Exclusive Interview with Shadowhunters’ Katherine McNamara


Photo Credit: Lise Varette
Photo Credit: Lise Varette

Talk Nerdy With Us recently chatted with actress, singer and dancer Katherine McNamara. Katherine is best known for her roles in New Years Eve, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Happyland, The Fosters, CSI, Unforgettable, Law & Order: SVU, Drop Dead Diva and 30 Rock. This January she’ll be starring as Clary Fray in ABC Family/Freeform’s highly anticipated fantasy series Shadowhunters, based on the best-selling series The Mortal Instruments. Read our interview below.

Were you familiar with Clare’s City of Bones prior to your audition?

I was familiar with the book series. I hadn’t actually read it myself, but it had been on my list forever, and it became the perfect opportunity for me to take the bull by the horns and finally sit down and read the series.

I started reading during the audition process and I finished the first book by the time I landed the role, and I fell in love with the story and the world that Cassandra created. It’s so rich, and her writing is so romantic. It’s really a beautiful world that we get to bring to life and make really dark and edgy and a lot of fun.

How far into The Mortal Instruments series have you gotten?

I’m just starting book 5. I had to stop in the middle of shooting because I started confusing scripts and books, and it was all blending together, and things weren’t making sense. (Laughs). I had to pull back and put the book down and pick up the scripts.

I’m now getting back to things now that press is starting to die down for the holidays. I’m planning on finishing the books by the end of the year.

Shadowhunters isn’t your first book adaptation. You were just in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. Did that experience help you prepare for the role of Clary?

I think so. I think being a part of the Maze Runner helped introduce me to the world of what it means to be a part of projects that have such huge fans. Both the fans of the Maze Runner series and The Mortal Instruments are so fierce. They care so much about these characters and these worlds. Something I’ve learned from meeting a lot of these fans, is that when you read something, your own imagination adds so much to the story. You form very personal relationships with these characters, and with the story and the things that happen, and with these worlds that you live in, in a sense.

It’s very exciting for us to be tasked with bringing these characters to life, that have become these people’s heroes, but it’s also a huge responsibility. We’re very aware of that. In a sense, me playing Clary, it’s something that I’ve really taken to heart, and hopefully I’ve done justice to her and to the story.

You just mentioned that when you read a book, you bring the character to life in your own mind. So, when you are reading TMI, do you picture you as Clary, and Dom as Jace, etc? Do you picture you guys as the characters since you are them now?

Actually … yeah. (Laughs). It’s something that’s made it a lot more fun to read the books now that I know everybody who’s playing all of these characters. It’s fun to imagine who will be playing the characters that we don’t have yet on the series.

I know these people so well, and on such a personal level, and we spent so much time together that I know what their voices would sound like on all the different lines. I know the looks on their faces when certain things happen. I can see it in my mind, and it becomes so much more real. I find myself crying and laughing and gasping with the characters in the book, simply because I can see that. I can see it very clearly in my mind. It’s made it so much fun to read and see everything as it happens in the books.

Who’s your favorite character, excluding Clary?

There’s so many good ones. I have to say Magnus Bane. I think everyone secretly wants to be Magnus Bane. (Laughs). He’s just so fabulous, and yet he has such a vulnerable side. He loves as fiercely as he fights, and I think that’s true for all of the characters, but of course Magnus has a little extra sparkle.

What scene/episode are you most excited for fans to see?

All of them! If I had to choose … I’m really excited for people to see the City of Bones, I know there’s a few sneak peeks that have been out. It’s such a hauntingly beautiful set. Episode 11 is really big. I can’t reveal anything though. Episode 10 we do something very different and wacky and weird that’s a lot of fun. Episode 12 is I think going to be a really big one for people, just because we do something, we take a big risk, and it is a twist that the books don’t take. It’s a good one. I’m really excited for people to see it. It forces our characters into a lot of situations that they wouldn’t normally be in. It puts everyone out of their comfort zone, in a very good way.

You have a theater and musical background. If you had to pick one song that you would sing as Clary’s theme song, what would it be?

I rely very much on music when I’m creating characters. I always create a playlist for the character, and I listen to it going to set every day. There was a song, what was it … it was a cover of “I’d Love to Change the World” that Jetta did recently. I heard it randomly and it really, really spoke to me, being where Clary is in the first episodes and as she grows throughout the season. It was a song I listened to a lot jumping into this world.

Since our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, what makes you a nerd, or what do you nerd out about?

I am a self-proclaimed nerd. I’m a huge math nerd. I love math. I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. We all had the opportunity to go to the premiere the other night and I have to say, the new film is fantastic, if you haven’t already seen it. We all were, I think we all shed a tear when the first opening sequence rolled through in the movie theater the other night. I definitely have to say, I’m a big Star Wars nerd.


  1. Kat is simply a fan of the books that’s what I love most about this interviews, they all are, they all love their characters.

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