*WGN America’s new original drama series, “Outsiders,” is a tale of struggle for power and control set in the rugged hills of Appalachia. The 13-episode, one-hour drama, explores an epic battle as the Farrell Clan, a tight-knit family of renegades who have lived atop Shay Mountain for over two hundred years, fight to defend their land and way of life from the law and anyone who would dare challenge them.
Christina Jackson plays “Sally-Ann,” the beautiful black girl from a mining town who is fascinated by the renegade Farrell family and Hasil in particular, one of the clan’s most unpredictable members – played by Kyle Gallner. Hasil is sexy and curious about the real world, and his romantic interest in Sally-Ann causes him to make decisions that could lead to the Farrells’ downfall.
EUR/Electronic Urban Report caught up with the intriguing onscreen couple to chat about their organic chemistry. It’s a fascinating interracial romance that Jackson says “seems to be the formula for black women to be on television.”
“We get a lot of comparisons to Michonne on “The Walking Dead,” or Olivia and Fitz on “Scandal,” and “How to Get Away with Murder” with Annalise. I think what makes us a little bit different is that, we’re obviously a younger couple with varying drastic backgrounds,” Jackson explained.
Jackson is best known for her recurring role as ‘Chalky White’s’ impressionable teenage daughter in the HBO hit series “Boardwalk Empire.” Kyle is best known for his portrayal of Cassidy “Beaver” Casablancas in the television series “Veronica Mars,” and for guest-starring in drama series “Smallville” as superhero Bart Allen. Together, these two actors play a delicious couple whose curiosity leads to a visually arresting love scene in episode five.
That love scene in episode five…wow! How do you prepare to share such a vulnerable moment with someone you just met?
CHRISTINA: A lot of fans have been asking, ‘Did you guys do a chemistry test?’ No, we actually didn’t. I did not meet Kyle until I got to Pittsburgh ready to work. I looked him up, went through some of his interviews and kinda got a feel for his personality. I walked into it ready for whatever. One thing that I will say about Kyle is that he is A-1 when it comes to getting down to work. By the time we got to episode five, we had already been joking and hanging out – me him and his wife and kids. We had talked extensively about these two characters and learning more about these two people. So by the time we got to the sex scene it was like, ‘Alright, you ready to do this? Let’s do it’. I see the chemistry on screen, and I’m so thankful that it’s easily conveyed onto the camera. But there was so much laughing and joking and half-naked dancing in-between scenes that it was ridiculous. It wasn’t hard. We made the decision to not choreograph any of the scenes, just let it be what it was.
Outsiders is quite the unique series, what have you most enjoyed about living in this world?
CHRISTINA: I took the role on because when I read the pilot, it was unlike anything I had read before. I really like the way Hasil and Sally-Ann met. When I put the pilot down, I was curious to see how Sally-Ann ties into the town, and the mountain and all the conflict. The most enjoyable part for me is being able to really see the story of Sally-Ann unfold in the midst of all of this conflict. From her brother-to what’s going on with Hasil – to meeting other Farrells’. That’s been the most enjoyable part.
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What is it about Sally-Ann that makes Hasil so wildly curious?
KYLE: I think he was so taken by her immediately. Obviously there’s nobody like her up on the mountain. Hasil and the Farrells’, they don’t think in terms of race, so it was never a race thing. It was just this beautiful girl that’s so exotic and different and new, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I think there’s a fascination from her to me as well. It’s these two worlds that are so different just clashing together. Kind of like love at first sight in a way.
Sally-Ann grew up in this small town, living with her abusive brother. Is Hasil an escape for her?
CHRISTINA: No. Hasil is probably one of the best things to ever happen to Sally-Ann. I got a lot of questions about the sex scenes, like ‘How long has Sally-Ann known Hasil? It’s pretty quick to be sleeping with him, don’t you think?’ It’s it like, would you rather some guy come into the store, give her his phone number and they go on 15 dates for three months and then he sleeps with her and never calls her again? Hasil at every turn, from the moment she smiled at him in the store, he has been proving to her, ‘I like you. This is what I want. I want to know more about you.’ I think Sally-Ann is more of an out for Hasil than he is for her. I would love if she was using her time to teach him how to read and count money, but they don’t have that kind of tangible time. So it’s more about these two people getting to know each other, and Hasil is so damn sweet. When he falls, he falls hard, and all he sees is Sally-Ann. To the point where he’s making very questionable decisions that he probably shouldn’t be making. He probably shouldn’t be taking Sally-Ann to the mountain.
What has been the fan response to the dynamic between you, Hasil and your abusive brother, James?
CHRISTINA: James is not a popular character when it comes to the Sally-Ann narrative. It’s the abuse element that kind of rubs the wrong way. And so Hasil comes in as the savior and whisks Sally away from that environment. That dynamic – a lot of people make it a race issue, and it’s not necessarily a race issue on Hasil’s part, it’s more on James’ part. You have this white guy sniffing around his sister, but he’s also a Ferrell, and that’s what makes it all the more crazy and unpredictable. The fan response has been, they like the showdown between the two of them.
The scene where Hasil and Sally Ann are sitting in the forest and she says she has no bars (on her cell phone), and Hasil thinks she’s referring to drinking bars. Does such a moment make you appreciate technology in your personal life?
KYLE: One of the greatest things about Hasil is, there is a naivety to Hasil but also, Hasil’s not afraid to ask questions. He doesn’t feel dumb. He’s someone who is on a quest for knowledge. I think it’s part of his charm. He has this childlike wonderment of learning about the world and seeing the world and it’s really nice for him to have someone like Sally who will teach him these things. I don’t think Hasil is afraid to ask Sally-Ann questions, or feel dumb around her because she loves him and he loves her.
As for technology – yeah, it’s a big eye opener doing this show. In one aspect, you really appreciate technology, but at the same time, it makes you step back and realize, put your stuff away and be present when you can. Social media is a great thing but in a way, it’s anti-social. I’ve learned a lot being on this show. It really brings back the feeling of family and communication and how nice it is to be across the table from somebody and talking, and not having that guy taking a picture of his food, while this guy is tweeting. I’m really appreciative that I’ve gotten to play somebody like Hasil because it’s brought a lot of things to light in my life as well.
This struggle of power and control in the mountain forces you to make a tough choice between your family and Sally-Ann in last week’s episode.
KYLE: This version was something that we actually discussed and it came from a joint effort. It was like, Hasil needs to be put in a position where he is forced to make a choice, and it really felt like that is the direction it needed to go. Hasil comes from a place where family is everything, and if we don’t take care of each other, we fall a part. The reason we’ve been able to survive up there as long as we have is because we’ve taken care of each other, and Hasil is kind of a war hero up there. They need people who are going to be able to fight, (cause} it’s a civil war right now. He is put in a really terrible situation. Even though he says, ‘When you’re raised by everyone, you’re sorta raised by no one,’ he was still raised by these people and they need his help right now. So it was important to us for a choice like this to be brought up because I think it also gives us some place to go later on. It adds conflict and more of a struggle to these two characters. It was a hard scene to shoot, it was really sad.
You can catch up on past episodes of the “Outsiders” here, and watch the season finale tonight, April 19 at 9/8c on WGN America.