How to Get Away With Murder: Karla Souza on those shocking Laurel reveals
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday’s episode of How to Get Away With Murder.
Another week, another person spared from being under the sheet.
During Thursday’s episode of How to Get Away With Murder, Bonnie (Liza Weil) was revealed to be alive the night of the house fire. But it was Laurel (Karla Souza) who took center stage during the hour, which provided a great deal of information about Laurel’s past, specifically her dynamic with her father (Esai Morales), who seemingly creates surveillance technology for the government. That’s why Annalise (Viola Davis) sent Laurel to see him in Miami, hoping he’d provide info on Frank’s (Charlie Weber) location.
But Laurel and her father do not get along — he even brings in a corporate mediator to solve their conflicts, chief among them that he left her mother in the middle of a mental health crisis, soon got remarried, and he refused to pay ransom when Laurel was kidnapped at 16 years old. Laurel eventually gets the info on Frank’s location by essentially signing over her soul — which she lies to Annalise about. Oh, family! EW caught up with Souza to get the scoop on what’s next:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There’s a survivor in the house fire. How will that shake things up on Murder Night 3.0?
KARLA SOUZA: The house being on fire, we don’t know how or why it’s on fire. We also assumed we knew one person was affected, but now we’re learning that it’s two people. Who knows how many more people whose lives are on the line? Anyone could be affected by this. I think the fans are going to go crazy once they realize how damaging this could be to their favorite characters or whoever it is. It’s a great, dramatic ending to the third episode, and it’s definitely going to shake things up for the fourth, so people are going to watch the fourth because of that.
Why do you think she lied to Annalise about signing the contract? Does she plan to hunt down Frank on her own?
Right now, Laurel just cannot trust anyone. She cannot trust her father, she cannot trust Frank, she cannot trust Annalise. Frank called her, and the one thing she’s playing back in her head is, “She tried to kill me. She hired a hitman.” Obviously Annalise has lied to Laurel in the past a lot, so for all she knows, Annalise could be trying to kill Frank. That’s unfortunately not something Laurel could ever come close to wanting to do, however much she wishes she would want to do that, but she can’t because she cares for him. He’s someone that’s very important to her, and she depends on him in a very dysfunctional way. That phone call that she has with Frank is the first time that Frank ever reaches out to anyone on Team Annalise. So for Laurel to keep it to herself speaks to the loyalty that she has toward Frank still.
Do you think Laurel still has feelings for Frank?
They’re messed up feelings. They’re not simple. I think she’s trying to get rid of these feelings, but in a way, it’s someone that she cared about, she realizes she knows nothing about, but she’s codependent, addicted to him. She can’t help it. Her willpower isn’t enough to disassociate herself with Frank.
Her father points out that she’s chosen a terrible guy because of her daddy issues. Do you think that’s true?
Yeah. [Laughs.] I love how she completely has the answer to that, saying he’s a narcissist. But I think the episode where Laurel is crying with Wes (Alfred Enoch) and telling him she’s going for the guy who is like her father and she hates herself for it, this is awful and she can’t help it — a lot of people have that. You fall for the wrong people. You end up doing the things that you set out to not do. When he says, “Is it because you have daddy issues?” that’s a huge truth that Laurel very quickly tries to knock down, but the audience is going to definitely think that that does hit truth.
Laurel laid out some of the reasons she hates her father, but what do you think was the straw that broke the camel’s back?
First of all, the reason why she was kidnapped in the first place was because of her father. If she had a normal father and he wasn’t in that line of work and doing that shady whatever it is he does, she wouldn’t be kidnapped in the first place. Again, she suffers because of her dad’s choices. Then, also, I’ve played out in my head what it feels like to be kidnapped when you’re 16. This is a story that I pitched to Pete [Nowalk], because I have three friends who have been kidnapped. It is something that happens, unfortunately, and it has happened close to my experience in Mexico.
We were talking about it, and I said I think it’s a very strong thing that could’ve happened, and the reason why she hates her father is almost that she had a Stockholm Syndrome relationship with the kidnappers where they laughed at her at the beginning saying, “Wow, we were betting on your father’s love for you, but we can’t bet on that because he’s not showing up, he’s not paying the ransom.” In Mexico, before we had any help from any kidnapping special forces, a lot of the people kidnapped — or at least the three people I know who were kidnapped — did pay the ransom. It’s a much more normal thing than… the U.S. policy is not to pay the ransom, right? In her heart, she’s a child, so her father to not have paid, that is the biggest sign of his lack of love for her and him putting his job before her.
Not only did that happen — obviously now she’s back, and she must’ve lived at 16 being kidnapped — but then he left her mother, who has mental health disorders. I pitched that to Pete as well, because I feel that mental health in this country has a lot more to be treated well and not something that should have a bad stigma. I also pitched that so we could talk about that subject. When you’re a kid and you have a mother who has a disorder, it’s so much that’s being put on your shoulders. If her dad left her for this lover he had, there’s so much there to feel this contempt for him. And yet, I also wanted to play that she’s matured. She’s probably gone to therapy for it, and it’s not as recent. There’s a lot of onions to peel before she’s going to show any emotion. That’s the arc I wanted to show in the episode.
Will we get more info on her kidnapping, her mother’s mental health issues and her past?
Yeah, we’re going to definitely find out why Annalise, first of all, knew who her father is, why she picked Laurel from episode 1 season 1, why she picked these people to be the interns. Now that we know Annalise, she must’ve known exactly why she was picking who she was picking. All of that gives us a lot of story for all of the Keating Five. We learned a lot. She was kidnapped when she was younger, what was that like? Her mom has mental health issues; are we going to meet her mom in the future? There’s a lot more to reveal. I know that Pete likes, little by little, that slow burn, but also Wes is finding it out for the first time. You see Wes looking up her father, so now the roles are reversed in a way. Wes is starting to look into Laurel’s stuff.
It’s great writing. It’s such a collaboration with Pete. For me, it was very important that Laurel’s father had nothing to do with the drug cartel. I was so passionate about that. The fact that he is an awful person, powerful, and has a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s involved with that. I was very happy that we found a different profession for him to have, following my desire to not just be stereotyped.
Laurel’s father basically blackmails her to get info on Frank. Do you think signing that contract will come back to haunt her?
[Laughs.] Yes. First of all, the obstacle that’s presented in order to find out where Frank is, and the fact that she’s willing to sign her soul off to the devil to find out where Frank is, says a lot, like how much this woman is determined. Of course that’s going to come bite her in the ass later.
Even though Wes has a girlfriend, he seems to truly care about Laurel. Do you think the two of them have feelings for each other?
Yeah, it’s been the slowest-burn relationship of the show. It’s been the one that it’s almost like friendship, friendship, friendship, and then what is it? I don’t even know how to label it. Even if he has a girlfriend, it’s human nature to still have feelings, depend on, and be caring about someone else. It’s interesting to see the fact that Meggy (Corbin Reid) notices it. She’s not stupid, and she notices it. It’s almost making Wes also notice it and Laurel, too, in a way, because it’s almost like they’re blinded as to how much they actually feel for each other.
How to Get Away with Murder airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.
Viola Davis stars as a law professor where she teaches, wait for it, how to get away with murder.