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Interview: Ophelia Lovibond

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Currently in its third season, the CBS hit series Elementary has changed the dynamic with its main characters. Although Sherlock and Watson still work together on cases, Watson has moved into her own place and now takes on her own cases outside of the work she does with Sherlock. Adding to the change in the dynamic, the series has introduced a new character, Kitty.

Kitty had suffered a traumatic event in her life while she was in London and is now in New York as Sherlock’s new protégé. Kitty is very independent and smart, but can also be her worst enemy. The character is played brilliantly by actress Ophelia Lovibond.

Ophelia sat down with us to discuss her audition process for Elementary, what it's like working with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu and why she thinks Kitty makes a great protégé for Sherlock Holmes.

Pop Culture Principle – What did you know about the show Elementary before you became part of the cast?

Ophelia Lovibond – I knew about it from seeing adverts and billboards, but I hadn’t actually ever watched it.

Pop Culture Principle – What was the audition process like?

Ophelia Lovibond – It was really straightforward. Since I live in London, you do a bunch of auditions on tape. I did the tape on a Tuesday and was offered the job on a Thursday. So, it’s like, “You are moving to New York in just over a week, so pack your bags”. It was very straightforward and one of the very first times it’s ever been like that.

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Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us about your character Katheryn “Kitty” Winter?

Ophelia Lovibond – She is a pretty troubled individual who is quite volatile, but she also has an inkling and understanding of the kind of work that Sherlock is introducing her to. She’s kind of a diamond in the rough and Sherlock is trying to help her reach her potential. You can see that she can get quite jealous and be insecure, but she’s very kind and has to be in the right environment to show that to anyone. Over the course of the series, you learn more and more as to what has caused her prickly nature.

Pop Culture Principle – Did you face any particular challenges at the beginning of figuring out your character?

Ophelia Lovibond – The main thing I was initially concerned about was that you don’t get all the scripts at once the way you do in British television. I thought that might trip me up because you never know, but it didn’t. Before I even did my audition tape, I spoke with the creator Rob Doherty about the character and how he envisioned her. I tried to get an idea of the tone of the show by watching several of the episodes. I felt like I knew who Kitty was and the way I wanted to tell her story and I felt good about that.

Pop Culture Principle – Coming into a series at the beginning of its third season, did you have any reservations or concerns joining Elementary?

Ophelia Lovibond - Yes. Mainly just on a personal level in terms of the crew and the cast who have formed friendships and relationships over those two years. Working in television there are such long hours so you do form fast friendships with people, so I thought I might be the awkward person on the outside. So, that was the only thing I was worried about, but it wasn’t that remotely; everyone was incredibly welcoming.

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In terms of the story of Holmes and Watson and what impact that would have on the fans, I was more curious than anything. I knew that some people would love Kitty and some people would hate her, but better that than indifference.

Pop Culture Principle – At the beginning Watson and Kitty had a cold relationship. Why do you think that was the case and how has it grown this season?

Ophelia Lovibond – It started off that way because it would be quite strange for Kitty. She’s been working with Sherlock in London for a while and when they get to New York, all of a sudden her opinion isn’t being as valued as much as it was and she feels that Watson is the cause of that. So, there would be a lot of jealousy and insecurity there and most of that is driven by Kitty.

Also, I think Watson thinks Sherlock may be a bit foolhardy by bringing this quite volatile element into his life where he needs stability and she is very wary of Kitty. That changes when Kitty realizes that Joan isn’t the enemy and she is there to help her. In a more kind of calculated way, she understands that if she’s going to get what she wants out of working with Sherlock, then she is going to need Watson’s help as well. It’s not entirely altruistic her decision to be more friendly to Watson.

Pop Culture Principle – What is it like working with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Lui?

Ophelia Lovibond – I love it. They pour everything into every single scene and you think how many episodes they shoot and they just take care of their characters. They want to make it the best it can be and that is quite an infectious attitude. They were so welcoming to me and I didn’t feel like I better not drop the ball. I didn’t feel like I was up against anything and they made it easy to be part of that show.

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Getting to work so closely with Jonny was just lucky casting that we happen to get on really well and became friends. I was in New York away from home and Lucy would make sure I had the best dinner recommendations or make sure I was being taken care of. It was so weird to me, yet so lovely and I felt so spoiled.

Pop Culture Principle – How have you enjoyed filming the series in New York city?

Ophelia Lovibond – It’s electric! You understand why so many films, poems and songs are written about New York. It’s such an infinitely inspiring city and there is so much movement. The moment you step outside your door, you are part of that and kind of feel carried along in the throng. I grew up in the middle of London, so I really respond and thrive on that city atmosphere. So, getting to live in New York and doing what I love, I was really bouncing along.

Pop Culture Principle – Last week’s episode, we find out that the person who tortured Kitty is Watson’s new boss. How did you prepare for the very emotional final scene?

Ophelia Lovibond – The whole time I really felt like I knew who Kitty was and when the script came, I knew what was going to happen. I knew that it was coming and I knew that there would be that big emotional moment and what it would be like to hear that voice again. I mean, I didn’t go into a dark room to focus and listen to death metal, you just think about that person and what she would be going through; it’s quite an ineffable instinct.

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Pop Culture Principle – How far do you think Kitty will go in order to bring the person to justice that tortured her?

Ophelia Lovibond – At the beginning of the episode that just aired, Kitty tells Sherlock and Watson that she has prepared for this moment and there isn’t nothing she wouldn’t give, meaning that she would sacrifice everything, including her own life to seek justice. That’s why Sherlock relents because he knows that there is no point in arguing with her because she will do it anyway. That’s simultaneously a good thing and a bad thing about Kitty. She will stop at nothing to get what she wants one way or the another.

Holmes knows that about her and that’s why he took her on. He’s been trying to harness that kind of fiery nature into something a bit more productive. He is aware that is what makes her who she is so he can’t really squash it and can’t really be surprised that this is her take on it. I don’t think he resents it, I think he just wants her to think about her actions. He would never tell her what to do knowing there is no point.

Pop Culture Principle – In what ways are you like and not like Kitty?

Ophelia Lovibond – I am not as volatile as her, I am much more measured. I will say I am quite stubborn and when I want something, I work very hard to achieve it. Some people might call that good and some might call it stubborn. I would say I am like her in that way. I am a much happier person.

Pop Culture Principle – Why do you think Kitty would make a great protégé for Holmes?

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Ophelia Lovibond – One of the things is that she is really determined to be better and she isn’t a victim. She’s made that very clear from the beginning. She doesn’t want sympathy and she doesn’t want people to feel sorry for her because that doesn’t affect change. She’s someone who focuses on being better and Sherlock came into her life at just the right moment. He provided a focus for her and he knows that she will strive to be the best that she can be and not just be mediocre.

I also think because of what happened to her; she has a fine sense of what is right and what is wrong. She is very observant and she is able to spot things that people might miss. In the early episodes when Sherlock tells Kitty to just sit and watch him and Holmes at work, many of those episodes she is just watching and listening a lot. Sherlock is trying to help her hone those skills to make her better.

Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with the second half of the season?

Ophelia Lovibond – What can I say, maybe some old faces returning from the earlier half? That’s about all I can say without giving anything away!.

If you would like to follow all of Ophelia's latest news and projects, you can get all that information from her official Facebook page here. You can catch brand new episodes of Elementary every Thursday night at 10/9c.

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