Catching Up with Camilla Luddington

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Camilla Luddington broke into the business over the last few years on television, but she’s already managed to already an interesting through line in her career. Luddington, who got her start on shows like Californication and True Blood, has a knack for joining established projects with very specific tones. Whether it’s voicing Lara Croft Tomb Raider, or taking over a hopeful trilogy in the thriller The Pact II, the actress always rises to the occasion.

In The Pact II she plays June Abbott, a crime scene cleaner who becomes the terrorized target of the Judas Killer, who perished in the first film at the hands of Annie Barlow (Caity Lotz). June begins to have dreams and visions of a string of murders, and decides to contact former victim Annie when it becomes too much to bear.

For Luddington, this is her first stab at a thriller and she nails it—unsurprisingly so, as she has tackled many genres with ease. She’s best known for being a series regular on the seasoned medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. Since Season Nine she’s played Jo Wilson, the sassy intern-turned-surgical resident who struck up an early friendship with Dr. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers). The friendship slowly turns into much more as they both connect over their messy pasts. Now that the show is in its 11th season, Wilson and Karev are moving into uncharted waters as their relationship intensifies, and audiences are finally getting to know the woman underneath the charm.

Luddington spoke with Paste about her first horror film role, and what it’s been like to be a part of the Shonda Rhimes legacy.

Paste Magazine: What made you decide to pick up a project like The Pact II???
Camilla Luddington: I’m a huge horror movie fan, and I’ve been looking to do something for a while now. My manager called me and knew one of the directors, and asked if I’d be interested. That evening I watched The Pact, and I really liked it. I met the guys involved, and I just thought, “Okay, let’s do this.” I did a chemistry read, and then three weeks later we started filming.??

Paste: Do you hope for a trilogy?
Luddington: It’s certainly been written that way. Whether or not the third one happens is up to many people, but it would be fun to know what happens next.

Paste: Since you’re a big fan, do you have any favorite scream queens???
Luddington: Oh, wow. Maybe Jamie Lee Curtis. Halloween is such a classic, and I think that was one of the first horror movies I’ve ever watched.??

Paste: I have to give you credit. You’re coming in to these different worlds—Grey’s, Tomb Raider, and The Pact II, after they’ve already been established. Is that intimidating??
Luddington: With something like Tomb Raider, it’s very intimidating to step into the boots of Lara Croft. With Grey’she Pact II, I was on set and met Caity Lotz, and she was just so nice, and sort of shared war stories of the previous film. Even though all three had been established in some form before I entered the projects, all three were very exciting to join.??

Paste: With Grey’s Anatomy you see that different generations of viewers are now growing up with it. It’s very transcendent.
Luddington: It’s very interesting. When I get approached on the street it’s by really young people that are maybe 18 years old. I always say, “Oh my God you were eight years old when this show first came on!” I think people are binge watching now on Netflix, and that’s a new generational thing. You’re getting all these new fans that have just started watching in a summer. It’s amazing.

Paste: Has the show changed your career? I know you’d done television before that.??
Luddington: I think so. To even stick somewhere and call it home, and to develop a character—which takes more than a season—we still don’t know much about Jo’s past. That’s really wonderful for an actress. And just to be welcomed into that fandom has been amazing.??

Paste: I imagine Shonda’s set runs at a different speed from other shows. Did you have to adjust to the schedule or the lingo?
Luddington: It’s a well-oiled machine that you’re stepping into, because it’s been on the air for so long. The medical lingo is difficult. It’s something you have to really work at. Overtime you’re saying certain things and they became engrained and more natural to say in these very traumatic situations, but it’s definitely different. It took getting used to. Sometimes I look at a page of my dialogue and think, “Oh, God, this is going to take me a week.”

Paste: How is it working with Justin Chambers? Everyone always talks about how funny he is, and we’ve finally seen that playful side come through in Alex’s relationship with Jo.
Luddington: Justin is so fun. He’s so sweet. What I love about him, as an actor, is that he’s down to do whatever. There’s a scene in Season Nine when we have to jump up and do these strange animal noises, and other actors wouldn’t be down to play in those moments. He’s always up for it. It makes my job easier because I don’t feel ridiculous doing it. He’s so playful, and I feel lucky to have him as a love interest, because he’s such a giving actor.??

Paste: Speaking of being accepted by the fandom, a lot of the fans are protective of Alex, and you’ve done an excellent job of meeting expectations. Did you feel any of that pressure to fill those previous shoes???
Luddington: Yes! Definitely. I had watched the show before, so I knew his previous big first love was Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), and it’s intimidating. But I think that it’d been a long time since Alex had found someone. When I got that role the producers said to me, “We want to find out what it will be like for Alex to fall in love with Alex.” You hope that the fans get on board with the relationship. I posted photos of Justin and me at an event, and they really seemed to respond, so that’s exciting. I feel like there’s a good amount of people who are on board, and have invested in the relationship. 

Paste: Jo has such a rich history. What do you hope the upcoming season explores with her specifically?
Luddington: I like to call them Easter eggs—where you’re finding out little things. For instance she was drinking in a bar and said, “God, I hope I don’t go back to jail.” I was like, “Wait, Jo was in jail? Well, good to know!” At the end of Season Nine, right before a tree falls and busts into the house, she alludes to being sexually assaulted at some point. For me, that was kind of devastating to find out about the character. I want to know exactly what that situation was, and how it affected her, and how she dealt with it at the time. It will speak volumes to how she’s dealing with it now. 

Paste: Is it different when you don’t have learn things like that about your character ahead of time?
Luddington: Absolutely. You’re finding out stuff that’s new all the time that you never knew would happen with your character. I didn’t even know Jo was homeless until midway filming episode six or nine. Sometimes you’re in the middle of playing a scene, and they drop something on you like that, and you have to roll with it. ??

Paste: Shonda mentioned Alex and Meredith’s relationship is going to infringe on his relationship with Jo. Can you expand on that?
Luddington: Cristina left, so I think Meredith wants someone to lean on. That becomes Alex. Jo hasn’t seen how close that relationship is between Alex and Meredith. They have these boundaries that don’t exist, and Jo sees those suddenly, and it’s very intimidating for a girlfriend. It’s a very tricky situation for her, but it makes for a very funny situation too.

The Pact II opens in limited release in theaters on October 11. Grey’s Anatomy airs on Thursday’s at 8PM EST on ABC.

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