Fans of Reign rejoice! A Season 3 of the cult classic has officially been confirmed, which means more drama, more betrayal, and more importantly… a whole lot more of Bash! A great deal has happened to Mary Queen of Scots and her loyal subjects since we last saw them, and in anticipation for their return, I spoke with the talented Torrance Coombs about the mid-season finale and what fans can expect from our beloved characters in the second half of the season.
Coombs, who is no stranger to entertaining people, began acting in high school plays which led to theatre school and ultimately his role on Reign… which he was rejected twice for! (Yeah, we can’t believe that either.) In between filming the show, the down-to-earth Canadian actor dished on the success of Reign, his co-stars, and how he’s still holding out for Mary and Bash (#Mash). Happy reading!
Reign returns NEXT WEEK, January 22 @ 9PM on The CW!
MCKENZIE MORRELL: Reign has really taken off. Did you have any idea when you initially shot the pilot that fans would love it so much?
TORRANCE COOMBS: No! It’s actually been an interesting journey to think back where we started. I have a feeling that our pilot might have been a bit of an underdog at some point. I think a lot of people were expecting it to fail, and I mean every aspect of this journey has felt just a little bit uphill, in the sense that when I auditioned for the pilot, I was rejected for it twice before they finally came back and decided “Okay, yeah you can do it.”
TC: Yeah, and so the audition process was that, and then you’re always scared they’re going to recast you when you do the pilot, because you have this big read-through with screens and speakers and microphones and it just seems like you’re really on the spot. At every turn I just keep expecting to be killed off or not be here anymore, so to see not only that we are still on the air, but to see our fan base grow and to see how much people love it is really something special.
MM: It’s been an amazing ride so far, and I anticipate it will go further. To switch gears a little bit, in the mid-season finale Francis went on a bit of a rampage in order to find the men who harmed his wife. Do you think Sebastian disagreed with his overall methods of trying to get information out of people?
TC: Yeah, certainly. What’s tough is to see your little brother abandon everything that makes him himself. So, watching your little brother, King or not, lose his innocence bit by bit is difficult. Trying to keep him on the path of being a good and moral person, even as the stress of being a king threatens to corrupt him. So obviously, yes, Bash disagrees with rounding people up and generally Bash also doesn’t understand why he’s being as aggressive as he is, since he doesn’t know the full extent of what happened.
MM: How do you anticipate Bash reacting to the news that Mary was raped? Do you think his feelings would’ve changed and he would stick by his brother’s side with his forceful tactics if he had known what happened?
TC: That’s tough to say, because the culprit is dead now, so it’s hard to know how he’d react. Bash’s usual reaction in such scenarios is “I’ll kill him myself”, ya know? Narcisse is blackmailing me- I’ll kill him myself, Blah-blah is doing something- I’ll kill him myself. Anybody threatens my brother or Mary and I’m straight to the defense and I don’t even ask questions I’m just ready to kill people. I think that probably would’ve been his immediate response: to go find him and kill him, as opposed to round up all the protestants everywhere and let them freeze to death.
MM: (laughs) Definitely a different tactic. Now, what personality traits do you share with your character, and are there any that you’re glad you don’t have?
TC: (laughs) I don’t know, I guess… I think Sebastian is a good person, and so he tries to find the good in people and doesn’t understand when people aren’t good, and I think I’m somewhat like that. The frustrating thing is that he’s just so principalled that sometimes he just gets tunnel vision, so he lacks empathy in some ways, because he fails to see the other side of things sometimes or where somebody else may be coming from. Eventually, he does come around and figure these things out, but his temper doesn’t allow him to see that right away. Whereas, I think I have an even temper and I listen first.
MM: That’s a good thing to have. The Reign fans are extremely passionate. Do you ever receive messages on Twitter that go overboard, and how do you respond to those fans?
TC: Many go overboard! Depending on my mood, I either respond or I don’t. There’s a few types of messages that I just can’t respond to, because at the end of the day, I have to decide what kind of behavior I want to encourage on Twitter. Sometimes I’m definitely guilty of encouraging the crazy behavior, which is fun, but some days you retweet one and you’ll get like four hundred others, and you’re like, “That kind of killed it guys!” Also, the bummer about it is, let’s say you’re having a grumpy day and you just want to passionately be political, and I might say “Hey guys, this is something I want to talk about, thanks for listening” and all anybody does is send weird photoshopped pictures or say “Follow me! Follow me!”, so some days I just have to give Twitter a break for a few hours. Overall though, it’s a lot of fun and I appreciate the responses. It’s just wonderful to be on a show that people care about and that people have a response to. I don’t want people to stop, just sometimes I need to step back.
MM: Which is completely understandable. Now, could you use one word to describe each of your co-stars?
TC: Oh… I’m really bad at this sort of thing- because one word doesn’t describe anybody. You’d leave entire facets of personalities out. I know these people so well and they’re all complex, three dimensional human beings. I can’t possibly pick a single word.
MM: Bash and Kenna’s relationship has really evolved over the season and I think that fans want to see more of these two together. What has it been like working with Caitlin Stasey?
TC: Caitlin is awesome! The fun thing about Caitlin is that she generates something out of nothing. Let’s say you’ve got a piece of writing that’s a little bit less than Shakespeare or maybe it was written a little bit hastily and the scene needs to get to a place storywise but some of the beats along the way are a little tricky, or let’s say it’s a big emotional crying scene that just starts out of nothing and you have to do like twenty takes of it. Caitlin is one of those actors that’s just right there with it right away. She can make nonsense make sense and she fiercely defends her character and tries to make her decisions consistent and make sense. When you act with her you feel the energy coming off her, and all I have to do when I’m in a scene with her is listen and respond, and it crackles. I think that’s what people are resonating with.
MM: Definitely. With that said, do you have any message for the people who are still holding out for Mary and Bash to get together?
TC: I’m still holding out, too, but I have to confess I’m losing hope. I don’t think there’s any intention of honoring that at this point. There’s been so many times with opportunities, as far as the season- we’ve been in a room together and there’s been no acknowledgement of what came before, I think we’re to assume that time has passed and they’re in their respective positions and have just tried to put that behind them. I have been surprised before, there are things that I’ve thought had been dropped and they made their way back in. Some of those are still to come, so you know, that’s just the way it goes, so I won’t say never but it is looking grim at this point.
MM: If you could guest star on any other show, what would it be?
TC: Game of Thrones! They shoot all over the world and they are some of my favorite books. The actors from it that I’ve spoken with have been really wonderful. It’s one of those productions that is going to go down in history as one of the great landmarks in television, so I would love to be a part of something like that.
MM: Right, definitely. Are there ever times where you get tripped up doing an English accent during a scene?
TC: Yeah, it’s interesting because there’s two options in that moment. Usually what happens is, when I screw something up, I’m usually unable to continue the scene because I think “Well, you screwed that one up, and now we can’t continue the scene” and then I forget the rest of my lines and we have to back up a couple lines and resume from there. That being said, it doesn’t happen that often. It happens more on cold days outside, because English accents require you to move your lips a lot more than accents in North America, so when it’s cold it becomes harder to move your lips into the shapes that form vowel sounds, so that’s the nerdy speech way of saying sometimes my face freezes and I mess up the accent.
MM: (laughs) Blame it on the weather!
TC: Yeah, I blame it on the weather! But generally speaking, I do it so much now that it’s kind of second nature and I don’t really have to think too much.
MM: Are you ever out in public with your friends and you talk in an English accent because you’re so comfortable with it?
TC: I did that once for a movie, and I kept the accent for a month. So that was a fun experiment. Just to see if anyone called me on it. Nobody figured out that I wasn’t English, they just couldn’t figure out what part of England I was from. I’ll take that as a small victory.
MM: You fooled them. If you had to describe the show to somebody who had never heard of it, what would you say to them?
TC: I would describe us as a fast-paced, historical fantasy. I think it’s inaccurate to say that we are a historical drama, not that the show isn’t dramatic, just that we’ve taken such extreme liberties with history in so many ways- the inaccuracies are deliberate but it would seem wrong to say that this is strictly based in history now with all the twists and turns we’ve done with it. I think the fantasy element is important to explain. And we’ve got these quasi-supernatural things- like are they ghosts, are they hallucinations? Are they apparitions or are they people? That all ties into it, so basically I’m rambling, but we’re not simply a period drama. Somebody once in our cast called it historical fanfiction, and I thought that was appropriate.
MM: (laughs) Can you tease anything for when the show returns next week?
TC: I’ll say this, because I think this is probably safe to say… Bash has this job this season as the King’s deputy, so I’m always doing these little CSI investigations. Usually they’re to do with peasants, you know, folks outside the castle, so the time comes necessary for me to investigate my own family and I uncover some pretty devastating secrets that have big implications for everybody. Suddenly, Bash has a personal stake in this investigation.