Q&A: Legend of the Seeker's Bridget Regan on Corsets, True Love & Being a Badass

Q&A: Legend of the Seeker's Bridget Regan on Corsets, True Love & Being a Badass

Last week, I was lucky enough to catch up with Legend of the Seeker star Bridget Regan between takes on set in New Zealand. She plays the confident and lovely Kahlan Amnell, and she's just as cool in person and you'd like to think.

And because New Zealand's today is usually already our tomorrow – well, I was just glad we found a time to chat.

(More on Techland: Q&A: Legend of the Seeker executive producer Ken Biller Still Hopeful For a Third Season)

Allie Townsend: How did you create your own version of Kahlan and still remain true to the books?

Bridget Regan: I read the books before there was even a script for our show and I really gravitated toward Kahlan. That was the reason I decided to move to New Zealand and do this job without having seen a script, and I wanted to do it right because I felt there was a massive following of fans and I was joining the group as one of the fans of the series.

There were things in the books that I was thinking, “Oh gosh, how are we going to replicated?” For example, in the books her eyes are green and mine are blue and I thought I was going to be wearing contacts every day. There were things that we did change. My hair was really red and we decided to make it brown because that was more true to the book. It's like I needed to come to a certain point to find my Kahlan without losing my sense of who I am. For me, it was more about finding the characteristics that are so strong in her within myself, finding this badass warrior within myself, and also this noble, powerful woman as well – things I didn't always tap into in my normal, everyday life. Then it kind of became a squishing together of Bridget and Kahlan, that's my Kahlan. And I just kind of kept my fingers crossed that fans would enjoy her.

It's so personal when you read a book because you hear their inner dialogue, but what's crazy now is that some fans will write in and say that they picture me when they read the books now.


AT: Kahlan's backstory is really interesting. How is it to reveal pieces of her like that?

BR: We're actually doing an upcoming episode where Kahlan has to find her father for various reasons and the history of her father and mother is revealed. There's so much pain that goes along with being born a confessor because her father was obviously confessed to her mother and she knew what that meant. So she's seeing things from other sides. Her past is pretty dark and pretty heavy, which is why the season is so wonderful for me because there is so much love in her life that she never ever thought she would have. She's had so much loss. I think that was one of the difficult things about the role for me. I was very lucky and had a beautiful childhood and family and that's the tricky stuff, relating to that and getting to a place where you can absolutely hate the idea of having to look your father in the eye. That was tough. Especially when your father is being played as someone as cool as Michael Nouri.

There were other things for me, too. I wanted her to look like she has come through this life full of violent fighting and that demanded that I look good doing it, which required a lot of training.

AT: Kahlan's confessor powers are pretty atypical as far as magic goes. Did you get a say in what it looked like for Kahlan to confess someone?

BR: Well, it's a little crazy. When we were shooting the first episode last season, it felt like we were making huge decisions about the mythology of the Midlands and the rules of our characters. Every day there was something huge and you shoot quite quickly down here. You just have to go with your first gut instinct. They told me about the close up of my pupil going black and then the pupil of the confessed person's eye going black, so I kind of had a picture of that and what it would feel like and look like and we just kind of ran with our first instincts. I said, “I think I'd grab them by the throat.” And that's the way we've been doing it for two years.But it has changed, which has been cool. I've wanted Kahlan to get stronger and stronger. I've wanted her to change since starting with Richard and Zedd and now Cara, and having her strengths grow from the love she has for Richard and feeling that love back. She was alone when we met her. She was in kind of a bad place.

AT: The fight scenes are pretty intense. How did you learn to fight with two daggers in your hands?

BR: Oh man, those daggers ... Well, when we came out to New Zealand, Craig and I had six weeks where we had six weeks of training for horse riding and fighting. I don't know what I would have done without that time because we were really taught the basics, the rules of fighting. That really set the groundwork for me.

But then, all of these other elements came into play. By the way, you'll be fighting in a corset and in this long, white flowing dress and you have all this hair. I had a lot of things I just had to work around. In that dress, I learned that I just kind of have to move with it and make it move with me and it turned out to be quite beautiful, where initially, we all thought, “Oh, we've got to get her out of this dress because it's going to be so hard to fight in.” Then it turned out it was really cool to watch.

AT: So obviously the relationship between Richard and Kahlan is a central part of the show. Do you think that they'll ever have a normal life?

BR: I don't know. It doesn't look very good does it? I think the thing about that relationship is that it's what grounds the show amongst all the magic and other worldly, fantastical things. And there's this relationship that nearly everyone can relate to because I feel like everyone has wanted to be with someone but for whatever reason, they can't. You can really feel it in your gut. It's this burning passion that can drive a person mad. I think that's what makes the show and the books series as well, so compelling. It's not just romance. It's also loyalty and deep, deep love.

Today, I was doing a scene with Craig, and it was one of those situations where you look up and you think, “You're more important than I am.” But the other person is thinking the same thing. It's that relationship that makes it so special.

But I have hopes, I do. At the end of the first book, Wizard's First Rule, Richard is under a spell so he looks like Darken Rahl and she confesses who she thinks is Darken Rahl, but it's actually Richard.  She's devastated and about to kill herself and Richard comes in and she finds out that she did confess him, but it was pointless because he already loved her that much. I wonder if they're (the writers) are going to go there or not. The books are epic. I think each one is at least 500 pages long. And we only shoot 22 episodes a season and we're still developing the relationship between the two of them. They have had moments where they've gotten together, not that poor Kahlan gets to remember any of them, but I think the hope of the series is that they will eventually find a way. And our writers are pretty creative. Sometimes we pull things right from the book and sometimes they think of things that I'm thankful it's not the book verbatim because it's even cooler.

Kahlan (Bridget Regan) and Cara (Tabrett Bethell)

AT: The other interesting relationship is the one that is evolving between Kahlan and Cara. How is it to have another lady on set?

BR: I love it. The coolest thing about Cara and Kahlan is that they've both had training, just very different training. They've both been put into roles – Mord Sith and Confessor – that demand them not to be normal women. In that way, they relate to each other. And in that way, they almost sympathize, though it took a really long time for them both to admit it. In the end, they're both on the same side, protecting the same man, but they have a lot of reasons to distrust one another.

It's been the most exciting addition to the show for me as well because it is changing and evolving. Their presence tests each other all the time. Cara's character has been softening over this season. It's like there's been a crack in her shell. Kahlan can see into the core of her, which is really just this soft, damaged little girl.

That, and I absolutely adore Tabrett. She's so giving and loving and so funny. All the things you want when you're working all the time with someone.

AT: How has your adjustment to living in New Zealand been so far?

BR: It was pretty rough in the beginning. I was living in New York, living quite a different life. I was doing a Broadway show, so I was waking up at noon and going to work, just living that New York life which is so romanticized to me now, of course. I have to remind myself of the sludgy rain and missing the train. I have to remind myself of those things because to me it's all people dancing in the streets like a musical. For one, it was the farthest I'd ever traveled, period. And it was a big change, but I've adapted quite well. Everyone teases that I'm like a Kiwi now because I can do a pretty poor but trying accent. I've got a life here. It's certainly not where I expected to be at this point in my career, but it's been great.

AT: So as you were developing Kahlan, were you inspired by any other fantasy characters?

BR: I wasn't really. I watched the Lord of the Rings series right after I moved here. I hadn't seen them, which is pretty embarrassing to say, but when I had a few meetings with Mark Beesley who is our producing director we did talk about Cate Blanchett's character in Rings, Galadriel, and I liked the power and presence that she had. When I read the books, I was struck with how young Kahlan seemed in some scenes. She seemed like a little girl sometimes, but in other scenes she was this mature, powerful woman. That was the dichotomy that I was most interested in.

AT: Have you had much contact with the fan base of the show?

BR: I can't even begin about the fans. They're so lovely. Sometimes I feel a little far away from it, even though the show does air here. I get fan mail from all over the world and they're so kind and so complimentary of the show and they say over and over that there's not much else like it on TV. I love that they gravitate to it and that they like what we're doing because it's so hard to tell when you're out there shooting all day and there's no one to bounce your work off of except the grips and lighting guys. I long for an audience. I ache for it. I think that's one of the hardest things about the television medium is that you don't get that. You don't get that immediate response. But yes, I'm really touched that the fans say they want to see us do more. They want to see us try to save the world … again.

AT: So what's in store for Kahlan over the rest of the second season?

BR: Kahlan was raised to believe that she will never have love in her life, other than for her children that she hopes to have. They're taught to confess and take a man as their mate, so what she has now is something she never thought she would have, which is this reciprocal love that can't really be acted on. I think it's made her go a little bit soft. Basically, her whole belief system has been turned upside down. When we first met Kahlan, she was all about prophecy and destiny, and that's really been replaced with a belief in Richard. She's been throwing prophecy out of the window lately. She's put all her faith in this one man and I have a feeling that it will be tested. You wonder whether she's acting out of duty or love and whether or not it's clouding her judgment.