love to hate each other but then eventually they could possibly love to love one another.
So the whole season builds to this penultimate moment between Kate, Justin and Ben and it turns into this little love title and becomes about who she will pick.
- You have slightly touched on my next question as Ryan Johnson is one of the new faces in the series as Ben Grogan so how is he going to make an impact on the series?
That is a good question because he brings some comedy into the show and, what I like about his character, is he brings out a lot of colours in Kate that we haven’t seen before; really only someone like him could bring these colours out in her. He brings about more conflict and more drama between Kate and Justin as well.
- Kate is a very strong minded woman so how are we going to see her develop throughout the series, without given too much away?
Well we are doing things to her this season that cause her to be more vulnerable and that are going to cause her to at least try growing up a little bit; she is someone who prides herself on abiding by her own rules and running on her own clock and she has gotten away with it for a long time but this year reality is going to be slammed into her face and she will have to react.
So, without giving too much away, we are creating an unstable life for Kate to tell her to grow up - but she can’t grow up too quickly or there is no show so it’s baby steps with her.
- As I said this is the second season but what was it about the script and the character that initially drew you to the project?
Her flaws, I was really attracted to her flaws. I thought that her issues were very human and I felt that they were relatable.
The fact that she was struggling with the death of her father, she was very close to her father, my father is still living but I don’t have a relationship with him so I feel like I can empathise with that kind of loss.
Also the fact that she works for a boss that she doesn’t like (laughs) and I think that everyone can relate to that.
But she is also in an on-again/off-again relationship with her ex-husband and how true is that for so many men and women that they are in relationships that they shouldn’t be in but for whatever reason they can’t pull away?
And she was doing all of this while having a very loud voice in a very male dominated corporate world and she has the gravitas to be different and she is brave enough to disagree with everyone.
She is also smart enough to go completely against the grain and she has faith in everything that she is doing.
- Is it a fun set to be on?
Oh it is a great set to be on. I definitely set the tone, well Michael Sardo (creator) and I set the tone in the beginning, and it was a no ass-hole policy allowed; so you come to work, you come prepared and you come ready to play at the same time.
With that said the crew and I have spent countless hours on the back of the camera truck getting drunk, after work that is, and we have all kind of come this happy little family.
Sometimes I just can’t believe that I am doing what I am doing as I have definitely been a part of productions where it is miserable and you are told that the word on the page is the word of God and you can’t explore anything other than what is on the page.
Again from the very beginning Michael Sardo and I created an atmosphere that was very collaborative, very fun and very playful but at the same time we are going to get what we need to do done because these are hours away from out family.
- We are also going to be seeing you back on the big screen with Bullet To The Head so can you tell me a bit about that?
Bullet To The Head is actually based on this French graphic novel and it stars Sylvester Stallone, Walter Hill is directing it and Joel Silver is producing it.
Stallone play this hitman and his partner is killed at the very beginning of the movie and it becomes this revenge story from Stallone’s point of view as he tries to find the killer who killed his partner.
I play his daughter in the film and he and I have a very estranged relationship but he needs my help in trying to put the puzzle pieces together. So we go on this very fun and testosterone filled ride.
- How did you find stepping into the action genre alongside the likes of Sylvester Stallone who is well known for his work in that genre?
I loved it! You didn’t really have a lot of lines (laughs) - I probably had some of the most lines in the movie and I am a supporting character.
I have heard so many stories about Stallone but to actually sit down with him and meet him and then to work him it is a dream come true - he is a living legend.
He was wonderful as he was so giving and supportive and because my character is the one character in the movie that gives him shit but he can’t kill me and that is how it was off screen too.
I took my role personally and adopted that relationship in real life with him and I was the only person allowed to give him shit.
- You seem to be juggling TV and movie work at the moment so how do you find jumping between the two mediums?
It’s very different and it is a little jarring. I am also currently producing my first movie and starring in it at the same time and that is very low budget and that is a completely different thing on its own.
In TV I feel that you don’t have very much time and you almost feel like you are a hamster in a cage and you are just going round in your little circle and you come up every once in a while for air before you start running again.
I feel like in both mediums, in TV and film, you are constantly serving the networks, executives, the studio heads and everyone has an opinion and there are so many cooks in the kitchen.
But then you go to the world of indie filmmaking and I feel that it is more rewarding in some ways because you are the decision maker. I am producing this movie called Road To Paloma with my two friends Jason Momoa and Brian Mendoza and it’s nice because when you are on set and you are collaborating it becomes art and it becomes an expression.
We are able to be true to what the vision is and who the characters are and we are not trying to serve some corporate power and that is rewarding in a completely different way than the glitz and the glamour that comes with working on a TV or a big flashy movie.
- You have touched on your producing work already so how have you found that transition and is being behind the camera something that really interests you?
It does, although I don’t think I am in any place where I would want to give up being in front of the camera yet because I like taking on different personas too much.
But I have always had a sensibility about me ever since I was at school and I was always good at putting projects together and finding the right people and it is something that I have always done well.
Even when I was at school and there were group projects to do I was always the captain because I was so good at being able to take on responsibilities but also delegating when I needed to so that is not a hat that comes with any kind of hardship to me.
It feels awesome and I feel like I have been doing it for a long time. I am not afraid of aging because I am someone who gets better with practise and I think that growing older is definitely practice.
So I hope to keep expanding what I am doing and I hope to touch some people along the way and create something that people like watching.
- You are also a mother so how do you find juggling your parenting with work?
That is the million dollar question isn’t it? I wish I could take credit for this quote it is a Geraldine Ferraro quote, she is the first female vice-presidential nominee back in the States, and she said ‘I have a brain and a uterus and I use them both’.
I get asked that question a lot but my child comes to set with me and he comes to work with me if I am going to be away for anything longer than eight days. I bring my mom or my nanny with me and you just make it work.
He is also two right now so we are not at the point where we are bound to stay in one place because of school but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Luckily I will say that my son has turned into a bit of a gypsy and he understands the circus life and likes going to different places.
- Finally what's next for you?
I have got to finish work on movie Road To Paloma and then I have got to go to Monte Carlo and Budapest for more promotion, I am taking my mom and my baby with me.
I have a movie called Static coming out at some point later this year and between that and playing the most important role of my life which is mom that is about it.
Fairly Legal Season 2 Universal Channel Sundays at 8PM from 8th July.
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw