I have a confession to make. I don’t like scary movies. And I can’t watch SUPERNATURAL or GHOST HUNTERS at night because then I can’t sleep. So I honestly did not expect to fall head over heels in like like with CBS’ ill-fated limited series event HARPER’S ISLAND. I just thought “scary murder mystery full of gore is not for me.” But then I heard Harry Hamlin was in the show, and was infinitely more excited. What happened was I tuned into the first episode, and even though he (spoiler alert) kicked the bucket early on, I found myself going back week after week, wondering who the murderer was, why they were doing it, and who was next.
I had the chance recently to chat with Ali Liebert, who plays Nikki, the bartender who knows everyone and everything around town, about what’s coming up, why she wanted to do this role, her friend Cory’s wonderful show, and what’s next for her!
So I have to say, and I was just talking to someone about this yesterday, that HARPER’S ISLAND is like my new obsession.
I think every week when I tune in, I have a completely different idea of who the killer is! I think it’s fantastic that a show can keep doing that.
I know I hear people say “every time we think we know who the killer is, they get murdered!” I’m like, excellent, that’s awesome.
And the show isn’t afraid to surprise. I know I tuned into see Harry Hamlin from the get go, and then there you go, first episode, he’s gone. The show does not pull punches, which is fantastic.
Yeah, it’s really exciting!
What originally drew you to this character?
I loved Nikki from the beginning because she just kind of says how it is. I’m not really like that. I can be like that, but I can’t say that I’m always as straightforward as she is. I thought that would be really fun. I liked her energy. She’s kind of sassy. I just liked her from the very first time I read it.
She’s kind of gone through a lot, with the unfortunate hanging of a friend, and all of this murder! Did you guys know going in who the killer was, or was it something that was laid out over a few scripts?
Yeah, exactly – I’ll just speak from my point of view, you get the episode, the one that you’re working on, and you do it, and at the end of the week, you get the new script, and they’d start passing it out, and literally, you have no idea whether it’s going to be your last. Or maybe you get a little bit of a clue as to whether or not you’re in on it. I had no idea what was going to happen. It really felt like I was on a reality show or something! It didn’t feel like any other acting job I ever had, where you’re like, yeah, I can do 5 episodes, and that’s the deal. It was crazy. That’s what I think was really unique about the show! All of us were sort of in the same boat. Especially us Vancouver cast members. It was really just sort of one episode at a time. Whenever I would get to the new one, I would flip to the end to see what was up with Nikki, and it was like, Yes! She’s still alive!
Did you start to form ideas as we are watching about who it would be?
Exactly! Whoa, I just saw some guy bail on his rollerblades ha! There were pools. People were always saying to each other “it’s you man”. With Nikki, she hasn’t been around, she’s doing this, doing that. It made it more fun, instead of being so serious. Some people, when they got killed, took it really personally. I tried to treat every episode as what it was. And not take anything personally, whatever happens. It wouldn’t be very fun if you were very panicked about “am I going to be unemployed after next week? Am I going to have a job or not?”
What’s coming up in the next couple episodes?
Shit has really started to hit the fan! In the next couple weeks, I can’t really say anything! [laughs] In the first few, people weren’t realizing that people were missing. It was still kind of jovial, like Lucy and Uncle Marty and stuff. People are going to start, or have already noticed. I’m doing the worst job of answering this question!
No, I get what you’re saying! Like, in the beginning people thought Uncle Marty or Lucy went home.
Or Lucy went with her boyfriend, so people weren’t noticing that people were missing. But now, it’s really clear that there is a psychopath or who knows what’s going on, but it’s really bad. The drama and the trauma of what’s happening, it’s going to keep getting stepped up. It’s just going to really start rolling now!
I like that the show is surprising people, it’s different.
I like the idea of the show, because it’s like a 13 hour horror movie. If you watch horror movies, then I don’t know why you wouldn’t like HARPER’S ISLAND. My family is like obsessed with it, they love it. They like anything I’m in, so maybe that doesn’t mean as much ha!
I think watching all 13 episodes back to back on DVD would be awesome.
That’s how it’s totally meant to be. I love shows that take place over a condensed time period. I don’t know, it’s exciting. That’s what I love about HARPER’S. Continuity for us, I mean, we only got a few outfits. That was sort of it.
What other shows do you like to watch if you like that kind of timeline?
Well, I don’t actually watch 24 ha, I guess that would be the obvious one. I don’t know, what shows do I watch? I love like FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.
Oh I just saw that on your site, and I was just telling someone that it’s my absolute goal to get on the set of that show this year!
Oh my god, bring me! I love that show. I love NIP/TUCK. My friend Cory Monteith is in the new show GLEE.
Another show that I’m absolutely obsessed with, and spend days just singing Journey songs because of it!
Yeah, I love it. When I was down in LA, I went to the set with him, and checked it out. Oh my god, it’s so funny. I’m going to be obsessed with that show, I know it! Not just because he’s in it. I’m a musical theatre gal myself, so with Ryan Murphy’s twisted sense of humor and musical theatre, and singing, it’s a dream show.
What else is coming up for you?
I have a film that will most likely be premiering at the Toronto Film Festival. It’s a Canadian, Indie feature film, called YEAR OF THE CARNIVORE. I’m so excited to see it, I haven’t seen it. I’ve seen little bits, like when you go to do ADR you get to see little glimpses of it, and it looks awesome. So that’s going to be really exciting. Working with the director, she wrote it as well. Her name is Sook-Yin Lee, she’s kind of the Canadian It Girl. She’s a woman, not a girl ha, but I just love her. I’m going to be really excited for that. I did a couple things since I’ve been back from LA. Just auditioning, and waiting for the next big thing! I’ve wrapped up everything that I’ve been working on right now!
HARPER’S ISLAND airs Saturday nights through June!