In May I had the opportunity to not just chat with Joanna Going from the show Kingdom on Directv Audience Network but have a nice long conversation with her. I learned Joanna loves speaking to people and have actual conversations and finds it to be much more personal and engaging. I respect this so much about her because so many celebrities, especially those with hit shows, would rather correspond via email.
You may remember her from shows such as Dark Shadows, the original vampire show in the early 90’s. She recently played First Lady Tricia Walker in House of Cards. Joanna Going’s IMDB is a mile long so please check it out.
As soon as we connected I launched directly in to questions about Kingdom, the MMA drama she stars on along side Frank Grillo. I had so many questions about her character Christina Kulina and her method in getting into character for Christina. Going plays a drug addicted hooker pulled back into family life by her adult son Jay. She’s torn between addiction and her love for her two sons and in this drama we see a lot of what I’d call hard core action.
Joanna Going – Christina Kulina – Night And Day
Q. Joanna, this character you are playing Christina Kulina is different than your previous characters. She’s different than many characters seen on television. How did you feel when you found out you got the role?
A. Actors get pigeon holed into a character because they have played it well. It’s fun when things are different. It can be hard to be risky though when you develop mortgages and car payments. I understand why actors stay in the same role for long periods of time. I’d be thrilled if Kingdom lasted 20 years.
Q. What is your method, what did you do to become a drug addicted hooker?
A. I love a part I can dig into and find as many tools to play with as I can draw from. YouTube was an incredible source because addicts post on YouTube. They post their cautionary tales and diaries about trying to detox. I also spoke to recovering addicts. I investigated the prostitution side as well. And of course the technical aspects, how to cook up heroin for example. These addicts have to be so careful with the chemistry and I learned about that. The show explores all these people that have the need to be right there on the edge, if you go one step too far it can all be over. MMA fighters, one wrong move and they can kill someone in the ring or get themselves killed. Obviously it is th same for a heroin addict.
Q. I remember the scene where Christina goes into the party with all the guys and we find out you would be the only hooker there. It gave me chills. I took away from it that while she is terrified, she’s also got it under control because this is her life now. Can you give me some insight on that moment in the show and your preparation?
A. Wow, I’m glad it resonated. All I knew about Christina at that time was the episode of Jay finding her on the street to give her the money. The writing was glorious, but Jay was who I connected with most. Then I find out I’m his mom. That drew me in. Then the 3rd episode (we shoot two at a time so it took a bit of time to get there) and he opened the episode with me sitting in the car talking about my past and we learned about where she was in her past and how she was at the mercy of her addiction and the disconnect of herself as a person. I love that she has it under control, she is going to take care of those guys. People talk about Christina’s fragility and delicacy and I don’t approach it that way, I approach it as her way to survive.
Q. In my opinion you play her as torn between family and addiction and you can feel that, but she loves not having responsibility and leaning on that addiction. Will she find independence this season?
A. It makes her sad at gaining her independence. Christina is a narcissist and she doesn’t have a sense of consequence. She makes poor choices. She is a long term addict so part of it is she is shooting up to be straight and function. Then she gets clean and this is when over doses happen. Addicts don’t realize that they are going to go too far. Being high is Christina’s safe place, her comfy place. Like depression, when people realize they are depressed it’s still a blanket of comfort.
Q. Are we going to see anything about her overdose from the end of last season?
A. Nate actually lays down the law. He is the most intimidating for Christina. She is in awe of him. He was the baby, and now he is a grown man, and she wasn’t there for that formation. So this season she tries to take another route to sobriety and do the right thing with these limited resources she has. She does not have a lot of money. She doesn’t have insurance. But what Nate said hit her and she wants to do the right thing.
Q. Are we going to see Jay pull away from his focus on Christina and have his own life?
A. Last season on Kingdom we saw Jay getting involved with a woman and then going through that incredible weight cut. All fighters do a weight cut, in the rubber suit, in the sauna, it is part of the routine. Christina hates watching this, she understands it but she hates it. The more he has his own interests the more she starves for his attention. That’s her whole point for living in the house and coming back. Nate is there but doesn’t fulfill her need the way Jay does. Jay keeps her on the straight and narrow. She goes looking for other attention and we’ll see her do that. They are both addicts in one way or another. Jay is just more disciplined. That however is a form of addiction. We will see them come into a little strife. What’s happening is she’s starting to understand the consequences of her whole life, her impact of leaving her children. It’s going to get hard.
Q. Will Christina have any interaction with Alvey this season?
A. She’ll have some interaction with Alvey. There is concern about Jay that draws them together, for them to find that way of being parents together and share their concerns although these boys are grown. She has love for Alvey, he was her life as far back as teenagers. It’s what is familiar to her. They are combustible but she doesn’t have a hate for Alvey even if she should. However, Alvey is so angry with her you know there is a guilt there. Obviously the fact that he can’t stand the site of her, means he has guilt. But then there is Christina downtrodden with no self esteem because she takes it all on herself. Their relationship is very complicated. There are no heroes on this show, they are powerful and struggling.
Q. Although it’s been a long time I want to get out to LA again soon. When I do I would love to visit the set of Kingdom and see you and Frank and Jonathan Tucker. Tell me what I’ll be walking into if I do.
A. Please do! Maria Caso is our set designer. The authenticity, the grime feeds us so much. I mean the grime of our home not Navy St.. I walk into our set after being away and I have to get it out and say “It’s so gross it’s so filthy” but it lends so much to understanding Christina’s state of mind and where they are on the socioeconomic scale. It’s a great set, it’s a fun set and I hope you can come visit.
Joanna Going – Part Two Coming Soon
I spoke with Joanna Going for nearly two hours and I will share a part 2 of our interview next week. This however was the Kingdom side of our interview. She sings praises about all of her castmates and especially Byron Balasco. Whether this role lasts another season or 20 more years it’s obvious Joanna will be putting her all into breathing life into Christina Kulina. We just have to wait episode to episode to find out if there will be a lot of life for her to give.
Next week we’ll talk about being a mom, living through really hard days, the importance of accepting people for who they are and so much more. I love Joanna Going and I hope you find her as brilliant as I do. You can watch Kingdom Wednesday nights on Audience Network through Directv or AT&T Uverse
*Photo Credit Brooke Mason