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Katie Findlay Teases The Final Episodes Of Walker Independence Season 1 - Exclusive Interview

There was no better choice for Kate Carver on "Walker Independence" than Katie Findlay. In some ways, the character and actor shaped each other — and the series just wouldn't be the same with anyone else in that role. With the blessing of producer and showrunner Seamus Fahey, Katie infused their own queerness into Kate, giving us a glimpse at what life was like for the queer community in the 1800s.

Findlay came to "Walker Independence" from shows like "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" and "How to Get Away With Murder," having worked with some of the best in the business. The first season is coming to a close soon, but if Findlay's hopes come true, the story of "Walker Independence" isn't quite finished yet. Looper exclusively spoke to them for an interview where they discussed Kate's queer arc in the series, the upcoming Episode 1.12, what it's like working with co-stars Mark Sheppard and Katherine McNamara, what fans can expect from the season finale, and more.

Kate's backstory

We have a little bit of a backstory for Kate in this upcoming episode. Is there anything you can tease about your arc or the episode as a whole?

This episode is one of my favorite episodes of the season. This cast of characters makes me long for space and time to watch them exist in the world. With such a sort of Gunpowder Plot going on all the time, it's hard to find times to do that, and this episode gives us that: watching how everybody came to be in Independence and how different they may or may not have been when they got there. [The] funny little ways that everyone overlaps warms my heart.

You do get to see a little bit of what Kate was like when she first arrived, [and] why she first arrived — a little bit of what brought her out to the middle of nowhere from being a state-sanctioned detective in Baltimore. Thank goodness she's out of there. And I wear some very robust and complex outfits.

Kate is such a breath of fresh air for Westerns. As a queer actor yourself, what have been some of the highlights of exploring gender and sexuality in the 1800s through Kate — between several drag scenes and getting a queer romance scene with Abby's sister?

The timing is insane because I'm someone who came to ... I was going to say "the full scope of my queerness," but I don't even know if that's true, because I don't know if anything else is coming. I'm someone who moved into certain parts of my queerness that I wasn't familiar with in my thirties. As I was figuring this out, this show came along. I remember sitting down with Seamus Fahey, our showrunner, and explain[ing] to him where I'm at and asking if that was a viable thing to pour into the vessel of someone a little bit anachronistic for the time period. He and the rest of production have been so loving and generous with me on that front.

First of all, to sidetrack ... Something that I didn't know fully before working on this — and now I've done tons of research and am delighted by it — is that technically, they would call it cross-dressing. But non-gender-conforming presentation was very, very common in the 1800s, and the panic about cross-dressing and gender moving into deviant sexuality ... My understanding is that it didn't really get malicious or stringent until near the end of the century.

If you were queer, if you were trans, if you were in disguise, if you were non-binary, if you were a performer ... There [were] a million reasons, [and] none of it necessarily gestured to any of the rest of it. If you were, like Kate, a femme person who presented as masculine sometimes or went back and forth, people would go, "Oh, it's the arts. They do this in Europe; they're a male impersonator in Europe," which is true. It's so much safer to travel as a woman if you're dressed like a man. Everybody knows that. She's obviously a beautiful dashing heroine in disguise as the roughneck.

It was everywhere. Part of the beautiful thing that I've experienced on this show is connecting queerness, Blackness, Indigenous history, Chinese history, Latinx Mexican history, and quite frankly, sex worker history, working-class history. It all came together, and all of these people knew and supported each other the entire time — which I think is always the case, but we often lose that narrative-wise in history for pointed reasons.

I had no idea the extent of it until I got to sit in this show for a little while, and every moment of Kate's queerness is a gift to me. She was queer to start with. It wasn't just because of me, which was part of what made me feel comfortable almost immediately. When I started asking for it, I was told, "This is what we were thinking for her anyway. But if you would like this person to be queer in the way that maybe you are queer, let's go for it." [That] is a joyful and integral choice that I appreciate very much.

A woman's place is in the frontier

Your character is such a badass feminist, especially for her time, but this episode highlights some of the difficulties that women have had finding employment outside of sex work for centuries. What are some of your thoughts on these subjects and how they relate back to the series and the time period?

In terms of employment, I like that this episode gives you a chance to see the less obvious ways that femme people had to build community and women had to build community. Throughout the history of that time period, there were women and femme people who did all kinds of stuff and showed up in all kinds of places you wouldn't expect them to be.

But the specific inroads to that weren't necessarily culturally or societally built. Watching the indirect, communal way that Kate ends up with Hagan and the understanding and spark that it takes for him to accept her as an equal was heartening and interesting to me, which is always easy when you're working opposite somebody like Mark Sheppard, who is a beautiful human being. We make the same facial expressions and have the same thoughts at the same time. That's always a plus.

But the show explores a lot of where women would fit in frontier history and what happens when you don't, and the everyday struggles and dangers of existing in a femme body out in the middle of nowhere when so much of the West is centered around the freedom and power of white masculinity. Abby being intellectual is brilliant. Abby being employed to be an intellectual is brilliant, [or] Lucia being a landowner and kicking ass and running a ranch by herself because Hoyt is too much of a himbo to do much. It's difficult for me to speak to the full scope of it, because I've always seen Kate as a career woman.

In my brain, in my canon — which I have 18 hours of at all times, being a queer person and being the kind of person that Kate is — being with the Pinkertons in a city like Baltimore was one of the only routes to a safe life where she had agency. If she is working, employed, and the only woman in the business currently — or however they would've spoken about her — at least no one's asking questions about the way that she wants to live her life or why she's bucking particular societal standards. That unusual, high-stakes employment was her armor up until now. That's one way to work yourself into being employed, but it has yet to be seen where she [will] land now that she's not a narc.

Two peas in a saloon

Speaking of Mark Sheppard, what have been some of your favorite moments working with Mark, and can you tease anything that might come from this duo in the future?

Mark is one of my favorite people. I don't know what I did [to] be lucky enough to end up on a job where it's him and I all the time, but we did sit around together at work and notice these small kinships. We have the same faith. Sometimes we say the same things. We have a similar energy. We work so well together. He's so generous and loving with me in this work. Something about watching Mark feel feelings immediately makes me cry.

I don't know if we have a past life or something, but I would do an entire show that's Kate and Hagan. They often have to cut around us weeping in a way that is not necessary for the scene. In Episode 10, when he's leaving, both of us eventually ended up quietly sobbing. The fact that they cut around it to [a] non-self-indulgent scene is remarkable to me, but I think it's because he comes in very unguarded. He comes in with all of his emotional texture, his life experience, the things that hurt him, [and] the things that he loves. They're very much front and center when he works, and I feel the same way.

The softer parts of who we are fit together very well, and it's been a real gift and a pleasure getting to share space with him. He's the person to appreciate my ad-libs the most. Usually, when I do ad-libs, it's me being a Marx Brother by myself and for myself. Sometimes people think they're funny, but sometimes they're like, "Yeah, Katie, we know you think you're hilarious." Mark remembers all of them.

In the line in [Episode] 10, where I'm telling him what a shrew is, one of my alts was, "A shrew's a small, mouse-like creature. There's only 16 of them in the world, and they're all named Richard." He brings it back up to me every once in a while. He's a good guy.

He has very nice things to say about you as well.

I'm telling you, it's mutual. I don't think they knew what they did, but they did it.

Kate and Abby are more than gal pals

Kate and Abby start off with a fun, loving dynamic, but she's not exactly thrilled with Abby's recent choices. What has that transition been like? Do you have any fun stories from working with Kat McNamara?

I have so many fun stories from working with Kat McNamara. Kat is a sweet, gentle, beautiful soul. Let's open by saying that occasionally, I've been known to be on the internet. I lurk and ultimately post like a 14-year-old boy, so no one knows that I'm lurking. But I've seen a lot of comparisons to Kate and Abby's relationship painted as gal pals and besties. Then when there's tension between them, there's a lot of, "Oh my God, why is this person so jealous? Why is this person acting like a jealous friend, a jealous girlfriend? Why is she judging her?"

Something that Kat and I have talked about holding close about this relationship is that Abby has real gravity with Kate, and Kate has gravity with Abby. These are two grown women and women-like creatures that see each other eye to eye, respect each other, and love each other, and there's a rawness and truth and worthiness to their intimacy together.

It goes much deeper. Not that women who are friends don't have that, [but] the label of a gal pal diminishes it. There's a real romance in their friendship. In the earlier days, there's terror and intention and wittiness and joy, and they treasure each other. When fractures happen in a relationship of that depth, it's intense. I don't know a lot of other people ... This cast is populated by people who mean a lot to Kate, but in Kate's normal life, [she's] used to people doing unpredictable things and distancing herself and shrugging it off. But Abby holds so much weight in her heart and her life that what she sees as a dangerous choice, as a distancing choice, as something that puts her on the outside, is really jarring and hurtful.

It sucks for Kat and me because we like hanging out and having fun [on] set together, and for all of Episode 9, we kept going, "Why aren't you here? I haven't seen you in a week and a half. What's going on?" But it's top-level heartbreak. Its intensity is earned. She's genuinely a little bit shattered by this choice that Abby's made, not because Abby can't sleep with [whomever] the hell she wants, but because it's dangerous and unpredictable and confusing and speaks to what she sees as an oversight on Abby's part when it comes to the love that they share together.

It was a huge bummer to act. It's very confronting and real when Kat and I get to act together, and when we get to have fun, it's incredibly fun. When it's heavy, it's very sad and a little tender. But Abby and Kate as true equals is one of my favorite things to play in the show.

The future of Independence

It bums me out to ask this, but in case we don't get a renewal, do you think the season finale will work as a satisfying series finale? Or will fans be left with a lot of questions?

No, it won't be a satisfying series finale, because all we do together — the actors, the producers, the directors — is sit around and come up with new s*** all the time. We're constantly pitching storylines. First of all, we want everybody to be in love. Second of all, if we don't want everybody to be in love, we do want everybody to kiss. We come up with satisfying dramatic conclusions and adventures and issues all the time. The season finale is fantastic, but there's so much stuff we didn't have time to touch. There are things that show up that would kick off an excellent second season that are unanswered questions. It's not like everyone goes to Kai's, has a cup of tea, and the sun sets peacefully on Independence. It's a TV show; it doesn't happen.

It's brilliant. A lot of questions are answered, a lot of tensions are resolved, and new tensions are planted because that's what you do. Obviously, if we only get one season, I'm incredibly grateful. I was delighted to be here thoroughly and to my core, but I'm not going to say that an episode that sews up a couple of things and then leaves a bunch of interesting, hot people in a tiny turn-of-the-century town with guns and intrigue ... I'm not going to say that wraps it up.

You had a major role in "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist." What was that experience like, and do you hope "Walker Independence" gets its own musical episode?

I totally do. We have so many talented people on this show. Being on "Zoey's" was a delight from start to finish, [and] I am deeply in love with so many of the people that I met on that show. I had never had the opportunity to do full-scale musical numbers on a show before.

It was so magical and empowering. It was tons of fun. I adore the people that I met on that show. There was a little bit of a trauma bond because we were in the middle of the pandemic, and I hadn't gone outside in eight months, so being able to do my job was exceptional. But it's where I learned that now that I'm in my thirties, I do, in fact, have to stretch before dancing on tabletops in a bar. That was an important takeaway.

Hanging out with Viola Davis

Are there any actors from your former projects that you'd love to see on "Walker Independence" if it gets renewed?

Dude, everybody. I want everyone I love and all of my friends to be on this show. We are constantly pitching people. You [can] close your eyes and throw a dart at the cast of "Zoey's" or at the cast of "Murder" and add them immediately to my daily Western life. I cannot stress [that] enough.

Do any highlights from those projects come to mind?

I got to go to work with Viola Davis every day, and that's insane for a 24-year-old still getting used to being in the public eye and getting jobs at all. Being at work with somebody that powerful and warm and human and funny and fierce was an incredible gift. Realistically speaking, when that experience came in, my career was a little bit insane. There are also beautiful people on that show, and the thing that gutted me about not being [on it] anymore was missing out on deepening a family bond with the people that worked on that show. I had such real, sincere affection for all of them — I still do. But it was a bit of a whirlwind.

I was 24 years old, and I would walk through the parking lot in the morning; Viola would walk by me in a robe and make a joke about getting busy because robes mean that you have a sex scene that day. I was like, "How in the world did I end up here?"

"Walker Independence" airs Thursdays on The CW, with episodes streaming for free on the website and app the next day.

This interview has been edited for clarity.