On “Evil,” Katja Herbers plays forensic psychologist Kristen Bouchard, one of a trio of investigators who assess potential demonic possession and other possible supernatural activity for the Catholic Church. Kristen is also in a will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic with David (Mike Colter), a fellow assessor and newly ordained Catholic priest. The show, created by Robert and Michelle King, begins its third season on Paramount+ June 12, having moved to the streamer from CBS after Season 1. In an interview for Variety‘s Facetime feature, Herbers talks about how Kristen has changed, cursing more on Paramount+, and missing her late co-star Peter Scolari.
When you first started playing Kristen, could you have foreseen how different the character would be in Season 3?
I couldn’t, but I did have hopes, because I know the Kings are known to have their characters evolve and change. And after the first season, when I ended up killing someone, I knew that that was going to lead me into a whole new world in the second season.
Yes, she started out as a Scully-like character, to use an “X-Files” reference, but now, she’s gotten away with a literal murder, cheated on her husband and more. How has that been to play?
Oh, it’s just been wonderful. I think underneath everything, she has a deeply goofy nature. And I really like that the Kings have allowed me to bring some of that out, because sometimes the world is quite dark.
I always try to look for a bit of comedy. I think the Kings really appreciate it, and we have a similar sense of humor. Like, when Robert’s directing an episode, I really like goofing around during rehearsal. And he’ll often tell me, “OK, that’s funny — yeah, yeah, keep that.” Or he’ll give a note, like, “No, no, make it funnier!”
Did you think that Kristen was possessed last season?
I don’t believe in that. But I think it’s important that when you watch it that the people who believe in that believe that. And the people who don’t believe in that believe that she’s a person who murdered someone, and who’s now having a lot of mental issues from having done that.
Do you ever get scared of the show? I do!
Oh, gosh. I’m a person who does not like being scared, and whenever someone says they’re scared of the show, I’m, like, “Oh, I’m sorry!” I don’t, because we just have so much fun making it.
Do you think “Evil” believes the supernatural exists?
I think that the main characters still have different enough opinions that we don’t really make a choice. Michelle King really does not believe in any of that. She doesn’t believe that I was possessed. She believes I have mental issues from what I did. Robert really thinks that I was evil — like, I went to the dark side, whatever that is, last season. Robert’s kind of David, and I’m kind of Michelle. And I don’t think we really make a choice.
What do you think Kristen thinks at this point?
I think she will always try to find a psychological or scientific explanation for anything.
What’s been the best thing about moving to Paramount+?
I think the best thing is that they just have more freedom in the edit, and we don’t have to be exactly 43 minutes long. Sometimes, the moment just needs a little bit more air around it, and it will make the story better, the performances better. And otherwise, we can show a little bit more skin, and a little bit more gore.
The only thing that was a little silly sometimes was that in a particularly horrible situation, I’d have to say things like, “Oh my gosh darn!” when you would really just say, “Holy fuck!”
Will you be on the upcoming season of “Westworld”? Forgive me, I find that show so confusing that I can’t remember what happened last with your character.
No, I won’t. I’m not dead dead? Or I am, but nobody is on that show. So there are copies of me, because they copy people in the park, so I could come back in all kinds of shapes and forms. I think last season, they had two of the main characters flipped, so Tessa Thompson was playing Evan Rachel Wood’s role in Tessa Thompson’s body for a bit.
Oh, that show is so confusing! It’s so confusing. I’ve lost it. I understood my storyline, thank God, because it was really just about a woman who was really angry with her dad.
I feel so stupid when I watch that show.
Oh, me too.
The first episode of “Evil” this season is dedicated to Peter Scolari, who of course died last year. What was he like to work with?
It was very hard when he passed away. He was an extraordinary person, and a wonderful actor. And we got very close very quickly. I didn’t know that he was sick; maybe none of us knew, he hadn’t told us. He was very much alive. Like, I don’t know how he was before being sick, because I didn’t know him before then — I’m assuming he was always that way. But he was just eating up every moment. He was probably the most alive person I’ve ever met, and sparkling with energy and jokes.
And the way that he would approach those scenes was really — it was hard to not laugh. And those scenes are dry as fuck, those scenes when you have to look at the folder, and tell us what’s next. Like, that is not an easy job to make that interesting. And he would always make it so interesting, and so weird.
The first episode, obviously, was written for him, this episode where he and Wallace Shawn would have had this love story. I can only imagine how that would have been. And Boris MacGiver is a great actor. But you can imagine what that would have been with Peter, or how they envisioned it. It was a very, very big loss of a wonderful person.
Things you didn’t know about Katja Herbers
Hometown: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Plan B: She was ready to become a psychologist. “It very much tied into my fascination with people, and how we behave and what we do — which is also acting.”
Hiatus in Amsterdam: “I try to see if I still have friends in Holland or they’ve all forgotten me,” she laughs.