What would it be like to interview Cara, the take-no-prisoners Mord-Sith-turned-sorta-good who is currently shaking up the second season of the hit syndicated fantasy series Legend of the Seeker?
I’m sure if you asked one wrong question, she’d bite your head off. (On the other hand, what a way to go! Am I right?)
Anyway, I was understandably a tad nervous when I landed a chance to speak to Tabrett Bethell, the actress who plays Cara, by phone from New Zealand, where the show is just wrapping up the filming of its final episodes for the season.
I needn’t have worried. This Australian native, a former professional cheerleader but a relative newcomer to acting, couldn’t have been kinder or more pleasant. She is, of course, not the character she plays on television.
Or is she? As we talked, even Tabrett (which is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable) admitted there are occasional similarities: she can be very blunt, she’s very private and self-protective, and she was initially annoyed by Bridget Regan and Craig Horner’s humorous on-set antics (and was blunt enough to tell me that!).
Hmmmm. Where does Tabrett end and Cara begin? That, of course, is for you to decide:
TheTorchOnline: I know everyone must ask you this, but you have such a beautiful name that I wanted to ask you about it. Is there a story?
Tabrett Bethel: Well, I was born in Syndey, and my mother wanted to name me Siobhan, and my father wanted to name me Murray. They couldn’t agree. So my father left the hospital and went for a drive, and saw a sign that said, “Tabrett Street.” He went back to my mother, and said, “How about Tabrett?” And she said, “Yes, that’s it!”
[Editor's Note: I looked up Tabrett Street. It's near Sydney's Barton Park and the Lance Studdert Reserve.]
For years, I was told by people that it was Welsh. But no. It’s actually also a Hebrew word that means “Celebration,” which I think is quite beautiful.
TTO: That is beautiful, but it’s a good thing that it happened to have such good connotation!
TB: [laughs] Isn’t it?
TTO: At what point once you were cast as Cara did you realize, “Okay, this is a great character.”
TB: Oh, right away. Well, no. It was obvious from the start, she’s the counter-point to the other characters. She’s totally honest, she gets to say all these funny things. That’s who Cara is.
But by episodes four and five [of this season], we really started to have fun with it, we really started playing around.
TTO: She’s the character who has the major character arc, the one who is changing the most.
TB: You hit it right there. This is all new to her. She’s constantly evolving, and that’s what’s exciting. She takes three steps forward and five steps backward. Cara has many moments of confusion that are interesting to play.
It’s a character that’s all about growth. Who can’t relate to that?
TTO: Which is the perfect lead-in to my next question! How much like Cara are you?
TB: I really bounce back and forth with this. I was having a conversation with one of the producers last week, saying, “This character is so different from me!”
But one thing this particular producer had said to me right from the beginning is, “She’s closer to you than you think.” I do find that when I connect to the truth of her, we are very similar.
Cara is incredibly honest — she speaks her mind. It’s often to her detriment, and it’s often something great. And that’s something that I can definitely relate to. I’m constantly being told that I’m way too honest. Often it gets me into lots of trouble.
She’s a very complex character, very troubled. She has so many elements that so many people can relate to. She has this shield around her heart. She’s constantly trying to protect herself, because that’s all she knows. And I think a lot of people can relate to that: don’t get too close to her, or you might get burnt — that kind of thing.
TTO: I’m not an actor, so this may be a dumb question, but has playing this character made you even more assertive or honest in real life?
TB: No, I’ve always been majorly honest. That I’ve always had.
What it has done — and I think this is part of the acting process — you get to know yourself really well as an actor, and I think playing a role like this has made me know more about myself. She’s definitely made me stronger.
TTO: Tell me something about this weekend’s episode “Princess.”
TB: “Princess” is fantastic! When I read that script, I jumped up and down twenty-five times. It’s like the ultimate.
What’s so great about this ep is that she — without giving it away — she has to play the absolute opposite of who she is. The mission is to save one of the cast, and [Cara] has to be a lady, she has to be elegant, she has to be able to dance, she has to do all these things that are completely foreign to her. She has to have grace and just be really feminine. And Cara’s used to doing everything at her best. Everything she does, whether it’s fighting, getting with men, she knows how to get the job done.
Now she’s faced with this obstacle. It’s quite funny watching a very powerful character be vulnerable. It’s quite hilarious.
And we actually see the whole cast wearing hilarious outfits.
But it’s pretty funny for Cara, because she has this mission to rescue someone, and it becomes a competition, and she plays to win. It’s really funny — clever writing. It’s a great director named Garth Maxwell — I love workshopping scenes with him. We have the same left-of-center humor!
It was a great piece of writing to get my teeth into — not just me, but all the characters. It’s excellent writing for everyone — everyone gets a golden moment.
TTO: My personal theory is that the introduction of your character has made all the other characters, and even the other actors, far more interesting. It goes back to what you said about being the contrarian.
TB: Yeah! Well, Cara’s the counter-point!
You have these three characters, Zedd, Kahlan, and Richard who all pretty much think the same way, and go on big quests. Then someone comes along and questions everything they do. She’s got a reason to question everything! And she, in turn, makes them question themselves.
It’s a hilarious kind of a merry-go-round that keeps going on. It’s always interesting to have a counter-point.
TTO: Cara has been really well-received among the fans — there’s very strong buzz around her. Are you aware of how popular she’s become?
TB: No! I’m not aware of it!
It’s kind of funny, shooting here in New Zealand. It’s a little bit of a cocoon. You get up, you go to the work, you give your best, and you go home. It’s quite insulated here. And the schedule is so heavy, and for me, the focus is on the day-to-day, filming and shooting. So that’s really great to hear.
TTO: It’s really gone over well, and I think it’s part of the reason why there’s such a good energy about the show lately. And I think one of the things people appreciate is how the show has gotten so sexy! The show seems to really be embracing that this season, with Kahlan’s new outfit and…
TB: Yeah! How hot is Kahlan’s new outfit! Yeah! The wardrobe people are so talented.
I watched a few episodes from season one. But they seem to be doing things very different [this year]. The writing seems more fun. And the support cast we’ve had is fantastic.
TTO: Talk to me about your outfit.
TB: My outfit — it’s kind of a funny one. For some reason, the air goes straight through it. It gets very windy here in Auckland, and very cold. I can’t describe how cold it is for me.
In winter, it’s very cold, but in summer, I’m saturated, I’m dripping with sweat. It gets so hot.
It’s a different kind of leather than I’ve ever found — it’s very stretchy, very movable. Yeah, it’s comfortable. It’s just at the moment, it’s very hot and humid here. Sometimes in this outfit I feel like I’m going insane.
I’m standing in the middle of a forest going, “I swear I can feel my outfit cooking! I swear I’m going insane!”
[But] in terms of comfortability, it’s great. The wardrobe department has made it as comfortable for me as possible.
TTO: A couple of people contacted me asking me to ask if you’re ever going to go on Twitter, and also if you’re willing to share your birthday, which is apparently unknown. But you don’t have to give it out if that’s too personal!
TB: [Laughs] Uh, you wanna know my age? Well, my birthday is in May, which means I’m a Taurus.
As for Twitter, well, I’m not even on Facebook. I’m such a private person, and I barely have time to check my email. If I had Twitter, I’m sure I would be hooked and not able to tear myself away.
But it is something that I’m thinking of doing! I don’t have a computer-technology bone in my body.
TTO: Well, it increases your sense of mystery, which is probably not a bad thing.
TB: [laughs] Well, I am an incredibly private person.
TTO: The last thing I wanted to ask you about, when I spoke to Bridget Regan a couple of weeks ago, she mentioned how the cast members have become good off-camera friends as well.
TB: I think it’s a little different for me, not coming in and playing the same character from the beginning. But it’s a really beautiful, all the friendships — and the crew, you know. You are family.
But especially the friendship that has developed with Bridget. It’s really beautiful, actually. She has this quality that she just makes you feel very warm. She’s actually very funny. They’ll say, “Action,” and all of a sudden, she’ll break into some dance. And I think, “What are you doing?!”
At the beginning, that used to drive me crazy. Her and Craig [would pull their jokes], and I would say, “What are you guys doing! It’s so irritating!” But now it’s completely endearing.
She’s turning out to be a really integral part of my life. She’s so professional. Craig’s lovely, Bruce is lovely. I feel really lucky to work with those guys.
Special thanks to Kim, Kate, Lugdivine, Jeremiah, Jasmine, Tamara, Elisabeth, Victoria, Shirley, Joachim, Raphael, Elodie, Katy, Lola, Persia, and all those who suggested questions that I didn’t get a chance to use! (And Nini, I was too embarrassed to ask her that!)
- LEGEND OF THE SEEKER Episode Review (2-3): Oh, Cara, You Rascal!
- Interview: The Two Sides to LEGEND OF THE SEEKER’s Bridget Regan
- LEGEND OF THE SEEKER Episode Review (2-12): Night of the Living Cara!
- LEGEND OF THE SEEKER Episode Review (2-20): Holy S%$#!
- LEGEND OF THE SEEKER Episode Review (2-4): Apparently, Rapunzel was a Confessor