Alona Tal is an actor with ample experience dealing with devout fandoms. Coming from Veronica Mars and Supernatural and even having a very popular guest stint on Leverage, she has had her share of fan encounters, and she has always seemed to genuinely enjoy interacting with those who feel like they know her because she has come into their homes via the television screen.
“The fan base of Supernatural—they have a very, very loyal fan base, like how we on Cult [do]. The level of adoration that Marti and Roger get is paralleled more in my mind with the adoration that Jensen and Jared get. They’re the leads; they’re in every scene; they’re the driving force. I did get to draw from watching them in conventions, watching how people talked to them, watching how people talked to me about them. I’ve never experienced anything [at that level], let’s be honest,” Tal laughed when LA TV Insider Examiner sat down with her*.
“On Veronica Mars and Supernatural the fans kind of considered me as one of their buddies because I was not as intimidating as the leads.”
Now as one of the stars of The CW’s Cult, Tal is dealing with fandom in a different light, though. She plays two roles in the series: an actress named Marti, as well as Kelly, the character Marti plays on the show within the show, also called Cult. While we really don’t get to know Marti at all in the pilot episode, Kelly is a cop who was once a member of the cult and therefore has a deep and intimate history with leader Billy Grimm (Robert Knepper), as she searches for her family who has gone missing.
“I remember thinking it would be difficult to maintain the similarities between the two [Kelly and Marti] and still make them different—because they are very, very different. Visually we’re very different…You’ll see Marti with what I have, which is straight hair; it’s not beautified. But it’s also not making the actress character a cliché actress and really trying to put ‘Who is this actress who plays this obsessive role? And how would she react in these situations?’ It’s been a challenge to try to keep it all on the same page without taking away too much of the urgency that everyone else has,” Tal said.
“As we go along in the episodes, we’ll find out more of Kelly’s involvement in the cult and what led to her leaving, and how deep was her relationship with Billy. Because I think to have that level of obsession, you have to have been on the other side of the spectrum and have loved them that much. It’s not really a duplicity, it’s just that obsessive nature.”
Of course, as episodes go on, Tal shared we’ll also get to know more about Marti and her own involvement with the fandom and world outside of this show. Marti does not respond to the following nearly as comfortably as Tal has embraced her own. Then again, people are disappearing and dying within the fandom, so Marti has a reason to keep a distance!
“We start the show with Marti just being very weary…She’s nervous; she’s a little guarded with fans. When you see Marti for the first time, she has a little tinge of unease whenever fans are around,” Tal said.
“You do get to see a little bit of how the craziness of the outside world does touch her, and how these mirrored images between the inside show and the outside show kind of reflect each character. She’s not used to it. It’s all new, which is why it’s exciting to see it on the first initial cult craze.”
When the show starts, Tal admitted, Marti really doesn’t have knowledge of just how closely the outside world events are following the crazy circumstances of the show. Cult has only been on for about half a season, and the surge around it has been intense and quick and somewhat unexpected.
“We don’t want to give too much too soon; it’s more interesting to see how everybody learns about it. She doesn’t really know in the beginning. She doesn’t; she’s not aware of the extent of it,” Tal said.
But if she, like the fans, pays attention to details, it will all become clear soon enough!
* Reporting took place in Los Angeles and Vancouver. Vancouver travel and accommodations provided by WBTV.
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