One of the pilots I found myself eagerly anticipating earlier this summer was ABC’s FLASHFORWARD, the story of what happens when the world blacks out for around 2 minutes, and they see their future. I got the chance to watch the pilot early and on a fancy big screen and I was hooked from the get go. One of the stand outs for me in a very diverse cast was my favorite LOST-ian, Sonya Walger (Penny on LOST; Olivia here). To me she stands out as the heart of the show, and I got a few minutes to chat with her last week about what’s coming and why she thinks now is as good a time as any to fall for this show!
I’m loving FLASHFORWARD! I’m wondering, what was it about Olivia that drew you to playing this character?
Not only is the premise completely unusual and compelling and high concept, you have the premise supported by these really intricate, complicated, grounded characters. It’s unusual to have both. Quite often you read a pilot where there’s a big, exciting, dramatic event, but they’re quite banal characters. This was a rare exception.
How much did you know about the show, about the character going in? Is it all on a script by script basis?
It’s entirely script by script. We shoot two episodes at a time, so I get two ahead of the game, and that’s it, and that’s all I know. It’s all I knew going in. David was very candid about how not candid he was going to be, and very unapologetic about that. I remember at the time, scratching my head, thinking, how will that work, and now, I’m very grateful for it. I really am. I’m grateful to just sort of dealing with what’s directly in front of me and what that episode demands and not to have to think too much about the long end game of it.
Is it a relaxed feeling on set, knowing that you have this full season not to tell stories?
It’s a great relief! Honestly, knowing that we have these writers at the helm, that David has mapped out the entire concept of the whole show, I mean, he really has, is tremendously reassuring as an actor. It means you know that they’re not just winging it and making it up as they go! There’s a real sense of a controlling hand behind you, which is tremendously comforting!
What can you say without obviously giving too much away or getting yourself in trouble about what we can expect in upcoming episodes?
Well, this next one, episode 6, airs tonight, is a really fun episode. There’s such a lot of drama coming into it. It’s the first episode you really see Simon, Dominic’s character, coming in, and it’s explicitly revealed just how involved he is in so much of what’s been going on. Olivia has to confront her husband about the information she has about the drinking, and that’s a very powerful scene between the two of them. And then the net really tightens about her, and Lloyd, and Mark, and the confrontation there that is pretty explosive. It’s so ingeniously arrived at that you never would have predicted that this is how the three of them would meet and how it would turn out.
Do we get to see yet who sent the text message to Olivia?
I’m sure we will find that out, but you’re not going to find that out next week!
A lot of the story has to do with fate, and whether the characters believe in the future they saw, if it’s avoidable, or fixable. What would you do if you saw your own flash-forward 8 months in the future?
I would try to forget it as soon as I could. I have no interest in seeing my future at all. I don’t want to know [laughs]. I wouldn’t want to investigate it very thoroughly at all!
For people who are asking about why now is a good time to get involved in the show, what are you telling them?
I think it’s such an interesting show, and because there’s so many storylines that are revealed as things go along, you’re not buying into something too late here. It’s very, very clear and quick to catch up with what’s happening. The whole world blacked out. People got a glimpse of their future, and now everybody’s trying to cope with what they saw. That’s essentially all you have to know. Yeah, there are little clues that you might have missed along the way, but nothing that would preclude from enjoying these characters in these both crazy situation and situation that I think has made all of us stop in our tracks and go wow, what would that be like!
Last question quickly – have you heard about whether Penny’s making her way back to LOST?
No idea, you’ll have to let me know if you find out! [laughs]