Catching Up with Shadowhunters’ Katherine McNamara

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Accomplished actress, singer, dancer and song writer, Katherine McNamara began her career on Broadway at the age of 13, starring in multiple musicals and plays. However, it wasn’t long before she started venturing into television and film as well. She made her film debut as Mary Carver in Matchmaker Mary. In 2011 she scored a guest role on Law & Order: SVU. From there she continued to appear in a plethora of other shows including: Jessi, Touch, Happyland, Unforgettable, Workaholics, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and The Fosters. In addition she’s also been featured in the films: Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, Natural Selection, R.L. Stines’ Monsterville: The Cabinet of Souls, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and Little Savages.

In wasn’t until 2016, that Katherine got her first major television role as Clary Fray in Freefrom’s Shadowhunters. Talk Nerdy With Us recently had the pleasure of chatting with Kat about Clary’s arc this season. Read what she had to say below.

Congratulations on the premiere!

Thank you, it’s finally out there.

I know! What has the fan response been?

It’s good, it’s very good. We obviously can’t please everyone, because people have such passionate ideas about this story, but overall, we’ve had a really overwhelmingly positive response. We’ve been so happy. The ratings have been good, and the critics are happy, and the fans are happy, so we’re happy!

You had told us you were really looking forward to fans seeing the City of Bones, which we have now, so what other scene are you really looking forward to fans seeing?

There are so many, there are so many that I’ve even forgotten about that I see during ADR, the little clips that I see that just add so much to the story. Episode 3, there’s a really cool scene with a certain transportation device that I can’t reveal quite yet, some fans might be able to guess, but I’m not at liberty to reveal anything yet. As the season continues there are so many things. Episode 4 has something huge, I could go through and say every episode has something huge.

Episode 12 is a really big deal for all of us, and for Freeform and, really, television, simply because we take a big risk, and we do something that’s very different. We do something that … We really stray from the books a little bit, but it’s in a way that creates a situation that one of the ships, if you will, on our show, one of the main relationships … it’s a real turning point for not only them, but for all the characters, and so the story as a whole. It really sets the chain of events going for the season finale.

One of the things you’ve talked about for a really long time is that there are changes in the TV show from the book, but at the core, you’re staying true to the story. That happened last night, where Simon still gets taken, just not in the same way it unfolded in the books. As a fan of the series, what change did you really enjoy?

There’s a few major differences, but I think one of the main ones is, honestly, how Simon is taken, and the way Clary’s parentage is revealed to her, and all of that. Clary finds out … That whole situation, it’s a real turning point for Clary. She’s on this mission, she thinks she knows what she’s doing, she’s thinking, all right, we’re going to go to the City of Bones, we’re going to get my memories back, and we’re going to go get my mom, and everything’s going to be fine. Well, little does she know she’s going to find out her father is one of the most evil Shadowhunters to ever exist, and that her memories are still under lock and key, and oh, but the way, her best friend, her rock, the one thing that was keeping her sane, is now taken by none other than the vampires.

Everything that she thought was going right is now going wrong, once again, and she has to again start over and again find another way to fight back. That just continues to happen throughout the season. She thinks she has a handle on things, she’s finally taking a step forward, and something else happens that she has to readjust and think on her feet, and really move forward in a new way.

What’s it like having to act with so much CGI? 

It’s really interesting! It’s a big challenge. It involves a lot more talking than you would think, because we all have to sit there and discuss what it’s going to look like, and how scary is it, and what does if feel like, what does it sound like, what are all of the elements, not only of the physicality, but the basic blueprint of the emotional nature of what it brings up, and how it works technically, and just everything, so that we’re informed of how to react. Often we’re acting to nothing, or acting to a wind machine, or we’re acting to our first AD Pierre running around with a tennis ball on a stick. (laughs). It all depends, and we just have to make sure we’re all entirely on the same page, so that we can give the right reaction, and we can all fit into the same story.

Are you still on City of Lost Souls?

No, I couldn’t wait to pick the books back up after we wrapped filming.  I actually finished the series, and I love it even more, it makes me even more inspired and gives me more excitement to continue if we’re fortunate enough to have a season 2.

What has been your favorite book in the series?

Don’t ask me that question. (laughs). There are so many good ones. I love the ending of book 3, but then books 4, 5, and 6 completely changed the game. What I love about it is that Cassie (Clare) keeps pushing herself and keeps pushing the story and these characters to break out of what they thought they were. When you start the story off, and I’m sure you see it in the first two episodes, every character sort of fits into a stereotype. You have the girl next door, the best friend, the serious stranger, the stoic soldier, and everything in between. As the season progresses and even as the books progress, each character is forced into these situations and into this world where they’re really pushed to break their stereotypes, and push out of their comfort zone. It’s an amazing thing.

If you could create any rune, what power or ability would it give you?

Ooh. Well, something I can never do is keep my closet clean, so I would love to create a closet-cleaning rune, because that would be extremely useful in my life. (laughs).

In the books, Clary gets her memories back with the help of Magnus, but Magnus just left New York. Will Clary recover more of her memories this season? If so, how?

Well, that’s a very interesting question. Magnus definitely becomes a very central part of our story in a few episodes. It comes to choice. Clary comes to a decision that she has to make in regard to her memories, and she is forced into this decision and has to make it very quickly, and has to deal with the consequences of that decision later on. Magnus definitely becomes a much bigger part of the story, and he is the catalyst for a lot of other things that happen.

What can you tease about Clary’s upcoming storyline?

What I can tease is that there’s such a roller coaster throughout the course of the story, and all these characters have such an arc to go through, and there’s such … The humanity of these characters is very much played upon as the series continues, and Clary’s forced into these situations as she’s navigating this world, as she dives head-first into this eminent war. 

She makes choices that aren’t hers to make sometimes, and they end up being very selfish. Her choices have consequences not only for her, but for other characters that she cares a lot about. That takes on a life of its own throughout the season, that she also has to deal with, and has major, major consequences for her, and for all of the other characters.

Over the course of the season, she has to deal with the consequences of these actions. She’s constantly doing this balancing act between moving the mission forward and trying to progress in that sense, but then also dealing with the mistakes that she’s made, and dealing with the consequences of her other actions. It’s this real balancing act that she and the other characters have to deal with as the season progresses, all with the imminent doom that Valentine seems to be bringing.


Shadowhunters airs Tuesdays at 9pm/8c on Freeform.

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