WonderCon: Kristen Gutoskie Talks The CW’s ‘Containment’ and Her Audition for the Show
“That’s what we want to do as actors, discover what it’s like to be a human being” – Kristen Gutoskie
Kristen Gutoskie and the cast of The CW’s new series, Containment, were at WonderCon 2016 to show off the pilot and talk with the press about the show.
The series, which also stars David Gyasi (Interstellar), Christina Marie Moses (Starship: Apocalypse, Starship: Rising), Chris Wood (The Vampire Diaries), Claudia Black (The Originals, Farscape), George Young (Casualty), Hanna Mangan Lawrence (Spartacus: War of the Damned) and Trevor St. John (One Life to Live), follows an epidemic that breaks out in Atlanta, leaving a large portion of it quarantined and those stuck on the inside fighting for their lives. The pilot definitely leaves you wanting more, and as Gutoskie said in our roundtable interview, “It’s mayhem out there.”
Containment premieres on The CW on April 19th
Your character Katie is trapped in the hospital with a bunch of kids in the first episode. What was it like preparing for that mindset of knowing that there is possible a contagion outbreak with all these kids in your care?
Kristen Gutoskie: I don’t think there’s any way to really prepare yourself mentally for getting in the mind of being in an outbreak because until you’re there, I really don’t think you know who you’re going to be. But, I think with what she had to do, there is really no choice but to think of the kids. She couldn’t be selfish. She not only has 15 children’s lives, including her son, to look out for, but she has parents who are expecting her to take care of these people so she has a lot of weight on her shoulders.
To prepare for that, I mean I volunteer with kids so I kind of had to put myself in the position about what I would do if something happened with these kids that I work with and the responsibility that I would have. So really, at the end of the day I was looking at the integrity that I would have to have and take away selfish thought. She doesn’t think of herself, I don’t think once in the entire series. It is getting into the mind of that heroic mind-frame I guess.
But you do get to spend some time with a cop, a guy your age.
Kristen Gutoskie: It’s a weird emotional mix. You’re worried about your kid and the other kids and you’re like, “That guy… I shouldn’t be thinking about him but I’m feeling a little warm inside.” It’s an interesting place. Who knows will happen with them but to find somebody that you are attracted to… It’s a mix of emotions. It definitely gives her some complex contrasts; save lives and also hang out with the hot cop dude.
And then you have your mother-in-law yapping in your ear.
Kristen Gutoskie: Yeah, she doesn’t trust Katie and Katie’s actually a lot more capable than she’s been given credit for. She’s made some mistakes like every woman. She screwed up, she’s gone down whatever the wrong path is… I don’t think there is any right or wrong. She’s gone down a path that brought her into some trouble and I think that her mother-in-law, Grace, holds her accountable for that but at the end of the day, she stands up to the plate more than I think Grace would ever imagine.
What drew you to the role when you read the script? Was part of it the big riot scene that happens towards the end of the season?
Kristen Gutoskie: It’s just so well-written, every character is so compelling and just felt very human. Every character, I could relate to who they were and I was very interested to see where their paths would go. Who’s Lex (David Gyasi) and what does he struggle with and his relationship to Jana (Christina Marie Moses)? And who’s this Jake (Chris Wood) guy? What are his walls? I felt every character is so interesting because they’re very human, we all have these little walls up. We really all just want to open up our heart and love each other and I love that. It was kind of the discovery of people and their desire to be loved and to love and what they’ll do for the ones they love.
And again playing a female role that strong, she’s not a victim even if she’s been victimized. I mean single moms, my gosh, that’s a heavy load and so just to be able to represent a single parent was an honor. Every character is so compelling.
I didn’t know when I read the pilot how that riot scene what was gonna happen and what would get us from there. We learned that throughout the season, which is really exciting. We’re like, “How do you do this right? What was gonna make this happen?” So this a fun ride for me. I wanted to know what was next. I read the pilot and I think that was enough to make anybody interested to sign on to a project.
Did you do much research into diseases and contaminants when you found out that you got the role?
Kristen Gutoskie: I didn’t, just because my character doesn’t know much and I wanted to keep her in this curious place. Whereas, if you play George’s [Young] role, Dr. Cannerts, I’m sure he did a ton of research. Maybe just to figure out how to pronounce half of the terms in the script. But I tried to stay away from that just to keep her as truthful as possible. And if I Google stuff about germs, I’ll think I have everything. So unless I’m playing a doctor, I’m just gonna avoid any of those Googleings.
What was your audition like? Were there a lot of callbacks?
Kristen Gutoskie: I went out for this five times actually, in the whole process. I originally auditioned for Katie and in the callback for Jana. And then I auditioned for Katie and Jana for the director, David Nutter. And then I was testing for Jana and then the night before the test, they said, “Can you bring in Katie too?” So, then I’m testing for Katie and Jana and they called me back for Katie at the final network test. Either way, I was like, ‘I’m in a win-win situation here’ because both characters are so well-written and so compelling.
It was a lot. I had to do a lot of meditation because five auditions is nerve-racking.
Is that stressful getting word the night before like that?
Kristen Gutoskie: No, because I had been prepared already. As much is it was nerve-racking, I think I just felt so drawn to the project. And Julie [Plec, Executive Producer] made the audition process so nice. You go in and she’s just so warm and inviting, so I think that took a lot of the pressure off. So I was like, “Cool. I get to play dress-up. I get to play two characters today.”
Where would you like to see your character going after this season?
Kristen Gutoskie: I think I’d like to see her get all her dreams come true. Katie’s the kind of character that never got validated. She has these dreams and they never came to fruition. I mean the greatest dream is watching her son grow up. So, I just like to see her have something for herself, maybe a relationship blossoms? Her last relationship, I don’t think she was treated very well and to see her maybe fall in love with somebody who would treat her like a woman and just have something for her.
And also she’s a heroic character and I’d like to see how far she can go and how much she would risk to save other people.
And you know she’s got demons, so it would be cool to see those. To discover the shadows because we all have them. To see the human bits. I have to be kind of generic on how I answer that without saying too much.
Is it fun to play those sides?
Kristen Gutoskie: Yeah. I mean were human beings, right? We have both. If we say that were just fancy-dancy all the time, then we’re lying to ourselves. So to just show her humanity. That’s what we want to do as actors, discover what it’s like to be a human being and then put it out and say, “Here you go. You do this to? Okay now, maybe you can feel a little better watching somebody else have a moment that’s real and truthful.”