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After the Invasion

Sarah Wayne Callies is TV’s new action hero

On the new USA network series Colony—created by Lost alum Carlton Cuse and Ryan Condal—Los Angeles has been invaded by a mysterious alien force and its residents have become prisoners. People are routinely disappeared and families have been torn apart. One family, the Bowmans, was separated from their son during the invasion, but despite the looming threat of their new overlords aren’t willing to give in. The Walking Dead’s Sarah Wayne Callies plays Katie Bowman, and here she reveals the unexpected challenges she encountered on set, and shares her sentimental love for all things otherworldly. 

So, you decided that you wanted to spend your workdays playing a woman living under alien rule. How’d that happen?

From the beginning, it was one of the best roles that I have ever read.  I think that has to do with Katie occupying many different identities, so many different spaces, and not being collapsed into just one. She’s a devoted mother, but she has other passions that she follows. I hate the word multidimensional, but she felt like a real person.

Did you find any similarities to yourself and Katie?  

In a way, I see more of myself in her then anyone else I’ve played. I think what I share with Katie is a devotion to the things that I believe in. I don’t need someone to agree with me in order to believe what I believe. I have an independent compass that comes from my life and my experiences. It’s very, very difficult to bully me out of it.

What was it like working with Josh Holloway again? 

Working with Josh again is great! We’ve remained friends for years, and I think we both got to skip a step of wondering if our new leading man/ leading lady is going to be with someone we can get along with or not. You know, there are certain people in the world who you enjoy working with and are others with whom it’s more difficult. Josh and I knew from the beginning that we’re already friends. I think there’s something lovely about playing a married couple that’s been together for so long. 

Other than that relationship, what was the best part of being on this set?   

This has been an exhilarating job. I think part of it is that it was shot in Los Angeles, which I haven’t really done ever, except for the final season of Prison Break. Our editing suite and our filming stages were all within arm’s reach to each other. There was this incredible sense of synergy between the writers upstairs. You can get a new script and walk upstairs and go, ‘Hey! Can you explain this part to me please because I can’t figure it out.’ There is immediacy to the conversation between the writers, the actors and the editors, which made it easier to really work carefully and deliberately. 

Did you run into any obstacles while playing Katie? 

Wearing a dress was a challenge for me! I was trying very consciously to articulate Katie as a woman who understands femininity both as a part of herself that she really respects and embraces and also as a tool of war. I don’t really wear dresses very often. It’s very weird to me floating around set in these really feminine clothes. Josh would look at me and be like, ‘Don’t you like pants?’ 

What was it like adjusting to this futuristic Los Angeles setting?  Was it hard to go back to reality once you were done shooting?

In a way, the setting was enchanting to me. I grew up on science fiction. When I did The Walking Dead, I never read a comic book. I have never seen a horror movie. That was really outside of my kind of personal experience. But right after I did Prison Break, I started watching Battlestar Galactica and I thought, ‘God! I want to do a show like this!’ because it was brilliant, smart, political and unique. And I just loved it. This is a world that feels very familiar, and I am in love with it. To be able to step into it in my own way and create a new what hopefully is the beginning of a new science fiction, I am excited by it. I can’t wait for people to see it.