Fourth and final season airing in multi-hour Friday-night blocks on Syfy Channel
Jennifer Goines once took the "viral Armageddon" with her to a speed-dating session.
She paradoxed her turtle(s), and blew up part of the temporal facility. That's the place where time travel has become both a reality and the one way to save humanity from The Witness and her Army of the 12 Monkeys.
Nearly 100 years ago, Jennifer staged parts of "Jaws" and "ET" on a Paris stage. Prior to that, she had a "99 Luftballons" fantasy while in the clutches of World War I German soldiers.
Of course, she also came to the aid of Athan in his time of need, allowing him to return to Titan and save his parents. In fact, Jennifer has helped Cole (aka "Otter Eyes") and Cassie fend off time's enemies, well, time and again, thus giving mankind a fighting chance in a post-plague 2043.
It's for that reason Jennifer has become a hero as "12 Monkeys" enters its fourth and final season (beginning Friday at 8 p.m. on Syfy). Initially seen as a villain, and locked in a mental hospital, we've learned Jennifer is actually a Primary -- someone who can see time and events play out in both the present and future. As actress Emily Hampshire said in an interview this week, Jennifer now just wants to help others.
From day one, Hampshire has masterfully fashioned a character who's equally manic, pensive, hilarious, lonely, loving and brave. The actress has given life to someone who was cast out by her vile parents; hunted down by an organization bent on bringing forth a time-bending, world-ending red forest; thrust through history; lost in the past; and finally accepted by a small band of outcasts and scientists.
That Hampshire has done this while keeping Jennifer both the heart and comic relief of an extremely well-crafted, but often dark sci-fi/action series is a remarkable feat of acting craft.
If society is to continue, Jennifer, Cole (Aaron Stanford) and Cassie (Amanda Schull) will have to find and defeat Olivia, who revealed herself as the true Witness at the end of season three. The leader of the 12 Monkeys has made it her mission to rewrite and recast her own miserable life, even if it's at the expense of every other living being.
Hampshire recently told fans on Twitter to brace themselves for an unbelievable end to what this writer considers to be the best Syfy Channel series to date. The actress spoke about season four, and offered further insight into her character, in a BTS Q&A.
(Oh, and if Vynl or Funko staffers are reading this, we both think the "12 Monkeys" characters would be a worthy addition to your lineups!)
Emily Hampshire as Jennifer Goines in seasons one and two of "12 Monkeys." (Syfy photos by Gavin Bond and Rodolfo Martinez)
BTS: The Syfy Network sort of has two sides, right: On the one side, you've got, like, "Sharknado," which is awesome and sort of over the top and campy and people love it; but on the other side, you've got something like "12 Monkeys." I've had this conversation with Amanda in the past. To me, "12 Monkeys" is the best show I've ever seen on the Syfy Network. It's just so smart and so well acted. Did you see that initially, or what was it that attracted you to the show?
Emily Hampshire: I mean, initially for me, it was definitely just Jennifer on the page.
I, personally, am not much of a sci-fi fan -- I wasn't before this show. The idea of something sci-fi would normally turn me off, just because I'd always feel like I'm much more a person that looks for character-driven stories and comedies and more documentaries or cable television stuff. But this show, when I initially read it, I knew of the movie. I think I had seen it years before, but I didn't really remember it. But it was really just a connection with Jennifer on the page. And I thought it was one of the best scripts I had read that pilot season, and a lot of people were saying that -- like that particular script that was going around, people were like, "This is such a great pilot."
But what I think is brilliant about what it does, that kind of speaks to what you're saying, is it's not your typical sci-fi show. It does, to me, feel much more like a cable show -- and that's only to say in its complexity.
And also why I think it's not a typical sci-fi show is that it is so character-driven and it's more about family. It's not about -- I think I had the ignorant point of view that sci-fi stuff is not about real stuff. And then (showrunner) Terry (Matalas) kind of schooled me at one point, because he's the biggest, like, nerdy, geek reader of comic book sci-fi stuff. He's a big "Star Trek" fan, too, and he was telling me how Spock and Kirk is one of the greatest love stories of all time, this friendship, and he was explaining this to me. I feel like that's kind of what Terry does. ...
I was offered it in a way that served the whole time travel and everything in a way that I could relate to, in terms of this character stuff. It's like you can go back and change things and make things better for yourself. As opposed to just, "Oh, cool; it's time travel. Just splinter!"
When "12 Monkeys" went on Syfy, I know that their intention was to kind of, not fully change their brand, but we replaced wrestling on there at first; and I think they wanted to have this kind of ... "Battlestar Galactica" that they used to have. I think "12 Monkeys" was -- they wanted to use that to open the door to start having that kind of programming again.
But in my opinion, I feel like the show will live. I think everything lives now in streaming online. I think it's so brilliant what Syfy is doing, by doing a binge kind of airing. Because that's how people watch TV now. But also, for this particular show, with how much things connect, and something in episode one is paid off in episode five, it's the way to watch this show and get all the Easter eggs and stuff in it.
BTS: Yeah, and I find that I have to do that, and I just binge-watched the third season again.
You know, as we know come into the fourth season, it's interesting, because I just watched the pilot again today and obviously you were just in the very end of the episode. But as we go into the fourth season now, you know, Jennifer is central to the entire storyline -- to everything that's going to happen with these characters. I'm wondering: Was that the original intent of the character -- that Jennifer would play this kind of a crucial role, or did that sort of build as the seasons went on?
Emily Hampshire: I think it's kind of both. Terry always had this to be four seasons in his head. If you watch season one and then you watch our finale season that's airing, you will see things that paid off from there that were planned. He planted a seed that is rewarded in this coming season.
Terry, I think, had this all in his head. However, I was initially just a recurring character, and then was brought back in season two as a regular. And I had said to Terry at the time, because I thought what I got to do was so great as a recurring character, just come in and every scene of mine was something fantastic. And I was like, "Well, if I'm going to become a regular, I don't ever want to just come in and be (a casual visit). I always want Jennifer to be special. And so, if it means that she's just going to become, like, this kind of regular thing on it, I'd rather keep her special." And he's like, "No; I promise that she is integral to this thing and she will always be special Jennifer."
And he did stay true to that -- so much so that, in season two, at the end of that season, I'm like, "I don't think I can come back and be Jennifer again, because you can't top that." I had young Jennifer and old Jennifer. And I just always never wanted to go backward with this character, because I thought everything she did was just amazing.
And then season three, he tops it with "99 Luftballons." And just all this stuff I got to do in that season, again I said, "I don't know that we can top that in season four." And lo and behold, he did definitely top that.
I love that he is giving us and fans the absolute perfect end to this show. Everyone gets their due, which I don't think you get a lot of the time in a series, but I think maybe that speaks to he always knew how this story was going to end.
BTS: I have sort of a basketball analogy in my mind, and I don't know how familiar you are with the NBA. I know you're a working actress and that doesn't probably give you a lot of time to be watching basketball games. But let me try to explain this the best way I can: So, the Golden State Warriors are the NBA champions, and they have two very famous star players. They've got Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. And everybody talks about Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. But they've got another player, a third player, and his name is Klay Thompson. And Klay Thompson is always the one that comes in and hits the crucial shots and really helps them to win. As much as they have these two star players, without Klay Thompson they don't win these championships.
For me, as I'm watching season after season, Jennifer has become such an important part of this show -- and the way you play her is awesome.
Emily Hampshire: She's a Klay Thompson!?!
BTS: Yeah, exactly. The thing of it is, if you go into this series on the surface, you think that Cole and Cassie are going to be the stars, and everything revolves around Cole and Cassie. And that's the way it should be. But I just find it so remarkable the way that you've integrated into the storyline. And I find it so brilliant the way that you bring this very sort of perplexing character -- very multifaceted, multilayered character -- to life each and every episode. What is the process for you of becoming Jennifer, and how do you get into Jennifer mode and be this brilliant thing that we see on screen?
Emily Hampshire: Well, thank you, and I would love to take that compliment as my own, but the reality first and foremost is that's all Terry Matalas. We do talk about Jennifer being ours, because he gives me so much freedom of inventing stuff. But he does that for all the cast.
He's also, I think, as this series has gone on, it started out as what he drummed up on paper. I mean, there was the original movie, but I think we've gone further from that. And as he's gotten to know everybody, he's really written to our strengths, too. Or, how he sees us in real life. Jennifer painting about Jennifer, snapping, is all Terry's observations on me on set.
But I think, to me, Jennifer has always been, from the very, very beginning, as a human, she has, to me, just a pure kind of innocent, childlike love. Which sounds weird, because she's crazy at the beginning. But where everybody got that from early on, we thought -- I thought -- that Jennifer had mental health issues, and maybe schizophrenia, and that's what they are talking about when they brought in a psychologist to talk to me about what those symptoms would be.
And the one thing he told me that I latched onto -- that I always assumed, but him saying it made it real for me -- was that people who have mental health problems don't have the inhibitions that a lot of us in society have. So, a lot of the times they just say the truth -- and the truth that, like, no one else is saying. And that's what I found with Jennifer from the beginning. To me, she was always the most honest person in the room, the smartest person in the room, and being called kind of crazy because she just obviously seemed crazy talking about these monkeys.
But then, ultimately, in terms of playing her, for me, it's a lot of wardrobe. Our costume designer, Joyce Schure, is amazing. ... She's just a genius. But she also lets me be really involved with Jennifer's costumes.
I always felt like, when Jennifer was in the mental hospital, she grew up watching movies and stuff. So her life is kind of a movie, and every time she goes on some mission, for her, it's like playing a new role -- and she really takes it on. And to me, that's always, first and foremost, what costume is she going to wear? ... I think there's that side of her that goes into a real movie set (fantasy land). She's always quoting movies.
That's an important entrypoint to me. As opposed to I think lots of people think of Jennifer just needing this love. I've found as I've played her that she actually just wants to love. She wants to help, all the time. She always just wants to, like, be part of a family and to do good.
BTS: There's so many great quirky Jennifer moments and stories that I could ask you about. But the thing I'm curious about the line about "Otter Eyes" (Jennifer's nickname for Cole). Where did the "Otter Eyes" thing come from?
Emily Hampshire: Well, you know that was totally scripted in the original script. And Terry had said that our writer in season one, Natalie Chaidez, who said, once they cast Aaron Stanford, she was like, "He has otter eyes." So, she thought that he had otter eyes. And I think so, too. Now I'm always looking at otters, and I'm like, "Oh, that's otter eyes."
So that's where that came from. It was totally her point of view on what Aaron looked like (laughs).
Emily Hampshire shows off her comedic side at San Diego Comic-Con. (Syfy photo by Matt Winkelmeyer)