Spend just a few minutes with Halston Sage and it's hard not to be affected by her enthusiastic spirit! Much of that excitement is currently coming from her role on NBC's captivating new series "Crisis", where Sage plays 'Amber Fitch': a high school class President who is kidnapped and taken hostage along with her classmates as their parents are asked to do things that could put the entire country at stake in order to bring them home. Most of the teenagers from the hijacked school bus breed from powerful and elite parents, which is what makes them pawns in this vengeful scheme compromising national security. Amber Fitch is the daughter of a top-tier CEO, played by Gillian Anderson, someone Sage says was one of the best parts for her about working on "Crisis.
In a recent interview, Sage, who also stars in the upcoming summer film, NEIGHBORS, discussed why starring on "Crisis" has been so valuable to her as an actress, what it's like working on a show with so many twists and turns, and why viewers should brace themselves as the crisis unfolds!
How does it feel now that “Crisis” has premiered and everyone is watching it?
Halston- I'm really excited. I couldn't be happier. We've just been working on this show for so long and for people to finally actually see what we've been spending our time doing is exciting. It's been a cool week!
What are you most enjoying about playing Amber Fitch?
Halston- What I am most enjoying about playing Amber Fitch is her progression throughout the season. She starts off in the pilot as a really well-rounded girl that comes from a great family and has a great relationship with her mom, and then she's kidnapped and for the first time she's really vulnerable. To see her in a position that she's never really been in before and to see what she does as a character has been really interesting. I won't give away too much but it starts off kind of rough and she kind of finds her strength as the season progresses. Her character gets a little more of an edge, which makes it more dynamic and more like a real person.
That leads me to my next question because from the first episode, we know that Amber is the Class President, very popular, kind of leader among her peers, are we going to see that leadership side of her come out in the house while they’re all trapped, or will we be seeing some of her weaknesses and realize maybe she is not as “perfect”?
Halston- You definitely see both sides of her. In the end, she comes from strong moms- as you know now that you've seen the pilot- she comes from a family of very strong women and I think it just runs in her blood. But after going through something this traumatic she's changed. There is just something that will never be the same about her.
Well we know one weakness she definitely has is she is involved in a romantic relationship with her teacher, who was also taken hostage in the house. And she just learned he cheated on her. Can you talk a little about how that is going to play out now that they’re stuck together?
Halston- Yes, can you imagine being kidnapped with someone that you just found out cheated on you? (Laughs) I can't! It's been great. James Lafferty (‘Mr.Nash’) is such a talented actor that those scenes that I have had with him have been some of my favorites. I love love, so any relationship I'm rooting for. It's interesting the way they correspond throughout the season and how they work things out; because their perspectives on life change drastically when they are in a life or death situation everyday. And little things like someone cheating on you may not be as prevalent as it would be out in the real world. I think they're more focused on getting each other out of there and then dealing with that.
In some ways “Crisis” is two shows within a show because you have the adults and the parents and all the situations they are involved in with this national crisis, and then you have the teenagers all trapped together and I can only imagine that drama!
Halston- You put a bunch of teenagers in one house and you have to see what happens! It definitely gets interesting! It's definitely two shows within a show and I think that's what makes it fun for the viewers. There is something adults can watch and there is something high schoolers can watch with their parents. The show has a little bit of something for everyone, which is unique and one of my favorite things about this show.
Rachael Taylor, Lance Gross and Dermot Mulroney all said that one of the thing’s they love most about this show is how anything could change on a dime with where the story was heading next and that they were always looking forward to reading the script.
Halston- Oh, yes! Every week it was a discussion, ‘When are we going to get the script?’ And the minute it gets emailed to you, whether you're at the dinner table or at the movie theater, all you're doing is getting on your phone reading that script because we could not wait to see what was going to happen. We had the smartest writers around, and they shocked us every week. Even as actors we didn't see anything coming.
That's got to be exciting for you to work on a show that is so unpredictable.
Halston- Yes, it's exciting for me because it feels like a show that I already would be watching on TV, like a “Blacklist” or a “Homeland”. It feels like a show that I would be out there watching on my own and I would be excited to find out what's going to happen with the characters each week. So to actually be on this show and to be a part of it, it's quite literally a dream come true! It's an amazing experience for me.
Now that you have filmed the entire season, is there a favorite storyline or moment you have had with your character that you can give viewers a sneak peek to?
Halston- I really don't want to give it away because part of the fun are always the twists and turns, but like I said she gains an edge and there is a very specific episode that you see that side of her come out. It shocked me when I read about it and I think viewers will be shocked as well. It's like good girl gone bad ass!
You work with so many other talented and successful actors on “Crisis”, you play both Gillian Anderson and Rachael Taylor’s daughter, did you take any lesson or piece of advice from them that you will always take with you?
Halston- Just being on that set in general and just being around such a talented group of people, they push you and they inspire you to do your best work and to put even more of your heart into it. It's a challenge and very rewarding in the end to be working with people like in the cast of “Crisis”. I mean I play Gillian Anderson's daughter! I still can't wrap my mind around it! She's such a talent and so inspiring in terms of constantly delivering these amazing female roles, which are hard to come by these days. And I think she's a really great example of an actress who is been able to continue her path in a really strategic and successful way. Even just her as a person, the way she carries herself, I look up to her so much. I hope some of it rubs off on me! I can't say enough nice things about Rachael Taylor as an actress and as a human being. She just goes out of her way to be supportive and this kind of light on set- she's a leader. Some of my favorite scenes of the season are definitely interacting with her, which is going to be exciting to see.
This role is very different for you as an actress in comparison with what you have played in the past.
Halston- I can't compare it to anything else. First of all, the writing is incredible and so I'm already just wanting to do it justice every week. And the cast, just being in that creative environment where everyone is putting 100% of themselves into their roles, you couldn't ask for a better set than the “Crisis” set. Between the writers, the directors, the actors; I've learned so much in the short six months that we were working on this show that I will remember for the rest of my career.
What originally drew you into acting? You’re still young now but I know you started at a young age.
Halston- It's funny you say that because I feel like I started late. I didn't start until I was 16. I guess it is young! (Laughs) I just felt so behind because I went to a regular high school. I went to high school in Los Angeles and I grew up riding horses, so that was kind of my life. I always wanted to act. My parents had wanted me to grow up and become my own person before I could let anyone else tell me who I should be. And finally when I was 16-years-old, I said, ‘This is what I want to do. No one is going to change who I am. You guys have raised me so well. I'm so lucky I have the best parents in the world. But this is my passion and I have to at least try because I'll always wonder.’ So I auditioned and I started to work right away. The stars aligned and a lot fell into place. I've been so happy ever since.
I like to ask this question to everyone I interview: if you could go back in time and spend a day in the life of anyone from history, who would it be and why?
Halston- I really love Audrey Hepburn. And there is kind of this little inside joke I have with my grandpa, he always has bought me all of her books. Whether it's a biography on her or just a coffee table book, I've read everything out there on Audrey Hepburn from him. It was always my gift for every holiday and every birthday- an Audrey Hepburn book. So I think to actually go back and live in her shoes and experience the films she got to be in and do all the great work that she did, and in terms of charity work. She was really smart and classy and I just have so much respect for her. She had a really interesting career which obviously would be amazing to emulate. So I guess it would kind of be like living a day in the life of my role model. What more could you ask for?
What a great gift idea that your grandfather has. Cool story!
Halston- It's the best gift. Ever since we were little, he was always buying us books. And when I started acting, he was like, well, you gotta learn from the best! And so Audrey it was!
"Crisis" airs Sunday nights at 10pm est on NBC. Keep up with Halston on Twitter- @HalstonSage