Annie Wersching by Djeneba Aduayom-0799-featuredAnnie Wersching by Djeneba Aduayom-0799-featured

Regardless of how familiar I might be with an actor’s work, it’s always important to do my due diligence. It didn’t matter that I watched Annie Wersching on MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS as Leslie Dean or on Fox’s 24 as Renee Walker. In preparation for today’s podcast, I found myself perusing Annie Wersching’s IMDB page, second cup of coffee in hand. Not even minutes in, my jaw dropped to my chest in awe.

Annie’s IMDB represents more than just her body of work written onto a single webpage. Her multiple credits per year (in just about every show ever on network television) for the last fifteen years speak to her constitution. Annie hustles. As a mother of two young children successfully navigating (and winning) one of the most competitive industries the planet has ever known, one can’t help but respect her enormous and diverse body of work.

Annie Wersching
Photo of Annie Wersching by Djeneba Aduayom

As a child, Annie studied musical theatre and planned to move to the Big Apple to take Broadway by storm. She took a little detour through Hollywood and ended up casually conquering it like a modern, female Alexander the Great who just happened to gaze their eyes on a new kingdom they wanted on the way to owning the world. Annie’s role on Fox’s 24 as rogue FBI agent Renee Walker made her a household name and created a character so badass, they gave Jack Bauer a run for his money.

Truth be told, Renee Walker couldn’t hold a candle to Annie Wersching if she tried. Annie’s work ethic and commitment to her art are nothing short of inspirational. Now, Ms. Wersching has brought her brand of badassery to MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS portraying the role of Leslie Dean, and she looks fabulous in all white while doing it!

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Annie Wersching: As a freshman, you can’t perform. Like, you have to wait a couple years in to actually get to perform. So in my mind, I was like, well that seems just silly. So Millikin really lets their students get really involved and immerse themselves in the theater world, which is what I was looking for, and it was great. Once I was a little bit older, and I was able to play a woman instead of the girl in a story, I feel like that was a little bit more suited for me, just in general, as a person. When I was going out for the young chippy girls, I was much better when I was able to handle myself more like a Renee Walker, than a young chick. I mean, I don’t think she was hiding behind anything before she met—I mean, I think everything that she believed when she met Jack Bauer was truly what she believed, and I think she believed that that’s how things are done, and you go by the book, and this is how we get results, and these are the way things are done.

Justin Gilbert Alba: So I can’t believe I’m about to say this but thank you for listening to the 100th episode the ComicsVerse Podcast. As always, I’m your host, ComicsVerse CEO Justin Alba. Today we’re talking about our favorite Marvel television show. It’s on Hulu, it’s called Runaways. You might’ve heard about two Podcasts ago, we spoke with Angel Parker, who plays Catherine Wilder on the show. Today, we are talking to Annie Wersching, who plays the mysterious cult leader, Leslie Dean on the show. Thank you, Annie, so much for joining us.

Annie Wersching: Thanks for having me, and congrats on 100. That’s awesome.

JGA: Thank you so much. Yeah, no and I’m super excited to you too ’cause I’ve actually been a fan of yours since 24. I have to say, when I was reading your IMDB though, I had a moment of like, questioning my life ’cause I was like, what have I accomplished? Because your IMDB makes me feel like I’ve accomplished nothing with my life. I mean, when do you sleep? When do you sleep?

Annie Wersching: When do I sleep? Oh, I love to sleep. I find my sleep, don’t you worry.

JGA: I was like, my gosh, she must never be home.

Annie Wersching: It’s nice to stay busy, for sure. I feel like I’ve had a pretty nice balance of working a lot, and also maintaining a little sanity and time with my family, and stuff.

JGA: Wow, I bet. You’ve been acting since you were a kid, is that true?

Annie Wersching: Yeah, I mean I started doing theater in, let’s see, maybe fourth grade?

Annie Wersching

JGA: Oh wow.

Annie Wersching: Third, fourth grade in grade school, and then I did it all through high school. And when I went to college for musical theater, I was gonna go to New York. I was gonna be a stage lady. I was on a tour with a musical that actually closed out in Los Angeles, and I was like, oh this is kinda cool. Let me check this out for a while, and I never made it to New York.

JGA: Well you know it is warmer, so it’s a good place to stop on the way to New York, you know?

Annie Wersching: True. That’s why I love LA.

JGA: And there’s a blizzard going on right now, so I’m slightly jealous, I’m not gonna lie. Do you remember what your first play was?

Annie Wersching: Well my very first, it was actually fourth-grade, it was Cats.

JGA: Oh that’s so cute.

Annie Wersching: Which I know sounds very ambitious for a fourth-grade music teacher, basically, she just shoved a bunch of kids up on stage, and went “crawl around like cats!” No, I’m just kidding. We actually did, we learned all the music. We had a path, you’re crawling around like a cat, passing a microphone around. I wish I had a recording of it ’cause I’m sure it was just ridiculous.

JGA: No, it must’ve been really fun. Do you have a favorite musical for yourself?

Annie Wersching: Oh, favorite musical. Oh gosh, so many. I’m a big Miss Saigon lover. I absolutely love that show. I mean I love a lot of current stuff right now. We just were actually in New York over the summer and got to see Dear Evan Hansen, and that was amazing. My four-year-old right now is singing. He knows like, four songs from Dear Evan Hansen, which is just ridiculous. He’s a little, tiny Ben Platt.

JGA: Aww.

Annie Wersching: No, I love them all. All of them, all the musicals.

JGA: And you studied musical theater. Is it Millikin University? Is that how you pronounce it?

Annie Wersching: Yeah, at Millikin. Yup.

JGA: So what was your training like there?

Annie Wersching: Oh gosh. Well I mean, Millikin is a liberal arts school, so we had to have all of our gen ed classes as well, but I absolutely loved my time at Millikin. We had dance classes, and ear training, and music theory, and then you auditioned for the shows, and there was a little black box theater where you got to do student-directed and student put on shows. There was the big main stage shows; there were smaller shows. It was a school that really let you get involved in a lot of ways, which a lot of when I was initially looking for a musical theater degree, first of all, those are hard to find, and a lot of them as a freshman, you can’t perform. Like you have to wait a couple of years in to actually get to perform, and so in my mind, I was like, well that seems just silly. So Millikin really lets their students get really involved and immerse themselves in the theater world, which is what I was looking for. It was great.

JGA: That’s so cool. So when you’re acting now, is there anything that you learned when you were at Millikin that you still kind of use as part of your process or technique?

Annie Wersching: Well I mean Millikin, obviously I mean this is a pretty base idea, but just having intent, you know? We were big on having an intention in every line, so I feel like if I’m struggling I really just go back to what is the action here? What is the action word? What am I doing at this moment? But I feel like just overall, my work ethic that I learned there, I mean combined with obviously just my upbringing, and the other work I did. I worked in my mom’s flower shop. I feel like Millikin, along with a lot of other things, just taught me to be a good worker in general, whether it’s on a set, or helping somebody move. I feel like I always give my best, and try to actually just work really hard, which is such a simple concept, but I don’t feel like it’s something that everybody does anymore. You know?

Annie Wersching
MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS — “Metamorphosis” – Episode 106 – During PRIDE’s gala, the kids set in motion a new plan to take down their parents for good. As the evening unfolds, everyone’s personal drama threatens to derail their plans. Leslie Dean (Annie Wersching) and Dale Yorkes (Kevin Weisman), shown. (Photo by: Patrick Wymore/Hulu)

JGA: I hate to say it, but I really, really don’t think so. It seems like that’s kind of passe, working hard.

Annie Wersching: Yeah, it’s just ridiculous. And it’s hard, even having little ones, you know, I have a just-turned-four-year-old and just-turned-seven-year-old, and I even struggle with like, how exactly do I teach them that hard work is important? I’m always like, what can I do to really just like, ingrain this in them? It’s a weird, tricky little concept for some reason.

JGA: I wonder if it’s by example though. Like they’ll see you working your butt off, you know? They’ll be like, hey, I want to be like my mom, you know?

Annie Wersching: Yeah. Yeah, no definitely.

JGA: So was there a transition for you when you were going from acting in theater, going from that to film and television?

Annie Wersching: Oh, for sure. I mean, even when I got out to LA, I was still doing theater. I did a couple of shows at the Pasadena Playhouse. That’s actually how I got my first agent. I definitely had to learn how to rein it in a little bit. Just make things smaller, but yet still have as much intention. In general, I feel like in Los Angeles, once I was a little bit older and I was able to play like, a woman instead of the girl in a story, I feel like that was a little bit more suited for me. Just in general, just as a person, when I was going out for the young, you know, the young chippy girls, like it just, I was much better when I was able to handle myself more like a Renee Walker than a young chick. But no, it definitely took me a little bit to transition, for sure. Now I feel like it would be hard for me to transition back, although I really want to. I’d love to do some theater again at some point, but I feel like now I’d be so small.

JGA: Well what would be a show that you would want to do?

Annie Wersching: I would love to do a new show. I’ve always thought that’d be really wonderful to originate a role in a musical.

JGA: Ooh.

Annie Wersching: Yeah, that’d be so great. Oh God, there’s so many. I mean I’d love to play some roles in Chess that I think would be good for me. I would love to play Ellen in Miss Saigon. I’ve actually always wanted to play Kim in Miss Saigon, but I don’t think that’s my future. She’s like this 17-year-old Vietnamese girl. I think my ship has sailed on that one. Oh, I don’t know. So many, but it’d be really fun to originate something, for sure.

JGA: Oh, I have to say, that’s one of my all-time favorite musicals, too, Miss Saigon.

Annie Wersching: Really? Oh, it’s so good. I saw it in London with the new cast, like a couple of seasons ago. Oh my God. Amazing. The new girl that’s playing the Kim role is unbelievably amazing, and the production was so good. So, so good.

Annie Wersching
MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS — “Refraction” – Episode 107 – At Atlas’ Open House, our parents and kids are thrown together following the revelations of the gala. But for one family, the school event is only the beginning of the drama. Leslie Dean (Annie Wersching) and Tina Minoru (Brittany Ishibashi), shown. (Photo by: Patrick Wymore/Hulu)

JGA: Wow. Yeah, I remember I saw them on Broadway, and they were doing the whole helicopter back then.

Annie Wersching: Yes, yes.

JGA: It was like a huge helicopter. It was pretty cool. But yeah, no. That’s just such a great show. I love that you said that. I also love that you mentioned Renee Walker ’cause I’m a huge fan, and I went back today, and I watched your season seven and season eight performances. They were so good. I was like, where’s the Emmy? Where’s the Emmy?

Annie Wersching: Oh yeah. Oh, thank you. No, she was… It was a wonderfully written role. I have such a great arc in that first season from where she started to where she ended up after a little exposure to Jack Bauer. And then getting to go to the dark side completely and be all kinds of stuff, effed up in season eight, was so different from season seven. I was lucky I lived longer than one season, you know? To get to have all different kinds of colors to play with her was so awesome. On top of that, just being so kick-ass, in terms of the fighting and the gun work, and just the way she carried herself was just the best.

JGA: Yeah, I love her. My friends and I literally, when I said that, I was like, oh man, you need to watch Runaways. Renee is on it, and I didn’t even say Renee from 24. She just said, okay cool. Like she knew exactly who I meant because Renee is sort of like, iconic in our lives. But one thing that I couldn’t get over, so the scenes with you and that Russian guy. You know, where you were undercover. What I didn’t realize, noticing it when I first watched it, it was like close ups on your for three episodes.

Annie Wersching: Oh, was it?

JGA: What I think was so amazing, if you were even slightly out of the moment, everyone would’ve noticed, but you were so in it. I mean, man, I just keep thinking, what were those days like on set? I’m like, what did you have to go through to prepare, or are you kinda one of those people who can just like, take it off like a shirt at the end of the day?

Annie Wersching: Yeah, I’m pretty good at that. Even on set, like I don’t, I mean, to be fair, the scenes where I was eventually like, stabbed that Russian in the eye, yeah that whole episode and that little section right there where I had to work up to that, and she was so messed up at that point. She stabbed him in the eyes, and she stabbed him in the chest, then she turns around and stabs Jack in the stomach. You know, that whole part and section of that episode, I actually preferred, I have this picture of me kind of hiding underneath the desk that was part of the furniture in that room. While they were changing lights and everything, I just sat down there with the blood on my hands, and I didn’t want to leave the actual space. ‘Cause sometimes if you go out of where you are, the energy is so different. I usually wasn’t like that, but for that particular episode, I was like, I’m just gonna hang right here. If anybody needs me, I’ll be under this desk.

JGA: Hey if anyone needs me, I will be prepared to stab a Russian guy in the eye for being an asshole. Love it. It was just so masterfully done, and yeah, I really, really enjoyed it. I came across this quote. First of all, I didn’t know you were cast a week before filming began.

Annie Wersching: Oh yeah.

JGA: Did you just go into overdrive in terms of preparation?

Annie Wersching: Well there really wasn’t time. They took me for some gun training one day, and I caught on very, very quickly. They were like, okay cool, she’s good. Like, you know? I didn’t even have anything more than like a couple of hours of that because they just saw that I, you know, I was a dancer growing up, and physically, kind of like the fights and the gun work is kinda of like choreography, to me. I feel like I use my body in that way pretty well and pretty easily, and so they were like, okay cool, we don’t need any more of that. Okay, now let’s have a fitting. Okay cool, she’s good. Now time to shoot. You know? There really wasn’t any time to get too nervous. I mean granted, sure I was definitely nervous, but I mean, I didn’t even have that much time to freak out. I’m kind of happy it wasn’t like, okay you’re cast, now you have two months before you start, or something like that, ’cause I probably would’ve gotten too worked up.

JGA: When did you feel like you got her? Were you on set, or was it maybe when you were practicing the gun stuff? That’s what a democrat I am. I have to say gun stuff. I don’t even know what you call it. Did she just click for you then?

Annie Wersching: I think it was maybe episode four, or episode five of that first season where she really started, I was kind of sneaking around on my own, and Jack had tied me up with the telephone cord. Like choked me out, and then tied me up, and I needed to make it right, you know? Once she was on her thing where I was like, I need to make it right. Let me go after him, you know, that whole thing, and then the getting buried alive. Some of the stuff where I was really in his face a little bit, I feel like I really started to sort of fully feel like I was in it at that point. In the beginning, with pulling him out of the Senate hearing and stuff, I was definitely nervous. Just trying to be like, I hope I’m doing it right, you know? But three or four episodes in, I think I finally had it.

JGA: So I have to say, my dad, now he’s retired, but he was the first-grade detective in New York City. We always had FBI agents at our house, and I didn’t even think twice. So I bought it, and I’ve been around a lot of FBI guys growing up. So I thought it was great.

Annie Wersching: Oh, that’s awesome. Thank you.

JGA: But it’s so interesting to hear about that clicking for you a few episodes into it because I always wonder that. ‘Cause it almost feels a little bit like, I mean ’cause it’s art, right? So you never really know when it comes.

Annie Wersching: Well the other thing in television is that you don’t have, it’s not like a film where you know your trajectory, you know what’s coming. So a lot of it too is just having more information. So in episode one, all I knew about here was those scenes. You know what I mean? Once you go three or four episodes in, then I have a handful of stuff, different, meaty scenes. Oh, this is how they want her to feel in this situation. Oh okay, they’re writing her like this. I’m learning along with the audience, obviously earlier, but I’m learning kind of who she is. In television, you really don’t know what’s coming. That can be the tricky part because you can be playing something a certain way, or if you decide and make up a bunch of a backstory just to help yourself, and then four episodes down the road they have written something totally different for your backstory, that can mess with you. I kind of just go with what’s on the page and try to stay in the moment, and let the rest come. But as you get into it, the episodes and the writing really inform so much of what you know about the person you’re playing. It’s very strange.

Annie Wersching
MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS — “Doomsday” – Episode 109 – The Runaways are feeling more fractured than ever when Molly arrives with a devastating message from her parents. Now the kids have to stop their parents before it’s too late. Jonah (Julian McMahon) and Leslie Dean (Annie Wersching), shown. (Photo by: Greg Lewis/Hulu)

JGA: Alright, this was the quote I was gonna say before I actually interrupted myself. Said that she was cast for the part of Renee Walker a week before filming began saying that they spent a long time trying to figure this role out. They toyed with the coldness of her, and went back and forward a lot.

Annie Wersching: Yeah. Definitely.

JGA: What was that like for you?

Annie Wersching: Well in my different auditions, I mean, again, I was pretty much just over about two weeks I guess, or a week and a half. I went in a few times. They also toyed with the age of her. They were gonna have her a little bit older, and a little bit more just shut down and cold. I definitely had different versions of auditions that I did where I just made her more cutoff and more cold. But then you know, again, if the writers kind of know it’s coming, they may know that they’re gonna want to see some warmth, eventually. I feel like that’s something that I feel like I can balance pretty well, that probably worked in my favor. I feel like I can be very, not maybe even cold necessarily, but very by the book, and doing this, doing this, and then show just like, a little tiny bit of warmth or vulnerability. A little bit of a crack in the character in the facade, and then make it go away again, you know? I feel like it was finding the balance of those two things with Renee, that probably worked in my favor of getting cast. And also Jon Cassar obviously, ’cause I had done a pilot with Jon Cassar the director/producer, and I know he was really fighting for me, so that helped too.

JGA: Yeah, I was just gonna ask. You were saying that she kind of like, breaks through her facade. My question was, was the facade that she was the FBI agent, but in reality when she broke through she was sort of a, I don’t want to use the word vigilante, but she was extremely passionate. So much so that she abandoned tactics that she thought were wrong when it started, in favor of doing what needed to be done to get the result. I thought that was a really interesting reveal, so I kinda wanted to ask you about what that was like for you as the artist playing the part.

Annie Wersching: Yeah, I mean I don’t think she was hiding behind anything before she met, I mean I think everything that she believed when she met Jack Bauer was truly what she believed. I think she believed that that’s how things are done, and you go by the book, and this is how we get results, and these are the way things are done. It wasn’t ’til really being out in the field with Jack and seeing the different scenarios where again, you’re racing the clock, so seeing the way Jack got information from people in a scenario where there’s no other choice, like if you don’t get this information, X, Y, Z happens, right? So something happens to the president, or something happens to whatever the high stakes were in that moment that we were trying to figure out. If you don’t do this, then this will happen. It really was Jack’s example, I feel like, that changed her beliefs. At the same time, she not only saw the toll then that it took on Jack, even though she’d read about his past, and she knew all that stuff, but really seeing it, and looking in his eyes when he’s making decisions. Riding around the car with him, talking about it afterward. All those little things slowly, when you’re spending almost every minute of the day with him and she saw how it affected him, and then unfortunately, sadly for her, it affected her in the same way. I don’t know. If I had to go back, I’m wondering like, would she have rather just stayed with her original beliefs where she always played by the rules? Was it worth going to the bad side, or the dark side, or the pushing things too far side? I don’t know. Obviously she probably would still have her life.

JGA: But were those moments with Jack when they were so in love? I mean people were saying, and I think Kiefer Sutherland was saying that Renee was Jack’s soulmate. I guess my question is, were those moments at the end that they had, I mean they were really beautiful, does that factor into her saying, well you know what? Things happen the way that they did. Well I guess she’s dead, so she can’t say that. But you know.

Annie Wersching: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. He recites that part. Yeah, I think so. I mean I think by the time you get to that part, they had this beautiful relationship and this beautiful story, but yet also obviously, tragic. Could those two characters have had a happy life together, if what had happened to Renee hadn’t happened? It’s hard to exactly… I would’ve loved to see them go off somewhere and they’re fighting crime and being able to have their happy romance, but it’s a hard line to work, I think, for both of them to be in at the same time and have that happen. Because the bad guys, or whoever, can always use the other person as a threat. You know what I mean? Just Jack’s whole thing where he couldn’t really, he can’t get close to people because then that puts those people at risk. So what happens when it’s both of them living like that? Then she’s putting Jack at risk, and Jack, he’s putting Renee at risk. I don’t know, I like to believe that it could’ve happened, but it wouldn’t have been easy. But I think it would’ve been true, you know? Certainly would’ve been true.

JGA: Yeah, I want to believe in love. In my head, there was a what if spinoff where they ran off together and fought crime together, and became superheroes.

Annie Wersching: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, they were superheroes without being superheroes.

JGA: That’s true.

Annie Wersching: Which is even cooler, you know what I mean?

JGA: Yeah.

Annie Wersching: Oh, I’m gonna miss them.

JGA: Oh no, I’m sorry! I’m sorry! And I totally didn’t even, on my script, I didn’t even put Renee ’til the end. I just got so excited because that scene was so good today. All of those scenes were so amazing. I was literally blown away. I am not blowing smoke.

Annie Wersching: Thank you.

JGA: I just couldn’t get over the constant close-ups. I mean I was like, there is no room for error, and you literally made not one—

Annie Wersching: So funny. I’m gonna have to go back and check that out.

Annie Wersching
MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS — “Hostile” – Episode 110 – The Runaways face off with their parents. But when Jonah arrives unexpectedly with a new game plan, the kids realize they are in over their heads. Leslie Dean (Annie Wersching), shown. (Photo by: Greg Lewis/Hulu)

JGA: You should be like, oh my God, look at me. Completely in the moment in all this time. That’s definitely a pat yourself on the back-er if I have to say so myself.

Annie Wersching: Aww, thank you so much.

JGA: So let’s fast forward a couple of year, or few years, actually. So then you get a call that you’re gonna be playing Leslie Dean. Am I even allowed to say, do you know in the beginning that she is maybe perhaps not of this world?

Annie Wersching: Did I know that?

JGA: Yeah.

Annie Wersching: Well once I started just quickly Googling the comics, or whatever, I was like oh, so the Deans are aliens. Okay, you know? But then once I started talking to Josh and Stephanie, and just learning a little bit more about their plans for the TV version of the comics, it was definitely shared that their intent was to make the TV show much more grounded in reality. Everyone’s big, crazy powers, or whatever their thing was, was more based in something in reality now. Obviously, I did feel like of all of the parents, the Deans are the furthest from what they were in the comics.

JGA: Okay, so I might be wrong. They might not be otherworldly.

Annie Wersching: Yeah. At least as of right now, in our show, Leslie is a human.

JGA: Oh! I did not know that.

Annie Wersching: Yeah. Yes, yes, yes. I mean obviously, the twist is that there’s this Jonah character who is otherworldly, and he is actually Karolina’s father. Leslie’s daughter is half human, half whatever Jonah is.

JGA: Oh!

Annie Wersching: That’s where they kind of unfold. They’re using little bits from the comics but in a little bit different way. That’s how that one kinda plays out, as far as what we know so far of season one. But again, like what’s gonna come down the road? You know?

JGA: I’m super excited about it. How does Leslie feel about Karolina?

Annie Wersching: You know, in the beginning, I feel like when we first meet her, Karolina is her perfect little daughter. She really wants Karolina to be front and center and the face of the church. She expects great things from her. She’s obviously always been worried about if and when she may have some powers. You see that in the season finale, or actually, at the end of episode nine, which aired this week, where they said, you see Karolina glowing, and he says, “Did you know about this?” My character says, “No, but it’s what I was afraid of.” But in the end, she loves her more than anything. Karolina’s safety ends up being the thing and how close she comes to losing her in the finale, is the big thing that makes her willing to turn against Jonah. I mean when it all comes down to it, it’s all for Karolina, you know? Karolina obviously may not feel that. She may think her mother is way distracted and more invested in other things, but no, she’s everything to her.

JGA: Oh man. This is happening again. This happened with Angel Parker, in that I start off rooting for the kids, and now you’re both making me root for the parents again.

Annie Wersching: Oh, yay!

JGA: The thing is, I guess ’cause I’m getting older, it’s so obvious how much they love their children. They might be misguided. I’m assuming that they are. What if your parents are evil, and all that? That whole tagline. But if that’s the case, they just simply are misguided, and they do love these kids just as much as any good mother or any good father. Is that the case?

Annie Wersching: Yeah. I mean, absolutely. I mean they’ve had to do horrible things, but as you go through the season you start to understand why that they were doing them because I mean especially in like, Tina Minoru’s case, she had immediate threats right in front of her of Jonah holding her little kid. All of a sudden, being in her house and not so you know, just super threatening. If we didn’t do what they say, I mean it was different for Leslie because she was in love with Jonah, so she really truly believed that what they were doing was the right thing, and for the good of humanity. But a lot of the other parents were doing it just out of fear and necessity in order to protect their families.

JGA: Is that what you hope people walk away with from your performance and the parent’s performance in particular? Do you want them to really understand how difficult these choices have been for them and how much they really do care?

Annie Wersching: Yeah, absolutely. I think what’s gonna be so interesting about this show, if we go a lot of seasons, is that I think you’re always gonna be wavering back and forth, in terms of who you are rooting for, who you think is the villain, who you think is the hero, who’s on which side, you know? I mean I think there’s gonna be a lot of that back and forth kind of stuff. I think that’s what makes great writing is when they can write characters that you can hate in one scene or in one episode, and then completely empathize with in a future one, and make you care about them, and also get angry with them. Yeah, I mean I hope by the end of this season enough has been shown about the parents that the fans really are conflicted or rooting for them at different times, yeah, for sure.

Annie Wersching
MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS — “Doomsday” – Episode 109 – The Runaways are feeling more fractured than ever when Molly arrives with a devastating message from her parents. Now the kids have to stop their parents before it’s too late. Dale Yorkes (Kevin Weisman), Stacey Yorkes (Brigid Brannagh) and Leslie Dean (Annie Wersching), shown. (Photo by: Greg Lewis/Hulu)

JGA: I was gonna say, it must be kinda fun when you get cast as a villain, right? ‘Cause it’s like, oh cool, I can sink my teeth into this.

Annie Wersching: Oh yeah. Oh, for sure. For sure, and especially a villain, because then the challenge is on my plate to make her okay, so she’s a villain, she’s a bad guy, but how do I make her likable? How do I find her humanity? How do I make people root for her even when they shouldn’t be, right? That makes that interesting to me. That gives me something to do, a challenge. Yeah, that’s fun, for sure.

JGA: Where does her humanity lie for you?

Annie Wersching: She’s done all these awful things and she’s had to be the one to recruit these poor young kids her actual runaways that the church finds. I think not a lot of shows, and not a lot of characters that do the horrible stuff like that, I don’t feel like you always see them conflicted about it, or see them crying about it. And I feel like she’s, maybe the other parents don’t see it, or the other Pride members don’t see it, but the audience certainly sees that I feel like, in Leslie. So she’s doing these awful things, but you’re seeing that it’s taking the toll on her, for sure. A little bit like you saw things taking the toll on Renee. I mean I think on the surface, that’s where humanity is. You can see that she cares that she’s doing these awful things, even though she keeps doing them and she has to do them, and she believes that they are the right things to do, but you also see that she gives a shit and that it’s hard. And then, just the fact that she’s a mom. I think a lot of her humanity comes just from being a mom. Although there weren’t that many Leslie-Karolina scenes, a lot of the Karolina scenes were actually with Frank, but hopefully in future episodes, we’ll see if there can be an even, you know, I hope that someday there’s a deeper connection between Leslie and Karolina.

JGA: Yeah, I was just gonna ask. Where do you hope as an actor to see the character go? What would be fun for you to explore while playing Leslie?

Annie Wersching: I really have not, I mean so many actors that I know also dabble in writing, and they want to be directors, and they want to produce. They want to all sides of it, and I’m just like, I don’t ever want to have to write any lines. People just give me the lines and let me say them. You know what I mean? Like I’m so terrible. I have no talent whatsoever for writing, so even you being like, where could you see? I don’t know. I just want them to give me some awesome stuff to do. I mean, we did see her so fiercely connected to Jonah this year, so I think just having them on different sides next season will be interesting and enough. And then just getting to have scenes, it’s such a huge cast, so just getting to have scenes with other characters that maybe she didn’t get to too much in season one, that would be super fun. I honestly have no idea. I’m like, how do you keep writing a show like this? There’s so many options. There’s so many characters. There’s so many different relationships and things that could happen. I certainly don’t have a clue what they might be.

JGA: No, that’s cool though because you’re a true actor in the sense that you’re like, you give me the script, and I’ll take it from there.

Annie Wersching: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, Kiefer had this unbelievably amazing ability to take a scene that was already written so beautifully, and be like sometimes he would tweak one line, or the final oomph line in a scene, or whatever, and I’d be like, God that is genius. It would make things so much better with just changing like one or two little things. Or sometimes he would write a whole like, paragraph. I’d be like okay, just how are you doing that? I don’t know. But also at that point, he knew that character so well, that it was absolutely just in him. But like I said, I can tell if something is a little bit off, you know? I can tell that something may need to be fixed, but I usually don’t know what the fix is. My mind just doesn’t work like that.

JGA: It’s pretty amazing when people can do that. Oh yeah, I wanted to ask someone who works all the time, what’s the toughest part of show business to you, or the toughest part of the job?

Annie Wersching: I mean I think once you have a family, the toughest part is just that it’s not something you can always count on. I mean I have been lucky enough to work all the time, but just you may work a ton, a ton, a ton over three years, and then you never know, you may not work for three years. Like just having that thing where you just don’t exactly know, like is said, especially once you have children that you want to build a life for, and stuff, that can be tough. I mean I feel like since I’ve had them and stuff, everything’s been going great, and I haven’t really had to worry about it, but yet, that’s always looming, lurking out there in your mind. Who knows, or once I’m like, 55, once I’m like, a 60-year-old woman, will there be jobs for me? What will the business look like at that point? All that little like, the uncertainty of it, I feel like is just the overall hardest thing. But at the same time, it’s also the part that’s kinda the most exciting for me. You know what I mean? ‘Cause I don’t want to have the same job every single day. That’s why I do this. One year I’m running around as an FBI agent, one year I’m a cop, one year I’m a time traveler. You know what I mean? It’s just so fun, and so exciting, and so spontaneous, and every day is different. At the same time, it’s also what I love about it ’cause if you didn’t have that, then you wouldn’t have the other. But yeah, just that’s the hardest part I think, is just that it’s the uncertainty of the future.

JGA: What’s the most fulfilling part of it for you?

Annie Wersching: I mean I think kinda like I was just saying, just the fact that I get to go to work each day and it’s different every day. It’s something that just really speaks to the way I tick as a person. I definitely get restless as a person. I want to change things a lot. If I go on a vacation somewhere that I love, love, love, and I love this hotel, I’ve experienced that or whatever, a lot of people go back there year after year. I’m like, yeah but I already had that experience. Now I want to go somewhere that I’ve never been again. I just want to see more, do more, have more adventures. The most fulfilling part is just that it’s a job. As a job, it’s something that I get to do every day is go on a new adventure, and learn more about a different thing I didn’t know about. It just really speaks to how I sort of tick as a person.

JGA: How important is that intellectual curiosity for you as an actor?

Annie Wersching: Yeah, incredibly important, obviously. I mean just as a person it’s what gets me excited. If I wasn’t excited about doing this job I don’t know that I would do it, ’cause there are so many hard parts, and the auditioning and all that stuff is just a total pain. It’s definitely worth it once you’re working pretty consistently, and yeah, it’s just the best. It’s so fun. I don’t necessarily want my children to do it. But again, if they came to me later in life and were interested in theater, and interested creatively, I’m not gonna be driving them to commercial auditions. But if they came to me as they got older and more interested then that would be a different story. You certainly don’t wish for the uncertainty and the randomness of it, in the bad way, for your kids and stuff, but it’s also the good part of it.

JGA: Yeah, no. I’m sure that must be really hard. I think that puts it really in perspective for me when parents are like, you know what? When you’re 18, go to theater school. That’s different, but not right now, you know?

Annie Wersching: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, certainly different if they’re making the decision and they want to try out for the school play, or something, as opposed to hey, let’s go get your headshots done and start sending them out. That’s not what we want for them. Again, if they had a passion for it as they get older, that’s a different story.

Annie Wersching
MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS — “Tsunami” – Episode 108 – PRIDE tries desperately to clean up their latest mess without involving Jonah. But can they handle this on their own? Leslie Dean (Annie Wersching) from left, Janet Stein (Ever Carradine), Stacey Yorkes (Brigid Brannagh), Geoffrey Wilder (Ryan Sands) and Catherine Wilder (Angel Parker), shown. (Photo by: Greg Lewis/Hulu)

JGA: That did just send a chill down my spine ’cause it brought back all these memories of posing for all those headshots. It was just so hard. Oh my gosh. By the way, did you know know that you have a fan site? I was contacted by them, and they asked me if I could ask you a question on their behalf. Is that okay?

Annie Wersching: Oh, sure.

JGA: Yeah, you should check it out. They contacted me on Twitter. It’s @anniewfans. Apparently, they have a whole site. I had just interviewed Angel, and I was like, you know, I would really love to talk with Annie Wersching. I was a big fan of hers on 24. They sent me a Twitter message from a different account. They’re like, oh guess what? I also run her fan site. I was like, oh cool, awesome. So yeah, that must be pretty cool that people have fan sites about you. People have like, anti-fan sites about me. Like the right wingers, and stuff. So it must be cool to have pro-fan sites.

Annie Wersching: Yeah, I mean I remember when I was doing 24, I remember the first thing that kinda came up was this thing called Walker Count. There had been like a Bauer Count, where it was a website that kept track of how many kills Jack had. All of a sudden there was a Walker Count. I was oh shit y’all, I have arrived.

JGA: That is making it. That is the definition of making it in America. Having a Walker Count next to a Bauer Count.

Annie Wersching: Exactly.

JGA: Oh my God.

Annie Wersching: No, I mean obviously you want, it’s super fun to have people invested, and people that follow you from show to show is really great and really awesome. You don’t want people to be too into it, or too creepy, or too any of that, you know? Sometimes you have to kinda keep your distance a little bit so that people don’t get the wrong idea, or something. But no, that’s what you want. You want people to be invested in the characters that you play and want to see new ones that you play.

JGA: Wow, okay. So let me ask one of these questions here. Okay, so I think the first one you kinda answered, which was, as an actor, how important are these fan sites for you as a person? You said you like it. It’s awesome that people can follow you around, and all that stuff, and it was really cool to have a Walker Count, which I’m gonna bring back actually. They should bring back the Walker Count.

Annie Wersching: Oh my gosh, yes!

JGA: I totally think so. Also, I hope one day we can have another conversation about how Renee would react to Leslie Dean.

Annie Wersching: Oh my gosh. I’ve actually thought of that before about the three or four kind of, I mean like this character that I played on Castle, and the Timeless character that I play kinda has like, the different characters that have been kind of a badass, and creepy, or whatever. What happens if they all were in a room together, like who comes out of there alive?

JGA: Who would come out of there alive?

Annie Wersching: I don’t think the same one is gonna win that every time, but I don’t know. I mean that Dr. Nieman on Castle was super crazy person. The Emma character on Timeless, I’m just getting to read some scripts that are coming in where they’re writing some super cool, kinda Renee Walker-y stuff for her. I’m gonna get to do some fights and stuff. I mean, she’s sort of the bad version of Renee. She’s not necessarily, from what we see so far. I think we’ll eventually learn why she again, what makes her tick and why she’s on that side. But I literally just got some new script pages where there was gonna be this guy that does all this fighting, and they just took that character out completely, and now it’s Emma. And I’m like, oh my God, I’m so excited!

JGA: Oh, that’s so awesome. Yeah, no that must be so fun.

Annie Wersching: Yeah. She’s kinda crazy in the same kinda way, so she would probably give Renee a run for her money, but I still think Renee wins.

JGA: Oh cool. Oh my gosh. Now I want to pitch a whole new show. It’s you playing a Renee Walker character and her evil twin, and it would just be awesome to watch you guys try to kill each other for seven seasons. I would be so down.

Annie Wersching: Yes!

JGA: I do think if Renee was on Runaways, my theory is if Renee was on Runaways at the end of the first episode, when the kids are watching the ritual, she would’ve just dove in and been like, I got this, kids, and then like thrown in a grenade and started torturing them. That’s like what I imagine, and the whole show would’ve been over. She would’ve been like, who do you work for?

Annie Wersching: She would’ve said that already Yeah, yeah, the whole thing. She would’ve been undercover in some way. Real quick, I had another thought. Then I’m thinking okay, what does Leslie Dean do to manipulate, or take control of Renee Walker?

JGA: Ooh.

Annie Wersching: How does she try to use her gift of manipulation and calculation, and is she able to spin anything, and change anything in Renee Walker’s world? That could be interesting. Okay, I’m sorry, continue.

JGA: Okay, I feel like that would work if she were like at CTU, and she was like, I don’t know why Renee is torturing me. I’m just a really nice Scientologist person. Why is Renee torturing—

Annie Wersching: Exactly, she could work her way out of it.

JGA: Right? And then next thing you know, like Chloe’s torturing you in the back room, and it’s like a whole to-do.

Annie Wersching: Right, yes.

JGA: You know? Yeah, I’m super excited about this other character. Do you want to tell me about Emma a little bit on Timeless?

Annie Wersching: Oh yeah. Did you see any of season one of that show at all?

JGA: I have not, but I’m totally gonna watch it. Like, no joke, gonna start watching it tonight.

Annie Wersching: Oh, oh my God. Awesome, awesome. Well, my character doesn’t come around ’til the end of the season. Like I start in I think, I don’t know. Maybe episode 11 or 12. So there’s a bunch of episodes before I get in there, but she’s again, she’s sort of this mysterious woman that they find in the woods in the 1800s, but she’s badass. She’s been living on her own there for like, 10 years. She’s got rifles, and she’s made her clothes. Again, a very interesting, mysterious woman that you don’t know all that much about. And then you slowly learn more. The big, bad, almost like a corporation group in Timeless is called Rittenhouse, and there’s a big, huge reveal at the end of season one, which sorry, spoiling it for you, but there’s a big, huge reveal at the end of that season that Emma actually works for Rittenhouse. She steals the time travel ship at the very end of the season. So Emma in season one, didn’t have, I would have two or three little scenes here, and I’d come in and then I’d say a little thing. She was always there, and kind of lurking, and again, mysterious. And then there was this big reveal at the end of that season. Now we’re, I don’t know, maybe a third of the way into season two, and it’s really fun to just see how they’re sort of flushing her out. I wasn’t sure how they were gonna write it. Whether I was gonna be on the run and they were gonna be chasing me, or if I was the big bad guy. I just wasn’t exactly sure how it was gonna be written, and they really have her, I mean she’s very freely giving her opinion on not trusting Lucy. Lucy is the main, Abigail Spencer, the main character, and she doesn’t trust Lucy at all. She doesn’t think they should be trying to have her on our side. She very freely gives her opinions about things, and is not scared, or has no plans of backing down about certain things at all. It’s been fun.

Annie Wersching

JGA: Yeah, she sounds super fun, and super complicated too, which I always love.

Annie Wersching: Yes, yes.

JGA: Oh, that’s so cool. Okay, so here’s the other question from your fan site here. Oh, this is a good question even for me. Has there ever been a time when you wished people would ask you a question during an interview that you’ve never been asked? Please let me know so I can ask it.

Annie Wersching: No, you know what? I know, right? Excuse me, could you? No. A lot of people at the end of an interview will just be like okay, is everything all said? I didn’t ask you that you want to talk about, or any of that? I’m always like, no. Again, I’m just not. Whatever each person wants to talk about or ask, and I don’t necessarily need to add to any of it. I mean of course, as you’re going along and doing a lot of interviews over the years, and the generic, like what was it like to work with Kiefer Sutherland? Those get a little bit not old, but it’s trying to rewrite, how do I say it in a way that I haven’t already said it 10 times? That is certainly, but I don’t at all think they shouldn’t ask those questions because that is what people want to know. Usually, the questions that are asked that are repeated, are repeated because they’re good questions. No, I think I’m good. I just kinda go with what people ask me and move on.

JGA: Awesome. Yeah, it goes back to that about you being a true actor thing, and just ready to take on the script and do your part.

Annie Wersching: Yeah, don’t make me write your questions for you. Sorry, man.

JGA: Although I have to say, I think we were onto some gold with the Renee character and her evil twin. I’m just saying.

Annie Wersching: No, I think we have a couple of shows that we wrote today. I think we have some ideas.

JGA: Right? I’m gonna call the network right after this is over, and just let them know I’m gonna walk in—

Annie Wersching: Get on the horn.

JGA: Yeah.

Annie Wersching: Get on the horn. I’m gonna play all the roles in the whole show.

JGA: Love it.

Annie Wersching: They’re all gonna battle. And at the end of every episode one of them dies, and by the end of the season, there’s one left. Ooh, this is actually really cool! Wait, maybe I am a writer!

JGA: You heard it right here, everybody. We turned Annie Wersching into a writer. Like cut to five years from now, your Oscar acceptance speech for best screenplay. I love it.

Annie Wersching: Oh my God, that’s so funny.

JGA: For the record, I would really watch that. I think it’d be super fun.

Annie Wersching: I know, right?

JGA: No, but only ’cause like, Renee kicking ass was awesome. Leslie Dean also kicking ass was awesome, although you can’t be as for her as you are for Renee, because of the whole sleeping with the alien guy thing.

Annie Wersching: Yeah, yeah.

JGA: You know? And the whole lying about her dad thing, right? She doesn’t know that that’s her dad yet, or does she?

Annie Wersching: No, she doesn’t know yet, right? Karolina doesn’t know yet, right?

JGA: I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

Annie Wersching: It’s hard for me to remember like, what’s aired, and what we shot. I don’t think even knows at the end of the season.

JGA: We just spoiled—

Annie Wersching: Obviously, I think she suspects after they battle it out in episode—hi baby. Sorry, my kid just came in. As they battle it out in the finale and they have the same powers. I don’t think she’s dumb enough to be like, wait a minute, this is a coincidence. You know?

JGA: That’s pretty cool though, yeah. Awesome. Seriously though, thank you so much for being here for our 100th episode. It was so awesome to get a chance to talk to you, and to fan boy a little bit about Runaways and 24. I have no doubt you guys will be in for season two, three, four, five, ’cause it really is an amazing show. You know, people are describing it like, the first description I read back when it first started was Breakfast Club meets Marvel, and I love that.

Annie Wersching: Yeah, yeah, totally cool. I love that too. Thanks for having me, and again, congrats on 100. I’ll be back for 200. I don’t know how long that takes, but I’ll be back.

JGA: Well you know what? No matter when that is, Runaways will still be going, so that’s what we’re excited about.

Annie Wersching: Right, exactly. We’ll be season 42!

JGA: The thing is, it’ll be so long from now that everyone will actually look like the flaky guy all the time because it’ll be like, 20 years from now.

Annie Wersching: Oh no! Oh no, that will not work

JGA: And then we would need to sacrifice so many people. It would be awful. But seriously, thank you so, so much. Thank you for letting me go over my entire script completely out of order ’cause you’re so awesome. It just brought up all these questions for me.

Annie Wersching: Oh no, it’s so fun.

JGA: Yeah, no it was super fun.

Annie Wersching: It was really fun.

JGA: Please check out this Podcast, and more like it, over at And thank you to everyone in our audience, whether you’ve been her from episode one, or just started here with episode 100. We really couldn’t do this without you, so thank you so much for listening to us from the bottom of our hearts.

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