'The Passage' Season 1 Exclusive: Brianne Howey on Shauna's disturbing past and what it's like playing a vampire

 'The Passage' Season 1 Exclusive: Brianne Howey on Shauna's disturbing past and what it's like playing a vampire

Known for her works in TV shows like 'The  Exorcist,' and ever so acclaimed science fiction horror film 'Viral,' the very talented Brianne Howey has been leaving her fans and viewers speechless with her latest role on Fox's 'The Passage', and for good reason too. The almost three-weeks old TV show revolves around a dystopian world where a medical trial gone wrong creates superhuman monsters with a thirst for blood and playing one of these test subjects turned into a vampire is the 29-year-old Howey. 

While it might seem like a done and dusted genre, what sets 'The Passage' apart from other stereotypical vampire shows is its style of simplistic storytelling at a slow, but steady pace. The action is gripping and so are the characters, with their twisted pasts and intense backstories. And one such backstory happens to be Howey's character, Shauna Babcock's. The third episode of 'The Passage' takes viewers back into Shauna's past, showing her life and struggles which are quite unnerving, to say the least. Spoiler alert but before Shauna was just a test subject turned vampire locked up in the cells of Project NOAH (the medical experiment), she was the classic 21st-century icon with a heart of steel and several ghosts from her past. 




Speaking to MEAWW, Howey laid down what makes a vampire on-screen, and what sets 'The Passage' apart from other shows in the genre, alongside some teasers about what to expect when it comes to her character's future. Here are some excerpts of her conversation with us:

What is your take on vampire TV shows? How do you think 'The Passage' sets itself apart from the genre?

I think what 'The Passage' does really well, is that it's not only just a vampire show; it's so much more than that. The relationship that the characters have with each other really binds it together. There's suspense, it's thrilling, and then there are vampires, and the book's mythology too. There's a love story, we have heroes. And most importantly, our vials are capable of mindscaping and they have psychic capabilities, and they can get into your head. And they're lab-generated, so it's not magic. This is as if this really exists, but what if a virus went wrong, and turned you into these creatures? 


Tell us a little bit about Shauna's current relationship with Clark. The tension between them was off the charts in the initial episodes; what's in the future for their connection?

There's a lot in store for everyone, some of it could be about Shauna and Clark. He's one of the first people she comes in contact with at Project NOAH, and he leaves a really lasting impression on her, which - as we see in episode 3 - has a lot to do with her backstory too. We find out about her life story, and what she's been through - thus relaying why Clark's actions are so meaningful to her. Their relationship actually plays throughout the whole season.




A look into Shauna's backstory was quite unnerving. Was any part of it particularly challenging for you to enact?
Yeah, definitely. I mean a lot of the physical stuff; the most physically challenging one being a scene where Shauna is getting burned in the glass cell with the lights. We shot that so many times and I kind of had to vibrate and shake and act as if I was being burned alive for what felt like forever. I thought I had run a marathon after that! But emotionally, it would definitely be all of the scenes with her mom and her stepdad that were emotionally challenging, and I really had to stretch myself there. For me, Shauna kind of gets robbed of her innocence as a child, and the people that she was supposed to be able to trust, turn out to be complete traitors. So for me, and my life and approach, I just kind of had to find where that lived within me and what moments in my life make me wish I could have regained or were taken for me too soon. And in that sense, I could relate to her and her experience.


What about 'The Passage' drew you to the show? Tell us a bit about the audition process?
What drew me right off the bat was finding out that Ridley Scott and Matt Reeves were attached, which is huge! Their projects are so elevated, and I felt like they were bringing a little bit of like a feature film feel to it. The next was the writing. We only got the audition scenes to begin with, not the whole script, and Shauna was just so compelling, especially in her relationship with Clark since I didn't know why they had this connection. The writing was just so grounded for a genre show.

Brianne Howey attends the 2018 Fox Network Upfront at Wollman Rink, Central Park on May 14, 2018 in New York City.
Brianne Howey attends the 2018 Fox Network Upfront at Wollman Rink, Central Park on May 14, 2018 in New York City.

How has her relationship with Fanning changed over the past? Would you say he has her completely under his wing by now?
Yeah, Fanning definitely serves as sort of a surrogate father figure to her - something that Shauna didn't grow up with many positive examples of. She definitely takes him to heart and then she feels like someone has her back and that relationship definitely grows over course and changes a little bit.


How similar or different are you from the character of Shauna in real life? What was the biggest thing that drew you to the character?
I admired her strength. I mean she's really really relentless and she doesn't care what other people think and she's really unapologetic. But I'm probably a little more apologetic than she is about things. I would never want to hurt anyone feelings, but Shauna really doesn't care, because she's the only person looking out for herself. No one else is okay.

Would you say horror has been your forte? How do you approach each role you play? Is there a go-to method you adopt for roles in the horror genre?
If I get substantial material, I take the genre out of it and I try to make them as human as possible because I think that's what's most relatable to them.

What does Shauna's future on the show look like? Is there a big arc coming any time soon in her plot?
Definitely, over the course season, Shauna finds her agency. There's a scene with Fanning and Babcock where he sort of tells her to utilize all of her potentials and throughout her life no one ever told her what she was worth and what she was capable of. So once he gets a grasp on her, it's a game changer for the rest the season.





What was it like to be a vampire on the screen? The scene was absolutely vivid!
It's incredible, I called them our 'viral days' - the days where we're wearing full makeup.  But some of the viral scenes were the most fun because you just kind of get to play an animal and animals are very pure in their instincts and it's just fun to play that.

What has the whole experience of playing Shauna been like? How would you describe the changes in Shauna ever since she has been 'turned'?
Once you 'turn', you don't resemble your human characteristics. You start to lose them essentially, and you just become an animal. But after episode 3, as each new viral gets there, it affects them. Like before Shauna was turned, she was passionate, irreverent, sarcastic and a fighter.

Are there any other projects that you're working on at the that you'd like to share with us? And what's next after 'The Passage'?
Not that I can't talk about yet, but hopefully after season one of 'The Passage', a second season would be great!

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 The Passage Brianne Howey on Shauna disturbing past and what its like to play a vampire on screen