With The Catch Season 2 just starting, it was a perfect time to get a look at what’s to come while in LA for the #BeOurGuestEvent. We not only had the chance to screen episode 203, but we were lucky enough to be joined by Sonya Walger who plays “Margot” (you also may recognize her as “Penny” from LOST) and Showrunner & Executive Producer Allan Heinberg.
The Catch Season 2
In the episode we watched, Alice discovers some very hard truths about her brother Tommy which forces Val to dig into her past in order to help with his case. Meanwhile, relationships are tested as Margot and the AVI team have to navigate their current realities, and Ben and Rhys’ latest con may turn out to be a little too risky.
Sonya Walger and Allan Heinberg Interview
Sonya, there’s so many twists and turns in the show. Is there one that surprised you?
Sonya: Yeah, you haven’t seen it yet. (We all laugh) Yep, that one was quite a big one, too, I have to say.
So you’re now working for Alice. Can you talk a little about that relationship?
Sonya: I can speak as far as you’ve seen. I think what’s fun is that Alice and Margot discover they have perhaps more in common than they thought. There’s a sort of begrudging mutual respect while still there’s a lot of wariness because, you know, Margot is Margot. (We all laugh) But I think that was one of those beautiful therapy scenes that Allan wrote us in season one. What I think was so lovely there was Margot had this moment of realizing they, they were both betrayed by the same guy.
They have all this common ground and so that sort of moves into season two where I think realize they’re both strong, empowered, intelligent women who can go toe-to-toe, and neither one is going to stand down. And then when they realize neither one is going to stand down, they have to kind of work together. I love the relationship. I obviously just love doing scenes with Mireille, so it was fun.
Where does the title, The Catch originate?
Allan: Well, for me, before I came on board, a version of the show already existed, and it was, I think, a reference to Alice catching Ben. That was her drive. But for me it was about love, like, you can’t have it all like there’s always going to be a catch. The guy you fall in love with who turns out to be your soulmate- it’s also the one who stole all of your money and is a career criminal. So, like, in love, it’s never the whole fantasy. There’s always something pulling you back down to Earth. I think a lot of us look at love as an escape from our daily lives.
And “The Catch” is that what real love is, is something less romantic and a lot harder to achieve. And so that’s the way we’ve been proceeding, there’s always a catch with these relationships. How do you work through it?
Did you take inspiration from certain other favorite shows?
Allan: Well, I had been on Scandal when I got this job. And Grey’s Anatomy before Scandal, so I’d been in Shondaland for about ten years. I had a real sense of what I would want to see when watching Thursday nights. Murder is pretty dark for me, so I knew I wanted a lighter, more fun, sexy, fashion-forward show. I worked on Sex in the City; I sort of miss that- I miss smart people talking smartly to each other, wearing amazing clothes, and talking about real love issues like how relationships work.
That’s sort of my thing. So, yes, we referenced the Thomas Crown Affair in the pilot; we referenced Ernst Lubitsch called Trouble in Paradise in episodes two, three, and four. I don’t know if you remember the princess who comes in, and Ben befriends her- that’s all a steal from Trouble in Paradise which is one of the best movies ever made if you get a chance to see it. I’m a pop culture junkie, so I try to put as many Easter eggs as possible. I was a huge “Happy Endings” fan, and so as Zach Knighton came on at the end of last season, and John Simms came on because I’m a huge fan. So pulling in as much of that stuff as possible, as well. No lost references yet, but…
Can you talk a little about the fashion?
Sonya: Isn’t it killer?
It really is.
Sonya: I tell you, it’s my favorite thing is going in for a wardrobe fitting, and that is not usually the case. Usually, you go to wardrobe fittings, and there’s a tired lady who’s, like, ‘Hi, we don’t do black on this show.’ That’s usually what wardrobe is like. When you go in with Peggy, and there’s just a rack of the most exquisite dresses…
Allan: You guys met Peggy last year?
Sonya: She’s wonderful and has just the best eye. I think this is the fun of doing season two of the show is she knows my body better than I do, so the dresses are not ones that I would pick. I’m the mother of two- I’m lucky to get dressed in the morning, so just to be zipped into a thing with heels, and the hair, and it’s glorious. It’s glorious. And it just means by the time I’ve been through the works; Margo’s there. It’s such an enormous part of, of being a character is having the right look, and you know, jewelry, and hair, and makeup. It’s like zipping on a suit, and then half your work is done it’s amazing.
Allan: I have to say the show is crazy. It’s just crazy in like a great way, but it makes it really fun wardrobe wise. Like in one episode, (looking at Sonya) you’re going to a high-stakes underground casino in the Barbara Streisand outfit that you wore to the bank with the wig. She walks in as Barbara Streisand, and I’m like, can we get away with this? Is it too much with the glasses and the lips? No, it’s not too much. It’s fine. Sex in the City was a bit like this, too, where we just kept pushing and pushing. Peggy has such a clear sense of the actor and the character that it just is a delight.
Do we get a lot more of Gina in season two?
Sonya: She’s in every episode. Yeah. She’s fantastic. And she can wear clothes like nobody’s business.
With so many strong female leads in The Catch, are the guys starting to feel a little outnumbered?
Sonya: A bit.
Allan: I think when we brought Rhys on full time, Pete Krause was like, all right, we’re okay now. I’ve got my, my partner. He feels a little bit better, and now they’re a comedy trio with Gina joining them this year. There’s a lot of ladies. I’m not sure that our side is being represented. We used to have that on Grey’s quite a bit, too.
Sonya: Totally fine with that. Just don’t care.
Allan: I’m like, you don’t understand. You’re a fantasy. You don’t get a point to be here? (We all laugh)
Sonya: That’s so good. That’s such a good line.
Allan: Really, it’s an ensemble. It’s interesting because I think the biggest change that I made was to give his character a point of view. If you’d seen the original pilot, you’re in her head the entire time. You have no idea what he’s thinking or why he’s doing what he’s doing.
So the big change was act two of that original pilot is all from Pete’s point of view. So you fall in love with him; you understand that he’s in love with her. It is a duet in that sense. We do have a lot of really strong women, but what a great message to have.
Are the character’s evolving throughout the season?
Allan: I think they are. What’s interesting on the show is that the heroes and villains are so clearly drawn at the front of it, right? He’s a bad guy who took all the money. She’s a victim because she fell in love, and then it shifts so quickly so that even someone like Margot Bishop who kills people for a living- by her admission, becomes someone you feel for, and root for.
That was the beauty of when Sonya and I met. I got the job, and then I met with all the actors one by one, and I said, congratulations, you have a new showrunner, and a new character to play- I hope you like it. (We all laugh)
And so everybody was great. Sonya has been particularly great because she got it immediately and pitched me in that first lunch. I said this in the press previously, she said, what if the way that Alice and Margot finally meet is that Margot is pretending to be Alice’s therapist?
And I was like, I don’t know how to do that right now, but that is the best idea I’ve ever heard. So I came back to the writer’s room with that idea, and they were all really eager for it to be in episode two or episode three. And I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. The point I was going to make is I said to Sonya at that lunch, your character is completely different. We talked a lot about the relationship between Judi Dench and boy, what’s his name?
Sonya: James Bond.
Allan: Yes, Daniel Craig as James Bond, and that initially, I was really writing for Pete and Sonya. And the previous version, they were being put into something that had already existed. This was me as a fan saying, like, I want you with your smartest, most British, and most, like, crafty- she’s got the big vision for everything, but Margo’s role is interesting because she’s barely in the pilot. She’s got, like, three scenes/four scenes.
Allan: Two scenes (We all laugh). You just have to trust me on this becomes your story. Your family becomes a huge part of what this is. The benefactor is going to be either your mother or your brother, and trust me, it will develop. I don’t know if you believed me, but you pretended to believe me (Laughing). And sure enough, like, by episode two, three, four, you just start to see it shift and grow so that it really in some ways becomes as much Margo’s show as anybody’s show.
You have no idea when you start the degree to which it can grow and change, and it has everything to do with your cast. If they weren’t capable of it, I wouldn’t be able to write to it. So it’s very collaborative environment, and I’m constantly bouncing ideas off of them. Even in rehearsal, like, what’s working; what’s not working; call me; come to me; if you have a great idea, let’s do it.
Sonya: But that is exceptional. That really, really is. I can count on no hands the number of showrunners that are transparent, and accessible, and are like, hey, do you have a thought? Do you have an idea? What is it? What are your feelings? I can understand because the trains have to run on time, and you’ve gotta keep things moving, but most of the time you get the script, and you say it verbatim.
So, to answer your question again is part of why the characters do evolve and change, is because there’s so much back and forth. You’re not dealing with someone who’s just writing what they need to write. There’s room to see what you’re doing well and then write to that, you know?
Allan: And I knew we had to reinvent the show completely in this second season. Part of what I think turned people off in the beginning, and this partly our fault, we only had one episode to show people by the time we aired, and so I think everybody thought we were doing The Fugitive where it was like, I don’t want her chase for thirteen episodes. That makes me tired. I don’t want that.
That’s one of the things that we work really hard at on The Catch. Always spinning the dynamic a little bit, and what two characters have never had a scene together? Let’s try to figure out how to do that and that’s how the season started this season, was I wanted more Margot and Alice, like, what happens when Margot walks in the AVI for the first time. I want to watch THAT show. Margot ends up hiring the person she was trying to kill seventy-two hours ago. (We all laugh) So yeah, we’re lucky in that we get to reinvent this show every ten episodes, which is fun.
With Margot having so many pieces to her puzzle and finding more and more every episode, how much of that do you know in advance?
Sonya: Well because I have the most collaborative showrunner in the world, I would say, as much information as Allan has, I have. So if he knows, hey, you’re going to hook up with so and so, and it may turn ugly; that’s the information that I have.
Allan: And I’ll try to be careful because sometimes giving an actor too much information. If you know too much about what’s coming down the road and you’re not a genius actor like Sonya, it’ll pull you away from the present moment.
So I think a lot of showrunners withhold to protect the actor to keep them present in the moment. We’re cooking this up together, and I want her to be invested. Her writer’s mind is so strong, I will usually- and I do this with Mireille, too, and with Pete, um, everybody really, if they’re interested in having that much information. Like, I’ll tell them as much as I know. I’ll tell everybody as much as I know. And sometimes I’ll call from the writer’s room and say, this is- this is maybe a terrible idea, but what do you think?
Sonya: I love it. I’ve had both, honestly. I mean, I’ve had showrunners who were, you know, the ink was drying as getting the script pages (laughing), so there were no heads up there. That’s okay, too, truly. You just keep to a very present, and you’re like, guess what? In life, I don’t know what’s happening in ten minute’s time, so this is what I play. It’s not terrible. I’ve had the other where I’ve had all ten episodes ahead of time before we even shot a frame, to sort of process the whole arc which is more like having- doing a movie, say. They, but they honestly both have their benefits. It’s not terrible to get, to get it last minute either.