It’s already a busy year for Keegan Connor Tracy. Not only has she reprised her role as the Blue Fairy/Mother Superior on the second season of ABC’s Once Upon A Time, but she’s also appeared on our screens in Bates Motel, A&E’s highly acclaimed (and highly rated) retelling of the characters first seen in Hitchcock’s Psycho. Tracy plays Miss Watson, Norman Bates’ high school teacher, an also the object of his fantasies. But in addition to these two roles, she’s also worked on movies with two screen legends. We got the opportunity to ask her some questions about the magic she’s been creating lately…
Bates Motel is a whole different kind of “family show” from Once Upon A Time. Can you talk a little about how the show was pitched to you and what made you want to be involved in it?
“Hmm. First of all, I wouldn’t quite call Bates a family show…unless you mean it’s about one. I actually knew very little about it when I got the audition. I knew the provenance of it being a retelling of Psycho, so I knew the genre and I tried to make a choice that went with it. Apparently it worked…”
The premiere of Bates Motel was extremely well received and broke viewing records for the network – how does it feel to be on yet another new hit show?
“Well, now that you mention it…it feels pretty darned good.”
Miss Watson is presented as Norman’s mentor – a sympathetic, compassionate person in his life – but also the object of his fantasies. Can you describe the sort of relationship she has with him and how that might develop as the series continues?
“I thought a lot about what Miss Watson was to Norman, and what he was to her. I had to ask why she would be so attracted to this kid and I could only think that she recognized something in him, in his vulnerability, in his oddity. I think that she recognized Norman’s pain and it drew her to want to save him; and to save him from things she imagined as much as those she knew or surmised.”
How much do you think Miss Watson knows about the true nature of White Pine Bay and the mysterious secrets that the town holds? Does this affect your performance and interpretation of her character and the relationship she has with Norman?
“I think she knows more than one would ever guess. Whether she lets that be known remains to be seen.”
Moving on to your other projects: you’re about to commence filming with Fred Schepisi on Words and Pictures. Can you talk a little more about the movie and your role in it?
“They offered me a role and I wanted very much to get a chance to work with Clive Owen. I am a fan and I just wanted to watch him work. And I’m pretty amazed – he makes every delivery seem like the first time he’s ever said it. It’s great to watch.”
You’ve also worked with Robert Redford in The Company You Keep: what was your experience of working with a screen legend like Redford and how do you feel it’s enhanced or enriched your career so far?
“Well, I get to say I worked with Robert Redford. That was reason enough for me. #legend”
Finally, we can’t interview you without talking about Once Upon A Time. As Season 2 draws to a close, where do you think the Blue Fairy now stands in terms of managing and controlling the magic that exists in Storybrooke?
“I don’t really know the answer to that question. I don’t’ think that Blue’s abilities have been explored – though she does seem to have a great deal of power. Perhaps Season 3 will give us a greater picture of where she fits in on the power grid.”
The last televised episode saw the Blue Fairy return August to his former self as a “real boy”. Do you think magic is arbitrary in terms of how it’s used, or was there some sort of moral reasoning behind restoring August?
“I think there’s always a reason for magic – though how it’s used is as arbitrary as any leverage of power or morality. Like mere mortals, those with magic all have their own moral compasses and their own agendas, which affects how and when they might use this magic.”
The Blue Fairy is often seen as a “problem solver”, meting out magic in order to help those in need. Do you think, as she’s obviously lived a lot longer than a lot of other fairytale characters, that she also provides some sort of moral judgment on those who “deserve” her help and those who don’t?
“I suppose she must, since there are many times when she hasn’t shown up and saved the day.”
Finally, you’re obviously in high demand these days and really busy: what do you do to relax if you ever get the time to do so, and what sort of shows do you like to watch?
“I have two little kids – there’s not a lot of relaxation in that! I do manage to carve out little chunks of time for me and one of them I have saved for watching entire seasons of Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones and True Blood. Little pieces of heaven.”