Josh Friedman & Lena Headey Talk Season 2!

To promote the second season premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (airing September 8, 2008 on FOX), Josh Friedman and Lena Headey today participated in a conference call with various online media outlets.

Here is what they had to say! SPOILER WARNING.

After Josh Friedman talked about a big Terminator-related surprise in the season premiere (which we're not going to post until after it's aired), Lena Headey talked more about the role of Sarah Connor in the series. "It’s been an interesting season. I feel that Sarah has kind of taken a backseat in terms of being proactive and taking care of business. I think that we’re going to see a lot more of John taking control and then becoming, making steps towards becoming the man he has to be to take on his tasks. And I think this season for Sarah is kind of her losing slight control over everything pretty much, and my feeling is that I think there’s a slow madness sort of happening in her because she feels that everything’s kind of out of reach right now," she says. She describes this new direction as "calming" for her. "It's calming, but will be more visceral I think, but it’s been strange coming from such a ferocious side of her to being, feeling very, like all control has gone from her," she says.

It was revealed at the Comic-Con International in San Diego that one of the series' regular cast members would die in Season 2, and one journalist asked Lena if the title of the show ensures her safety. "You can never feel safe, to quote Sarah. I don’t take anything for granted," Lena says. Friedman assures that even thoguh there may being some death-related themes in the series premiere, you'll know the "big death" when you see it. "There’s obviously some stuff in the first episode kind of thematically about dying and resurrection and reorientation of all the relationships, but when the character dies, I think we’ll know," he says.

"It’s usually their behavior on the set," Friedman jokes, explaining how he came up with which character to kill off. "No, it’s pure storytelling. It’s painful to say good-bye to actors. It’s painful, especially this show. Everyone’s wonderful and they’re all lovely people, and going to an actor and saying, 'Here’s the script and this is what’s going to happen,' is extremely difficult, and it’s never driven, at least so far, for us, it’s never been driven by economics or anything extracurricular. It’s … writer’s room and you’re, all of a sudden you’re having this dawning realization that you have a really good idea for something story-wise, but it’s going to end up costing somebody a job. And it’s not easy. These are people, and most of them will, they’ll go on and get other work, but it’s not a fun thing to do really," he says. He does reveal that the actor whose character will die is aware of it.

Regarding Shirley Manson's new character of Catherine, the CEO of a major corporation, Friedman does not want to quickly classify her as evil. "I think evil’s a bit strong. I don’t think of any of these characters as evil. I think that they’re very focused. They have a plan. It’s not personal, like there’s some evil back story where there’s revenge necessary. I think that there’s a plan that she has in place," he teases.

Shirley Manson actually was known by Friedman for a few years before getting the role of Catherine. "She’s a friend of my wife’s," he reveals. "Personally, I’ve always enjoyed her, and I’ve known her as a performer, and last year, when we were doing the show last year, whenever I’d see her, I used to joke with her about coming on the show to do one episode or something like that because she never acted. And we’re like, 'You know, you should come, do one thing, come be a scary terminator for an episode or do something like that,' and she always said, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re never going to do that.' And then this year, when we started casting, I actually wasn’t thinking about her for this part. We’d just started casting this part, and then somewhere about a week into casting, I thought I want to bring Shirley in and see if she’s up for it, see if she wants to do it, and she was actually in Europe, I think, for a funeral. And I e-mailed her and said, “Do you want to come in and audition?” She said, “Well, yes, I’m coming back in town on Sunday.” I said, “Well, we need you in on Monday,” and she came and she did it, and she’s just got an incredible charisma. And also, she’s just very professional. She’s always prepared, and her learning curve in terms of the craft part of it has been very high so far, so I don’t know. It sort of just happened organically, but she also had to go through the entire audition process just like any other actor. She was given no extra points for being Shirley Manson. I think, in some ways, she was given minus points by people who thought maybe she couldn’t do it," he says.

Another question that came up involves John Connor's place in high school - a storyline that may take a backseat as the show progresses. "We’ve seen just about the last of John in high school. I think John and Sarah have either wisely chose homeschooling for John at this point. It doesn’t mean that we’ve seen the last of John interacting with people from his high school, but I think the days of seeing John sitting in class, yes, are pretty numbered," Friedman confirms. Another thread from Season 1 that actually may resurface is the question of Sarah Connor's future of dying of cancer. "Thematically, we definitely visit it again this year, and an early episode kind of brings it back up, and I think it’s sort of investigated. It’s sort of explored in a kind of oblique way in one of the early episodes. It’s definitely not something that we’ve forgotten about, but I also don’t think you’re going to see her in bed with chemo anytime soon," he says.

Regarding Sarah Connor's love life, Lena Headey does not believe a romance with Derek Reese is in the cards. "I think that Derek and Sarah’s relationship is more a little of already-divorced parents. I think the fact that he’s John’s uncle would be weird, seeing as his brother was the love of her life, so I don’t think there’s going to be any development there. I certainly wouldn’t want it. I think it would be far too obvious," Headey says. Friedman agrees. "It's not something that we've contemplated at all," he says. Charley, however, still might still be a possibility. "Who knows with Charley?" Lena posits. "I think that's always an open door at the moment."

Friedman talked a bit about the religious connections in the Terminator franchise, from the classic movies all the way through to Ellison's faith in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. "It’s something that’s always been in the franchise," he says. "I think that Sarah as a very, very radicalized Mary figure and John as sort of a Jesus figure has always been in the franchise, and it’s stuff that, thematically, is interesting to explore. And I’ve kind of become fascinated with it through the Ellison character, and part of it was just because Richard T. Jones is quite religious and I’d spent some time talking to him about it, and I figure it seemed like a really natural place to sort of explore some of those themes. And especially with him, regarding whether or not his faith is either confirmed or challenged by, you know, with the things he’s seen. I think it’s easy to assume, oh, because there are terminators in the universe that that means that God doesn’t exist or something, but I don’t think that that’s necessarily true. So it’s interesting just to see people with particular ideologies have to try to fit radical world views into it," he says.

Friedman assures that the relationship between mother and son will remain at the forefront of the series. "I would say that the Sarah/John relationship is the central relationship in the show, and I think that, at different times, there can be different shifts in terms of the power dynamic or the proactivity. Lena talks a little bit about her character taking a back seat to John. I think that it’s a parent/child struggle, and I think that, as a parent, I’ve kind of, well, my child was a lot younger, but kind of watching the push and pull of that dynamic, to me, is fascinating. So I sort of look at them as a pair. Ultimately, yes, it’s called The Sarah Connor Chronicles and it’s about how does this parent of this special child deal with that, and it’s challenging. I think it’s challenging for any parent, and it’s challenging for this particular parent because of who he’s supposed to be, but I don’t believe that she ever has to stop being Sarah Connor. I think it’s just the challenge is kind of figuring out who that is on a daily basis," Friedman explains.

"I think that Sarah’s pretty complex," Headey adds. "You take a normal girl who’s suddenly, thanks to this conversation, gives birth to Jesus, and was in love, I think was truly in love with this man and he dies and leaves her with this legacy. And I absolutely think that her anger is partly at her son and her situation, obviously. And I think that’s what it is, her frustration in dealing with that as she can’t really throw down with her son. But I think there’s a rooted anger also with everybody that comes to advise her and say she should do this and look at it this way, and I think she would love to say,' $%#$% you all,' and she can’t for various reasons. So yes, I think you’re right. I think it’s in the mix. Well, I know it’s in there somewhere," she says.

Season Two will have a good balance between action and character moments, hopefully providing a little bit of something for everyone. "At this point, it’s sort of become an organic thing for us. I think we sort of have a sense of how much action to have in any given episode. It does shift sometimes. Sometimes you, in terms of the realities of production, you don’t have the time or money to do big things all the time in every episode, which I’m happy for. I kind of like it when they say, the money people come to us and say, “You know what? This episode’s going to have to be a little smaller than the last episode.” I kind of enjoy writing smaller, more character-driven episodes, and I think that, at the end of the day, well, I mean, I think there’s sort of three audiences, I think, for the show. There’s the people who really come for the action, there’s people who really come for the characters, and then there’s the large Venn diagram in the middle, which is the people who want both. And I think those are the ones that ultimately, I think, are the most pleased consistently because they’ll get one or the other during the week. To me, it’s a drama. It’s still a family show, a family drama that is in the science fiction world and has action in it, but it’s still, I think, character first for me," Friedman explains.

On the subject of character, the addition of Brian Austin Green as a series regular as Derek Reese for Season 2 seemed to be a natural one. "People really liked him and we really liked him. I think he adds something to that dynamic. I think that John’s always been looking for father figures, and I think it’s interesting to have one around who is a blood relative, but his back story is complicated. I like the fact that Derek represents the human face of the future war and kind of the cost, so he’s sort of like a, to the extent that he’s sort of this damaged war vet who is in the scenes. You always have a sense of the stakes of what they’re fighting and what you don’t want to see someone become, which is Derek. And he was out doing lots of auditions, so we thought we’d lock him up so that no one else could take him," Friedman says. (In other words, 90210 producers - back off!)

Friedman seems to be in support of "future" storylines as long as they tie in to the things that happen in the present day. "The future stuff really informs the things that are going on in the present, and you end up, to me, when I watch that episode ['Dungeons and Dragons'], I see an amazing emotional storyline with Sarah and with Charley and with John, and I think combining those two and playing those two worlds off against each other is something that I think works very well for us, and so I think we’re going to see it in certain flashes this year, but it should always, and we try to always keep it informing of the emotional back story of the show, it doesn’t just become just pure eye candy, despite the joyousness of that," he says.

Friedman reiterates that he's not a big fan of the idea of bringing in people from the Terminator film franchise into the series, although he does know that Brian Austin Green and Michael Biehn (the original Kyle Reese from the movies) are friends. Friedman wasn't very revealing about upcoming guest stars, though he did mention that Busy Phillips from Freaks & Geeks will be showing up.

With that, the press conference ended. Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed participating!

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles returns September 8 on FOX! See a gallery of images

Read some of our interviews from Comic Con '08: Josh Friedman - Thomas Dekker & Summer Glau

Season 2 Image Gallery - Spoilers

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