First impressions, you either love ’em or hate ’em. Sometimes they’re good, other times not so good. Kate Freelander knows that only too well. This young and beautiful con artist hardly endears herself to Dr. Helen Magnus and her colleagues when she first crosses their paths. In fact, Kate quickly discovers just how far Helen is prepared to go when she wants information, especially if it has to do with someone she cares a great deal about. Surprisingly, Kate is able to turn things around in her favor when it comes to relationships with our heroes on Sanctuary. That is a big step for this newcomer to Dr. Magnus’ world, as actress Agam Darshi, who plays Kate, explains.
“First of all, Kate is an amazing character,” says a smiling Darshi, taking a break in-between shooting scenes for the season two episode Veritas. “I really enjoy her just because she is so complex. Kate comes across as really tough and sort of a smart-ass, and it’s not crystal clear whose side she’s on. Does she work for the Cabal? Does she work for the Sanctuary? You’re not quite sure, but as this season progresses, we start seeing this vulnerable side of her. You don’t see that very often, but when you do, I love those scenes because that’s when my character really starts connecting with people.
“So she’s slowly developing relationships with people around her, and each relationship is very different from the other. For example, things with Kate and Henry Foss [Ryan Robbins] are somewhat lighter in tone, but with her and Will Zimmerman [Robin Dunne] it’s more cerebral because she wants to [mentally] challenge him and be taken seriously in the Sanctuary world. So the trickiest acting challenge for me this year has been figuring out how my character interacts with everyone while also revealing more of who this tough girl really is beneath the surface.
“When I read the [audition] sides for Kate, I immediately connected with her. I knew just where she was coming from. I think the danger when playing a character like this is going too far and making her, again, too tough and serious. Kate is also very funny and has a softer side, so I’m trying to show all those aspects of her. I did that in the audition room and everyone seemed to really like what I did, and I’m hoping the audience will as well.”
In Sanctuary‘s two-part second season opener, End of Nights, Kate is working for the Cabal, a powerful and mysterious organization that is plotting the downfall of the global Sanctuary network. While en-route to deliver a “package” to her employers, she is intercepted by Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), Will and Henry. They believe Kate has information that can lead them to where the Cabal is holding Helen’s daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup). After a high-speed car chase, Kate succeeds in making her delivery, but in the process is caught by the Sanctuary team and interrogated in a nearby warehouse.
“I’m pretty sure we filmed that warehouse scene on my first day of work,” recalls Darshi. “It was really cold and I was overwhelmed because it’s such a big show. I mean, this is an amazing cast and there are also a lot of terrific behind-the-scenes people here who used to work on Stargate. So I was excited, but at the same time I felt like a deer in headlights. I had to try to balance my emotions and give myself confidence as well. Obviously, I understood this character, so I just went with my instincts and things worked out great.
“I had never held a gun before coming onto Sanctuary and I had to fire one in this episode, so I practiced on a gun range beforehand just to get the hang of it. The physical stuff that Kate does has been something else I’ve had to get used to, but I like to go to the gym and do all sorts of tomboy stuff, so that’s been a positive challenge for me. We did a ton of green screen work, too, in End of Nights and have since then. This is my first time working so extensively with green screen and it feels a lot like doing theater, which is where I started out. It’s just you and the other person and it gives you the chance to really connect and use your imagination.”
During the climax of End of Nights – Part 2, Kate runs some interference when Ashley, who has been turned into a super-Abnormal by the Cabal, tries to kill Helen. With the Cabal hunting for her, Kate needs a safe haven and ends up staying at the Sanctuary. When, in the following episode, Eulogy, Helen and Will focus on trying to find Ashley, Kate gives Henry a hand trying to find a runaway Stenopelabilis.
“There’s this fantastic B-story where Henry and Kate are trying to find this Abnormal that’s just been born and is growing at an incredibly fast rate,” explains Darshi. “In one of the scenes, my character is by herself in one of the Sanctuary labs and looking at these tusks on an Abnormal who she thinks is dead. The tusks are worth a lot and Kate is always looking for things like that so she can sell them on the black market. All of a sudden, I’m blasted by a bunch of goo and this little baby Abnormal pops out of the mother Abnormal’s stomach. My character then has to crawl around on the floor looking for this little creature. It was fantastic because I felt so in the moment,” enthuses the actress. “When you have a scene like that, you can’t think about it, you just have to react.
“We dealt with a lot of goo in this episode, along with a lot of rolling around and French fries. It’s a long story,” she says with a laugh,” but I would go home at the end of the day with French fries literally stuck in my hair from all the goo. It was so much fun.”
Despite initially being at odds, Helen seems to think that Kate is capable of turning over a new leaf, but she’s going to have to earn everyones’ trust. “There’s a lovely scene between these two characters that takes place a few episodes into the season,” notes Darshi. “Basically, Kate thinks that she’s in trouble and is going to get kicked out of the Sanctuary because she sort of went behind Magnus’ back. However, Magnus turns around and says to her, ‘If you want to stay, I’ll have Henry put your things in a more permanent part of the Sanctuary.’ Who knows where that’s going to lead? You don’t know if Kate is actually going to stick around for long, but after that scene it looks promising. At least it was a chance to bring out a side of my character where she can express thanks, in her own way, to Magnus. She and Kate don’t have a lot of scenes together, and this is one of the sweeter ones between them. It says a great deal about what Kate wants and how Helen feels about her.”
Having graduated with a major in visual arts and photography from the University of Calgary, Darshi once considered pursuing a career in photography. However, one of her teachers suggested that she should get an agent and give acting a try, so she did.
“That was six years ago and I’ve been working ever since,” says the actress. “I feel very lucky to be doing this because it’s what I love. My first job was a recurring role on a TV show called Renegadepress.com. It was shot in Regina, Saskatoon, which I’d never been to before. I was pretty nervous, but it was one of those situations where it couldn’t have been a better show for me. It was about young people in high school, so it was a very safe environment, and being my first gig ever I just tried to absorb whatever I could from the other people my age.”
Although she has only been in the business for a short time, Darshi has already amassed a long and impressive resume. Final Destination 3, Snakes on a Place, Deck the Halls, Watchmen and the upcoming 2012 are among her feature film credits. The actress has also appeared in several made-for-TV movies and done guest-spots on such series as Reaper, Kyle XY, The Dead Zone, The L Word and two episodes of Stargate Atlantis, including Suspicion, where she first worked with Sanctuary‘s Christopher Heyerdahl (John Druitt/Bigfoot).
“I only had one or two lines in that episode and Christopher [Halling] happened to be in the same scene,” says Darshi. “He’s so kind and there were so many extras there and he was trying to explain the story to them so that they could react appropriately. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Wow, you usually never see these big stars explaining anything to anyone.’ But Christopher was so into it and really believed that these extras, who sometimes tend to be ignored, deserved a chance to know what was going on and feel part of the scene.”
When she is not in front of the camera, Darshi wastes no time when it comes to her craft. “I’ve written three short films and produced them as well,” she says. “I find writing incredibly challenging, but I love it. Sometimes this industry can get a little crazy; sometimes you have work, sometimes you don’t. So it’s always really positive for me to feel like I’m putting energy into other creative outlets, and writing is one of them. It’s something I’m relatively new at, though. I know I can write a good short story, but can I write a good feature? That’s something I’m still playing with and learning about.
“I’ve always been a very creative person and it’s important for me not to slot myself into one compartment. I can’t just be an actor. I feel better when I’m an all-around artist, whether it’s writing, producing or even things like taking photographs or playing the guitar. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever I happen to be doing at the time makes me feel so much better. And what’s neat is that you learn from the different types of art. The skills you learn as a writer can help you as an actor, the skills you learn playing music can help you write, etc. That’s why I like to do it all.”
As noted above, all photos copyright of Sanctuary 2 Productions and Jeff Weddell, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!
Tags: Agam Darshi, Amanda Tapping, Bigfoot, Christopher Heyerdahl, Dr. Helen Magnus, Emilie Ullerup, Entertainment, Fantasy, Henry Foss, John Druitt, Kate Freelander, Robin Dunne, Ryan Robbins, Sanctuary, Science Fiction, Stargate Atlantis, Stenopelhabilis, The Syfy Channel, TV, Will Zimmerman