Interview with Shirley Manson of "Terminator" on FOX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Interview with Shirley Manson of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" on FOX

"Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles" is one of my favorite shows.  I was excited to see it start earlier than most shows this fall, and the premiere did not disappoint. There is a new evil robot on the show, played by Shirley Manson. She is apparently the lead singer of a band called "Garbage". I have heard of the band, but that's about it. I'm way too old to know who they are.

Anyway, I was really angry at myself for missing this conference call, and I'm still kicking myself. I got the day wrong and ended up sleeping in instead.

Here is the transcript of the call so you can see what I missed! I wish I could have asked my one question, though. Next time!

Susan: Good morning, everyone. Thank you so much for participating in this conference call. This is Susan Kesser; Iím the publicist from Warner Brothers Television. We are so thrilled to have Shirley Manson on the call from Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, which airs Mondays at 8:00 on FOX.

Shirley Manson is new to the show this season playing Catherine Weaver, the CEO of ZeiraCorp and our brand new liquid metal terminator T1001 model. Thank you for joining in.

Shirley: Hello, everyone.

Moderator: First, weíll go to the line of Joshua Malone. Please go ahead.

Joshua: Hello, Shirley, thank you for your time today.

Shirley: Hello, sorry, this is such a weird way of doing interviews, itís so peculiar.

Joshua: Well, we appreciate you taking time to speak with us. It is kind of odd, but we appreciate your time.

Shirley: Back at you.

Joshua: I want to ask you, how did this role come about, and what did you think about when you found out you were going to be playing a terminator?

Shirley: Well, Josh Friedman contacted me; I was a friend of his wifeís. His wife had mentioned to me that Josh was interested in putting me in this show and had jokingly asked me if I was interested in participating, and I jokingly said that of course I would be. Then later on, it turned out he was interested in me playing a terminator, at which point, I got very excited and jumped at the opportunity, I went to some of the auditions, got the role, and here I am. Itís very, very surreal.

Joshua: Right. Now, are you a science fiction fan? Were you familiar with the Terminator universe coming into this?

Shirley: Absolutely, I was a big fan of the Terminator movies and Iím not a huge sci-fi freak or anything, but Iím interested in the genre, but specifically, I was a big Terminator fan.

Joshua: All right, thank you, Shirley.

Shirley: Thank you.

Moderator: Next weíll go to the line of Ann Donahue with Billboard. Please go ahead.

Ann: Hello, Shirley, how are you? Congratulations.

Shirley: Thank you. How are you?

Ann: Good, thank you. I was just wondering if youíre going to have any time to continue to work on music with this role.

Shirley: Yes, Iím still working on music. Obviously, Iím not a huge lead in the show so I have plenty of downtime too, despite some of the crazy hours we work. Iíve been working all year on stuff and continue to do so.

Ann: Can we expect an album anytime soon?

Shirley: I hope so. I have a lot of material, Iím intending actually to go in and start recording some of the songs live, next month, so weíll see if I manage to pull it off.

Ann: Great, thank you so much.

Shirley: Thank you.

Moderator: Steve Watson with AOL, youíre line is open.

Steve: Hello, Shirley, how are you?

Shirley: Iím good, how are you doing?

Steve: I am doing very well. Nice to talk to you again, last time was for Bleed Like Me for L.A. Times. I know that Billboard just asked you about the music and what Iím particularly interested in is I know this is your first acting gig. Iíve had a chance to talk to a lot of actors/musicians about this. How do you think acting will influence your music at all? Vice versa, how has music influenced you in doing the show at all?

Shirley: Interesting, I think being a musician makes you very Ė musicians in general tend to be quite sensitive, I think, to the environment around them, which I think helps when you are trying to interact with others on screen, to be aware, to be sensitive, and to try to understand whatís going on in the scene. I think being a musician has been helpful in that regard. Obviously, from the experience you get from making videos, you understand where the camera is and how some of the actual technicalities work and so on and so forth. I think itís helpful in a variety of ways, it would probably take me longer than a quick answer in response to get into the nitty-gritty of all that, but I do think theyíre helpful to each other for a variety of different reasons.

Steve: I understand, as you said at the beginning of the call with the first interviewer, itís a little different format than usual, but I thank you very much for at least giving it a shot.

Shirley: Thank you, Iím very grateful to have been given a shot, itís very exciting for me, actually.

Moderator: Next, weíll go to the line of Curt Wagner with RedEye. Please go ahead.

Curt: Hello, Shirley, thank you for doing the call, and congratulations.

Shirley: Thank you.

Curt: I was wondering if you could give us your thoughts or impressions of Catherine as a character, and how you plan to play her. Also, I was wondering, or the fan boy in me, wants to know if you and Cameron are going to mix it up this season.

Shirley: Some terminator action; I donít know, they donít really tell us much about whatís going to happen from episode to episode, we really learn on a need to know basis, unfortunately, so Iíve not seen an idea for where itís going to go.

With regard to the character, she is embodying a human being, so sheís still in the identity of Catherine Weaver, so that in itself is sort of interesting to me because, obviously, sheís physically like a human being, but sheís unable necessarily to bring what is essentially human all the time to the table. I felt that was kind of interesting, itís a sort of rumination on what it is like to not have emotions and not have necessarily a logical thought. I suppose the whole time Iím on the set Iím trying to imagine what that is like, so thatís been an interesting discipline for me.

Itís harder to be a robot than one would think because you realize they would probably be very economical with their movements, so Iíve tried very consciously to be as undemonstrative as possible, and that has been a challenge in itself. Being a musician, when youíre on stage, or at least I am, very demonstrative, so it has been quite a challenge.

I find it fascinating; this is a woman who is truly unassailable, because sheís a terminator who is sort of the head of a company, and a CEO of a very successful company. I find it very amusing in a way that sheís just completely on top of everyone and everything. Itís really a lot of fun to play.

Curt: All right, thank you.

Moderator: Weíll go to the line of Matt Mitovich of Please go ahead.

Matt: Hello, Shirley, thank you for your time today.

Shirley: Thank you.

Matt: I was wondering, when they go to do the liquid terminator effect, what sort of special work is required by you? Do they have to tape ping-pong balls all over you or scan your body? Whatís the process there?

Shirley: I basically, act physically, the scene out and then I have to go and stand in a flesh body suit and have my entire body and face scanned 360į, and they take, essentially, digital photographs and compile a digital manifestation of my physicality, and then they can do with that what they will.

Matt: Okay, and another question a lot of our readers were wondering, why a urinal? Is there any sort of an inside joke there?

Shirley: Why not? I donít know, I donít think itís an inside joke. I think the idea was that this Ė I think I should probably let Josh Friedman speak for himself. I do know that he found it amusing that it was every manís nightmare, sort of a male bastion, if you like, of security in the urinal. I think he liked the idea of a woman who had already irritated this particular man being able to infiltrate somewhere where he felt he was very safe. I thought he thought that was a true terror.

Matt: That makes sense, thank you.

Moderator: Weíll go to the line of Steve Goodlow with In Touch Weekly. Please go ahead.

Steve: Hello, Shirley, how are you doing?

Shirley: Iím good, thank you, how are you?

Steve: Good, thank you. Can you talk a little bit about did you take acting classes in advance of this and a little bit about the first day on set. Were you nervous? You command a stage so well when you perform with the band, I was just wondering how it was adjusting to the set.

Shirley: It was pretty intense, it was a real challenge in large part because Iíd had no real training, but then, Iíd never had any training for being a singer either, so I decided I was just going to throw myself in and see what I could do. It was very intimidating and I really had a hard time keeping my heart rate and blood pressure down, I was really pretty freaked out and somewhat overwhelmed. Itís getting a lot easier now, Iím feeling much more relaxed on set, and being able to have a lot more fun. It was a challenge.

Steve: Do you do breathing exercises or anything to kind of relax yourself?

Shirley: Yes, certainly, I was having a really hard time, like I said. Being a singer, being a performer, I think you have tricks, somehow, to calm yourself when things feel a little overwhelming. I donít do breathing exercises, per se, but I definitely have to have a sort of internal word with myself before things got completely out of hand and I fainted on the floor.

Steve: Thank you.

Shirley: Thank you.

Moderator: Weíll go to the line of Jolie Lash with Please go ahead.

Jolie: Okay, cool, so the premiere was two days ago now, has any of your pop, or rock star friends called you up and said, oh my gosh, or freaked out of you or have they made any comments youíd like to share with us.

Shirley: I suspect my friends have found it really amusing.

Jolie: What did Butch say?

Shirley: He wrote a very quick e-mail saying, f**king awesome, I loved it, Queenie. I think he loved seeing me play a terminator. I think everybody thinks itís really funny.

Jolie: Were they shocked when they found out you were going to do it?

Shirley: No, I donít think so. I think, particularly the terminator, itís kind of coming from a similar place, in some regards, as musicians, subculture and subterranean and itís also coming from a sort of superhero standpoint in the way that comic book superheroís grew out of feeling disempowered, and I think musicians, in some ways, do, too. I think in some ways itís a natural fit, even though it seems, maybe to the casual onlooker, something very peculiar. It makes sense to me.

Jolie: But it's in America, which is kind of interesting. Is there a reason you chose to do a show in America over doing something like Dr. Who in Britain?

Shirley: Well, this is the first thing really that came along that captured my imagination. Iíve been offered quite a few acting jobs over the years and for some reason, I just really connected with the Terminator franchise. Since I was young, I really was a huge fan of Terminator 1 and Terminator 2, the movies, so for whatever reason, I guess, Iím not 100% sure, why it connected with me so, but I jumped at the chance when I heard it was the Terminator franchise.

Jolie: Well, thank you.

Shirley: Thank you.

Moderator: Weíll go to the line of Vanessa Coats with

Vanessa: Good morning, Shirley.

Shirley: Good morning.

Vanessa: My question is, in Terminator 2 Robert Patrick plays a T-1000 and you play the T-1001 Terminator. Can you describe some of the upgrades that you have that maybe we havenít seen yet?

Shirley: Thatís definitely a question for Josh Friedman. He has all that sort of technical information at hand. Certainly, from the outside itís almost like an upgrade from one television set to the other. From the outside, Iím not sure you would be able to detect much of a difference.

I know the answer to this question because I heard Josh say this yesterday. Iím not 100% sure what she can do that Robert Patrick couldnít do, and I suppose weíll find out.

As I said earlier, weíre not really well informed of where the series is going; weíre pretty much kept in the dark that way.

Vanessa: Okay, and one more question. Do you think after this experience that you would like to dip yourself back into another show or maybe a movie later on?

Shirley: I do actually, I feel like Iíve really been bitten by a bug and I find it really exciting and very challenging. It reminds me of being little, when you get to play in the sandbox or in your Wendy house or playing with dolls, there is something really innately childish about it, but also as a result, really thrilling and exciting. Yes, I would like to do more, definitely.

Vanessa: Great, thank you so much.

Shirley: Thank you.

Moderator: Weíll go to the line of Tara Bennett with SFX Magazine. Please go ahead.

Tara: Hello, Shirley. I met you in June on the set, nice to hear from you again. How are you doing?

Shirley: Oh, yeah, much better, thank you.

Tara: Wonderful. I just wanted to follow-up a little bit about when we had talked before, and also today mentioning how much you loved the first two Terminator films. I noticed your performance when you, especially after the review at the end there, you could see some shades of the Robert Patrick performance in what you were doing with Catherine. Have you consciously decided to do that since you were a fan and that was already in your mind, or did you go back to look so you could have some shades of that performance?

Shirley: Actually, no, I didnít want to try to replicate his performance, I think that would have been the most obvious thing to do. My two muses really, were I thought a lot about Glenn Close in Damages, because I felt she was very threatening and very powerful in that television show and her performance is incredible. I think itís rare when you see a woman on screen where you truly believe sheís capable of unworldly deeds, so she was a muse.

Also, for some inexplicable reason, I also thought of Margaret Thatcher. She was really a very powerful and seeming unassailable character when I was growing up, and I really didnít think very kindly of her, so I thought she was really someone who was a great inspiration for a CEO of a company, who didnít have the kindest and warmest of hearts, so I looked her up on YouTube.

My performance is nothing like these two characters, but they certainly informed me.

Tara: Wonderful, and then, now that youíve been in the world of the show and become much more used to it, what are you gaining from your co-stars in terms of watching their performances or working with the cast now, what are they inspiring, almost like new bandmates, really?

Shirley: Yes, itís very much like being in a new band, except Iím not the lead singer anymore, Iím the bass player, which in some regards, allows me to sit back and watch and be more of an observer than I have been in my band.

I find it fascinating watching a lot of them work. They all have their different styles and techniques they bring to their craft and theyíve all been very helpful. Richard T. Jones, in particular, is sort of my main man on screen because we spend a lot of time together, and heís been incredibly patient and generous with me. Heís given me some tips along the way, and I really have been very blessed by having him around because Iím sure it must be very annoying to have some upstart musician come in who really knows very little about the craft of acting. Iíve been very lucky.

Tara: I think you did a great job, it was great to see that episode, so congratulations.

Shirley: Thank you so much.

Moderator: Weíll go to the line of Troy Rogers with Please go ahead.

Troy: Shirley, thank you for taking the time.

Shirley: Thank you.

Troy: Given how popular the franchise is, how did you handle the pressure of stepping into the show?

Shirley: I just didnít think about the pressure, to be honest. Iíve been under a lot of pressure situations in my life through being a musician, and a touring musician, and I have just come to realize, in life you just have to block out peopleís expectations and hopes and just try to concentrate on enjoying yourself and having fun. At the end of the day, thatís really all you have. Life is so short and you really just have to engineer having a blast and freeing yourself up, and not being scared to take chances. Otherwise, I think life can become really boring.

I just decided, this is something Iíve been given the opportunity to do, Iím either going to be good at it, not so good, maybe Iíll be somewhere in between, but Iím not going to let my own fears, or the judgment of others to stop me from doing it. I jumped in and just have tried to do my best, Iíve taken it very seriously, and thatís life.

Troy: At what point in the process did the song come about?

Shirley: Josh Friedman, the creator of the show, took me out for dinner, wined and dined me, and then after my fourth glass of champagne, introduced the idea.

To be honest, I was a little wary of doing the song because I understood I was really setting myself up for a lot of flack, or certainly, making it harder for the audience to believe my character.

I think that is what is so hard for musicians when they step into acting is theyíre not coming in as a blank slate, theyíre coming in with a real set idea of who they are, where theyíre coming from, what their politics are, what their tastes are. I didnít really want to remind the audience I was a singer, I knew that would create difficulties for me. At the end of the day, Josh asked so nicely, heíd given me such a great opportunity in this show that I just bent to his will in the end, and I did it as a favor to him.

Iím pleased, it was a challenge for me because itís a kind of music I havenít ever really investigated, it was a folk song, and it was five minutes long, so it required some kind of emotional act to it; it was an interesting challenge for me.

Troy: Thank you, I think youíre a great addition to the show, by the way.

Shirley: Thank you.

Troy: Okay, thank you.

Moderator: Next, weíll go to the line of Charlie Anders with i09. Please go ahead.

Charlie: Hello, Shirley, thank you for doing this today.

Shirley: Thank you, Charlie.

Charlie: Are you basically supposed to be the boss from hell? Are there going to be lots of scenes of you torturing your underlings in upcoming episodes?

Shirley: I am the boss from hell, but thereís a really nice surprise coming up with my character, which I obviously canít reveal right now, but I am just a woman from hell, letís put it that way.

Charlie: Do you think your character is meant to represent something about sort of evil corporations, or something?

Shirley: I donít know necessarily, I think there is a mild play on that concept of the CEO perhaps being a Ė there being some duality to that figurehead, and the idea of the power they may choose to use or abuse. Yes, Iím sure itís not accident, necessarily, but I guess those are questions that youíd really have to pose to Josh Friedman because I canít really speak to his intent as a writer. Me personally, as an actress, I thought it was an interesting and amusing idea.

Charlie: Right. Okay, cool, thank you so much.

Shirley: Thank you.

Moderator: Next, weíll go to the line of David with Cinema Viewfinder. Please go ahead.

David: Hello, Shirley, how are you?

Shirley: Hello, Iím good, thank you, how are you?

David: Good. You had alluded to having had a lot of your scenes with Richard T. Jones, and I was wondering, have you had many other scenes with some of the primary cast in the show?

Shirley: I have not, we have not crossed paths as yet, on screen.

David: Are you looking forward to that and do you expect to do any kind of stunt work, any kind of fighting like the other terminators on the show?

Shirley: I hope so, although I fear that I am so sophisticated that I donít even need to fight. Thatís my problem, thatís the problem with being at the top of your series, a top of the range model, I donít know if she needs to get her hands dirty, which might be the only downside to my character.

David: Do you have any other expectations for your character, if not necessarily fighting, than any kind of arc you want your character to take?

Shirley: I havenít really stopped to think about it because Iíve enjoyed where theyíve taken my character so far, and I feel like Iím in good hands. I think, funny enough, I have noticed that all the terminators on the show want to meet the other terminators, weíre always making hints that it would be great fun to have us all take our super powers against each other. I have noticed that all three of us seem to be making little hints like that, but other than that, Iím perfectly happy with where theyíre taking it. Iím just trying to concentrate on my job, never mind everybody elseís.

David: Right, I thought your appearance was great, and I thank you for the chance to talk to you.

Shirley: Thank you so much.

Moderator: We do have a question from the line of Joshua Malone with Niagara Frontier Publications. Please go ahead.

Joshua: Shirley, obviously, you said you donít get a lot of scripts ahead of time and you donít know if youíre terminator will need to get her hands dirty or not, but assuming you will because every other terminator has sort of always gotten into a car chase or a fight scene, or shot a gun, or blown stuff up. Have you thought about what that will require? Would you be excited to do a car chase, shoot a gun, or get into some kind of a fight?

Shirley: Yes, of course I would. Iím sort of Ö action and I would love to do something like that, but whether Iíll get to, I donít know. I do know my trainer has started having me box a lot more in the off chance theyíre going to ask me to do some stunts. Who knows? I would like to do something like that for sure. Weíll see.

Joshua: All right, well hereís hoping. Thank you, again, for your time.

Moderator: Weíll go to the line of Troy Rogers with Please go ahead.

Troy: Shirley, Iím back again. Just curious, as you pursue acting, are you looking to shed the music image of Shirley Manson to create a new identity, or does that factor in at all?

Shirley: I donít think once youíve been in a successful band you can ever truly shed that image. Weíve joked about this many times, in the music industry, being in a band is like being in a minor mafia, you never really get out alive, one way or another youíre scarred in some way, and you carry that baggage with you forever.

Even during my Garbage years, I was haunted by my very first band in Scotland, Goodbye Mr. MacKenzie, so itís not something Iím interested in shedding, and I feel it has been a very important part of my life, and hopefully will continue to be.

I also would love to do more acting, and I see no reason why I canít. I know there is a lot of criticism whenever a musician steps into acting, and whenever an actor steps into music and I understand where that comes from. Iíve certainly been guilty of being very suspicious myself of people who have done crossovers.

But at this point in my life, Iím 42 years old, and I feel like being an active musician on the road is a tough life, and I donít know if I want to necessarily want to continue that kind of existence.

I want to be continually challenged and excited and acting has provided that for me at a time in my life when I felt very confident in the music realm. I knew I could go out, play shows, I could write good songs, and I could put on good shows and get on well with my band. I canít say it was boring, but it didnít frighten me any more.

I feel like in some ways, to keep life exciting, you have to push yourself towards things that scare you a little, and thatís exactly what Iím finding on the show. Iím scared, Iím excited, challenged, and Iím being pushed, so that feels really good. It makes me feel like Iím alive and I like that feeling.

Troy: So youíre stepping out of your comfort zone.

Shirley: Yes.

Troy: Okay, all right, thank you, again.

Shirley: Thank you.

Moderator: We have a follow up question from Steve Watson with AOL. Please go ahead.

Steve: Hello, Shirley, Iím back again, as well. You just mentioned that you have been guilty in the past of being suspicious of some of the people who have made the crossover. Obviously, there are some people who have successfully made the transition from music to acting. Is there anybody in particular that you maybe look to as a little bit of a role model, or someone you wanted to emulate a little bit in the way they were able to crossover?

Shirley: Thatís an interesting question, I canít say thereís anybody Iíve ever wanted to emulate their career, necessarily, but obviously, there have been some musicians that I think have done an amazing job. I think Tim McGraw does an amazing job every time I see him on screen, funny enough. I thought Courtney Love did an amazing job in the life and movie. David Bowie, obviously, I think did an incredible job in The Man Who Fell to Earth. I think there have definitely been actors who have done some great work on screen. Itís very different, obviously, for me, but I think itís possible.

Steve: There have been so many. Now, having had the acting bug a little bit, who are a couple of the people you would love to work with still now?

Shirley: I havenít even gotten to that stage. I swear to God, it all seems so new and so surreal, I just feel like I canít even think along those lines because I just donít feel like itís my privilege as yet. I havenít earned the privilege to even begin to dream about that kind of thing. Iím sure there are a billion actors I could reel off, but it would sound so presumptuous and ridiculous that I think Iíll keep that to myself for the time being.

Steve: All right, well thank you very much.

Shirley: Thank you very much.

Moderator: There are no additional questions in queue at this time.

Susan: Hello, everyone, this is Susan Kesser again. Thank you so much for participating in our conference call with Shirley Manson today. As a reminder, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles airs Monday nights at 8:00 on FOX. Thank you so much.

Shirley: Thank you, and thank you, Susan.

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