"Under the Dome" star Rachelle Lefevre is perhaps best known for her role as villainous Victoria in the first two "Twilight" films, but as newspaper editor Julia Shumway, she'll be fighting for the greater good.
For the uninitiated, "Under the Dome" centers around the fictional town of Chester's Mill, and explores what happens to its inhabitants after an impenetrable dome of unknown origin cuts them off from the rest of the world.In preparation for the series's June 24 premiere, The Huffington Post will take you inside the epic CBS drama, introducing you to each of the show's major players through our series of on-set interviews, conducted around the filming of the fourth episode. Whether you're a fan of the book or a newcomer to King's world, the series has plenty of surprises in store.
Below, Lefevre previews some of Julia's complex relationships, her investigative streak, and how accurate she thinks Stephen King's depiction of humanity's reaction to such a crisis really is. Light spoilers ahead.
What do people need to know about Julia as a character, going into the show?
The main thing about Julia is that, unlike everyone else, she hasn’t lived in Chester’s Mill for long. She’s only been there for six months. So she moves from Chicago to this small town, which is quite a change, and I don’t think that she intends to stay for all that long. This is sort of a stopover for her and now she’s stuck; now she’s trapped there without the person she went there with, which is her husband, who’s from there ... But she’s also the editor of the newspaper and she sort of is the newspaper. It’s a small town so she’s the editor, the journalist, the photographer, and so immediately has to jump in to covering all these stories ... Everything that’s going on, she has to be there. She has to photograph it. She has to interview people. She has to know what’s going on. She’s the “I want answers” person.
What can you preview about her relationship with Barbie (Mike Vogel), since it seems like their paths cross fairly early on?
Well, I think they gravitate towards each other initially because neither of them is from there. Both of them are outsiders -- him more than her -- but certainly, that’s something they have in common immediately. Energetically, it kind of differentiates them. Everyone else, they’ve all lived together, grown up together. They’re going to stay there. Neither Barbie nor I feel that way about this place. So we’re unique in that nobody wants to be trapped, but they’re at least trapped at home and we’re not. And so that gives us something immediately in common ... There is a strong chemistry there and a strong curiosity about one another, you know, "Who are you and why are you here?"
I also hear that Julia has an interesting dynamic with Phil Bushey (Nicholas Strong), the local DJ. Can you elaborate on their relationship?
Phil is such an interesting character because he’s sort of this eccentric DJ type. And in the beginning, when you meet him, you just think he’s the cool sexy DJ guy, and you have no idea where his story is going. And true to Stephen King, every character, no matter how seemingly clean at first, something is coming home to roost. There’s something under the floorboards for everybody in Stephen King’s world. And so that does develop and it turns out that his storyline does have something to do with Julia. So when they first meet they just kind of have this great relationship like, “Hey, let’s work.” They work the radio station together. She does the news and he’s doing the music, and they develop what looks like it’s going to be a nice budding friendship, and then, just as that’s happening, something reveals itself. He has information and he’s involved in some dirty secrets about her husband ... but what I love about that is every episode, there’s something about the person you thought you knew. Every time characters seem to form a bond, something comes along to reveal itself. They’re stuck now and so their pasts are catching up with them.
Early on, there's also something fishy going on with the town's propane gas supply, which Julia picks up on. Can you reveal anything about that storyline?
What’s interesting about that is that she doesn’t know it’s a story yet. It’s one of those things that she stumbles upon and goes, "Oh, this is happening.” But then of course, the dome comes down, and there’s an initial thing about “does that have anything to do with this?” but then the dome and all the immediate crises of the dome just take over. And then you start to hear things that she’s not privy to. Big Jim [Dean Norris] starts to talk with other characters about what he’s up to. This is one of those things for her that, I think, once it becomes evident that they’re not going to be answered and she can start focusing on other things, I think she’s going to realize, "Oh, wait a minute. I had a big story right there -- let’s go back to that.” So she will definitely be the thorn in Big Jim’s side, which is great.
What would you say is her primary motivation, at least in the early episodes of the season?
Certainly getting out of the dome is the strongest desire, but I don’t think that she believes that she can control that or affect it in any way. And so I think the secondary driving force is to understand it. "What is it? Where did it come from? How do we get information?" All of that. And I think simultaneously, the fact that Big Jim seems so interested, very quickly, in being in charge is something that becomes her other focus, which is, “I don’t think this a good guy and I think that somebody has to be able to call him to account, because if not, there are going to be problems.” So those seem to be her two main focuses while trapped.
Does she trust anyone at this point? Or is she just thinking, "I’m going to work with you people, but I’m not entirely going to rely on any of you"?
I certainly think it’s more that way than the other way. She is very opinionated, and so I think she has very clear ideas of who she thinks is a decent person and who isn’t. I don’t know that she trusts anybody, but certainly the lines are being drawn in terms of her instincts towards, "If I needed something, who would I go to and who would I stay away from? If I had a vulnerability, who would I hide it from?”
If a dome really did drop and trap us all, do you think you would be the type of person to leap in and investigate, or would you stay locked at home, waiting for things to blow over?
I definitely think I would be a first responder type. I definitely think that I would be search and rescue type. I’d want to locate, obviously, the people closest to me to make sure they were OK. And then, as soon as I had done everything I could to locate the people that I was trying to locate or find out what’s going on with them, I think I would definitely be a jump in and help type of person. And I can be fairly bossy. I’m very type-A, and so I could see myself organizing people and corralling folks.
One of the things that’s interesting about our show and the question it asks is, “When it really happens, are you the person you think that you are?” Because a lot of people who think that they would be heroes, dive behind other people when the bullets start to fly. And so I think one of the most interesting things for these characters is the same questions we ask ourselves. Like, “I know who I think I would be. Who would I really be?”
Do you think Stephen King captured the reality of the situation with the novel? Do you think people would devolve to their worst selves if something as insane as an impenetrable dome trapping a portion of the populace id happen, in your opinion?
I do. I think one of the things that he does best is acknowledge the best and the worst in us, and you can’t do one without the other. I don’t think that you can really, genuinely portray a hero in a situation without portraying the person who really becomes the worst of men or women, and he’s good at that. Someone said, “People are only as good as their secrets.” It was either Stephen or Brian K. Vaughan, our pilot writer. He either was quoting Stephen or it was his quote, but people are only as good as their secrets. So that is one of the things that I feel like he really gets right. He’s been really accurate in his portrayal of what it would be like if this happened in real life. If people do have secrets, they would come to light in ways, and you would have people who were not well-intentioned. Not everyone is going to do their best to help their neighbor. That’s just the reality of the world.
We were talking about that at WonderCon, what would we do if a dome dropped? And it’s like, there are a lot of questions that we’re asking now in this situation that are real questions in the world. Like, what do we do when the food runs out? What would we do without the water when the water gets cut off? There are people in the world, far too many of them, who are without a food supply, who are without a clean water supply. These are things we’re actually dealing with. These are not new problems. These are not Chester’s Mill, “Under the Dome” problems. So it actually becomes a microcosm for some of the larger things that are going on in the world, which I hope people will take on. I hope that becomes a conversation.
"Under the Dome" premieres Monday, June 24 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS. Come back to HuffPost TV every morning for a new interview with a member of the cast.
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