Bridget Regan’s TV credits include The Black Donnellys, New Amsterdam and Law & Order Criminal Intent. All great experiences, but none of them properly prepared her for the role of Kahlan Amnell in ABC’s syndicated series Legend of the Seeker which requires her to ride horseback through the magical Midlands.
Bridget plays Kahlan, a “Confessor” who wields her magic as well as she wields a sword. Together with the wizard Zed (Bruce Spence) and the Richard Cypher, the Seeker (Craig Horner) she sets out to stop the invasion of the evil Darken Rahl.
The series is filmed in a studio in New Zealand, but Bridget and her cast-mates spend plenty of time trekking through the incredible forests of the area. When I caught up with her she wasn’t running from the dastardly Rahl, but running to the wardrobe trailer for a fitting.
This definitely isn’t Law & Order.
Bridget: Yeah, it’s quite the opposite of what I was doing around this time last year but it’s pretty amazing. The physical challenges, emotional challenges, they’re not for the faint of heart. I feel quite proud of myself that I’ve been up for it and been quite blessed to be challenged as much as I have been. All the wonderful teachers that I have out here, the directors, horse wranglers and stunt coordinators and everyone are just amazing, and I feel quite lucky to work with such talent.
Talk to me about filming in New Zealand.
Bridget: The thing about New Zealand is they have a real respect for nature. We film on Maori land and everybody really respects it and keeps it with a lot of reverence, which is so cool. On our first day of shooting, we had a blessing from a local Maori elder – it was just amazing. I don’t think the show would work anywhere else. It’s the Midlands. It can’t look like Los Angeles. It has to look like uncharted territory and we have to make the audience believe in this world, otherwise they really won’t come along the journey with us. The art department is incredible and every prop, every piece of the set, the beautiful greenery and the backdrops that we work up against, they’re all just gorgeous.
The series is based on the books of Terry Goodkind. Were you familiar with them before you started filming?
Bridget: No, no, not at all. I actually wasn’t really a huge fantasy fan but now I love it all. I think the characters are exquisite and beautiful and complex and I have fallen head over heels in love with Kahlan and that’s what makes the job so good, it’s such a great role.
Does the fact that it comes from a set of books that people really love make it harder to play the role?
Bridget: The fans of the books feel that they know these characters and they want to protect them, so at first, I was a bit intimidated and scared. Don’t do this, do what they want, give them what they want to see and then, you know, after a while, I said, I know this woman. I know her and I’m going to stop wasting energy and not worry about whether it’s going to be right or not. It’s going to be okay, you are here today, go for it.
Do you reference the book for backstory on your character?
Bridget: I do. I have the book with me a lot of the times at work and I open it up and I’m reminded of who she is. As an actor, I couldn’t ask for anything better.
So what’s the biggest challenge that you face every day working on the show?
Bridget: I think its battling exhaustion. It’s not like I don’t love work. I love everyone on the set. I love the story that we’re telling and what we’re doing and everything but you know, I usually get up in the dark every day and do go to work in it every day and you work like a dog, but it’s glorious, even when it’s miserable. I know that years from now, I’m going to look back on this and be very proud and feel very blessed just doing what I do. But Craig (Horner) and I sometimes look at each other. It’s just like our eyes are crossing cause he’s in every scene. I get occasional early afternoons off but we do need stamina to keep going.
Have you had a chance to see the finished product at all?
Bridget: Yeah, it’s pretty funny because it’s been selling in so many different countries which is so exciting but it doesn’t air in New Zealand yet but I – this is so embarrassing – I buy it on ITunes.
So are you headed home to the US soon?
Bridget: Yes, my sister is getting married. I always had like this ticking clock of, Bridget has to leave, so I’m actually heading out a few days early to go and be my sister’s maid of honor.
Maybe while you’re home we’ll get to see you at Comic Con. We missed you last year.
Bridget: I would love to go to Comic Con, mostly because that’s where I grew up, in San Diego. My mom and dad and sister went. I was already in New Zealand and they went and had a good time. My mom was up there shaking their hands with Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert and everyone. It was pretty comical ’cause I hadn’t even been with them yet.
I heard that you guys got a pickup for a second season? Is that up for sure?
Bridget: Yes, yes, that’s how things work right now. I mean, sometimes I’m a bit of a skeptic and we’re like, ‘what if something doesn’t happen,’ but yes, looks like it. I’ve been really happy and positive and excited and grateful. . . all good things.
To find out when you can watch Legend of the Seeker in your area, visit the official website.
Photos courtesy of Bridget Regan and ABC Studios
Originally written for SFUniverse.com