Photo Credit : Mark Lipson/FOX
After eight hellacious hours of this terrible day have elapsed, the country remains on edge. President Taylor struggles with the painful circumstances facing the First Family, including her daughter Olivia (guest star Sprague Grayden). Meanwhile, a huffy Chloe faces-off against paranoid FBI Agent Janis Gold, while Jack and Agent Walker track leads through Washington, D.C. to eliminate the threat of another ruthless terror attack in the “4:00 PM-5:00 PM” episode of 24 airing Monday, Feb. 16 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
Sprague spent some time talking with Seat42f’s Amrie to talk about what she’s allowed to say about her stint on 24, her many TV death scenes, and what it feels like to have a huge fan following –
I loved you on Sons of Anarchy – I’m so sad to see you go!
SG : Thank you, I appreciate you being sad. It was a necessary plot point. It kind of is what it is. I’ve gotten really good at dying though.
I was reading something “how many times is she going to die?” – you do play a character that dies quite often.
It’s a little depressing sometimes to think about it. Sons of Anarchy was a really great experience and Kurt Sutter, the creator, brought me in and was great, he said “Sprague, I love ya, your work is great, we love having you here, but we gotta kill ya” and I said “oh ok” and he said “oh you’re taking that pretty well” and I remember saying “well, it’s happened to me a few times”. He explained to me, his reasoning and where he saw the show going in the future and it did make sense to me. I understood where he as coming from. I’ve been sad to go. I’ve had an incredible time working with all of those actors. And the words were always amazing. But I’ve let them know that I’m available for hauntings, which has happened on other shows! And I remember Kurt said something really nice to me, he said, “you know the thing is, Sprague, you play these characters that pull at people’s heart strings. That’s why we kill you! Because it makes a good impact.” I was like, oh that’s really sweet, kind of. It is what it is! I wish them so much success, they’re amazing people.
We’re here to talk about 24! Very exciting. So far we haven’t seen you!
This is where it gets a little tricky. Because I’m very good at keeping secrets [laughs].
Which is good in the business you’re in because I’m sure people try to get answers about everything!
They do! They have lots of sneaky questions. I just say “oh I can’t answer that”.
“I can answer after you see it!”
Talk to me about your character, Olivia.
I am going to say all I’m allowed to say!
That’s all we expect [laughs]
Which isn’t a lot! I’m playing the President’s daughter, which is definitely a change for me. You’ve seen some of the other shows I’ve done, I’ve had this incredible career, every time I get a job, I’m like “oh really? That’s awesome, thanks!” I’ve played the girl next door for years. With Olivia, simply because of the world she inhabits, I really had to change my physicalization of my body, my expressions. I definitely have a very fancy vocabulary. That’s been amazing. Working with Cherry Jones has been incredible. The cast this year, I go to work, and it’s like icon after icon after icon walk in the room.
Oh I know! Every time I see someone new added to the cast, it’s like “can they top the person they just hired?”
I know, it’s amazing! So I’m just trying to absorb from all of these incredible actors and watch them and see their process and their method and just learn. It’s been great! I feel like a baby again!
Did you watch Season 1-6; do a little cram session to watch it all?
I watched the first couple of seasons normally, and then I did a cram session to catch up on the last few seasons.
That’s what I’m doing now, and it’s so funny to watch the progression and where it’s come.
It’s really fascinating. When you walk into a show that’s been on for so long, you want to honor the style of the show, the rhythm of the show because you don’t want to be a cog in the wheel. You just want to go in and try to be as smooth as possible in this incredible machine they’ve built. Watching the transition is incredible.
You can give away as much as you’re allowed…
Which I think is “I’m the President’s daughter” [laughs]
Which is basically what we’ve heard already ha! What can you tease without giving anything away?
I can say for people that have watched shows of mine in the past, I am doing things on this show I’ve never done before. I’m being challenged, I’m learning so much. I think people will be intrigued. It will be really, really interesting to see how people react to Olivia. I’ll be really fascinated to see it. I can tell people I’m being challenged and I’m doing new things for me. I think that’s about as far as I can go! [laughs]
It’s so funny when you talk to somebody from a show like 24 or Lost or Battlestar, they can’t give you anything! They can say “I’m on the show, please watch.”
I’m a huge Battlestar fan! I’m a dork, and I look for spoilers, even though I don’t really want to know.
Oh me, too, and then I read them and I’m disappointed.
I get so bummed because I totally knew who the Cylons were!
I totally knew, and I was just like, “Why did I do that?”…I love that show. Feel free to put into the interview that Sprague would really like to be a Cylon!
They’re still shooting that Cylon movie – they could have a surprise 13th cylon show up!
Yeah! Put it out in the universe that Sprague Grayden is available very soon and would love to be a Cylon.
So 24 has a really vocal fan following, and obviously, Battlestar does. But you were involved in one of the biggest fan-followings that we’ve seen in recent years! How does it feel to know that both you and a show that you were involved in had such a big impact?
It’s so humbling and amazing. And enlightening to know that television could really touch that many people. As Americans, we all have our TV, we all have our remote, but to know that our little show, that yeah, we believed in, and we really loved what we were doing, but to know that it touched so many people, that they kind of tapped into…especially because at Jericho we ended up talking to a lot of our fans. They came to set and we went to events and met them, which is different than other shows. They saved out show. The second season really was for them. We weren’t making it for the big cats in the network, we weren’t making it for whatever, we were making it for those fans. For some reason, Jericho, tapped into, pre-Obama, this hope that they had lost, they were kind of blasé about things. Jericho made people want to fight and it was so exciting to watch people fight for what they believed in. It was really amazing and humbling and it just shows, art can do some amazing things if we really mirror our society and make a connection. That’s all it’s really about, right? All it is, is making a connection to another human being.
All the shows you’ve been on – the shows don’t necessarily last, but people remember Judith, and people remember Anita. How does it feel to be remembered for all these different things? People know Sprague Grayden whether they remember Joan of Arcadia or not.
It’s crazy! I’m not sure how it happened! There was one day, I went to a carpet event because somebody on my team told me I had to go. I’m not really the carpet girl; there’s not a lot of pictures of me out there, and most of the time, when there is one, I have some really big goofy grin on because I’m not really sure what to do [laughs]. I went to some carpet thing because I was told I should. I was trying to run behind the carpet, and someone said “Sprague, we see you!” and I was like, “wait, you know how to pronounce my name?” I’m not really sure how it happened. I think, looking back on my career and where I came from, my parents really were big on education and I have a college degree, which for me, was the right path and the right choice. Not only did I have an incredible time, I went to Barnard. I had an amazing time and learned so much and expanded my brain and my experiences, and lived in New York City and was challenged by incredible people. When I started pounding pavement in New York from square one, the entire time, I was doing it on my own terms because I had the degree. I knew that I could go do something else. Having that freedom, allowed me to say “yeah, I’m going to take this show on FX that’s probably not going to go past a season because it’s too controversial but I believe in it, it’s amazing.” And I’m still so proud of that show, so proud of Over There. To say, you know what you guys, I know I’ve been playing a bad girl for a while, which is kind of what I started out doing, but now I want to play a good girl, and jump to Jericho and say, maybe somebody will accept that I’m playing this good girl. It’s been really incredible. I’m really lucky to have agents and managers that support me in the endeavor to do a variety of roles and to really take jobs based on the role. I’m always looking for a new challenge. Jericho was a big challenge for me. I never played anyone that sweet and innocent and raw. Heather was really raw that first season. She changes so much into the second season. It was incredible to play that arc. I know I am saying this too much, but I’m truly humbled that people remember these characters.
A lot of people say they’re humbled, but they way you say it, I just feel like it’s really true. Does that sound too sappy? You can tell by talking to you that you truly mean it!
Yeah, I honestly do. I find that as performers, we attract work to us that has some parallel to our real life. Whatever it may be, however small it may be. All of my characters have gone through very tumultuous transitions while I was playing them and it seems that that transition, that metamorphosis has touched so many people, that is truly humbling. As artists, all we want to do is connect with someone else, all we want to do is say you are not alone in feeling this moment in your life. Yes, okay, sometimes it’s about nuclear bombs, but really when you’re talking about nuclear bombs, you’re talking about the people that are experiencing this. As artists, we try to connect with our audience and let them know that they’re not alone in this weird crazy world. When someone says to me “what you did on that show means so much to me” it’s humbling because I know what we created in that character, I say we, writers, producers, other actors, in that character’s metamorphosis, was parallel to something that this person really went through. And they’re opening up themselves to let you know that it touched them. And yes, it really humbling and that’s a really long way to say that!
Long story short, it’s humbling! [we both laugh]
If you get me going, it’s bad!
Who are some people that you’ve watched that have had that affect on you?
Kate Winslet. Kate Winslet gets me every time. I totally tripped into her at the SAG Awards when we got nominated for Six Feet Under and it was one of the best moments ever. I didn’t even know how to say anything, so I said “Oh I’m sorry” and she said “oh it’s okay” and I walked away! I was like, AH I touched Kate Winslet. Meryl Streep’s incredible. Cynthia Nixon’s incredible. Kathy Bates. There’s so many. There are so many great, great actresses that are coming into their own in their later years and really playing characters that are complex and have so much experience. I think that’s also because there’s a rise in women writers and it’s really awesome to be a part of. I’m not a writer, but like being a part of Hollywood at that time.
Do you have any aspirations to write or direct, or anything like that?
I’m not a writer or a director. That’s not what I do. I have a shirt that says “I don’t want to be a director.” What I really don’t want to do is direct. Everyone has those shirts that say “What I really wanna do is direct” ha! I would like to do evolve into a producer because I have been lucky enough to come into contact with so many great people here and I’d love to connect them, so that is something I’m looking forward in my life to doing. As for writing, I’m just like a prose poetry girl. I’m not sure the world’s ever going to see that.
What else besides 24 is coming up for you?
I did a film last year called Wake. Other than that, that’s it. I’ve been very busy with Sons of Anarchy and 24 for a really long time. Hopefully, I’ll be getting a new job! Once again, if you’d like to put out there that I’d like to be a Cylon, I would!