On Thursday (April 17) night, the unknown killer on CBS’ “Harper’s Island” claimed three more lives.
The killer beheaded a deaf priest, but he wasn’t important enough to have a name or description on CBS’ corpse-of-the-week tallyboard.
However, he (or she?) also offed several featured characters, setting fire to Lucy (“The Socialite”) in a pit and hanging Kelly (“The Outcast”) from the rafters to look like a suicide.
On Friday morning, HitFix chatted with Sarah Smyth (“The Socialite”) and Ana Mae Routledge (“The Outcast”) about watching themselves die on the national TV and their own guesses at who the killer might be.
HitFix: First of all, obligatory condolences on that whole dying thing. How did you guys watch the episode?
Sarah Smyth: I got together with a group of friends and we all watched together.
Ana Mae Routledge: I had a whole bunch of friends over and my cousin and my boyfriend’s mom and we hung out and squirmed as we got to watch the episode unfold.
HitFix: So what is the sensation of watching yourself die?
AMR: I had to watch through a small slit in my sweatshirt, because it’s hard watching yourself be awkward and creep on screen and then do a kind hot scene like the one that J.D. Dunn (Dean Chevala) and Kelly share and then to see yourself hanging lifeless from a beam, it’s a little too intense for me. I had had to filter it through a sweatshirt.
SS: I thought it was fun! I was really excited to see how the burning would turn out, because it was a stunt-double who actually was lit on fire, so I was excited to see how it all turned out and how much they could actually show.
HitFix: Be honest now… How well did you guys keep the secret?
AMR: I kept it very closely guarded. Even my parents didn’t know what was going to happen to me. I have yet to hear from them and help them through this tough time of seeing their daughter being killed.
SS: I didn’t say anything to anybody, but the only thing that was difficult was when you have a boyfriend or friends you see on a regular basis and suddenly you’re not working anymore… You don’t give them an exact episode or what happens or any of the details, but I think it was well know that I wasn’t going to make it all the way to the end.
HitFix: How early did you know that your departures were going to be this abrupt?
AMR: We found out on the last day of shooting on the first episode when they were handing out the script for the second episode. I know I got tapped on the shoulder and pulled aside and told that I was going to make it.
HitFix: Any last second pleas for your life?
AMR: Oh, no. Once you know you’re gonna go, you’re gonna go. I had secret wishes that I was gonna be the killer, but Kelly was not so lucky.
HitFix: So when you know you have so little time to make an impression, how do you make sure that audiences are going to care when you’re gone?
SS: I had Gigi, the little dog, and that helped a lot, because I could end up being The Girl With the Dog. I guess you just have to do with it what you can, because it’s such a huge cast and so many people to get to know that it’s difficult, but I guess just having good energy. I liked having the dog around to help kind of show the character in her socialite-ness, because she’s really different than I am, personally.
AMR: I think the writers did a really great job of making each character unique. They put a lot of thought into developing each character to have their own contributions to the story. It was just our job to fulfill what they laid out before us. I think that Kelly was creepy enough that I know I won’t forget her.
HitFix: So how much do you guys know about what happens in the story going forward?
AMR: It’s just a mystery. I’m completely in the dark and I can’t wait to find out who the killer is.
SS: The same goes for me.
HitFix: So if you guys are both in the dark, gimme a guess. Who do you think the killer is?
SS: I find it hard to tell, because they’re setting up so many different things. If I had to guess, based on my death or my episode, I thought Hunter Jennings looked pretty creepy standing in the woods by himself watching everything on the beach. So it may be him, or of course my fallback is always Gigi. I think Gigi did it.
AMR: I don’t know. I think JD’s a pretty creepy character. We’ve seen him with blood on his hands and he just seems to slough off this sense of eeriness around him. But I think that the stories are going to develop pretty intensely over the next few episodes and we might not be so concerned with who the killer is, but just what’s gonna happen next.
HitFix: Was there any on-set ritual for saying good-bye?
AMR: Because we were killed off pretty early on, I don’t think there was a ritual set up yet about how to treat someone who’s being killed off, but it would have been cool to see maybe later on how everyone was treated when they found out their time was coming to an end.
SS: The ritual was more when everyone got the script and found out you were dying, not the actual dying. Also, my character, I died on my own, so I was the only one there when it happened, just me and Gigi. But everyone claps you off and says good-bye. It’s kinda sad. For me, since I was one of the first of the Wedding Party to go, we were all shooting all of the big boat scenes when we got the second script and they hadn’t quite figured out yet how they were going to let everyone know that their time was coming and we were all sitting under the cast tend and Jon Turtletaub, the producer, came up and said, “Does everyone wanna find out who’s going home next?” and he played a bit of a reality show game and he said “You are safe” and “You are safe” and then Lucy found out that she was not safe. So we all found out together and then everyone kinda felt bad and said “Oh, that’s too bad.” But we had a good laugh at how it happened.
AMR: I think I was gonna go, that was a pretty awesome day to go, because my character got everything she ever wanted and I got to have a pretty hot scene with Dean. I wasn’t so much sad to go as to say, “Alright! Woo. My work is done here. Moving on.”
HitFix: Did they make a hanging doll for you, Ana Mae?
AMR: No! That was me hanging. I was strung up on that ceiling. Shooting that scene took many, many, many hours, so I was strung up for quite a few hours. In-between takes, they put a stool beneath my feet, so I could stand and give my neck a break. Not literally.
HitFix: And Sarah, we assume that Gigi is OK?
SS: Well, last I saw, Sarah, Gigi was staring at me from outside of the hole, so… I guess we’ll have to find out. I don’t know.
HitFix: “Harper’s Island” is a show that doesn’t seem adverse to using flashbacks or dream sequences or fantasies. Have we seen the last of y’all on the show?
AMR: I don’t know. I guess you might see me hanging around…
SS: Then I guess you might say I might be lighting up the screen again.
HitFix [Laughing]: OK, so how many times have you guys done that punchline this morning?
AMR: We haven’t! That was the first.
“Harper’s Island” airs on CBS on Thursday nights at 10 p.m.
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