Late last, year it was announced that the first two seasons of the David E. Kelley penned television show adaptation of Stephen King’s thriller, Mr. Mercedes, had been picked up by Peacock, the NBCUniversal streaming service. This was super exciting, because it opened the show up to a much broader audience versus its original home on the AT&T Audience Network, which was a paid channel, thus limiting those who could easily watch it. Well, readers, there’s even more exciting news. Peacock has also picked up the third season of this compelling show. And what’s even better than that? Peacock is FREE. That’s right! The base version with ads is 100% free. Now, you have no excuse not to catch up on this show.
For this terrific news, I chatted with Actress Kate Mulgrew. You might know her as Red on Orange is the New Black, but she’s also the star of Mr. Mercedes season three. We talked about her character, Alma Lane, how she got into acting, and of course, horror movies.
PopHorror: Hi Kate! How are you?
Kate Mulgrew: I’m great! How are you?
PopHorror: I’m great, thank you so much! I’m very excited as I’ve been a fan since Throw Mama From the Train.
Kate Mulgrew: Oh, my God. Way back. Way back.
“… it was a tale of such darkness that I found it altogether irresistible…” – Kate Mulgrew on working on Mr. Mercedes
PopHorror: But I’m excited to talk about Mr. Mercedes today. What was it about this show that intrigued you and made you want to be a part of it?
Kate Mulgrew: Well, the obvious [answer] which is that I have very seldom in my life been offered this kind of an outrageous role. The trappings were irresistible. Mr. Mercedes is written by the incomparable Stephen King, and then the teleplay written by David Kelley, who we all know is a master. The surprise and delight of my life was the director and showrunner Jack Bender [read the PopHorror interview with him here], with whom I shared a certain extraordinary simpatico. It surprised us both, I think. It took us on a gleeful journey, however, filled with malice and psychopathy into the dark world of this character by the name of Alma Lane. And I should add to all of that the icing on the cake was my partner, Gabe Ebert, who played my much younger—shockingly much younger—lover, and who was my creature, so to speak. So it was a tale of such darkness that I found it altogether irresistible, and I loved doing it.
PopHorror: That’s awesome! I’ve spoken to Jack Bender, and he is such a delightful man, so it’s good to hear he’s fun to work with as well.
Kate Mulgrew: He is a rare and wonderful creature, that man. Did you have a good talk with him?
PopHorror: I did! He is very nice and very kind.
Kate Mulgrew: Did he love doing it as much as I did?
PopHorror: He did, yes! He was very excited about it.
Kate Mulgrew: Good!
PopHorror: How did you prepare for your role?
Kate Mulgrew: There isn’t much preparation necessary when it’s on the page, and it was put on the page by David Kelley who is, as I’m sure you know, a master. He understood her. He conjured her. He concocted her. He saved her. All I had to do was say the words and do as little as possible, but to do it with such utter conviction that you never doubted for a moment that I inhabited this woman, and this woman inhabited me. I think I must have been waiting to play her, Tiffany. I just jumped. I jumped, and I didn’t care how far I had to fall. I didn’t care if I had to break every bone when I landed. It was just in the fall that I found her and in the direction of Jack Bender and in the words of David Kelley. Really, really great fun. Great fun.
PopHorror: I’m sure it makes it easy when you have such a great writer writing amazing characters for you.
Kate Mulgrew It does! I mean, anybody would argue that you have to do nothing then. You have to do very, very little except honor the words at the best of your ability. And Alma Lane is a very smart woman. She’s funny. She’s textured. She’s dimensional… she reads, she thinks, she writes, she cooks. She does a lot of things. And so we are exposed to the depths of her darkness. We’re not quite sure if she’s as endemically evil as proven to be in the end. So it’s full of surprises.
PopHorror: I noticed that you grew up in the Midwest. I did, too. What made you want to get into acting?
Kate Mulgrew: Oh, that was a long time ago, honey. I think I wanted to get into the world. I very, very much wanted to get into the world. I was born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa. I was one of eight children, and I needed to escape. I had a mother who understood that need and who burnished it. Together, we found it was acting. Above and beyond all else, it was acting. And so very young, I started to go away in the summers to train. I read the Shakespearean canon. I applied to every great conservatory and was accepted at NYU and went. That, as they say, was the beginning of a now 47-year career, I guess.
PopHorror: You’ve had an amazing career! Just looking through your credits is awe-inspiring, so I think you made a very good choice.
Kate Mulgrew: Thank you.
PopHorror: What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given to you when you first started?
Kate Mulgrew: Take it easy. Take it easy. Ambition can be a dangerous thing. I think the advice would be, “Settle into yourself. Know thyself. And then move forward.” But I was so eager to get into the game, I think that I might have made a few less than wise decisions. But aside from that and the fact that I do not have a formal education, I have no regrets. I do wish now looking back that someone had really taken me by the hair and said, “You will complete your formal education.” But back then, I just wanted to get into the field, and so I did.
PopHorror: That’s great advice. What is up next for you, Kate?
Kate Mulgrew: I write. I’ve written a couple of books, and I’m working on my third. It’s a novel. And I’m pretty immersed in it, Tiffany. It’s taking me places I didn’t expect it to take me which I’ve heard is true. But I’m new at this craft. It’s having unexpected effects, but we bought this house in the outer banks of North Carolina, and that’s what I do everyday. I write for as many hours as I can, and I’m finding it deeply, really deeply satisfying.
PopHorror: That’s very exciting!
Kate Mulgrew: Yes it is! It’s wonderful to find it at this point in my life.
PopHorror: I’ll have to keep an eye out for it. What’s your favorite scary movie, Kate?
Kate Mulgrew: My favorite scary movie? What comes immediately to mind is The Birds, and then secondly the movie with Robert DeNiro. He plays a murderer on a houseboat.
PopHorror: Cape Fear?
Kate Mulgrew: Yes, Cape Fear. Absolutely, absolutely so scary. Don’t you agree?
PopHorror: I do agree!
Kate Mulgrew: Shockingly scary. I like to be scared, don’t you?
Yes, Kate. We certainly do! Be sure to check out season three of Mr. Mercedes, streaming on Peacock now!