The Cinemax action series Banshee tells the story of Lucas Hood (Antony Starr), an ex-con and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, PA. It’s the perfect cover for him to try to win back the love of his life (Ivana Milicevic) and hide out from the dangerous gangster (Ben Cross) that they both betrayed years earlier, while attempting not to get into too much more trouble.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Trieste Kelly Dunn (who plays Siobhan Kelly, a deputy in the Banshee sheriff’s department who has put her painful past behind her to become a cop) talked about how she came to be a part of the show, how she relates to her character, working with only a general idea of her character and finding out more details over the course of the season, how much putting on the uniform helps inform the character, how much she loves the fight scenes and stunts, what Siobhan might think if she found out Hood’s secret, that she’d love to have a scene with Job helping Siobhan pick out what to wear on a date, and how she’s going to be reading Episodes 1 and 2 of Season 2, very soon. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
TRIESTE KELLY DUNN: It was really just another audition, at first. I read it during pilot season, which means you’re reading a lot of network television scripts, every day, and then auditioning for them. A lot of what you’re reading is doctor procedurals and cop procedurals, and they start sounding the same, after you’ve read a lot of them. They’re not that different. They have the same formula. Banshee was interesting because it was on cable and it didn’t have commercial breaks, so it read like a movie. Not only because of that, but it was a pretty interesting style and I hadn’t read a show like this. I just read the pilot, and there wasn’t much in the pilot for Siobhan, but what I read, I loved. I was excited to audition for it, I was excited to get a callback for it, and I was excited when they told me I got the job.
What did you think about Siobhan, once you learned a little more about her? Was she someone that you could easily relate to?
DUNN: I could relate to her. I didn’t know all the answers, at first, and I still don’t because that’s just the nature of TV. You don’t know what’s coming next. But, I knew her essence. I felt like I could connect to it. It didn’t feel terribly far away. Of course, there’s always work you have to do, personalizing. When I got the job, I’d only read the first script, so there wasn’t a ton to go off of. When we got the job, they sent us six scripts, so I read the rest of them and got more information. Now, I’m about to read Episodes 1 and 2 [of Season 2], today or tomorrow, and I’ll have even more information. It’s interesting doing television, where you don’t have a beginning, middle and end to go off of.
Was it a fun little surprise to get to learn more about Siobhan’s backstory for the Welcome to Banshee website (www.WelcomeToBanshee.com) and get to see where she was at, five years ago?
DUNN: Yeah, those were revealing, for sure. They gave us a few paragraph backstory, so we knew the general idea. The prequel scenes that we put online, I kind of knew where they were going with that stuff before they wrote them. She has that little burn on her neck that was revealed a couple of times in the season, and that had been explained to me. Certain people have an idea where that comes from, but they don’t know the specifics. I think they’ll expand on that a little bit more in Season 2.
DUNN: Yeah, they’re friends and he helps her out. He’s been there for her, in a platonic way. I like that relationship. I like relationships on TV between men and women, when they’re not just flirtatious and sexual.
Does putting on the uniform really help inform the character for you and even make you hold yourself differently, physically?
DUNN: The uniform is great. I love wearing the uniform. It’s funny, we were going to shoot a scene without the uniform. The scene in the house, in Episode 5, where Lucas (Antony Starr) comes over to check in on her, and she’s pissed at him because he doesn’t want him to check on her, but then, by the end, she says, “Well, maybe you could come check in again,” just before the bikers come by and pay her that nice visit and burn her house down. Initially, I think I was actually supposed to wear normal clothes in that scene. She was supposed to be out of uniform, and the director and I were like, “What do I wear?” I tried on other clothes, but nothing felt right. The uniform felt right. So, I unbuttoned the top and had a tank top under it because it just felt strange for Siobhan to not be in uniform. I think the only time you see Siobhan not in uniform, in the entire season, is after she’s gotten out of the shower and she’s in her pajamas, and she chases the bikers a bit before her house burns down. That’s the only time, in the entire season, that I wasn’t in the uniform.
Lucas Hood seems to have trouble running the town of Banshee without crossing the line. What do you think Siobhan thinks of him and his actions?
DUNN: I think she’s really dubious of Hood. She wants to like him. It’s easy enough to like him in the moments when he’s not beating somebody up, but coming from the past she’s had, I don’t think it turns her on that she can just beat people up. I don’t think that that’s her reality. I think she wants to trust him because she likes him and they’re friends, but she’s definitely dubious of him. Because he breaks all the rules, he can actually get the bad guys, whereas we would go about it in a more traditional way and never get the bad guys because there’s so much red tape in being a police officer. He’ll just go beat them up or shoot them. I guess what redeems him is that they’re all bad guys that he does that to. Even though it’s scary, and I think she’s scared of what he’s capable of, she’s also like, “That’s awesome!” She’s rooting for him.
Do you enjoy the physical aspect of this show, and the fight scenes and stunts?
DUNN: I love it! It’s so much more fun than wearing heels and a pencil skirt. It really is. Some of my biggest complaints about acting in television were that I was always wearing a tight dress or pencil skirt, and I was always wearing heels. I thought, “This sucks! Why, because I’m a woman, does it mean I always have to wear this same outfit and this same hairdo, and spend the same two hours in hair and make-up, and the guys get to be there two hours after me?” I remember being mildly offended by that. On this show, it’s amazing! I show up, they put my hair back, they throw a bit of make-up on, but not much, and I wear my cop uniform with my weird orthopedic shoes. It feels real to not have to be looking Barbie doll perfect. It feels better and it’s easier to act. It helps with your acting when you’re not in a perfect costume, perfect wardrobe, a perfectly seamed blouse, perfectly ironed hair and perfectly done eyeshadow. It’s really liberating. I love the uniform! Our costume designer is amazing, and I hope she puts me in it just as much next season. It’s fun being on a TV show and not having to wear heels.
DUNN: Would it surprise us? I think it would surprise everybody. But, we’ve seen him do so much crazy stuff that we all know something is up, right? We’d have to. Obviously, we don’t know the specifics. We think he’s at least who he says he is. He’s totally unpredictable. How many people have we seen him beat up on the show? The entire season, we’ve found a variety of ways to react to him being crazy and to justify why it’s okay for us. We didn’t yell at him, but he’s our boss. But at the same time, we’ve seen him do so much. So, I think we’d all be surprised and have issues with it, but also be like, “Oh, that explains a lot!”
Have you thought about where you’d like to see Siobhan go, in Season 2, or if there are specific aspects of her you’d love to learn about?
DUNN: It’s funny, I really want a scene with Job where maybe Siobhan goes on a date and she wants to borrow his clothes, or something. What would she wear? Does she know how to wear a dress? I think that would be fun. I’m excited to see where it goes. Other people have read the first two scripts for Season 2, but I haven’t read them yet because I was at the SXSW film festival with a film (Loves Her Gun) there. I think the idea is that she sees some action, and I’m going to have some fun stuff to do.
The Season 1 finale of Banshee airs on Cinemax on Friday, March 15th.