”It clearly wasn’t going to last,” says Katherine Moennig, speaking in her seductively husky voice. ”People don’t learn their lessons that quickly in life.” The actress is talking about Sunday night’s season 3 finale of Showtime’s sapphic soap, The L Word. In case you missed it, Moennig’s character, heartbreaker hairstylist Shane McCutcheon, left her fiancée, Carmen (Sarah Shahi), at the altar. So what’s next for the androgynous ladykiller? ”My instinct says the fourth season’s not going to pick up much later from the end of the third,” says Moennig. In the meantime, the 29-year-old Philadelphia native has relocated to New York City and is preparing to make her Off Broadway debut in Guardians, a two-character monologue play inspired by controversial events of the Iraq War. Opening at The Culture Project on April 11, Guardians finds her in a role loosely based on disgraced U.S. soldier Lynndie England, who made headlines for participating in the Abu Ghraib prison-torture scandal. Following an afternoon rehearsal, Moennig sat down with EW in the theater’s dimly lit basement to discuss The L Word‘s past, present, and future.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is this really the end for Shane and Carmen?
KATHERINE MOENNIG: Shane and Carmen never had a breakup in the finale. There’s no big fight — nothing. Sarah’s been cast in a new sitcom called Teachers, but I hope she’ll come back to do a few more episodes just to bring some closure to their relationship.
How do you feel about the evolution of Shane, from starting out as a playgirl to almost becoming a newlywed?
I guess it would get a little boring playing the same stereotype of a person season after season, so I was happy that a different side of her got to be seen, regardless of if people like it or not.
Where would you like Shane to end up?
I love Shane to pieces. I’d like to see her answer a lot of questions that she’s been asking herself for the last three seasons: Why the infidelity? Why the fear? Her father appeared in the [season 3] finale, so I’d like to explore their relationship. I also think Alice [Leisha Hailey] and Shane have a strong friendship that hasn’t really been seen, and I’d like to show that.
Do you want Shane to fall in love again?
I don’t know if I really want to see her in another relationship, at least not right away. And if she’s going to be in a relationship, it has to be with somebody really spectacular, because Carmen — just from the audience’s point of view — was fantastic. That’s going to be a hard chair to fill.
What happened to Shane’s old flame Cherie Jaffe (Rosanna Arquette)?
She may come back. I don’t know that for a fact, but it would be nice if she did. It would make for good television drama.
What was it like shooting that sex scene with Rosanna Arquette by the pool at Cherie Jaffe’s beach house?
It was really cold out that night and the water was very warm, so it felt like needles on your skin when the air hit you after you got out of the water. Did we just go for it? Yeah, but you have to in a love scene.
Of all the love scenes you’ve appeared in on The L Word, which has been your favorite?
In season 2, Sarah and I did a scene in the third episode where she comes into my room and brings Shane some beers, and we’re playing a game — I think it was [called] Too Hot or something — and at the end, finally, Shane’s like, ”I can’t do this.” She does her usual Shane and gets up and walks out. That was fun to play, only because it wasn’t a sex scene, but it wasn’t not a sex scene either. That’s real life, not just purely f—ing. But my favorite love scene that I have not been a part of was Alice and Dana [Erin Daniels] in season 2 — the whole montage when they finally get together. They were in all these crazy positions and that great CeCe Peniston song [”Finally”] was playing in the background. I thought that was great.
Speaking of Dana, at the end of the season 3 episode when she died, there was a clip of interviews with the cast and creators talking about her departure from the show, and you seemed pretty upset.
I was very sad to see her go. Before we shoot each season, we have meetings with [executive producer] Ilene Chaiken to get the broad stroke of the entire season. Erin and I are very good friends, so when she called and told me that Dana gets breast cancer, I remember being like, ”That’s fantastic for you to play. It’s going to be so much fun.” And then Erin said, ”Dana dies.” I replied, ”But that’s even more fantastic because you get to do a death scene.” That’s when I stopped, like, ”Wait, what?! You gotta be kidding me!” And she was like, ”No, that’s what happens.”
How has Erin Daniels’ departure from the show affected the dynamic of the cast?
It’s been hard. I think Erin is so important to the show. I don’t know if the dynamic will be different for the next season because we haven’t started shooting yet, but it certainly feels like something’s missing. I don’t know if anyone is ever really going to replace that either, because Erin was there from day one, just like the rest of us. It’ll be interesting to see what the next season will be like because I think they’re bringing in more people.
Now that you’re so closely identified with Shane, do you think it will be difficult to distance yourself from her as you move forward in your career?
It seems to be kind of a problem with TV, doesn’t it? When someone gets closely related to a character they play on TV, it’s very hard to break that mold and go on to do something else. I expect that it won’t be an easy road once The L Word is over, but I’m gonna do everything in my power during my time off to do other things that show another side of me. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do this play, because it was such a far stretch from Shane.
How much longer would you like to see The L Word go on?
I don’t think it’s a question for me because it’s not natural for actors to play the same role for 10 years, which is why I’m amazed by all those actors on Law & Order. I think it’s more of a question for the audience — it depends on their level of tolerance for these characters, not mine, because these characters have done some really crazy s—.