Josette Simon on joining Absentia, working with Stana Katic and more
FBI agent Emily Byrne (Stana Katic) is declared dead after she goes missing while hunting one of Boston’s most notorious serial killers. However, six years later, she is found alive in a cabin in the woods with no memory of her past. Absentia, the American thriller series tells the story of Emily, who sets out to reclaim her life and identity. Directed by Oded Ruskin, the drama that premiered in 2017, is back with its third season (which opens three months after the dramatic turn of events in the previous season’s finale). The show has brought in British actress Josette Simon, who essays the role of Rowena Kincade — an intelligence agent and a former instructor at Quantico. The actress has previously appeared in movies like Wonder Woman, Detective Pikachu, The Witches, among others. We catch up with Josette, who discusses her role, working with Stana Katic and the most difficult scene in the series.
Tell us something about Rowena Kincade?
Rowena is an interesting character. You don’t quite know which side she’s on — whether she’s evil, whether she’s masking something, and if she says what she means. She keeps you guessing. She’s also incredibly capable, intelligent, and amazing at her job. Emily and she have a past. She was Emily’s mentor when the latter was training and now they’ve met again. It’s very hard to know whether she’s playing some strange game. We haven’t gotten the rules yet. She’s just very intriguing.
How was your experience shooting for the series?
When people have been working together for seasons, they would have gotten used to each other and would know each other well. When I came in as a new character, they were absolutely welcoming. They were very warm, very open and great to act with. The whole team including the cast and crew, has been very lovely.
What can the viewers expect from this season?
I think the third season of Absentia, obviously moves things on from the previous seasons. You see Emily coming out of the kind of fog that she was in, the first season. This time, you will get a sense of her powering back and being much more dynamic. And with that, you get an insight about the kind of person she is with Rowena because there’s an incredibly strong dynamic between them. They know each other inside and out, and yet, they play a little bit of cat and mouse. They’re both magnificent in their ways and it’s lovely to see Emily come forward now with energy and purpose. And Rowena had a hand in her training, so she’s been her mentor as I said, and I think that a lot of what Emily brings, Rowena has instilled in her in their past. We don’t know exactly what their past was, but it’s something you would want to know more about. Altogether, this season is very powerful.
How was it like working with Stana Katic?
The first time I met Stana, was at a rehearsal. We were there to do a table read of a scene. You don’t always get an opportunity to do that. It was great for me because I got to experience different sides of Stana — the producer, the actress, and the lead. And fellow actors, we talked very easily and bounced ideas around. We had an instinctive understanding of what the relationship between these two – Emily and Rowena – should be and what we wanted to achieve, and it was incredibly satisfying. And by the time we finished our rehearsals, I was really looking forward to filming those scenes.
What would you say was the most difficult scene to shoot?
When you first meet Rowena, she arrives on a motorbike. You will see the bike go through some dynamic moves before she arrives. And of course, it wasn’t me doing all that, although I wish it was. Anyway, you meet her and you’re not quite sure who this is. You don’t even know if it’s a man or a woman until she takes her helmet off and she’s revealed. That was exciting, but the hardest thing to achieve this season had to do with subtlety. There were so many things to suggest about who she was and what she wanted out of Emily. It’s quite difficult to achieve that level of subtlety — trying to give details, but not too many. So, you always have this question of — ‘What is going on?’ ‘Did she
really mean that?’ There’s a danger to most of the scenes as well. During their first encounter, Rowena puts a gun on the table just between her and Emily. And throughout, you kind of feel like at any moment she could pick it up and shoot Emily whilst being quite charming. There’s always this uncertainty. So the hard thing was to maintain that balance — to be clear about the kind of character she is but not to give too much away.
What according to you would be the perfect end for Rowena?
The perfect ending for Rowena as a character would be something mysterious. I would quite like to see her go freediving or something, where you dive without tanks. I would like to see her involved in some kind of high speed, James Bond-esque chase and jump from a cliff into the sea and see her holding her breath as dives down deep... But you don’t know what happens to her.
Catch Absentia Season 3, Monday to Friday at 10 pm on Colors Infinity.