Composure: It’s obvious from your long list of credits that you are no stranger to TV and film! What would you say is the biggest contributing factor to your ever growing career?
Joanna Going: I believe the growth in my career, of late is due to a level of maturity and life-experience I gained in the last 10 or 12 years that put me in a new, hard-to-name category. I just know that the roles I am getting now are wildly fun and have a different sort of depth — or perhaps I’m just now relaxed enough to plumb these depths a little better.
Composure: How did your training at American Academy of Dramatic Arts make an impact in how you developed as an actress?
Joanna Going: The American Academy gave me theater-based, classical training that emphasized acting as a craft, and equipped me with tangible tools to carry my craft out into the world. In addition to voice work, body work, theater history and script analysis, I was able to study with a number of different acting teachers, who taught a variety of unique acting techniques such as Strasberg, Meisner, and Hagen. It was sort of a smorgasbord of acting methods, and as a student, you were able to try them on and try them out and discover which language spoke to you. I was particularly inspired by one of my teachers, Carol Fox Prescott and continued my study with her long after graduation. Carol’s breath work techniques form the basis of my approach in my work as an actress.
Composure: Your most recent projects include Netflix’s House of Cards and Kingdom with DirecTV, both of which are distributed through non-traditional TV networks. What is your view on how the landscape of the industry is changing?
Joanna Going: I am personally very excited about the changes in the industry as these changes have afforded me some of the best roles of my career. The success of all of the groundbreaking shows on HBO, Showtime, AMC, and Netflix has opened the field to newcomers and challenged traditional TV networks in such a magnificent way, that there is now so much great TV to be found, it is impossible to keep up. More TV outlets mean more production, and more production means more working actors — and the newer outlets seem to be born ready to take risks. The driving force is no longer to simply run with the formula of a successful show and make a bunch more shows just like that one, but to push boundaries and find the new and original stories to tell — an enticing incentive for creative talent. Non-traditional TV networks have fostered the drama of the anti-hero — from the conflicted Tony Soprano, to drug-addicted, yet gifted and compassionate Nurse Jackie, to the deliciously villainous Frank Underwood and so many more, which has given rise to greater complexity and depth in leading characters, warts and all, across all of television. (I say leading characters because, in traditional TV of the past, it was often the guest parts on a drama that were the most fun.) These more recent flawed and struggling lead characters are the roles that actors find the most challenging, and thus, rewarding, and that the audience connects to in a more powerful way than any bright and shiny, unblemished main character.
There is also an undeniable creative freedom when a show is not beholden to commercial sponsors. I am so grateful to DirecTV for the nurturing environment and respect that they provide the artists on KINGDOM. We all agree that we are making a drama for mature audiences, and we are able to fully embody our characters on set without concerns of “Can we say that? Can we do that?” We can revel in the spectacular, profanity-rich language that is authentic to the culture depicted on our show. We can feel comfortable in the skin of our characters’ in whatever state of dress or undress they enjoy at any moment, and be true to the character in any sort of sexual encounter portrayed. This is not to say there are no contract nudity riders and parameters of taste and decency— but that boundary is fairly elastic for us.
Composure: Your role as First Lady Tricia Walker in House of Cards is such a contrast to your character Christina Kulina in Kingdom – now that Season 2 of Kingdom is premiering soon, what can we expect from Christina? Can you share how the complexity of her life develops throughout the series?
Joanna Going: In Season 1 we saw Christina get clean of heroin; in Season 2 she faces the question “Now what?” What happens after the “battle” is won? Is it ever really won? I think anyone who has ever had a connection with addiction, whether themselves or a loved one, can answer that question. In the coming episodes we explore how Christina answers it for herself. She has had so much of what is familiar, what has been her identity, stripped away; now she is staring into the mirror trying to figure out what’s left, and what is it worth?
Composure: Much of Christina’s focus seems to be on reconciling her relationship with her sons Jay and Nate, played by actors Jonathan Tucker and Nick Jonas. As a mother who has a daughter, how has your real life experience played a part in your portrayal of Christina and the unique relationships she has with Jay and Nate?
Joanna Going: Certainly being the mother of a 12 year old has fed my understanding and imagination in portraying the mother of Jay and Nate. I have a myriad of memories and experiences, from pregnancy to the present that I can embroider upon and plug into Christina’s history. Oddly enough, I have a daughter, but I seem to always play the mother of boys — not sure what that means — maybe the universe’s way of letting me play out any hidden desire for the son I never had! But it is the actors themselves, Tucker and Nick, who really feed the relationships between Christina and her boys. We all share a genuine affection and respect. We trust each other and we trust the story that Byron Balasco has created for this family.
Composure: Christina Kulina isn’t the only character in the show that is battling with demons of the past and present. What do you hope to see happening in the story line?
Joanna Going: Nate Kulina is wrestling with his identity, both sexual, and as a fighter, and I am eager to see how that story plays out. I would like to find out if Christina is capable of a real romantic relationship anymore. And the character of Keith, played by Paul Walter Hauser delights me — I think Christina should adopt him.
Composure: Not to get too ahead of ourselves, but we know that 10 episodes for Season 3 has been confirmed. Can you share anything with us in regards to what lies ahead?
Joanna Going: I have no idea! Byron Balasco is coming up with what lies ahead as we speak, and we go back into production in October. I am on pins and needles waiting for that first script to come in.
Composure: Outside of acting, you’re also known to be active with organizations like PATH. Can you tell us more about your involvement and what else you are passionate about?
Joanna Going: I am passionate about kindness, acceptance, equal rights for all, and helping out in whatever way one can on any given day.
My daughter and I first got involved with People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) through her elementary school, raising money and awareness, cooking and serving meals to residents of PATH, participating in clean-up and improvement projects at PATH facilities, and even furnishing apartments for formerly homeless families moving into their new homes. We continue to support this amazing organization working to eradicate homelessness in Los Angeles and beyond. I encourage anyone with concerns about the epidemic of homelessness, or anyone facing homelessness to check out www.epath.org
I am deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks on Planned Parenthood, our country’s largest provider of reproductive healthcare, and largest and longest-standing ally in reproductive rights. Of Planned Parenthood users, men and women seeking mammograms, pap smears, STD tests and treatment, cancer screenings, birth control, and family planning counseling, 75% are living below the poverty line. It is unfathomable to me that the government of the United States can be duped into seeking to undermine, defund, and deny millions of citizens the unequaled and affordable health care resource that is Planned Parenthood.
Composure: What’s next for Joanna Going?
Joanna Going: Next is more KINGDOM! Season 1 is streaming on iTunes, Amazon and ATT Uverse, and Season 2 premieres on October 14th on DirecTV. We begin shooting more episodes in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait!
Season 2 of Kingdom premieres Wed. Oct 14th 9pm ET/PT