HitFix Interview: ‘Harper’s Island’s’ deceased Single Girl and Stepmother speak

06.16.09 8 years ago


Saturday (June 13) was Ladies’ Night on CBS’ “Harper’s Island,” but not in that fun way that leads to half-priced drinks and wanton dancing.

No, this week’s episode saw two distaff members of the Bride’s Party ruthlessly killed by The Harper’s Island killer/killer, whoever he/she/they may be. 

First Amber Borycki’s Beth, described in CBS’ literature as The Single Girl, went off in search of Creepy Kid Madison and instead of turning up with the purloined child, was next seen bloody and vivisected in  a Prohibition Era tunnel under the hotel. 

Then Claudette Mink’s Katherine Wellington, The Stepmother and kinky paramour of the already deceased Richard, took a little nap on a couch and woke up — or, rather, didn’t wake up — with a pair of gardening shears jammed in her back.


For the third straight week, “Harper’s Island” didn’t offer an on-screen killing, but days after their television demises, Borycki and Mink talked with HitFix about the carnage we didn’t necessarily see and their own theories on who killed them.

HitFix: So how did you guys watch the episode this week?

Amber Borycki: I watched it online, actually.

Claudette Mink: And I haven’t seen it. It was the night that I died, so I decided to not watch it. It was at the request of a friend who wanted to come over and see it when they have a chance, so it’ll be sometime this week. 

HitFix: Have you guys had the chance to die on-screen previously?

CM: I have. I’ve died four or five times, maybe?

AB: I think I have, too. I’ve drowned and I’m trying to think of what else…

CM: I’ve drowned too. I’ve drowned and I’ve been beheaded and I’ve been…

AB: Oh, and I was killed by a vampire once. That was good.

CM: Nice. I died in childbirth once.

AB: I haven’t done that one!

HitFix: Does it get easier, dying?

AB: I don’t know if it gets easier. I mean, it’s easy. You’re just just laying there. You’re not doing much.

CM: I think it depends on the death.

AB: But they’re one of the worst scenes to do, because you’re laying there with syrup all over you and a lot of it’s outside and freezing.

CM: Drowning was not fun at all. It was two days in a pool…

AB: I was at a lake in September.

CM: Oh man. I was in a pool, but my hands and my feat were bound. I had scuba-divers shoving the air in my mouth and I was blindfolded. It was awful. But this death was lovely. I got to recline on a couch.

AB: Nice. I was in a tunnel.

CM: I haven’t seen your death yet, Amber! I’m dying to see it.

AB: They cut me in half. 

HitFix: So in an ensemble this big, is there a secret to making sure that viewers care about you when you’re done in?

AB: Stealing everybody else’s lines.

CM: That’s a hard question.

AB: You hope you’re going to stand out because you’re good or you’re exciting, but for me, I work with what I have and try to make the best of it, the scenes and whatever I’m given.

CM: Exactly. There’s a lot of group of scenes. Some of us didn’t have the storylines or the screentime the other characters had, so you do what you can with what you’ve got, but you also have to know you’re part in the ensemble. If you have no lines, you can’t be in the background trying to steal the scene.

AB: You have have to honor the story. 

CM: Yeah. It’s about the story. 

AB: That was the big thing on “Harper’s,” that everybody respected the concept of the story and what “Harper’s Island” was all about, in terms of the secrecy behind it and really just working as a team and keeping it under wraps and not telling your boyfriend or girlfriend or best friend anything. That was all part of it, that everybody wanted it to work out. 

CM: It was respect the story and the scene and knowing that that if I’m in a scene with Amber and other people, “Well OK, this is Amber’s scene” and it’s important where the focus is and I’m not going to try to stand out in a bad way or a good way, I’m just going to do my work as an actor and stand out in that way.

HitFix: Given the inevitability that things would get cut, were there character details about Beth and Katherine that we didn’t get to see?

CM: Yes.

AB: Yes.

CM: I had a whole storyline that didn’t really come out.

AB: I don’t know if we can say anything, because I don’t know if certain things tie in with other things and if the stuff that was cut out was cut out for a reason.

CM: That’s the thing. Let’s say they cut out something from my storyline, that might impact the Amber storyline as well, because if that wasn’t mentioned in Episode Two, then how would they know it in Episode Four? It’s like a snowball effect and I think the editors were very careful with choosing exactly what they want to show and weeding through the stuff where they thought, “Well maybe this isn’t as important” or “Maybe we want to distract the viewers and have them think this instead of that” or “Maybe we’re going to cut that out because it’s telling too much right now. 

AB: It’s hard, especially with such a huge cast. We had 25 in the main cast and of course all of us wanted wanted to be there as much as possible, but if we were, none of the viewers would have any idea of what was going on. I can’t follow 25 people. You have to have some who you see and get to know…

CM: The main players and some not. It’s disappointing when a part of your storyline gets cut, but still knowing that storyline, it adds so much flavor to your performance. 

HitFix: That all makes sense, but you’re saying you aren’t going to tell me what got cut?

AB: I wish we could say. Maybe when it’s all said and done. 

CM: Well, I know that my character had a lot of money and maybe the Wellingtons… [She tails off…]

HitFix: Are there advantages and disadvantages to having what was essentially an off-screen death?

CM: I really wanted to get murdered on-screen. 

AB: You did?

CM: Yeah. And I was bugging [producers] Dan Shotz and Karim Zreik, I think since Episode Two telling them that I wanted my skin to get peeled off. That was what I wanted. I wanted to be peeled.

AB: Well, I got chopped up, so I don’t know how that would have worked on-screen. I guess I could have screamed a bit more? But they’ve done a lot of discovery on the show, discovery of death, but we haven’t seen that many. We saw Uncle Marty at the beginning. 

CM: That was awesome. 

AB: Yeah, so cool.

CM: And Richard. David [Lewis] had a great death with the harpoon.

AB: Yeah, that was awesome too. But I didn’t really mind how it went for me. It would have been fun, but I still got to lay in a pool of my own blood, so that was cool, too.

HitFix: How much makeup work had to be involved for both of you?

AB: I had to shower afterwards. First the makeup that they did in trailer was the blood that’s pouring out of the side of my mouth — I don’t know what you could see in the actual scene, because it was pretty dark — but they did that face stuff and then once I laid in that tunnel, they just dumped it all over me, so it was all in my clothes and all in my underwear, it got everywhere and it was syrup, so that stuff’s not easy to get off, syrup filled with red dye.

CM: I had some sort of long-johns under my outfit, shirt and pants. It was just my normal makeup on my face, I think they powdered me down so I was a little paler and took off my lipstick. Then I sat in a pool of blood and miraculously the long-johns soaked it up and I didn’t have any of it on me. Sometimes that syrup will stain your skin for a couple days, but I didn’t have a drop on me. It was the the easiest death ever.

HitFix: Since we didn’t see it, how do you think the death went down?

CM: Well, I think the killer just snuck up behind me when I was reading my book and taking a nap and got me in the back with the garden shears and probably, apart from  moment of pain, didn’t even know who killed me. 

HitFix: She seemed so peaceful.

CM: Maybe somebody put something in a cup of tea? Maybe I was drugged a little bit to make sure I didn’t wake up to scream, because if I screamed, I would have alerted everyone else.

AB: And I think mine was definitely painful. I got chopped up into multiple pieces and dragged into a crawlspace. I don’t know if the pieces happened before, but let’s hope it happened after. Maybe I got dragged in there whole and then chopped.

HitFix: When the show started, it was about this happy, fun wedding party, but the past few weeks things have become increasingly miserable for all of the remaining characters. Did that change the atmosphere on-set.

AB: It was exhausting, I found. When we started filming, it was the end of summer, so it was actually hot out and we were out in our party dresses sitting in the sun in any of our down-time. We were filming stuff on boats, we were laying in the grass playing with puppies. For me, it was like, “This is amazing. This is beautiful. I’m getting tanned and sunburnt.” And then as the show progressed and things got darker on the show, the Vancouver weather toward winter started rolling in, so it got cold and it got dark and it kinda worked, the actual seasons when they filmed everything for the tone.

HitFix: How about when the cast started to dwindle?

CM: It was always sad when someone got murdered who you had had a lot of scenes with or been hanging out with and it’s like a little part of the club is gone, so it changes it that way. The chemistry changes pretty much every week because somebody else is gone or two people are gone or three people are gone, so that was the biggest change for me. 

AB: In terms of as the show progressed and episodes got darker and darker and the characters grew more and more aware of the fact that people were dying and the episodes, instead of like at the beginning where it was a party, it became much darker and all of our scenes are people screaming and crying and freaking out and murder and as an actor on-set and people working to give good performances and sort of staying in that zone of fear and trauma, it makes for very long days. We had long days as it was, 15 or 16 hours sometimes, and having everybody who you’re surrounded with all day keeping themselves in a dark dark place, it’s something I hadn’t experienced before, especially with that size of cast and having 20 people around you off in their own little corner listening to sad music on their iPod, it makes you just want to go home for a glass of wine at the end of the day, that’s for sure. 

CM: I liked it, though. I almost preferred the intense focus that everyone has when, like, “OK, there’s a murder out there and a couple of the girls are crying and everyone’s scared. I liked that the actors bring it to set and you feel like you’re working. Sometimes it’s so much fun on-set, you almost think, “God, I’m getting paid for this? Having a great time? This is ridiculous, it’s so much fun!” So for me, I like going to work when it’s really focused and everyone’s bringing their own baggage and their own storylines and keeping it really profession and the energy up. 

AB: When you’re trying to live that world, it helps having all of the actors around you in that same space. Even between takes, all of the other actors that you’re working with are also living that world. For me, I found it really helped to be around people.

CM: And everyone was really professional about it. It wasn’t like the minute the director yells “Cut,” people were…

AB: Cracking jokes…

CM: With the whoopie cushion and joking around and stuff. It stayed pretty low-key, everyone really low-key and respectful of the other actors and where they were mentally. 

HitFix: So cutting to the end… If you guys are in the dark about where the show went after your characters died, do you have any theories you wanna share?

AB: I have theories, but I’m not…

CM: I think it’s like three people. That’s always been my thing. I think it’s more than one killer and I think they’re all probably going to kill each other in the end.

AB: I always thought it was a woman, or maybe that’s what I want it to be. I want to see one of the chicks on our show just go crazy. But it’s hard. Some of those deaths, you wonder if one person could have put it off. 

CM: Yeah. I think it’s maybe someone from the island. Or maybe two people from the island and one of the guests? Maybe it’s an opportunities, a couple people from the island and maybe one of the guests just did a couple killings because they had the opportunity and they could get away with it?

AB: Dan, who do you think it is?

HitFix: I think somebody we think is dead isn’t so dead.

AB: I love how people change their mind every week and aren’t sure and think about this person and come up with all of these theories. It’s so great. We’ve been going through the message boards and reading everybody’s theories and we were doing the exact same thing through the entire show and there’s still so much I don’t know, because that was the end for me, but especially in the experience of doing it they didn’t tell us anything.

CM: I would love if Madison was involved. That would be creepy. 

HitFix: But if somebody we thought was dead is actually alive and participating in the killings, I have to ask: So are your characters really dead?

AB: It sure looks that way, doesn’t it?

CM: I’m dead as of whenever that last episode was.

“Harper’s Island” airs on CBS on Saturday nights at 9 p.m.

Previous “Harper’s Island” Death Interviews: 

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