USA Network’s “Colony” (premiering January 14 at 10 p.m.), aims to offer a new take on the well-worn alien invasion concept, and that’s thanks, in large part, to the complex relationship between Josh Holloway’s former FBI agent Will Bowman and his wife, Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies), who must decide whether or not to collaborate with the occupational government in the hope of protecting their family.
Holloway and Callies are no strangers to high-concept television; the duo are alums of two of the most popular TV shows of all time — Holloway’s “Lost” and Callies’ “The Walking Dead.” Both shows changed the zeitgeist and arguably the way we talk about television, but did those experiences make the actors more selective when approaching a new role?
“Certainly, and it’s not that I’m like, ‘I know what’s great and what’s not’ — when you are accustomed to working with amazing writers and amazing stories, you’re naturally drawn to that,” Holloway admits. “I tried to do a procedural where it’s a case each week, and I didn’t really like that. I love big stories, and stories that are patient to unfold.”
Shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Prison Break” may have put Callies on the map, but they haven’t changed the way she approaches a role, she says. “I don’t think my rubric has changed. All I know how to do is what I’m passionate about, which is to say I don’t think I’m a good enough actor to pull off a role I don’t love, and I don’t know how I’d begin to tell a story that I didn’t really believe in. So out of the gates, that changes things. That takes 60 percent of what you read out, not because it’s not good, but just because it’s not my taste.”
For Callies, the biggest draw of “Colony” — which is executive produced by Holloway’s former “Lost” EP Carlton Cuse and “Hercules” screenwriter Ryan Condal — is the depth of her character, a mother who is driven to desperate measures to try and reunite with her missing son, who disappeared during the invasion.
Callies says she’s “always interested in exploring different kinds of roles for women. I think it’s a really exciting time for roles for women, but this was a character, specifically, that comfortably inhabited a kind of femininity that I hadn’t really worked on before, and it made me nervous, it made me uncomfortable, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s a direction I ought to move in.'”
The show takes place in a world of divided ideologies, where some inhabitants choose to collaborate with the occupying force and benefit from the new order, while others rebel and suffer the consequences. Both Will and Katie have different approaches in seeking out their son, and Callies says she found the contrast particularly engaging.
“I think the nature of her femininity is interesting, because it doesn’t diminish her strength, but it distinguishes her strength from her husband’s version of strength,” she says. “My husband is a man; he came from the military; he works in law enforcement; he’s strong; he’s powerful; he’s capable. I think Katie’s skillset is not about, ‘Let me try and outshoot you, or outrun you, or out-yell you,’ she has her own means of doing things…”
“…That are equally as powerful,” Holloway interjects.
“Exactly, but very different, and you don’t see that in a script a lot,” Callies agrees. “A lot of times a ‘strong woman’ is the woman who’s wearing boots and jeans, and carrying and a gun, and she yells at people, and she puts it in a guy’s face, and he backs down. There are other ways to get what you want from a man then standing in his face and yelling at him… there are some fascinating roles for women in this, that explore femininity as a tool of war, and that’s a really interesting exploration.”
Holloway concurs, “I love that. I love an ensemble cast, as well, because it’s the perspectives, it’s the characters, it’s this character-driven story. It’s not just this one person, or two people. It’s not even just her and I. Every character’s amazing in it, and well thought-out, and represents a different point of view.”
“Colony” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on USA Network.