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Interview: Kathleen Robertson

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Currently airing its second season, the TNT series Murder in the First has become a solid hit for the network. One of the reasons for the success of the series is the work of actor Kathleen Robertson who plays Hildy Mulligan, a single parent trying to juggle her career and her family life.

The series follows one case the entire season which gives the show and the viewers the chance to delve deep into the story and offer even deeper insights into the characters and the case.

Not only is she on Murder in the First, she also has a new film, The Vatican Tapes, coming out on July 24th and she has several projects she is also working on.

Today, Kathleen sits down with the Pop Culture Principle to talk about her character’s arc this season, what she did to prepare for the role and she talks about her new film The Vatican Tapes.

Pop Culture Principle – You open up the second season of Murder in the First with a horrific school shooting. What were your thoughts when you first read the script for that episode?

Kathleen Robertson – Holy crap! The first two episodes are so big, I was wondering how on earth we were going to be able to film them in the short time we have to film each episode. It was super ambitious and really different from last season. Shooting those episodes was definitely filled with challenges on every level and it was a lot to tackle for sure.

Pop Culture Principle – With several real life school shootings still fresh in the minds of viewers, do you think it was a gamble for the series to use this storyline as a backdrop for the season?

Kathleen Robertson – I don’t know. It’s funny, everybody else was sort of feeling that way and a lot of people felt like it was going to be really controversial and people were going to be upset by it. Maybe I am more jaded, but I just feel like with cable television, everybody has seen everything and there are very few things left that are taboo.

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In my opinion, it was not exploited in anyway and it’s a storyline that we focus on for an entire season. It’s not like we did that for shock value and then we moved on. That storyline is about figuring out why that happened and what possessed that human being to do something like that.

It’s more of an examination of mental health and mental health in our country and how it’s dealt with and how it’s handled. I think it was handled very delicately.

Pop Culture Principle – For you as an actor, how hard is it to separate Kathleen the actor and Kathleen the mother when it comes to this storyline?

Kathleen Robertson – I don’t know how much you do really separate it. When you do film scenes like that, it’s sort of your job to really go there and go to those places that you don’t want to ever have to go. It’s definitely emotional and it d

efinitely affected me. The whole season in general there is a lot that is going on and for Hildy and the actress Kathleen Robertson we were both exhausted by the end of the season. It was a lot for sure.

Pop Culture Principle – It seems like Hildy is at a crossroads as far as being a cop this season. Would you agree?

Kathleen Robertson – Yes, that’s kind of her arc for the second season. It’s about her wondering if she can keep doing this and how much of a strain it’s having on her personal life and her soul. It’s really about the wear and tear the job has on one’s soul and psyche.

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Pop Culture Principle – Just like Season 1, this current case will last the entire season. Do you find yourself being able to flesh out your character and the story much better with this format?

Kathleen Robertson – I love it. I love it as an audience member and I love it as an actor. I think it’s really satisfying and I think it’s like reading a great book or watching a big, long 12 hour movie. I feel that you become more involved in a way and it’s definitely more rewarding from an acting standpoint. You don’t have to tie everything up in a neat little bow at the end of every episode. In reality, a case like this would take weeks and weeks to figure it out.

Pop Culture Principle – In the first couple episodes of Season 2, we see the dynamic changing between Hildy and her daughter. Will this be explored more as the season progresses?

Kathleen Robertson – Yes. It’s definitely something that is sort of surprising for Hildy. All of a sudden her sweet little daughter has sort of had it with her mother’s job and with the toll that it takes on her and the family. It will definitely be explored more this season.

Pop Culture Principle – You’ve added some great new actors to the series with A.J. Buckley and Emmanuelle Chriqui to name a few. How have they added to the dynamic of the series?

Kathleen Robertson – Well A.J. has been amazing and the storyline we have this season has been my favorite. I love having scenes with him because he’s just incredible. He’s super talented and also just a sweetheart to work with. It’s always fun to play those scenes where there is a lot of conflict and there is so much horrible history between those characters. Those particular scenes are really fun to do with A.J. and we have great chemistry and work off each other really well. Overall this season, we’ve added to really talented and amazing actors.

Pop Culture Principle – After playing Hildy for two seasons, how protective have you become of that character?

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Kathleen Robertson – Well, definitely protective. It’s difficult as an actor because when you are hired as an actor, that’s your job and you are there to execute the material you are given. Steven Bochco runs our show and Steven Bochco is Steven Bochco, so you aren’t going to go to him and say you’re not happy with something or want something changed in the script-some actors might do that, but I don’t.

You do the best that you can with what you are given and of course, there are times where you wish things could be changed or whatever, but it’s our job as actors to tell the story and tell it as truthfully as we can. I approach each episode like it’s its own independent thing and you have to figure out how to get the audience to track and follow the story the best that you can. You are a storyteller and that is your job.

Pop Culture Principle – After playing a detective for two seasons, do you find yourself thinking like a cop when you aren’t on set?

Kathleen Robertson – Yes! It’s a little embarrassing! My brother-in-law is a sergeant in Toronto and has been really helpful with this role for me in terms of research. I did a ton of research when I first got the part because I had never played a cop before. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing and what I was talking about, so I did a lot of ride alongs, gun training and went to police school. To be honest, playing a cop for me has been really comfortable. There are certain roles I have played where I am ready for it to be over. I was sick of the high heel shoes, the glam squad and the sexy, tight clothes. With this role, I love just throwing on my jeans and making my hair look all dirty and messed up, it’s totally my comfort zone. I definitely like this role a lot.

Pop Culture Principle – You also have a new film coming out on July 24th called The Vatican Tapes. What attracted you to this role?

Kathleen Robertson – I have never done a thriller\horror movie before and I just thought the script was really good and I really liked the role. It’s an exorcism movie, so it’s very much like a psychological thriller and not a slasher movie. This movie while it is scary, it comes from a deeper, more supernatural level and I think people will like it.

Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us about the film and a little about your character Dr. Richards?

Kathleen Robertson – The movie is about this young girl who is possessed and I play her doctor. She gets sent to an institution to be studied and examined. You sort of think she is one thing and then she sort of reveals to be not quite who we think she is.

Pop Culture Principle – Why do you think movies that deal with exorcisms do so well with its audiences?

Kathleen Robertson – People do love them and I think people just love to be scared. They love to be entertained and I think it’s fascinating that people feel there is an element of realism to what this film is about and that something like this may actually exist in the real world.

Pop Culture Principle – You’ve also created the pilot for Your Time Is Up. Can you tell us about this project?

Kathleen Robertson – Yes and I also sold a show to E! called Shooting Stars, which is based on a book that they optioned for me to adapt. John Wells is attached to the project to produce with me. I have a lot of stuff going on with my writing and I hope one day I will be talking with you about a show that is on the air that is a show that I created; that is my goal right now. People think that since I am an actor that I write stuff for myself when I actually don’t. I prefer to keep them separate. I have several things that I have sold as a writer and things that I am working on and writing for other people. It’s really great and I am loving it.

We would like to thank Kathleen for sitting down and talking with us. You can catch new episodes of Murder in the First every Monday at 10/9c on TNT. Also, her new film, The Vatican Tapes will be released in theaters on Friday, July 24th. If you would like to keep up with all of Kathleen's latest news and projects, you can follow her via her official Twitter account here.

**Murder in the First photos courtesy of Doug Hyun/TNT**

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