Struggling to contend with drastically shocking situations that you never expected, or are unprepared, to encounter in your life can be a life-defining moment many people face as they strive to find their true meaning and purpose. That difficult endeavor is a prevalent theme throughout tonight’s series premiere of the adventure drama, ‘The Librarians,’ which debuts at 8:00 pm Eastern/Pacific on TNT. The show, which is based on the network’s original film trilogy, ‘The Librarian,’ that stared Noah Wyle in the title role, shifts the focus of the franchise to Colonel Eve Baird. The NATO counter-terrorism agent, who’s played by Rebecca Romijn, is a skeptic of magic; she’s trying to cope with leading a new team of Librarians who set out to solve impossible mysteries, recover powerful artifacts and fight against supernatural threats. Since the actress has prior experience in the action genre, having played Mystique in the ‘X-Men’ films and former Secret Service agent-turned private detective Michelle Maxwell in last year’s TNT drama series, ‘King & Maxwell,’ Romijn utilized her martial arts training and fight choreography from those projects to ease her way back into learning the fight choreography she needed for ‘The Librarians.’
Picking up where ‘The Librarian’ film series ended, ‘The Librarians’ focuses on the magical Library that contains magical artifacts and is located beneath the fictional Metropolitan Public Library in New York City. Flynn Carsen (Wyle) is an adventurer and collector of renowned and enchanted relics. He’s also assisted by two confidants, Judson (Bob Newhart) and Charlene (Jane Curtin).
The trio tracks down Eve to extend her an invitation to join the Library as a Guardian, a title that once belonged to Judson (John Larroquette). While the counter-terrorism agent is initially skeptical about accepting the job, she soon agrees to taking over. She soon starts working with Flynn to track down other Librarian applicants, who are being hunted down by villains as they eagerly try to bring the library down. The applicants include Cassandra (Lindy Booth), a synesthete math whiz; Ezekiel (John Kim), an expert thief; and Jake (Christian Kane), an Oklahoma native who’s loyal to his family, but also happens to be an art history genius. Together, Eve and the three new Librarians must work together to not only acquire and protect magical artifacts, but also defend them against the groups who want to use magic for their own benefit, including the Serpent Brotherhood.
Romijn generously took the time recently to talk about filming ‘The Librarians’ during a press conference phone call. Among other things, the actress discussed how she became involved in the television series after she read and enjoyed the comedic and adventurous tone in the initial scripts, and knew some of the cast who were already involved in the project; how she loves shooting action sequences, especially when she has to memorize about 10 pages of dialogue a day, as it’s a relief to combine the physicality with her exchanges with her co-stars; and how Eve doesn’t takes Flynn seriously, as she always follows and believes in her NATO training, and he embraces the world of magic, but she comes to find him to be intriguing.
Question (Q): How did you get involved in ‘The Librarians’ television series?
Rebecca Romijn (RR): When the script initially came to me, I was really attracted to it because of the genre; I grew up loving ‘Indiana Jones.’ But I had not seen ‘The Library’ movies before I received the script. So when I did watch the movies, I fell in love with the series, because of the comic tone, which I didn’t quite understand it just reading it on the page. When you ask Noah Wyle if it’s like an Indiana Jones action adventure, he says it’s Indiana Jones if Indiana Jones was played by Don Knotts, which I love. So I love this very specific tone that we’re going for.
The whole show came together very, very quickly, and I knew some of the people in the cast. It was a love fest, and we had such a good time making it. We shot in Portland from April until August, and we had such a fun time up there. When you spend 90 hours a week with a group of people, you become like family.
Q: What does Eve think of Flynn Carson when they first meet? What’s her initial impression of him?
RR: Well, I should start off by saying that if you have not seen the movies, you’re not going to be lost starting with our series. I feel like we’ve done enough exposition and enough back-story where people will know exactly what’s happening from the very beginning of our hour series.
I don’t think Eve takes Flynn seriously. I think Eve, who’s a counter terrorism expert comes from this very buttoned up rigid military background. Everything for Eve is very black and white.
Meanwhile, Flynn is every color in between black and white, and Eve doesn’t understand that. But once he shows her that magic exists in the world, I think she becomes very intrigued with him.
Q: How much pressure did you feel coming into this group, knowing you’re the new leader of the pack?
RR: Well, since Eve comes from this military background and everything for her is black and white and she doesn’t believe in magic, it didn’t feel like that much pressure at all. She’s the skeptic of the group, and doesn’t believe any of it.
Since she’s the skeptic of the group, she gets to be the voice of the audience, and that’s really fun to play. She demands the explanations, on behalf of the audience.
She’s an investigator and an expert in counter terrorism. So she approaches these missions of finding these hidden magical artifacts as she would approach any mission in the military. So she’s just doing her job.
Q: You mentioned how you spent all this time together filming in Portland. So how did you all bond as a team? Did you have a chance to see any of Portland beyond the soundstage and the location?
RR: Eventually I did spend time with the rest of the cast off set. I have kids who were still in Los Angeles for the first two months of shooting, as they were finishing their school year. So I was going back and forth every weekend to see my kids. Once they were finished with school, they joined me up in Portland.
My husband (Jerry O’Connell) was doing a play in New York at the time. So when he was finished with his play, we all had a fantastic summer in Portland once we were all together. We did 4th of July out on the coast and did the whole nine yards. It was fantastic.
I’m from Northern California, so there’s a lot of Portland that feels very familiar to me. The food and the restaurant scene there is fantastic, and it’s such a great place for families. We put our kids in summer camps there. We had a great summer in Portland.
Q: What do you love most about the series?
RR: I love the genre-the action combined with the comedy. We’re not a comic book or a group of super heroes. There’s nothing dark or bleak about what we’re doing.
There are so many fantastic shows on cable now. They’re so smart and they have these amazing comic book characters and they’re very dark. They’re actually the kinds of shows that I love watching.
But this series hits a different tone that doesn’t really exist. We’re actually we’re premiering on the tenth anniversary of the first movie airing on cable. We have this Sunday night 8:00 pm time slot, which traditionally was the Wide World of Disney time slot. As a child of the 80s, I grew up watching that. That was appointment television for me on Sunday nights.
So I’d like to think that we’re sort of filling in the spirit of the Wide World of Disney Sunday night at 8:00 pm; that we’re in the same spirit of that type of entertainment. I’d also like to think that we’re a great family show.
Q: Can you talk about some of the legends that are going to be featured in the upcoming episodes?
RR: I can’t really discuss them, without spoiling anything. We shot all of our episodes as standalone episodes. So we have a different mission in every episode, and we have to find a different magical artifact in every storyline. Flynn Carson bops in and out of our season-he’s only in a handful of our episodes, because Noah has another show on TNT, called ‘Falling Skies.’
So Flynn is off taking care of a much larger mission. There’s a big finale at the end of the season, where everything comes together. We have to use all of the artifacts that we found throughout the season to accomplish this one huge final mission.
I have got several favorite magical artifacts, but because we use them all together at the end, I don’t have one specific favorite. We have the minotaurs, which I liked, and the (thread) of the labyrinth was another favorite one of mine. We get stuck in a labyrinth with a minotaur in one of our episodes. One of my favorite episodes features a fairy tale story, where fairy tales are coming to life in the small town and hurting and killing people. We then slowly start turning into fairy tale characters.
We have a Christmas episode, which is my personal favorite episode. It’s the episode where my character’s back-story gets explained. It’s a midnight run episode where Eve has to take Santa Claus back up to the North Pole. She doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, so she’s not happy about it.
Q: What was your approach to playing Eve?
RR: The writers didn’t tell me much about my character’s back-story. But there are some very specific things that they told me not to make any decisions about, because the script hadn’t been written yet with my back-story. But in my head, Eve had spent her entire life on military bases, which I made that up for myself. That did come into play later on.
Q: You of course worked in the sci-fi genre before starring in ‘The Librarians.’ What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of working in the genre?
RR: I would say that my least favorite thing is trying to work with the special effects. When you’re acting in sci-fi and filming scenes that have special effects, the effects are usually added in during post-production. So you have to ask the producers and the director exactly what it is that you’re looking at, so that you know exactly how to react to it.
But you’re usually reacting to something that’s completely imaginary, or an inscription that you wrote on the page. But you don’t necessarily know well how big the effect is. You wonder, how close is it to me? Is it up in the sky or is it like right in front of my face? Is it huge or little? How powerful is it?
So my least favorite thing during film, which is not knowing exactly what I’m looking at, usually ends up being my favorite thing when I see the final product. Iget to watch it just like the audience does, and see it all come together and how the final effects all came into place. If you’ve been given the right amount of direction, it usually works out in the end.
Q: Since ‘The Librarians’ is a sci-fi and action-based series, what was the experience like performing the stunts and those action sequences like overall?
RR: I love shooting action, especially when you’re working long hours for an hour long television series and you’re memorizing ten pages of dialog a day. It’s nice to put down the script and just run down the street for a few hours and shoot an action sequence; it breaks up your day.
I had just come off of another TNT series called ‘King & Maxwell’ last year where I played a secret service agent. I had to do a lot of martial arts training and weapons training for that show. So luckily I got to roll all that training into this character.
I love shooting action sequences. Learning fight choreography isn’t new, but it’s something that my brain is still getting used to. I’m really good at dialogue memorization. But learning fight choreography is like learning a complicated dance. My brain is still getting used to it, but it’s really fun once you nail it.
Q: Why do you think your character was added to the series because Eve was not in the original films?
RR: I think the tough female protector of ‘The Librarian’ has been a character in all three of the movies and now in the series. So I think a different version of this character has existed throughout the franchise. But yes, this is the first time that Colonel Eve Baird is introduced to the world of ‘The Librarian.’
It’s a fun time in television and movies for female characters who kick butt. I’ve been honored to have gotten to play some of them. I love John Rogers for including Eve in ‘The Librarians.’
Q: What are some of the challenges your character is going to face this season?
RR: I don’t want to give too much away, and the biggest challenges would be spoilers if I talked about them. but I don’t think that Eve believes that she is equipped for the things that she has to come up against. I think that because she’s an investigator and a counter terrorism expert, she approaches each mission as she would approach any investigative job.
This is her job, and she just does it according to how she’s been trained. But because we’re dealing with the paranormal and things that are in other dimensions, her brain can’t even process the fact that she’s equipped to deal with the things that she’s put up against. As the saying goes, doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that’s what happens to Eve Baird in this season.
Q: As you’ve been saying, the plot lines are pretty fantastic and outrageous. So what was the mood was like on set?
RR: The crew up there shot five seasons of (the 2008 TNT drama series) ‘Leverage,’ and they’re a pretty tight knit group. Some of our cast, including Christian Kane, also worked on that show. worked on ‘Leverage’ so he was pretty tight with them. They have a very strong family dynamic.
When you spend 90 hours a week with the cast and the whole crew, you become this very dysfunctional/functional family. It’s a real fun group.
Portland is a real fun city. Not everybody in the crew is from Portland; some of them are, and some of them are transplants. Getting together on the weekends and going to restaurants was really fun. It’s really great group.
Q: Is there a scene or a moment form the pilot that was your favorite that you can discuss?
RR: I would say that for me personally, from a storytelling standpoint, I like the two pep talks that happen, and they and they come back to back. One is when (John Larroquette’s character) Jenkins has to give me a pep talk because I’ve lost hope. Then Eve has to go give Flynn a pep talk. Those are my two favorite parts of the story, because they’re all about finding the drive in ourselves and in each other.
Q: Since Eve’s a Colonel, will she ever call back to some of her NATO resources in the first season and bring up some of that full swing military prowess?
RR: I would say that the way she approaches every single mission with the library has to do with her NATO training. So I think she approaches everything as she always as in the military. She’s all about clearing a room, and making sure everybody’s safe.
She always follows military protocol, but not she’s in this very gray world where magic exists. So she doesn’t always necessarily know how to balance out her military prowess with magic. She doesn’t know anything, except for how to approach everything from her military background.
Q: One particularly bad group, the Serpent Brotherhood, is introduced in the pilot in the first two hours. Are they your main adversaries throughout the season, or do you have others that show up?
RR: We do have others that show up, but the Serpent Brotherhood does show up when we least expect them. They’re not in every episode because as Dean Devlin put it, if the same villains keep showing up in every episode, that doesn’t make us very good heroes.
So the Serpent Brotherhood will disappear for a while and then when we least expect it, they’ll rear their ugly heads again. But getting to work with Matt Frewer was unbelievable. Since I’m a kid of the 80s, I grew up watching not only Matt Frewer as Max Headroom, but also John Larroquette as Dan Fielding. It was such an honor to get to play opposite those guys. So we don’t see them in every episode but they’re in a handful of episodes.
Written by: Karen Benardello