Raised in Portland, Oregon, actress Kim Rhodes has had an extensive and lucrative career since she first started in the industry. After earning her Bachelors of Fine Arts and graduating Summa Cum Laude from Southern Oregon State College, she went on to achieve her Master of Fine Arts from Temple University. Her studying paid off; in 1996, she scored the part of Cindy Harrison in the soap opera Another World, a role which she then reprised in the soap opera As the World Turns in 1999. From there, she began to land guest spots on several television shows, such as Star Trek: Voyager, Stark Raving Mad, Becker, Touched by an Angel, Boomtown, Without a Trace and CSI. Then, in 2005, she was cast as Carey Martin on the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, which was her first major television role. After that show came to an end, she returned to bouncing between shows, guest-starring on House M.D., Galen, Switched at Birth, NCIS and Extant. In 2010, she made her premiere on The CW’s hit show Supernatural as the recurring character Sheriff Jody Mills, who has become quite the fan favorite–so much so, in fact, that fans have rallied around the idea of a spin-off called Wayward Daughters, starring her, Briana Buckmaster, Kathryn Newton and Katherine Ramdeen.
In addition to television, Rhodes has also branched into film. Some of her credits include the movies Christmas with the Kranks, Sky High, Desertion, Cyrus, Deadbeat, A Crush on You and Atlas Shrugged: Part 2. She is also certified in four kinds of stage combat: hand-to-hand, quarterstaff, rapier and dagger. These skills especially have prepared her for her current role on USA’s new sci-fi drama Colony as Resistance fighter Rachel. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Rhodes about her character on Colony, the Wayward Daughters movement and her love for Terry Pratchett. Keep reading to see what Rhodes had to say!
I first just want to tell you that I’m really excited to talk to you today because I’m a fan of you both on “Supernatural” and on “Colony,” so this is really cool!
Yay! Thank you, “Supernatural”! Yeah man, that thing is the gift that keeps on giving and I mean that so seriously. What an incredible gift that show has been!
I bet! It is one of the most passionate fanbases that I’ve ever been a part of, so it is very unique.
It is! It’s amazing, astonishing—I love them!
So how is working on “Colony” different than working on “Supernatural”?
Oh, my…I think “Colony” is much more intense. It was actually at moments genuinely terrifying. (laughs). It’s a much more intense subject matter. The shooting schedule is fast and furious and more a documentary style, so there are a lot of big, huge scenes with a lot of people, a lot of weapons and a lot going on. Kind of like “Ok, don’t anybody get killed! Picture’s up, let’s go!” And you’re left going “Ahhh, God help me, what’s going on?” With “Supernatural,” it’s been going for a while. It’s in a groove. It’s in a routine. It’s like dancing to a song that you know really, really well as opposed to dancing with a fabulous partner but you’ve never met. So they were really very, very different experiences.
What appealed to you about the character Rachel?
You know, Sarah and I have talked about how “Colony” wrote their women. I love that in the entire—tonight, you’re going to find out a little more about Rachel, who she is and what she’s doing in the Resistance, but I think women are so used to playing characters who are emotionally motivated by their relationships. “I’m doing this because it makes my husband feel this way.” “I’m doing this because my kids blah blah blah.” Very rarely do female characters—even now, with the way the industry is—very rarely do women get to play characters who do things just because it’s what they want to do. It was so refreshing to get to play a character who never monologues about what happened to her husband and never explains what her romantic status is, and who never has to justify what she does based on someone else. Instead, she’s like “Because it’s the right thing to do. This is what I believe in.” It was amazing and so confusing because I’m so used to being like “Wait, why is she doing this? Who is she doing this for? Is she doing it because she’s sad that her husband is dead, or…?” (laughs). Instead, she’s just fucking doing it because it’s the right thing to do. And that was really like—and to stick to my habit of using metaphors—but that was really like being given a Ferrari and then being put on the Autobahn. It was amazing. You know, the audition for Rachel was a grand total of three words, so what she turned into is entirely thanks to the writers on that show. Ryan was really committed to having strong female presences that weren’t necessarily dudes in chick’s bodies because a lot of times, that’s how people create a “strong female character.” No, that’s just a chick who is acting like a dude! That’s not a strong female character! That’s a character that was written as a man and then somebody went “Oh shit, there are no vaginas in this! Quick, make that character a girl!” Or, they create female characters who are strong but are too busy having emotional reactions to the men in her life. Ryan really just wrote some strong women. I loved it!
In what ways would you say that Rachel is similar to Jody Mills and how is she different?
That’s a really tough question because they are different worlds. The world of “Supernatural” and the world of “Colony” are so different; it’s like saying “How were your Thai noodles different from your spaghetti noodles?” They exist in different worlds so the emotional depth—I mean, they both have emotional depth. They both are strong. They both are focused. But, it’s in two different languages, in two different stories. So, it’s really hard to compare them. I mean, they’re both me. They both contain aspects of me that I had to draw on, but the worlds are just so different that it’s really hard to compare them. They’re both awesome and I love them both. I can’t believe that I was lucky enough to work on both of those projects last year.
Going into “Colony,” did you get any kind of weapons training?
(laughs) I asked for weapons training because the first big scene that I had, I was shooting an M-4 and in most of the scenes that were action scenes, I was the only one who was not either former military or a stunt person. The only one! I was like—one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing women on film who are supposed to be badasses but clearly are carrying around Styrofoam guns because if they held a real gun like that, they’d have their face blown off. I hate chicks that are supposed to look like they know what they’re doing but don’t. It’s a pet peeve of mine. So, they took me out to a weapons expert and, along with another character on the show, we spent a couple of hours firing M-4s and learning how to load them and hold them and learning what they feel like when they fire. Because I just didn’t want to fire my gun and wince, like “Oh, that was super scary!” That’s not a badass! That’s not a badass at all! So, they didn’t tell me that I needed it but I did request it and they were like “Yes, yes, thank you, yes! We would love it if you looked like you knew what you were doing too!”
And you can certainly tell the difference, too, when you’re watching a show, between the characters who have had experience and the ones that are trying to fake it but can’t hide those minuscule expressions, you know?
Yes, yes! You certainly can! And, you know, it’s also about getting into the mindset of a warrior. That kind of mindset is different from the kind that most of us possess. I had to really think about—because I’m all over the place in real life; my natural personality is like a set of firecrackers, and if there is an opening, it’s like “Boom! Boom!” I’m big with my voice and I’m big with my body and I spend a lot of energy communicating because it’s exciting for me to communicate. Well, warriors cannot afford to expend any energy because they need it to stay alive. So, the mindset of knowing where my weapon is at all times and not fucking around with it or posing with it or posturing with it. There was a moment where, in one of the first episodes, a kid dies and I was like “Um, should I take his weapon? Because I don’t think that they’d leave these weapons behind. We need these things!” And they were like “Yeah, yeah! Grab it when you run out!” So just that kind of mindset that isn’t Kim’s mindset. Kim’s mindset is “I live in a world of abundance and happiness and there is more where that came from.” Changing that mindset also took training and talking to the military guys on set and just how they think differently and it lives in their bodies.
That’s so cool. It adds a lot of depth to the show, too, that you are thinking about those little details to make the show more realistic.
Yeah. And you know, this is probably the most real character that I’ve ever played, and it’s all about aliens! (laughs) That’s what is so brilliant about this show. Like, when I was explaining it to people, I was like “Oh, aliens have landed,” they were like “Oh, aliens…” And I was just like “No, no, the aliens aren’t the bad guys! They’re not. We don’t know anything about the aliens. It’s about seeing the monsters that humans turn into, you know?
Yeah! In a way, the show reminds me of “The Walking Dead” because it’s not so much about the catastrophe that happened as much as it’s about the way that humans react to it. And how they treat each other. And one of the things that I really picked up on in the show is that there aren’t any good or bad guys. You can’t point your finger at one group and say “See, those are the bad guys!” Would you agree with that?
Yes, absolutely. And that’s one of the things that makes this show so compelling. Because every time you start going “Oh, poor little Proxy,” something else gets revealed that makes you go “Whoa, he’s a fucker.” You know what I mean? There aren’t a lot of characters that—in general, the characters that stay the same only do so because they die right away (laughs). You never get a chance to see another dimension of them.
Exactly! So, after the last episode in which Katie sabotaging the Resistance’s plan to kidnap Snyder, do you think that their patience with Katie is kind of wearing thin?
I think, without giving away any spoilers, I can basically say yeah.
I’d be surprised if it wasn’t, because I would probably be very frustrated with her since she can’t decide where her loyalties lie: with the Resistance or with her husband.
Yeah, yeah! She’s—and again, they only have ten episodes in this first season, right? So every single time, I was like “That had to be the finale!” But no, there’s more! Every single episode felt like a finale episode, so yeah. Tomorrow night, shit goes down! It is very, very clear that they aren’t happy with Katie.
Alright, I’m going to switch gears for a few minutes because I want to ask you some questions about “Wayward Daughters” because this is a spin-off idea that a lot of fans have been talking about. What are your feelings about this fan-driven idea for a spin-off?
My feelings…I have so many different areas of my feelings. The first and fundamental one is: I’m a middle-aged female actor. I have no job. I have no agent. I have no prospects. Would I like to have a series so that I can feed my family and have health insurance? Fuck yeah! (laughs) Just the bottom-line of “Would I like any job?” Of course, I do! So beyond that, would I love a job that incorporates a character that I’m so in love with and a fan-base that I’m so committed to and that takes place in a world that I’m a part of, and see that continue on—just like the fans, I want to see what happens with Claire and Alex and the next generation of hunters—I would love to see that. But then, there’s just the painful, horrible reality of: if they were going to do a spin-off starring me, somebody would’ve called me or given me a contract by now, and that hasn’t happened. So, it’s probably not in the cards. But, what a lovely idea! And I think my highest self just loves the fact that we as women have given ourselves a voice that doesn’t need permission. That’s what I loved about the “Wayward Daughters” movement, so to speak, because it quit being about “Hey, let’s get the girls a show!” and started being about “I will not be silent. I will be positive. I will support my sisters. I will allow myself and other women to have flaws and fail and get back up and keep going.” And if that is the takeaway from this, then that’s a win. The pure, primal part of needing a job is nothing compared to that voice. You know, supporting ourselves and each other as human, flawed, passionate women who still deserve to be heard—that’s fucking awesome!
If this spin-off were to ever become a reality, how do you imagine it working?
I see Claire and Alex, because we’re talking about The CW. The CW isn’t prone to making shows about middle-aged women; that’s not their jam. So, I think that it would be really interesting to see Claire and Alex start down the path of becoming hunters. They’ve already got a great dynamic between the two of them. They both have reasons to be in that world and fighting that world. You’ve got one who wants to run away from her monsters and live a normal life but can’t, and then another one who blames the monsters for all of her pain and wants to kill them all—hmmm, where have we seen that work before? (laughs) And then they have mentors in place, like I would see both Jody and Donna playing a Bobby sort of role where you’ve got people who come out to bail you out every once in a while. So that’s how I would see it if it happens but I just don’t, you know—I guess we can just keep our voices going and someday, they might give it a shot!
It almost seemed like the episode “Don’t You Forget About Me” was the show’s way of testing the idea out, like they were saying, “Ok, if this was going to work, this is how the dynamics would look.” Did you get that feeling?
You know, at this point, I have no idea what’s going on in anybody’s head at all (laughs). All I have are the facts, and the facts that I have are: it was an awesome show to do, it was so much fun, but no one has called me and even said that I have another episode that’s coming up let alone a new series. But that’s not sad—that’s not self-pity—that’s just the facts of being an actor. Actors are usually the last ones to know. I don’t know what’s going on in their heads. At this point, no one’s called me and said,“Jesus Christ, Kim, you suck, we need to recast Jody.” So, I’ll just keep doing my part and hopefully they’ll call me back.
How soon did you get the notice that they were going to do an episode with Jody in it in season 11?
They usually pin me like three months in advance…like two or three months in advance. They’ll call me up and be like “Hey, keep this block open; we think we want to use her.” And then as it gets closer, they say, “Yes, we definitely want her in this episode.”
Well, I really hope that we get to see more of your character in future episodes because I really like Jody Mills. I think that she’s grown a lot since she was first introduced, you know?
Yeah, she really has. They’ve really fleshed her out and given her relationships with the boys and with Donna and how she moves through this world now that her family is gone. She isn’t the kind of woman that’s just like “Well, I’ll just replace everything and pretend like it never happened!” She’s really toughened up and still has a lot of heart, and I appreciate that about her.
Aside from being a part of the “Wayward Daughters” Twitter and Tumblr community, what can fans do to try and help make this show a reality?
(laughs) If I knew that, we’d all have it by now. I don’t know. I guess just don’t stop. I guess that’s the other thing: we as fans and as people are so like “I’m gonna sign a petition right now and get this dentist that killed the lion brought to justice!” and then a week later, they’re like “Cecil who?” They go to sleep and they forget about it. So if they are still hearing—like, it’s one thing to sign a petition right after it airs, but if it’s been a month and people are like “Hey, where’s our show? No, seriously, we still want our show. Hey, where’s our show?” then persistence might pay off.
That makes sense. I hope, down the line, the show does take the chance on a spin-off because that’ll keep that world alive after “Supernatural” ends, because eventually it’s going to…
Yeah! I mean, God bless Jared and Jensen, but they don’t really have to do it anymore. They are doing this out of love: love for their family, love for their fans, love for the show, love for the people that they know they are employing. Those boys are two generous, hard-working boys, and at some point, if I had been working that hard for a decade and didn’t have to, I’d be like “You know what, go on without me. I’ll show up a couple of times this season, maybe direct a couple of episodes, but other than that, I’m good.” So I would like to see a spin-off where that is possible. I don’t want to make a spin-off where it doesn’t make sense for Sam and Dean to make appearances every once in a while. I’d like to see a spin-off where the characters that we love still exist. I would like to see a spin-off where it’s like “Oh, look, Crowley’s got a bone to pick with these people, too! Oh, sure, Castiel has to check up on these people too!” as opposed to something like “And now we pretend like ‘Supernatural’ never happened and we have a spin-off.”
Yeah, and I don’t know if you ever watched “Buffy” and “Angel” but it almost—
But the spin-off almost broadened that world—like you had to be watching both shows in order to pick out on the nuances that tied them together.
Yeah, definitely, and I think that’s what “Arrow” and “The Flash” are doing, too. Like, if you’re going to have a spin-off as opposed to a totally different show, take advantage of the strengths that you have!
Exactly! So, since you are a fan of these shows in this genre, what other shows, books, or movies bring out the nerd in you?
Oh my god! Terry Pratchett! He’s—and oh, I cried so hard when he died! I’m tearing up! Terry Pratchett has a series of books about the Discworld: a world carried on the back of four elephants that ride on a galactic turtle. I will read his books over and over and over and over, and there have been a couple of movies made about his books, a couple not so good but one brilliantly done, but Terry Pratchett is probably the thing that I get the most nerded-out about.
New episodes of Colony air on Thursdays at 10:00 pm ET/PT on USA. You can also catch new episodes of Supernatural on Wednesdays at 9:00 pm ET/PT on The CW.