If you’re a fan of Legend of the Seeker or the show’s star, Bridget Regan, watch “Torn,” this weekend’s episode.
Just trust me.
It’s not just a wonderfully satisfying episode — it’s also an impressive acting tour de force by Regan whose character, the Confessor Kahlan, is split into two very different halves.
It’s the Valentine’s Day episode — although definitely not the usual kind! — so there might also be one or two genuinely shocking developments in Richard and Kahlan’s relationship, which, of course, is passionate, but must remain completely non-sexual.
Recently, I chatted with the 28 year-old Regan by phone from New Zealand, where the show is filmed, about everything from her revealing new wardrobe, her on-screen and off-screen friendship with Tabrett Bethell (who plays Cara), and her real-life plans for Valentine’s Day.
But more than anything, I wanted to talk to the actress, who I found both very smart and surprisingly funny, about this weekend’s episode. Her enthusiasm for it was palpable.
Watch the episode this weekend, and you’ll know why.
Warning: The storyline for “Torn” is discussed, and while an effort was made to not reveal too much, there are some spoilers for the episode.
TheTorchOnlne: I have to tell you, I tweeted that I was interviewing you, and my inbox was overwhelmed. I received hundreds of suggested questions!
Bridget Regan: Well, I’m on Twitter, so I’ve got everybody in communication.
TTO: Do you read what people write about you online?
BR: I read your reviews!
TTO: We’re flattered!
BR: I don’t always hop on and read everything because of time, but I grew up in the theater, and I really miss that audience response that you get in a house that’s full of people. That’s been the hardest thing for me in doing television and film.
The job I did before this was a comedy, and you can tell on stage whether a joke lands or not, whether they laugh or are asleep in the front row. So I often ache for that sort of feedback: do they like what we’re doing, do they buy it?
I don’t have time [to read online stuff], but my manager does email me [stuff]. I did like [TheTorchOnline.com's] reference to my “Star Trek hooker outfit”! I thought that was hilarious — I love it!
I have to say, there are some days when I look down at what I’m wearing and I’m like, “What the hell!? Look at what I’m wearing — look at how ridiculous this is!” The wardrobe people look at me and say, “No, you look fabulous.”
And then I look around, and it fits in with the world, and it’s a costume, and I love it. But it does feel a bit out-of-body.
TTO: I wanted to ask you about your new costume this season, which, needless to say, is very popular.
BR: Yeah, it’s funny, because it looks so different from how Kahlan looked before, but the funny part about it is a lot of it I’ve always worn. I’ve always worn this corset under my white dress. The belt I’ve always worn, I’ve always worn black boots — they did extend them up for me, because I was really into the thigh-high boot look.
She has a skirt that she’s worn, but I’ve kind of said, “Well, Kahlan ripped and slipped it, so she could get her high kicks in.” We collaborate, the costumer, Jane Holland, who is a fricking legend, I just adore her. We collaborated on it, and the new jacket is the same cut as the traveling coat, and it was like [Kahlan] ripped out the lining of it and cut it short.
I wanted to make her more of a warrior, making it more practical. Some days I’m out in the woods in my white dress, and I [was] thinking, “Could there be anything more ridiculous?” Everybody always asks, “How do you keep that white dress so white?”
Anyway, I wanted it to be more fighter-friendly, and it really is. And it’s bad-ass, and I like the idea of Cara rubbing off on her too, [even though] she should hate this woman, this Mord-Sith. That’s the best part of the show for me right now.
TTO: I definitely want to talk about Cara, but first, let’s talk about “Torn,” this weekend’s episode. I watched a preview copy last night, and I thought you were just terrific.
BR: Thank you!
TTO: I don’t want to give anything away, but how fun was it to play two such different characters?
BR: Man, I haven’t had this much fun on the show to date, and it’s going to be hard to beat this one. It was an opportunity to go so far to the left and so far to the right. And the best part about it is that they’re both really true to who Kahlan is inside. It’s about the balance, the ying and yang, whatever you want to call it.
It was really quite a bizarre experience, because it makes you introspective. You think, “What would I be like if I had no emotions? If I was all duty, no love?” There is one character who puts duty over love, and then the other character is all love, all emotion, just heart, gooey and soft. And that’s Kahlan as well.
It was just a ton of fun. The most bizarre part was acting with myself, with the green screen and a tennis ball on a stick and all that, and then seeing it all put together. I felt like I was in The Parent Trap! “How are they doing this?” It was such magic.
I have no idea how they do it!
TTO: I was curious how they shot it, if you stayed in one character all day, or if you switched back-and-forth?
BR: The trickiest part was obviously the last act, which is when they’re together. It was bizarre. They got two girls who are my same height and build to be in both costumes, and they’d be standing by. We’d block, and I’d be one of them, and I’d [watch the other] and say, “Oh, no, she wouldn’t do that!” And then we’d switch, and I’d go and do that part. We had to figure out the whole sequence, and then on one day I’d just be the Confessor-Kahlan, and then on the other day, I’d be the emotional, loving-Kahlan.
And it was full-on! At the end of the first day, I was about to collapse. I was in every single shot.
I was playing the Confessor-Kahlan [the emotion-less one], and she is so sharp, I wanted her to have real wit and agility and a coolness about her. It took a lot of self-control, because I tend to be quite emotional!
I get really shy about telling friends and family, “You guys have to tune in!” But this is the first one where I’m like, “All right, guys, this is the one watch.”
TTO: It was intense! I know you don’t get to do much rehearsal on the show, but you must’ve done more for this episode.
BR: I met with the director, Chris Martin-Jones, who is actually one of my favorite directors on the show. There was so much to work out, because the truth is, I was developing two other completely different characters.
It worked out really well when Craig [Horner] and I went to the U.S. to do press for the premiere. Luckily, I had a really long flight from New Zealand to work on it.
But we shoot really fast. It’s rehearse, block, build the shot, and in that time you’re getting prepped, everyone’s coming at you with make-up and hair and tightening your corset, and then you go on and shoot it, and you hope that you [do it well]. You usually get two takes, and you hope and pray that you get a third, and then you move on.
That is the hardest part of the job, no doubt about it. All of us really struggle with it, because you do the first take and you realize something about the scene, and you get another idea [but there might not be time to do it]. You sometimes have to go with your gut, your first instinct. That’s the hardest thing.
TTO: I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I found the emotionless Kahlan to be the more interesting character. She was absolutely riveting while the emotional half was a little annoying. Was it more fun to play “evil” than it was to play “nice”?
BR: Uh, yeah! Maybe I’m just getting a little envious of Tab [who plays Cara] and all the great things she gets to say and do!
They say that the Confessor power gets out-of-control in a man, so I kind of think of her [like that], that the power was taking over, taking control, like the ring in the Lord of the Rings, it’s power, and that’s what she’s living off of.
Anyway, I found it to be really exciting.
The emotional one, Kahlan hasn’t had any relationships with anyone that we know of — yet — and it’s like she is this little teenaged girl on the inside in some ways. She’s inexperienced. So I would agree with you, she might be a little annoying!
I was all love, and I love working with Craig, so that was quite easy.
TTO: Speaking of which, the episode is interesting for another reason, which is that Richard and Kahlan just might get some action.
BR: Yeah! But of course she doesn’t remember it, right? It’s so tragic! Richard gets to remember! And I love how she tries to get him to tell her about it: “So how was it?”
TTO: But now he knows! It’s almost worse for him, because he can’t ever do it again. You know, for a show where the two characters can’t sleep together, it’s surprisingly sexy.
BR: Good! I worry sometimes. [I'll think], “Oh, God, is this like we have a sexless marriage?” I’ll get scared, I do. How, how could you abstain that long?
And then I’ll go back and read the books, and she doubts, she thinks, “Could we get away with it?” And that’s my favorite thing about her, that in spite of everything she wants, she does what she knows she has to. That’s what makes her a hero.
I love her, but sometimes, I’m like, “Come on! Cave! You have to!” We’ll see!
TTO: You touched on something before, which is that Cara is a great addition to show. Somehow all of the characters seem more interesting by her being there.
BR: I absolutely agree. Mostly because she’s changing and evolving … but it’s a two-way street. It’s one of those things, we have this black and white world. [Kahlan] has been taught to hate the Mord-Sith, never trust them, to just kill them, confess them and be done with them, because they’re not human anymore.
And [Cara's] making us doubt everything we’ve learned. And the friendship that’s forming is so thrilling. There’s an episode coming up, “Desecrated,” where Tab and I are locked in a tomb together. She’s a terrific actor, lovely to work with. She’s a joy to have on the show, just a show.
She’s our missing link!
TTO: And it sounds like you have become friends off-camera as well.
BR: We jumped off the Sky Tower. It’s not even a bungee — it’s so easy, it’s so tame. It’s like you’re in a full-on harness, like a day at work in some ways.
But it’s like you’re flying, and she took me to do that on my birthday, and it was quite special. We’ve become quite close. We’re great pals, hang out a lot.
The truth is, we work so much that all of our friends are the crew. My best friends are the guy who drives me to work in the morning, and the woman who dresses us, so that’s who we hang out with on the weekends.
TTO: Being in New Zealand, have you tried Maori cuisine?
BR: Oh, yeah! Hangi. It’s where they bury food in the earth and it cooks on hot rocks. Delicious!
TTO: Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day?
BR: My parents landed in New Zealand today. They just celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary, so I’m going to take them to the Coromandel, which is such a beautiful place. Look up Cathedral Cove, and you’ll know what I mean. I’m going to show them New Zealand.
TTO: I know there’s not yet any official word on a third season for the show, but what’s the feeling?
BR: There’s lots of talk, so much talk, but no official word yet. But there’s a studio, and they have to start paying for things [if there's going to be a third season], so that’s when you start to get a vibe. Last season, that happened a couple of episodes from now.
Right now, everybody is hopeful. It’s such a great crew, and everybody wants it to keep going, and I know the fans do too.
Special thanks to all those who submitted questions for Bridget (some of which I used!).