Interview: Sarah Jones

From the interview archives.

You know Sarah Jones from TV series like Alcatraz and The Path, but these days you can catch her as the strong and passionate Amelia Davenport in Damnation. VULKAN caught up with Sarah to talk about the series, how Amelia is handling her rocky relationship with Seth, and her experience filming in Alberta, Canada.

For those who have yet to indulge in Damnation, can you tell us a bit about who Amelia Davenport is?
In the most broad description, Amelia is a writer and an activist who  has been working with her husband, Seth, in fighting for the working class. 

If you could go back in time and live in any period, which would you choose and why?
Ya know, I’ve had this conversation with some of the other women who work on Damnation, and ultimately the answer ends up at being grateful to be alive in the era that we’re in. Especially as a woman. Obviously, we still have a long way to go, but the quality of life and the opportunities available for a woman is in a much stronger position now than it’s ever been in the US. I’m still baffled by the fact that women weren’t even allowed to vote until 1920. With that said, and I’ll just defer to US history because it’d be too difficult to narrow it down otherwise, I wouldn’t mind checking out the mid-60s into the late 70s or The Roaring 20s as a teenager or young adult.

How is Amelia feeling about Seth right now?
(laughs) Fair question! I think she admires his passion and dedication to their cause, and finds his complicated past both engaging and exhausting. She certainly loves him, and sees him for the man he strives to be; but if she were to have a Facebook page, her relationship status would probably be under the, ‘it’s complicated,’ category…is that still a thing? I haven’t been on Facebook in years (laughs)

Further, what do you think is keeping them together?
For better or worse, the cause is what currently binds them, and what brought them together in the first place. For two independently passionate and driven people, having a ride or die—when it comes to a shared, mutual passion—can go a long way; and I think, on some level, they also recognize a connection as kindred spirits. Whether they can unravel their own personal knots of their pasts, and acknowledge each other for who they are and who they are to each other is a much more complicated, messy challenge for them. And, at this point, neither of them have any intention of making that a priority.

The series as I understand was shot in Calgary, Alberta, how was that? Had you been before?
I hadn’t been to Calgary before we shot the pilot, which was in 2016, and I really enjoyed my time there. Inglewood, Kensington, and 17th Ave were my favorite neighborhoods/hang out areas. And there are some fantastic restaurants too! Had I not played a role as a woman in a small Iowa town during the Depression Era, I probably would’ve left Calgary 20 pounds heavier (laughs).

Did you get a chance to visit Banff or Jasper or anywhere else noteworthy?
I was able to visit Banff during the pilot, spent the night and the following morning in Canmore, and was completely enchanted by it. Chasten (the actress who plays ‘Bessie’) and I went on a guided horse tour that was just stunning. But, ya know, our film locations were beautiful as well, and observing the local wildlife (seeing a moose and porcupine were particular highlights for me) was a treat. Apparently, there was a red fox who liked to hang out by our trailers in one location, but, unfortunately, he never paid me a visit.

What attracted you to this character when you first learned of her?
Everything. From her ambition, to her moral code, to the reality of her complex relationship, to her creativity in using her talents and keen eye to further the cause of the rights of the working class—it was awestruck at first read.

If there is one quality of Amelia’s you could adapt to your own life, what would that be? Her ability to adapt to the circumstances she can’t control while remaining focused on the desired end result.

What was your biggest challenge with preparing for this role?
Of all the preparation, the most challenging aspect was probably getting into the physicality of Amelia to where it was second nature, and I wasn’t actively thinking about it or slipping into a caricature of someone from the 1930s. 

What time period would you most like to explore next?
I’m patiently waiting for a 90s grunge scene project whether I’m a part of it or not…but maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath. (laughs)

Is there a particular genre you’d like to dive further into in the future?
No, I don’t have a particular genre in mind, but I’m constantly searching for uplifting, inspiring pieces in any art form. I’m not talking about kittens and rainbows, but with all of the polarized vitriol being spewed in every direction, it’s a breath of fresh air to find a piece that offers some sort of hopeful resolve in finding some common ground that can heal and mend deep wounds—whether it relates to a personal or social issue. 

Who is one actress that you really look up to both creatively and in how they carry themselves?
Bette Davis. All the way.

What’s one thing your fans may not know about you?
Hmmm…I can cross one eye…

Are you someone that makes New Years resolutions and if so, what is one that you’ve made for yourself for 2018?
I’ve made resolutions in the past and stuck with them, but I’m currently doing my best to take life one day at a time so I haven’t gotten to 2018 yet. 

What do you think Alison Kemp (The Path) is up to these days?
(laughs) Well, she clearly hasn’t taken out revenge on Cal or Sarah! I hope, for her sake, she’s not in a shallow grave somewhere in the woods, has made peace with her husband’s death, and found a way to safely move forward with her life outside of Meyerism.

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