Interview with Emma Ishta and Kyle Harris from "Stitchers" on ABC Family - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Emma Ishta and Kyle Harris

Interview with Emma Ishta and Kyle Harris of "Stitchers" on ABC Family 5/19/15

These two young people were very sweet and so enthusiastic about their new show. I hope it's a big hit, for their sakes. I enjoyed watching the pilot, and they're both very good in it. ABC Family does not put our names on the questions, but all of the questions below were asked by different people like me in the "press". My question was "What is the most unusual thing that you each had to do on the show?"

ABC Familyís Q&A with Emma Ishta and Kyle Harris

Moderator: My first question is for Emma Ė is it hard to play Kirsten, having no emotions? Do you ever want to crack a smile or do so without thinking?

Emma: Yes, it is. Itís definitely a challenge. One of the things I love playing about her is that she is this character whoís not necessarily in line with what most human beings are like and it does change throughout the course of the season. She goes on this real emotional awakening, so itís been really fun, but also definitely a challenge to track her process throughout the season and where sheís at in terms of her emotional abilities.

Moderator: For both of you, what was it that attracted you to your part that made you want to do it?

Kyle: I think [for] me personally it was just that youíve got the super smart guy whoís been sheltered in a lab or a science textbook his whole life, but whenever heís got his banter with Kirsten thereís an attraction and thereís a charm. And yet thereís a one-up battle that happens throughout the entire season between the two of them and the comedy mixed in with this whole procedural science sci-fi jargon that I was most drawn to.

Emma: The main thing for me is this strong female character; Iím a huge advocate for representations of intelligent and charmed women in TV as I think we all should be. And to that, the opportunity to play Kirsten: this incredibly complex but strong, intelligent female character was really appealing to me and I also love sci-fi. I love fantasy. I love Star Wars; I love Lord of the Rings; anything that has that element in the procedural format, which I think is great for TV. It was definitely appealing.

Moderator: What can we expect to see from your characters over the course of the season?

Emma: Kirsten is a computer science grad student and she gets recruited by this covert government agency to hack into the brains of deceased people. She has this condition called temporal dysplasia that affects her in two different ways. The first way is it affects her ability to comprehend the passage of time, so every moment to her feels as if itís always been there, like sheís constantly experiencing dťjŗ vu. And it also affects her ability to emotionally connect with herself with her own emotions and also with the emotions of other people. So throughout the season you see her become a part of this crazy program and how that affects her as a human being throughout the course of all the adventures they go on.

Kyle: Cameron is the head of this Stitchers program that Kirsten is the subject in and you start to see his process. As soon as he meets Kirsten, his world is flipped upside down because now heís got this beautiful girl inside of his lab that he has to navigate his emotions for, but at the same time feel responsible entirely for because, as you learn throughout the season, there are some things that went wrong in the past in this Stitchers programming and he vows to never have it happen again. So heís just contemplating his emotions with Kirsten as are they romantic feelings or are they actually just overbearing parental feelings in a way because heís got such a responsibility to protect her at all costs? You start to see him grow as more of a hero and guy as she pulls him out to the street and basically takes the crime fighting into their own hands and thatís sort of different.

Emma: They really challenge each other and change each other and draw things out of each other that werenít there before they met, and interestingly give each other little parts of their own personality.

Moderator: What are you most excited for the viewers to see?

Kyle: Iím excited for them to see a sci-fi procedural show on their favorite network that theyíve never seen before. I think weíre branding a new way for the network and weíre very proud of what weíve been doing. I think people are going to be able to relate to these characters and whether theyíre into sci-fi or procedural or just cool human beings that are smart and using it in cool ways, I think thatís really fun. I think itís going to reach out to a lot of audiences.

Emma: I completely agree with Kyle. Itís so different for the network, and weíre excited for the audience base and new people who might watch the show to see something different that weíve been working on.

Moderator: What was it like auditioning for Stitchers?

Emma: My auditioning story is funny because I knew about Kyle before he knew about anything going on.

Kyle: We both auditioned from New York initially.

Emma: So we both went into the original casting director and they sent our picture to ABC Family and then I flew out to test in LA. Kyle actually didnít test in LA, so there were a few other people that had tested for the roles of Kirsten and Cameron. When I went in, Steve Miner, who directed our first episode and he also directed the fourth and the eleventh of the season, started telling me about this guy in New York that they really wanted and they skipped over his audition because they didnít necessarily love the beginning, but then what he did at the end was so amazing. He was telling me about wanting to get Kyle and how they really hoped it wasnít too late, so that was interesting.

Kyle: It was great because this entire process I sent myself via tape to them and they played my tape in the room in LA and I thought, ďWell, thereís no chance Iím going to get this. Iím not even there in person. Theyíre just going to show my tape.Ē But, I get it and they cast us and then theyíre just hoping that we would have chemistry together.

Emma: We didnít read together or anything.

Kyle: But when we met each other, I was thinking, ďYes I can work with this.Ē It was great! I think thatís what people were attracted to from the very beginning is the chemistry that me and Emma just initially have. Its funny -- we were thrown into it because when we shot the original pilot, we were both from New York. They both put us up in a hotel room right next to each other. For around ten days straight, we didnít leave each otherís side and it was perfect and it worked out so well. And itís crazy that itís been almost a year to the date since we started working together.

Emma: By the time the show premieres it will have been a year and two days after that we started filming the original pilot!

Moderator: What is the most unusual thing that you each had to do on the show?

Emma: I thought of a good one, but Iím not at liberty to say [laughs].

Kyle: Most unusualÖaside from the everyday technical jargon that we have to spit out and believe as truth because the technology doesnít actually exist, so you flip through the script and youíre wondering what crazy word are we going to come up with this week.

Emma: Something thatís been unusual for me throughout this entire process is CGI, especially the stitch stuff that I do. Weíve done a lot of green screen work and weíve done a lot of imagining to stuff thatís happening when itís special effects. So thatís been interesting because youíre basically in your own world and you donít have a lot to react off of --- youíre creating or pretending that all of this stuff is going on around you, all of this crazy stuff, having things fly at your head and itís not really happening. So thatís been really unusual and interesting and I think itís a really cool part of the show. Also the tank, let me just throw that out there. I do spend a lot of time in the tank.

Kyle: Yes, like a six-hour day in the water.

Emma: A number of hours at a time, itís kind of unusual, you get pruney like youíve never seen a prune before, but itís good. They take good care of me in there [laughs].

Moderator: Whatís the most challenging part about playing your character so far?

Emma: I think for me itís tracking Kirstenís emotional evolution as she goes through the season. Every time sheís stitched into somebody elseís memories, she feels what they felt and it reconnects pathways in her brain, so that sheís able to reconnect with her own emotions, and that affects a person. Imagine spending 23 years of your life or since she was 8 years old, not really feeling anything, not really connecting. Now all of a sudden you have these really strong emotions pouring at you. So I think the hardest thing for me has been tracking her journey as she evolves into an emotional being.

Kyle: Cameronís relationship with Kirsten and knowing that ultimately she is slowly learning about herself and feelings and what it means to have sympathy and whatnot, but yet heís still enamored by her and finding himself falling in love with her. But he knows at the end of the day thereís no hope because she doesnít really know herself yet, so why is he contemplating his feelings for this person that doesnít really even really know the idea or the emotion of love. So itís a constant battle of why do I even waste my time with thisÖyet I need to because itís my lifeís work at this point, so juggling that.

Moderator: Do you guys have any secrets or hidden talents or anything that happened behind the scenes when you guys were filming the episodes that you would be willing to share with us?

Kyle: I fall at least once an episode on the stage [laughs].

Emma: I am an exceptionally talented cleaner. Iím very good at it. Kyle can sing beautifully; heís spent a lot of time in musicals. I can sing also, not maybe quite as well, but I can sing. Whatís been going on on set? We laugh a lot out there. All of us have a lot of fun.

Kyle: If they ever release a blooper reel, it could be more entertaining than the show itself [laughs]. Just based off the amount of time that Iíve fallen on my face andó

Emma: Kyle has trouble going up and down stairsó[laughs].

Moderator: Is the technical jargon challenging for you guys to remember?

Kyle: Yes. You look at it and youíre thinking, ďoh, this is the procedural aspect of the showĒ when youíre just sitting there spitting out information that itís just all plot and all back story about what happened in the crime and what happens in the lab and where do we go from here. And thatís the hard part of the job. Iím on a procedural show and weíve got to give information, where the audience might just want to get to the chase.

Emma: We have a lot of banter and a lot of back and forth and the dialog is very fast, so itís sort of difficult learning the jargon that we have. But once you find a way to make it all make sense to you, as long as you understand what youíre saying, then it becomes a lot easier.

Kyle: Weíve got to come across as confident in what weíre saying like this is our everyday lives, and meanwhile in our heads weíre wondering what this even means, I donít know. But Iím going to say it with conviction.

Moderator: Is there anything else you guys found to be a challenge?

Kyle: The schedule. You have these long days and you come home and youíve got to memorize information for the next episode. Itís an amazing job, and itís a great job. You definitely have to put the work in because itís not easy dialog to memorize with it being a sci-fi procedural aspect of a show.

Emma: You really have to have your head in the game. We spend a lot of time learning lines together between scenes, learning lines for the next day or running lines.

Kyle: Trying to find the tone of the show, just like any show, itís just finding your legs and if theyíre jokes and theyíre serious moments and itís ďhow do we play this; how do we want to play it.Ē No one really knew because we hadnít had an audience reaction, but we were just trusting our instincts and going off of our show runner and whatever ends up.

Emma: Itís just one of those shows that has a bit of everything. It has humor and it has drama, so definitely finding its voice, and finding what all of the charactersí voices are together and what Stitchers is going to be to people. It takes a while for it to get into synch; that was interesting as well.

Moderator: Whatís it like to be a part of the ABC Family big family?

Emma: Our first experience meeting everyone was at the ABC Family upfront, which was about a month ago now; and everyone else in all of the casts were so welcoming and so friendly. They saw us standing awkwardly there like the newbies and they really came over and were very kind. Everyone who works at ABC Family has also been very kind and really supportive and very communicative and itís just been a wonderful experience.

Kyle: I think its great! Itís definitely a cool group of people that regardless of the network we work on, I would choose to be friends with them outside. Itís cool that weíre all in this family, if you will, together and I think weíre all standing for a good thing and hopefully representingóyouíre role models in a sense to the people that watch it.

Moderator: If you could stitch back in your life, which memory would you go to?

Emma: Iíve been asked this question before and Iím going to say the same answer I said then. Iím going to say my wedding day. It was full of joy and laughter and love and there was rain. And people were dancing barefoot in the rain and mud everywhere and it was so unifying and wonderful and if I could experience that again, I would in a heartbeat.

Kyle: I think for me itís probably getting the phone call that I got this job because thereís that actor who didnít really think this would necessarily be a possibility, but he was going to try anyways. So many times you come home from a long hectic day on set or whatever and you want to complain about itÖ but youíre like ďa million people would kill to have your hectic day, so remember that this is a blessing and that we get to do what we get to do.Ē Iím very thankful for that. But to go back and look at that excitement and that enthusiasm of me getting that phone call to keep driving forward as hopefully the show progresses and continues for seasons to come. I havenít had a wedding, so I really couldnít say much [laughs].

Moderator: What are your favorite and least favorite things about your characters?

Kyle: Favorite and least favorite, I feel like my least favorite thing about Cameron is that heís a control freak and I catch myself doing the scenes thinking Iím so annoying, just calm down. I personally am very chill and relaxed and go with the flow and whatever happens happens and that is not his motto at all. Heís like ďNo, no, everything does not happen for a reason. It happens because I planned it that way and thatís why it happened.Ē So thereís lots of times when I think, ďOh man, I donít know if Iíd be friends with this guy.Ē [laughs]

I apologize to my cast mates for being so anal retentive sometimes - thatís Cameron. But my favorite thing is playing opposite Emma. Iíd say not to give her too much credit, but sheís a great person and she makes it easy to come to work with. I think itís been a really cool journey and I canít wait to see what happens.

Emma: Absolutely ditto. Kirsten, least favorite is hard to say because I think when youíre playing your character, you have to embrace and love everything about them even the negative things. There are definitely things about Kirsten that are abrasive. I think something that I dislike about her as a human being or maybe what I wouldnít want in my lifeÖis she can be a little condescending, a little demeaning sometimes.

I donít know if I would necessarily choose her to be friends with. I give Cameron a lot of credit for choosing to duke it out with her.

I also think thatís part of what makes her and makes her unique. My favorite thing about her is how smart she is, how unashamed she is to be herself. I really love that.

Moderator: Was there any one or another character from something else that you were inspired by for your characters in this show, or did you just take everything straight from the script?

Emma: I definitely pulled from a lot of different resources and thought a lot about different people who have similar character traits to Kirsten in trying to pull and create her character. There are a couple of examples, I would say Gillian Anderson in The Fall, which is a BBC show and itís available on Netflix. She did such a fantastic job with this woman who is incredibly complex, has this incredibly complex inner life, but doesnít give too much all of the time and I definitely was inspired by her performance. I think sheís incredible in that show, and obviously she starred on X-Files, sci-fi, itís great.

I also really love Robin Wright in House of Cards and even though I donít know that the characters are super similar in terms of the choices she makes and how deliberate her character is, I definitely was inspired by that as well.

Kyle: Iíd say this in a nutshelló Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch. I just sit and watch Sherlock and Watson traits that they both have that are both Cameron in a way. Sherlock is this headstrong guy, he knows whatís going on, and heís got this passion. He knows whatís happening and then you have Watson, whoís the side of Cameron that when he leaves the lab and heís following Kirsten in this way and theyíre wondering ďwhat are we doing, we shouldnít be here,Ē the crazy neurotic side. I watch that show and take both of their traits as characters and wrap it into one as Cameron and that was helpful for me to watch and say ďokay, I like the way these guys think.Ē Thatís the intelligent level that Cameron and the rest of the Stitchers crew is at -- being prodigy geniuses that are always one step ahead of everyone else.

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