Katherine McNamara spoke with Hypable about two adaptations she’s currently starring in: Shadowhunters and Scorch Trials.
First up is Shadowhunters, the ABC Family television adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments saga. The show will premiere in 2016. Tune in tomorrow to read what McNamara had to say about Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and her portrayal of Sonya.
On being a part of adaptations…
“One of the most nerve-wracking things a person can do is to take on a character that is part of such a beloved book series, and I’m fortunate enough to be part of two different interpretations of different book franchises,” McNamara tells us. “It’s exhilarating and it’s nerve-wracking, and my main goal within it is to make sure I do justice to the written story and stay true to the character as they are written in the books.”
It also must be interesting to work on two adaptations where one is being filmed for the big screen, while the other is being released on the small screen. “They’re different means completely,” McNamara explains of the challenges of each. “Film, we have a lot more time to do things and the sky’s the limit, pretty much. Whereas, in television, we have 45 minutes to get each little story across. We have time limits and restrictions we have to deal with, but we’re still able to somehow come together and make this story come to life in a way that I really think fans are going to be happy with, both fans of the book and people who are newcomers to this wonderful world.”
On preparing for her role on ‘Shadowhunters’…
“What I love about Clary is that she has so many different aspects,” McNamara says. “She has a balance of strength and vulnerability that I’ve never really seen before in a character. She’s willing to let herself follow her heart and chase after all of these crazy new creatures that she meets and new supernatural beings that she’s come in contact with, and yet she always stays true to her roots and herself and who she is as a person. There are so many facets and so many different vibes with all of these characters, and it’s so much to explore, which is why I think the Mortal Instruments series really does lend itself well to television because there’s such a richness and a romanticism to these stories.”
Aside from reading the books and getting to know her character, McNamara has been doing plenty of physical training so she can handle the fight sequences in which her character partakes. “There’s been quite a bit of training,” she says. “We kind of rushed right into production when we first got here, so we didn’t have much time to train before, but we’ve been training while we’re shooting, and it’s been a whirlwind, which means with a physical trainer and then doing fight training, learning to work with swords and bow and arrows and knives and bo staffs and all other manner of demon killing devices. And on top of that we’ve been doing some gymnastics training as well, so we can incorporate some flips and tricks and stunts into our fight scenes.”
Considering all of the trouble our heroes get into in the first book alone, this is excellent news for fans of the series and for those who will be tuning in for some action on top of the story. Luckily, McNamara has been training diligently and has been able to do the majority of her own stunts.
On the book-to-film adaptation’s changes…
“We’re not doing Cassie’s interpretation of the books,” McNamara says. “We’re not doing the film’s interpretation of the books. We’re taking our own path, for each character and story, and making it our own new incarnation of it.”
But that doesn’t mean fans should be worried. “It’s good to have a few surprises,” she continues, “a few shocking moments and twists and turns [book readers] won’t see coming, as well as the people who are new to the series who have a completely open mind about things.”
McNamara is a fan of the books, too, so she understands how readers of Clare’s series feel about this world the author has created. “I must say book fans have nothing to worry about as far as doing justice to their beloved story. There’s so much there, there’s so much that stays true to Cassie’s image and her idea, and the things that they change and the things that they’ve added and the things that they sort of rearranged, if you will, really add to the story and really make it pop on screen. Every time I get a new batch of scripts, I go, ‘Okay, this is the top. This is the pinnacle. This is as far as we can go. This is going to be our biggest episode yet, and then I get the next three scripts and the next three scripts, and I’m constantly floored and gasping and laughing out loud and crying while reading these scripts. And that’s just the first draft on paper. That’s before we even get on set and see it and feel it and live it. And it’s, for lack of a better word, really magical.”
On why people should tune into ‘Shadowhunters’…
Above and beyond the scripts, McNamara also praises the sets. In particular, the Institute was far and away the one that garnered the biggest reaction from her and her co-stars. “I will never forget the first time we all went on that set when it was finished,” she says. “We all stood on top of the staircase and looked out on it where you can see the glass and screens and rooms and projections, everything was there, and it took our breath away. I wasutterly speechless, and anyone that knows me knows I am never speechless. It truly blew me away. My breath caught in my throat. I could not believe how perfectly it had come to life, and it had exceeded every one of my expectations.”
Most exciting, perhaps, is the network’s devotion to giving Shadowhunters the chance to fulfill its potential. “ABC Family is taking this new direction and using our show to do it,” the actress says. “Our show, from what I’ve seen — I haven’t seen much — but it’s very dark and very sexy and very edgy. It edges on horror, but it still keeps the warmth and romanticism and comedy that Cassie’s books portray. It’s really gonna be something special.”