Did you catch the Season 3 premiere of QUANTICO last week? QUANTICO airs Thursday nights at 10 PM EST on ABC. As I continue to feature my April adventure in California here on the blog, today I want to share with you my interview with Academy Award Winner Marlee Matlin, who is a new series regular for Season 3, and the Executive Producer and Showrunner, Michael Seitzman!
Now I admit, I had never seen this show prior to my ABC Studios visit. I’m quite familiar with the actual Quantico in Virginia, but the show? It was my first time watching it when ABC screened the Season 3 premiere for us. And I AM HOOKED!! Season 3 is the perfect time for new fans to jump in and watch the series as this serves as somewhat of a “reboot“, as Michael called it.
When asked how to describe Season 3 to new fans, Marlee replied, “It feels like the old series MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.” So if you enjoy that type of thrilling series, definitely tune in TONIGHT for episode 2 of Season 3.
So let’s dive a little more into the interview. This was actually my second time chatting with Marlee! She is absolutely an incredible actress, with such a warm personality! For QUANTICO, she portrays Jocelyn Turner, a former CIA agent and sniper (with a dark mysterious past!) who is deaf. I can already tell from the premiere alone that her character is here to kick-butt and take care of business! Her character is not only intelligent and quick on her feet, but doesn’t allow her deafness to stop her from “getting the job done.” I definitely admire her character’s strength and perseverance.
On starting Season 3 with a three-year time jump…
Michael: The mandate here, both external and internal, was how do we shake the show up and change what it is that people are expecting and frustrate the viewers? We are storytellers. I think people that watch television or watch a movie, they don’t realize that the primary job of the writer and the filmmaker is to frustrate the audience, not to give the audience what they want. To put it another way, the audience always wants their favorite couple to get together. The bulk of our time is spent trying to figure out ways to keep them apart.
If you think about it, you want to invite new audiences into the show as well as serve the loyal audience. So, give the new audience and the loyal audience an unknown back story that they can both share as opposed to the new audience not being able to share the two years prior. Now, they can share the three years in between…
How Marlee became involved with QUANTICO…
Marlee and Michael actually met at the Rob Lowe Comedy Roast, and were introduced to each other by Marcia Gay Harden! Marlee was a fan of another show of Michael’s, CODE BLACK. He had her appear in one episode of CODE BLACK, and then asked her later if he could write her into QUANTICO.
Marlee: He told me what the character was, and I said “I’m so interested. And let’s go for it.” Then before I knew it I was on the set in New York City playing Jocelyn Turner for him!
Michael: What was really wonderful about it for us in the writer’s room was to write a role for Marlee where we at times ignored the fact that she was deaf so that she’s just somebody who was in a car accident, and with a relationship and a situation. Then at other times we utilized her deafness to help us tell the story and to create a problem in the story and a solution in the story. And that was electrifying.
Michael: So that when I took on QUANTICO, the natural was I want to do that again. I want to work with that actress, with that talent, and also with what looks from the outside from people who are not deaf to be a disadvantage and to find the advantage in it. That’s what we did in the show. We found the advantage in it, which is basically Marlee’s life. (She is) someone who’s taken something that looks like a disadvantage (to an outsider) and has made it an advantage. That’s very exciting and very gratifying.
On working with Michael…
Marlee: This (role) was extremely unusual because playing FBI agent and dealing with the people in situations, dealing in crises, being a sniper, being someone who uses my eyes as a means and surveillance, where a lot of people who aren’t deaf don’t use as someone who does have the ability with my eyes. That was great.
On storytelling with Marlee…
Michael: With a character like Marlee’s, with her talent… she invites you into the process. She looks out in the audience, and she says you can be a part of this team too. That’s really important.
On working on the script…
Marlee: I felt that the writers needed to see me in person and to get a feel for who I am, just to be able to pick up the different situations that I might find myself in and the situations that I’ve been in in my life. Or what I envisioned could happen as a result of the character that I’m playing. The writers are all brilliant.
Michael: We had Marlee come in, in the beginning, and sit with all the writers. And she spent a lot of time with us teaching us about her. So everything that we do in the stories all come from that conversation and subsequent conversations. We needed a lot of help, and she gave us a lot of help.
On bringing ASL into the show…
Michael: We started out by making it clear that they also learned ASL as a language when they worked for the CIA. And that gave us a certain license, that they can communicate with her. The other thing that we did was how we handled subtitles. Subtitles traditionally are in the lower third center of the frame. I don’t want to be reading. I want to be watching Marlee. So we put the subtitles up near her shoulder. They also jump out, as we did them in blue most of the time.
Don’t miss Episode 306!
What can we see from Marlee’s character in the future?
Michael: In every episode Jocelyn is very key to the team, and how they solve problems. There’s an episode coming up though that is one of the most exciting episodes of the season, episode 306. Pay really close attention to it because it’s a very Jocelyn centric episode. It’s probably the darkest episode of the season. If I had to pick three of the top most shocking moments of the season, episode six has one of those three in it.
Marlee: It is something that I have never done in my career. I was so excited about it when Michael told me initially about it because he gave me the option to play and to do stuff in 306 that I’m excited for everybody to see. What we’re seeing is her back story, how she got to where she got to. I got to do is to play somebody, like you, who can hear. And because I was deaf at 18 months, I don’t remember hearing.
That was a real challenge for me as an actor because being deaf I use my eyes more than any other of my senses. So here I am in a situation where I’m playing completely opposite of that. And I didn’t use my eyes. I used my hearing. So my job was to learn about hearing and learn about the characteristics of a hearing person. It was a challenge, but yet it was very exciting. I don’t know how many times I thanked him for writing that episode.
I know personally, I can’t wait to see episode 306!!
Episode 302 “Fear and Flesh”
Make sure you don’t miss TONIGHT’s new episode of QUANTICO, “Fear and Flesh” at 10 PM EST on The ABC Television Network, streaming and on demand.
In tracking down the origin of a deadly strain of tuberculosis threatening Americans, Agent Ryan Booth must go undercover and infiltrate a white supremacist organization – an assignment that threatens the life of another member of the team.
Alan Powell joins the cast of QUANTICO as Agent Mike McQuigg. QUANTICO stars Priyanka Chopra as Alex Parrish, Jake McLaughlin as Ryan Booth, Johanna Braddy as Shelby Wyatt, Russell Tovey as Harry Doyle, with Marlee Matlin as Jocelyn Turner and Blair Underwood as Owen Hall. Guest starring are Erik Jensen as Damon Grosch, Amber Skye Noyes as Celine Fox and Vandit Bhatt as Jagdeep “Deep” Patel. “Fear and Flesh” was written by Dave Kalstein and directed by Alex Kalymnios.
Season 3 Trailer
Want to see more of my adventures in LA? We can connect on Twitter (@AshBG) and on Instagram (@ashb4211). I’ve posted some photos from my trip! Make sure you follow the hashtag #InfinityWarEvent, #Quantico, #ABCTVEvent, and #BlackPantherBluRay!
Tune in TONIGHT, Thursday May 3, for QUANTICO at 10 PM EST on ABC!
Are you watching QUANTICO this season?
While I attended an expense paid trip by Disney to Los Angeles, all opinions are 100% my own.