Lindsey Morgan on SKYLINES, Sci-fi and Soaps – Marina Antunes interviews

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Actress Lindsey Morgan is best known for her turn on TV’s long-running The 100 but the fan favorite is not only concentrating on TV.

Skylines, the third instalment in writer/director Liam O’Donnell’s ongoing sci-fi saga, stars Morgan as Rose, an ass-kicking badass who is charged with taking the fight to the alien planet in hopes of saving what’s left of humanity.

While quite different from Morgan’s previous roles, Skylines gave the actress the opportunity to mix her passion for kickboxing, something she had been pursuing on her own, with acting; not to mention the opportunity to lead a cast of international stars including Rhona Mitra, Alexander Siddig, James Cosmo and Yayan Ruhian among others.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Morgan about how she came to this crazy-fun sci-fi adventure and in the midst of our conversation, we also discussed where her passion for performance came from, how a role on a soap changed her life, and what the future holds.

Vertical Entertainment will release Skylines in select theaters, drive-ins, on-demand, and digital on December 18th.

Lindsey Morgan in SKYLINES

Marina Antunes: I wanted to learn more about, um, how you wanted to be an actress to begin with?

Lindsey Morgan: We’re going way back, way back. Wow. I haven’t been asked this question in a decade, I think. Okay. You know what? It was interesting. I was 18 I was applying for college and really just on that path of what am I doing with my life now? I had a lot of interests. I was on newspaper and the debate team. I did a lot of mentoring and volunteering and I was in model UN and then I was in drama and art class. And so I just kind of did a little bit of everything. So I wasn’t really sure what direction I wanted to go in. And I remember I was doing, model UN and debate and I was thinking I was going to go into politics or journalism. I was writing for the newspaper and designing for it.

I always have had this really artistic side of me and that’s why I was in visual arts and theater and I remember I was getting ready for a play that I had a very small role in. I never got cast in anything in high school so for all the kids out there who aren’t getting any roles in school theater, you have hope because I was never cast and anything ever. So I remember I finally got this very small part in a play and it was a big deal because it was my first role and I remember getting ready for it and just feeling really happy and just thinking like I could do this every day.

And then from that little seed I was double majoring in political science. And then I was thinking of triple majoring in political science, broadcast journalism and theater. But I was going to have theater in there as one of my double majors. And then while I was doing theater I got an agent in Austin where I was at school and then I was booking commercials and then I got really close on a role for Friday Night Lights and I was just kinda like, you know what? This is where my passion is leading me. And I felt very much like politics can be a very dirty world and it can get really ugly and I felt like it wasn’t always the best way to help people. And I felt like art, especially theater arts, has this way of connecting people and inspiring people and just reminding people about what’s the most important thing and that’s humanity and that’s our journey and our human spirit and so just a very pure thing that I could do and hopefully help better the world by just making some people happy and myself happy.

Antunes: How do you get from theater to something like General Hospital because there’s this mentality when people think about soap operas, that it’s this thing that kind of people watch on the sly, you never really admit to being a fan, but for the actors… it’s such an interesting start to a career because it’s so intense. You’re shooting every day. There’s so much going on. I’m curious about how that experience on General Hospital helped you, or maybe didn’t, with your future roles.

Morgan: Thank you for knowing that. So many people don’t realize how difficult soaps are. It’s like the bootcamp of acting and for me, the soap was my first big job and you know, I was really green at it. I got this new wonderful manager who’s still my manager today, Tim Taylor. It was my third audition. I think I was with him for two months. And then I booked it and it, you know, it was a big deal for me back then, because it’s a contract role and suddenly I have stable work, I’m making money to support myself with just acting and that’s a big deal for a young actor because there’s only 3% of actors working in our entire industry at any time. So I was like, Oh my gosh, I made it, you know?

But I didn’t know what was in store for me. It’s a complete bootcamp. You’re putting on basically a different play every day and it really was my sink or swim moment where I just got thrown into the deep end. I look back on my days on the soap and have a lot of compassion for being young and not knowing anything and just, you know, trying my hardest. But I’ll be honest: I won’t say I did my best on the soap. I didn’t know what I was doing half the time and then the other half the time you’re just so tired because you don’t have these muscles yet.

And so you’re just kind of struggling and you don’t know who to ask for help and I felt very much like I just had to figure it out and even when you’re not ready, you got to film and then you get like one take. So much of me in the soap was me learning and unfortunately people had to see that in their home, me learning on the job. But it taught me a lot about resilience, and stamina, but it also taught me that I can ask for help and that I’m not alone in a production and I can reach out to people and get help and if I am struggling. I was just really scared of admitting I couldn’t do it. I was scared that my scenes weren’t good but you know, we’re all young. We all have to learn. We all have to fail and get up again and learn to persevere. I look at the soap and I’m like for a young kid who just moved out here on a whim without her family and no support and, you know, I did Okay.

Lindsey Morgan in THE 100S

Antunes: And I assume that opened a lot of doors for you. You ended up on The 100, which was a huge success and which is where most people, including myself, first saw you and now you’re this action badass! You’ve worked in a number of different genres but I’m curious with The 100 and now Skylines, how did you prepare for the physicality of the role?

Morgan: The uninteresting bad truth of it was that I didn’t do much because the movie went through some phases to where it was going to go and then it wasn’t, and then the movie wasn’t happening and then maybe like two weeks before I left to go film it was back on so I didn’t get it prepared as much as I wanted to but I’m kind of a perfectionist so it was good lesson for me to learn. Sometimes we’re not prepared again, like the soap opera. I’m not always going to be as prepared as they want to be, but that can’t stop me. I got luckily because I have a fight training.

I’ve trained in Thai kickboxing for the last five years on my own as a hobby. On The 100, I was really inspired by all of the action of it and I wanted to be part of it, but if you’ve seen the show, you know I get paralyzed in season two so I was benched for a lot of those action sequences. I was really jealous of Marie [Avgeropoulos] and all the stuff she got to do. She was so awesome and I was like, man, I just want to do that. So I went out on my own and got training and learned and it’s really paid off and I got to actually utilize that in this film and it just kind of excited me in the sense of like, Oh, this is something I enjoy and want to do more of. So yeah, it was just kind of a blending of passion. So it all worked out great.

Antunes: How did you you come to Skylines to begin with? Your little appearance in Beyond Skyline was so small did you have an inkling that you were going to make a full movie in this universe?

Morgan: Zero clue. It was so funny because I don’t know if a ton of people know aboout my journey to Beyond Skylines because they had finished filming. The movie’s principal photography was done and they were testing it and a lot of audiences, from what Liam O’Donnell, the creator, writer/director told me, were very interested in Rose and wanted to know more about Rose. So he got this idea of putting this little flash-forward future vignette of what she kind of grew up being in the movie. He’s seen my work from “The 100” and I happened to look like that little girl and they called me and offered me the role.

So I shot through one day and then left and didn’t think anything of it. Then maybe eight months later, Liam emailed me again and was like, “Hey, can we meet for coffee? I have a script for you.” It was such a compliment and basically he said that after we filmed that day he was just really inspired.

Antunes: I wanted to touch base a little bit on what’s happening with you now, because you’ve got a new TV series and I think it’s really fascinating that you’re not just concentrating on acting: you have a new TV series, you’ve done a little bit of directing, you have a vitamin brand… what’s next for you?

Morgan: Babies. I would like a family and in a couple of next two years or so, so I am thinking about family but my aspirations… I want to continue directing and I want to obviously keep acting, and I’m writing ideas that I want to develop. I’m a terrible writer so that scares me, but I’m also of the belief anything that scares me I have to make myself do. So I’m just hoping to keep being creative and stretching and growing.

You can also listen to the entire interview and watch the SKYLINES trailer on AWFJ’s YouTube Channel.

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Marina Antunes

Marina has been writing and discussing film for over 15 years, first on a personal blog followed by a decade long tenure on the now retired Row Three. In 2008 she joined the writing staff at Quiet Earth, becoming Editor-In-Chief in 2014, a role she still holds. Over the years, she has also produced and hosted a number of podcasts including Before the Dawn, a long-running podcast on the Twilight franchise, Girls on Pop, a podcast on film and popular entertainment from women’s perspective and After the Credits, bi-monthly film podcast with nearly 300 episodes. Marina is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, is the Vice President of the Vancouver SIGGRAPH chapter and has served on juries for several film festivals including the DOXA, St. Louis International Film Festival, and the Whistler Film Festival. She joined the Spark CG Society as Festival Director in 2014.