We’ve had a girl crush on Alona Tal since her Veronica Mars days, so we were excited to see her land a spot on The CW’s new TV show Cult. The Israeli American actress plays two roles on the show: Kelly, an LAPD detective who escaped a murderous cult leader named Billy Grimm, and Marti, the actress who plays Kelly on the show within the show.
A bit complicated, no? When Wetpaint Entertainment visited the Cult set last fall, we wanted to know how Alona keeps the two characters straight and what it’s like working with the rest of the talented cast.
Wetpaint Entertainment: What's been the most difficult part for you playing these two roles?
Alona Tal: Somebody at Comic-Con asked me something similar, and we hadn't even started filming. I remember thinking that it would be difficult to maintain the similarities between the two and still making them very, very different because they're very, very different.
Visually, we're very different. Marti has just straight hair. But it's also not making the actress character a cliché of an actress. And popping into Marti takes you a little bit out of the mystery sometimes. So it's been a challenge to try and kind of keep it in the same tone without taking too much out of the urgency that everybody else seems to have.
Will we see more of you as the actress who plays Kelly in that universe?
Yes, you will be seeing more of Marti. Hopefully, in future episodes, you'll see more how it affects her personally because you do get to see a little bit of how the craziness of the outside world does touch on her, and how the character on the inside show kind of reflects a little bit like Skye on the outside show. So if you pay attention to the details, you'll enjoy the communication between all the characters.
Are we going to find out how aware Marti might be of everything that's going on?
You will get a sense. We don't want to give too much, too soon. It's more interesting to see everybody learn about it. You start the show with Marti just being very weary. Is that the word I'm looking for? Yeah, she's nervous.
What kind of interaction will Marti have with Skye?
They're friends. I don't want to reveal too much because it won't benefit anybody, but I find that females stick together. Let's call it that. So we'll see them try to stick together or try to form a bond.
But is she then used as a pawn because Skye is trying to dig deeper?
I don't know if I would say used as a pawn. You don't really know. I think that Marti is in a pickle, just from playing Kelly. So you don't know if it's because she's associated herself with Skye or if it's because she's playing Kelly. She's always a target which is why, when you see Marti for the first time, she does have a tension whenever fans are around.
How long has the Cult show within a show been running at this point for Kelly?
Not that long. It's fairly new. She's not used to it.
What would you like to see for Marti or Kelly by season's end?
That's a good question. I have no idea how to answer it truthfully. I really don't because there's been so many things that I didn't see coming. Like I said, I want a lot of things, but they're better left for season two or three. So I can't really answer that question without sticking a foot in my own mouth.
So far this season, is there an episode that is really going to deliver a lot of twists to the story?
There's a few. It's not necessarily the entire episode, but there's bits and pieces that are little plot twisters. Although [episode six] I personally, really, really like just because of the nature of it, and the way that it's put together and what it allows us to explore in one of the characters. I just think it's a really good episode for Skye and for her relationship with Jeff. I like it that things are shot kind of weird and things don't always make sense. I like that, and this episode has a lot of this.
We’re getting the sense that there's a side to Kelly that she's not honest about with her onscreen partner?
Oh, yeah. Absolutely. And we'll find out as we go along in the episodes. We'll find out more about Kelly's involvement in the cult. What was the level of involvement that led to her leaving and how deep was the relationship with Billy because to have that kind of an obsession, you had to have it be on the other side of the spectrum, to hate someone that much, you really have to love them that much. And you'll find out more about that obsessive nature that she had.
How is it working with Robert Knepper?
Horrible. He's not fun. He's not a giving actor. He's not surprising me in any way when we're shooting the scene. He doesn't like to do that. Obviously, reverse all that. The thing with Robert is that he's very real, and that's something that I really like. I like it when he surprises me, and I like it when he's unexpected and unpredictable in the scenes even though I know exactly where the scene is going. He always has that little look in his eye like, “You don't know what I'm going to do.” And that's makes me nervous, and makes for good scenes. It also plays into what we're supposed to be doing which is Kelly doesn't know what Billy Grimm is going to do at any moment because he does his role very well, and very charming. Like you would think, he is very charming.
And you clearly can't stand Matt Davis.
I cannot stand Matt Davis. He's awful to look at. He's not funny, and he's not knowledgeable in anything really. I'm so in love with my cast, and I kind of like that we're a smaller group of people. But even the guest stars so far, there's Marie [Avgeropoulos] who has a very long last name who plays Kirstie in the pilot. She has a very, very long last name. She's so beautiful. Marie is gorgeous, and Aisha Hinds, she plays Detective Sakalik. I have kind of like a girl crush on her, when I see her, I squeal. You can ask some of the extras that were here. When I saw her the other day, I squealed and jumped on her. It happened, for real.
You have a terrible job.
Yeah. Awful, I really am suffering. Can’t you tell?