In the new supernatural action-drama The Nine Lives of Chloe King, based on the successful book series of the same name, Chloe (Skyler Samuels) is a smart, pretty, slightly off-beat teen girl, who lives with her single mother and spends her relatively uneventful time hanging out with her two best friends, Amy (Grace Phipps) and Paul (Ki Hong Lee). After celebrating her 16th birthday, Chloe starts developing heightened abilities and learns that she’s part of an ancient race called the Mai, which has been hunted by human assassins for millennia, and that she may ultimately be their only hope for survival. With a mysterious figure pursuing her, and two guys – new-in-town Brian (Grey Damon) and fellow student Alek (Benjamin Stone) – capturing her interest, things are getting much more complicated.
During a recent interview, actress Skyler Samuels talked about how Chloe King was a dream role for her, how she’s as quirky as her character, the fact that she’s learned to be more adventurous from being a part of this show, that she loves playing the supernatural aspect of the role, and how much she loves her claws. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: How did you become involved in this project?
SKYLER SAMUELS: I had an audition for this show, back in the Fall of 2010, and I went in and just fell in love. I loved the pilot before, and I was just in love with the script. Chloe and I have so much in common. I could hear my own voice in the things she said and did. And a super-embarrassing story – when I walked in on the audition, I introduced myself as Chloe. I was totally embarrassed because I accidentally said Chloe instead of my own name, but sure enough, they agreed because here I am playing Chloe King, and I’m having the time of my life.
How would you describe Chloe King?
SAMUELS: Well, Chloe is definitely more of a superhero than a supernatural creature. On her 16th birthday, she discovered that she’s got these heightened abilities – super-speed, super-hearing, the ability to read people’s feelings and these claws. This incredible combination leads Chloe to want to help people who are in trouble, so even though she finds herself running from bad guys, and the ones who are trying to kill her because she’s this special girl who can die nine times and people are trying to see if it’s true, and they’re trying to get rid of her and the rest of the feline race – the Mai, she still finds herself trying to help people and save people’s lives. She’s constantly torn between the chase and having to save the day.
When you first read the script, what was it about Chloe that really made you want to play her?
SAMUELS: When I read the pilot, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything so fast, in my entire life. I completely had my eyes glued to the page, and I just kept turning and turning because it got more and more exciting. When I finished it, all I could think was, “Chloe King is the girl I would fantasize about and dream to be.” She’s fearless, she’s fun, she’s funny, she’s quirky, she’s honest, and she’s cool. Just everything about her, I wanted to look up to her. She’s totally a role model, in my mind. I was like, “I’ve got to be this girl. She’s incredible.” I’m a lot more cautious than Chloe is, but Chloe has taught me how it can be fun to take a risk. The things I’ve done playing Chloe King have been some of the most incredible experiences of my entire life. I’m just so thrilled to be Chloe.
What character traits of Chloe’s mimic your own?
SAMUELS: Chloe and I are both quirky, odd-balls that don’t exactly go with the status quo. We’re both juniors in high school, full time, and we’ve got quirky best friends and awesome relationships with our moms. But, I think the biggest difference, and the thing I admire most about Chloe, is her willingness to just be adventurous, take a risk, and do these incredible things. So, Chloe is like me, but amplified, and I love it.
Were there any characteristics of Chloe that you found to be less relatable?
SAMUELS: I think Chloe definitely has challenged me, as far as the situations that she goes through. She is always involved in situations where it’s life and death, and having to put myself in the fear factor mode is definitely a challenge, but it’s been really interesting trying to adapt to that and trying to get into Chloe’s head. It’s like, “What does it feel like to be in this life and death situation? What would I do? How would I handle it?” So, that’s definitely been a challenge, but a fun one.
Did you read the books to prepare for your role?
SAMUELS: I have read the books. I read them before we started the pilot to get a little bit of a background about the show. But, in all honesty, we’ve taken a lot of creative liberties with the books and our adaptations of the TV show. We have a lot of the same basic ideas as the books, with some of the mythology, and a lot of the main characters are still the same, but we’ve taken a lot of liberties in making it more exciting and more action-oriented, and really spicing it up. So, I think that the fans of the books will really appreciate what we’ve done with the show.
Has it been a challenge for you to play an element of the supernatural?
SAMUELS: Playing someone supernatural is more realistic than I thought it would be. It’s a lot of fun, absolutely, because having super-hearing, super-vision and super-speed, and all of the super things you can have, is certainly not normal, and it’s a lot of fun. But, on this show, it always comes back to something very realistic that I can relate to from my own life. So, it’s been not as difficult as I thought it would be to play the supernatural aspect. It’s been quite fun and easy.
You were also on The Gates, prior to this show. Was there any conscious attempt, on your part, to do supernatural-type TV shows, or did it just work out that way?
SAMUELS: I had a great time working on The Gates, and that was my first real experience doing supernatural television, working with the special effects and everything that goes into making a supernatural show. It was a complete coincidence that I ended up on The Nine Lives of Chloe King. I guess I must be subconsciously drawn to the supernatural realm, but I’ve had a lot of fun, and each character is not like the rest. They’re all different, and they all have different powers and abilities. I’ve had a really fun time following the supernatural, and I’m certainly enjoying the experience.
Without giving anything away, what can viewers expect from the show this season?
SAMUELS: Well, this first season of The Nine Lives of Chloe King is filled with adventures, thrills, romance, comedy and drama, and a lot of heartfelt relationships. There is nothing predictable about this first season. It’s filled with a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and it will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Now that you’ve done part of the season so far, what’s something that you haven’t done yet on the show yet, that you would really like to see happen to your character?
SAMUELS: It’s hard to say. Chloe is definitely becoming a very interesting and complex young lady, throughout this transformation. I would be very curious to see if Chloe falls into a bit more trouble in Season 2. Maybe Chloe will team up with a villain, or go undercover, or does something a little grittier than her daily routine.
How many episodes are there for this season?
SAMUELS: We have ten for this season, including the pilot.
Are the claws CGI or prosthetics?
SAMUELS: We use a lot of different kinds of media on our show, to make that happen. We have an incredible special effects make-up artist, Ed French, who won Emmys for his work. He is absolutely the best of the best. He came in, at the beginning of the season, and all of the Mai feline people had claws made, which is very cool. We had to dip our hands in this seaweed goop and make these nails, so we have actual, physical claws that we put on. But, we also use visual effects, like CGI, to make them come in and out. It’s a balance between the two, to make that stuff work.
Does it take a long time to have to deal with any of that, or is it pretty easy?
SAMUELS: In the beginning, it was kind of messy. We had glue all over and everybody’s claws were sticking to everything. They collected so much lint. It was so funny. Everybody had glue everywhere. But now that we’re in the eighth episode, we’ve perfected our systems and now we can do it in less than seven minutes, with no mess. We’re quite proud.
When you’re doing the show, do you get to ad-lib, or do you follow the script?
SAMUELS: We have a variation. Certainly, we mostly follow the script, but I think the fun is, now being almost at the end of the season, having the ability to ad-lib quirky things because we’ve really developed our characters. Everyone has their idioms, so we’ll throw those in, here and there. But, the writers on this show are absolutely fantastic, and they write in a way that’s just so real and believable. It’s not like watching actors say lines. It’s like watching two people have a real conversation.
Do you have any favorite moments or scenes in this season?
SAMUELS: There have been a lot of really cool, favorite moments, but I think one of the most incredible scenes that we’ve done was in our third episode. We shot underwater and I was chained up for part of the episode. That was probably the most exciting and frightening thing I’ve ever done, but it was absolutely incredible. Every week, we’ve got all these big fight sequences, and that one happened to involve an underwater element, which I thought was so fun. It was absolutely incredible to film.
Your character is described as having cat-like superpowers. In real life, if you could have powers, which ones would you choose?
SAMUELS: I wish I had claws just because, how cool would that be? But, among my cat-like powers, I also would probably like to have super-speed, just so I can get more done in a day. It seems like a much more practical superpower to me.
How do you feel that this show fits in with the ABC Family line-up?
SAMUELS: ABC Family has done an absolutely incredible job in producing these hit shows. ABC Family is where the good stuff is at. I’m so excited to be a part of this network because they’ve really done a great job introducing shows that are heartfelt, exciting, and everything you’d want. Every day, there’s something new and something great to watch. And, being paired with Pretty Little Liars is a high honor, in my opinion. I’m so excited and I think it’s going to be really great because I feel like the ABC Family audience, while they’ve gotten a lot of really great shows, like Pretty Little Liars and now Switched at Birth, they’ve never had a genre show before. They’ve never had action in the way that Chloe King has action, excitement, and thrills. I think Chloe King will only add to the excitement of the great shows on ABC Family.
Do you think this feels more like a supernatural show, an adventure show, or a romance, or is it a blend?
SAMUELS: When I first saw the pilot, I cried. I was so excited at what I saw. Making it, I had the most incredible time. To see it all put together, it was better than I could have hoped for. It was absolutely magnificent. It had everything that I dreamt and thought it would. It was filled with real emotion and realistic relationships between my friends, my mom and I, and all the people on the show. It’s a very grounded show, and there’s a lot of heart. The action is incredible, and Chloe King is officially the coolest girl I know. There’s just no contest. I think it totally encompasses everything you’d want in an hour of television.
How do you think this show will appeal to those who are not usually into supernatural stories?
SAMUELS: Well, I think that the really cool thing about The Nine Lives of Chloe King is that, while it has a lot of supernatural elements and Chloe is a superhero herself, it is not all about the supernatural. Week-to-week, this show deals with the struggles of Chloe trying to manage her relationship with her mom. Her mom is a single mom trying to raise a teenage girl, so that presents a lot of difficulties, like when her mom starts dating and how she feels about getting a new dad. How can she maintain relationships with her friends in high school, as they go through all these changes? How can she maintain a relationship with a boy she really likes, if she can’t really be with him? There are a lot of realistic, really grounded, heartfelt relationships and dynamics on this show, to the point where the supernatural elements don’t even strike you. It all just seems to blend in and make sense.
Did you ever watch any supernatural or paranormal shows growing up?
SAMUELS: Oh, there were supernatural movies, like Hocus Pocus and Luck of Witches, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. I had a little bit of supernatural influence when I was growing up and watching TV, but I never thought anything different of it, compared to the rest of the shows I might watch. The supernatural never struck me as something that I really wanted to do. I just kind of fell into it by accident.
How did you get started in acting?
SAMUELS: Well, I’m from Los Angeles, and growing up here, I’ve always been enamored by Hollywood and the industry. It’s just something I grew up with, and I loved it. I’ve always been drawn to it. There’s just an inexplicable attraction I have, and I just love it. I want to be on the screen, I want to play dress up every day, I want be different people, I want to have fun, and I want to use my imagination. I got started about eight years ago, and slowly, just going out and auditioning, I fell in love. Now, I’m 17 years old and I’ve been doing this for more than half my life, and it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.
What have you learned about yourself from this experience, so far?
SAMUELS: That’s such a wonderful and complex question. Being a part of The Nine Lives of Chloe King has absolutely changed my life. In so many ways, Chloe has really opened up this new courageous, brave side of me that I didn’t know I was capable of. I couldn’t say that I had a fear of heights, because never before was I running on top of buildings and doing the things that Chloe does, but sure enough, being there, sometimes I would think, “Gee, I’m 15 stories above ground level, and now I’m going to jump across a roof. This is a little frightening.” But, every episode, I do it. To think that I’ve been able to accomplish all of these magnificent things is really incredible. Throughout her emotional transformation on the show, and through the things that Chloe has gone through and experienced, she’s taught me a lot about myself and life, and to enjoy things and take risks. Chloe teaches me things every day. It’s a never-ending list.
What would be your ultimate dream role?
SAMUELS: I think I would love to do a role where I completely transform myself and look completely different, act completely different, and do some crazy, cool, action drama where I was undercover and saving the world.