Following her stint on another post-apocalyptic TV drama as Lori in “The Walking Dead,” Sarah Wayne Callies jumps right into another dystopian world in USA Network’s thriller “Colony,” which boasts Carlton Cuse (“Lost,” “The Strain”) as one of its executive producers.
While the chaos here has not been generated by a zombie apocalypse, it is still a bleak world, set in the very near future, where a force of some sort has occupied the city of Los Angeles (at the very least; we cannot tell yet from the first episode whether the occupiers control other parts of America, or the entire nation itself). It’s a world of divided ideologies (so it doesn’t sound entirely unlike our own country today), and Callies plays Katie, who, along with her husband Will (Josh Holloway) struggle to bring liberty back to their family and others.
Interestingly, Katie and Will come about their efforts to find that liberty in different ways, unwittingly finding themselves working on opposite sides of the conflict.
“I think there are certain secrets that Katie and Will both have to keep from each other over the course of this show,” Callies told us. “They share a goal, and that goal is to protect one another and to protect their family. But they have very different opinions about how to go about that, and I think there are … the number of things they’re keeping from each other start to stack up a little bit, and if you’re not careful, secrets will erode a marriage. So I think we have to be careful not only about the secrets that we’re keeping, but about the sort of self-hatred and suspicion that come along with those secrets.”
When asked about the similarities and differences between her characters of Katie and Lori, Callies explained that she thinks they are fundamentally different.
“I think Rick and Lori [in “The Walking Dead”], we came in on a marriage in trouble. And I think Will and Katie are on much more solid ground. These characters feel very different, you know? Which is to say that I think Katie spends a lot of time questioning her decisions and kind of going over things in her mind. I think Lori was a very intuitive person.”
One thing “Colony” has in common with “The Walking Dead” is how it speaks to the human condition, and our modern world.
“I think one of the questions ‘Colony’ asks,” said Callies, “is, when you take away civil liberties and freedom of movement and a bill of rights, and you repress a population, what’s the point at which that population of people, or at least some of them, go, ‘No. No. I would rather die standing than live on my knees.’ I think in a lot of ways this is a show about the genesis of revolution, which some people would define as the genesis of terrorism. And what are the mechanisms that go into shaping the nature of that revolution, or that terrorism, which is to say, if you’ve got a bunch of people who feel passionately about something, you can lead them into a noble battle or you can lead them into jihad. And I think Katie is somebody who’s feeling so strongly that something has to be done to protect her family that she’s at great risk of being manipulated. And you know, zealotry can be as dangerous as it can be productive. So I think that’s a big part of her journey during the first season.”
Just as there was a lot of action for Callies on “The Walking Dead,” she also finds herself engaged on “Colony” in as much stuntwork as producers will allow her. And sometimes that leads to some hairy situations.
“Every now and again an insurance company steps in and goes, ‘No. No. We’re not, you know, you can’t do that,’” she said. “I think probably the scariest thing that’s happened, it was being under a truck as it pulled away in the pilot. I read it on the page, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m lying there. The truck pulls away and so be it. It’s not scary. It can’t possibly hurt me.’ [But] being under — I think it’s like a 10-ton vehicle or something — when you hear that diesel engine start up and the motor’s right there. And I just sort of thought, ‘I shouldn’t have told my husband I was doing this today at work.’ It scared the pants off me.”
Colony airs Thursdays at 10pm ET on USA Network beginning January 14.
Justin Stephens/USA Network