Briarpatch star Kim Dickens on Eve's fiery finale: 'I don't think she's the villain'
And with that gleeful declaration from Chief Eve Raytek (Kim Dickens), Briarpatch's second bomber was revealed. Going into the USA drama's season 1 finale, Felicity Dill's (Michele Weaver) killer had already been revealed (Brian Geraghty's corrupt cop Gene Colder), but there was still plenty of other business to settle. And almost all of that was taken care of in one tense, shocking, and dynamic face-off in the abandoned Packingtown warehouse between Raytek, Colder, Clyde Brattle (Alan Cumming), Jake Spivey (Jay R. Ferguson), and Allegra Dill (Rosario Dawson). Among the secrets unveiled were Eve being responsible for blowing up Calvin Strucker (Chris Mulkey) and using Felicity as bait to try and catch Brattle. Neither Brattle or Colder would make it out of the building alive, while Eve, who betrayed Colder and killed him, would limp out after wrestling the all important tape recording away from Jake. But, just as she flashed a bloody smile and evil laugh, she turned on her car and realized too late that Colder had left a bomb in it.
After Eve's explosive exit, the finale would feature a tiger showing who really is king and an emotional goodbye between Allegra and Jake, who it's revealed decided not to get involved when Felicity came to him looking for help, inadvertently sending her down the road that led to her death.
To unpack what went down in Packingtown, EW chatted with Kim Dickens about getting to dive into juicy monologues for once, filming the finale's climactic scene, and going out with a boom.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Before diving into the finale, what was it about Briarpatch and Eve that made you want to sign on? Since you made your debut in episode 2, did you get a chance to watch the pilot and get a sense of the world?
KIM DICKENS: It all started because [creator] Andy Greenwald sent an email to me through my agent to ask me to do this part. Along with that, he sent me the pilot episode and the script for episode 2. Watching the pilot and all of the amazing performances in it and the beautiful execution of style and genre and dark comedy, all of that stuff was so appealing to me. And then reading episode 2, just the fact that Andy thought about me for some reason to play this part was intriguing. It was a fun idea to surprisingly play the antagonist — and such a flamboyant character, which I don't usually do.
How much of the arc for the role did Andy lay out for you in your discussions?
He kind of laid it out in a skeletal way. He walked me through her ambitions, her credentials to run for mayor. He didn't let me know exactly what was going to happen in the end, but let me know my character's moral compass was going to take a spin.
What did you think of Eve's motivations? She sells out many people, including Jake and Felicity, all in the name of becoming mayor.
I like what Charles Parnell's character Cyrus says. He says, "You don't want to be mayor, you want to be ex-mayor." [Laughs] And I think that's key to her. She's born to succeed, and it was fun to play that drive, and I had to personalize it in a way. Yeah, there's a trade-off, there's certainly some sacrifices that she makes along the way. It's almost like Swearengen (Ian McShane) from Deadwood in a way [Dickens also starred on the HBO drama]; it's a person who really, truly cares about the town and being a legitimate change agent. It's just where her morals get messy along the way. And that's usually a male character.
I talked to Rosario at the beginning of the season, and she brought up you and how blown away she was by your performance. She said they had to keep giving you more and more monologues because of how good you were at them. What was it like for you to sink your teeth into these juicy speeches and this great writing?
I told Andy, "I haven't played a character who spoke this much since I was in acting school and you're given the big parts that you'd probably never play." It was fun! Because I usually do play characters who are much more soft spoken or a look says a thousand words. This was honestly the first time I've had so much dialogue and such a verbose character to play, but it really felt so right for the character. She was an entertainer; in every single scene, she was going to be seen how she wanted to be seen. And there was such beautiful writing in the monologues. I was thoroughly impressed with their writing of this rhythmic, beautiful, Southern language. I never bumped or stumbled on any words or any moments. At first glance at these monologues or speeches, I felt a little daunted, but then they just flowed and were so natural that they became so fun to play. They were easy to naturally inhabit in a way, and then you just get to have license with it and can just go crazy, so that was really fun for me. So much so that sometimes you're like, "Oh s---, I've got to go work on my scenes," but this was one was like, "Hey, I've got to do my scenes! Who wants to run lines with me? Anybody?!" Fun is a word that I keep using but I really mean that.
And I can imagine that there was a lot of fun with that big face-off in the finale between all the main characters, in which it seemed like everyone got some great material. What was it like filming that?
It was pretty awesome. The set alone was just so ominous and climactic. Just to get all five of us together — Alan was sitting there the whole time — was really a blast, just going toe-to-toe with everybody bringing their A-game. I had no clue that our director Steven Piet was going to film it in a circular motion, just wrapping around; it was a long scene, probably like five pages long, and just to do it take after take, that long, it was beneficial to just really get all your moments. I thought that was a really creative way to do that scene — and really brave. I was just blown away by these episodes; seven, eight, nine, we had great female directors. Every director we had was so strong in the stylized execution and it's really beautiful and fun to look at — just good ol' entertainment.
I love that it cuts away at the end and you and Jay are fighting over the recorder and doesn't show how that plays out, we just next see you limping out with it and a bloody smile. But then you get in the car and boom! What was your reaction to learning how it would for Eve?
I loved it. Everything Andy came up was exciting to play, and it was full of challenges every time. Just getting to have one last little scrap at the end with Jay, and to go out exploding as I'm laughing with bloody teeth, I love it. It's all high camp; I love this genre, I've never done it before, this Pulp Fiction-y, film noir thing was really fun to inhabit. A lot of the actors talked about what a really great experience this was from top to bottom, the crew, cast, network, everybody made it seamless, it just flowed. That's nice when you have those creative moments.
I told Andy from the beginning that this is an anthology series, so it's easy to commit to it, because you're thinking, "Oh, I'm not committing six years of my life," and you always wrestle with that kind of dedication and the amount of time that you're willing to commit. I was like, "This is just one season, so this is easy, I'll commit, do it, and move on." But, as we started and going episode to episode, we were like, "Hey, we like this. We like these characters. We like you, we like this crew, we love Albuquerque. I want there to be more seasons of it!" So I kept saying, "Are you sure? Are you sure she gets killed off?" So it was bittersweet.
In the end, after everything, how did you view Eve? Villain? Misunderstood hero? Or just a motivated human?
I don't think she's the villain. I think she's a heroine in her own right, because things are complicated and nobody else can really understand it like she can. She's a fiery character with a real drive to make a change in that town, and, in some ways, I hope that the audience can't help but root for her.