Kiefer Sutherland, Michelle Fairley
[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from the most recent episode of 24: Live Another Day as well as possible future episodes of Game of Thrones. Read at your own risk.]
24: Live Another Day may have fooled audiences when the show "killed" President Heller, but this week's casualty is a goner for sure.
After Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) and Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) were able to fake the death of President Heller (William Devane) by hacking into the video feed on the drone terrorist Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley) was using to target the leader of the free world, Margot honored her word to crash all her other drones and cease the attacks on London. However, when Margot realized she'd been tricked, she set her last remaining drone's sights on Waterloo Station.
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Fortunately, Jack was able to find Margot's location with an assist from Chloe, and when he arrived, he killed Margot's son, redirected the drone's missiles, and put Margot in handcuffs. But when Margot tried to make Jack feel responsible for the deaths that had happened in London so far, Jack simply tossed Margot out the window to her bone-crunching death.
Interestingly, Margot's brutal death parallels that of Fairley's Game of Thrones character Catelyn Stark, who died unceremoniously during Season 3's Red Wedding. But whereas Margot is unquestionably dead, Thrones fans recently created a stir about the fact that the Season 4 finale did not include Lady Stoneheart, a zombified version of Catelyn Stark who sets about killing those who have wronged her and her family. But does Fairley think her character should be resurrected on the HBO drama?
TVGuide.com chatted with Fairley about Margot's death, how her "honorable" nature did her in, and what she makes of the online furor over Lady Stoneheart. (Hint: Book-readers may want to keep on complaining.)
This is the second role in a row in which you suffered a brutal death. What's the deal?
Michelle Fairley: There's probably something that ends up happening in the working process where they end up hating me so much that they just can't do anything but kill me! [Laughs] No, it's fantastic to have a character who's so focused and dedicated and committed to her cause that she's willing to lose her life for it. And when you're playing the baddie in a series like 24 and Jack Bauer is on your tail, you know that the minute they meet, you are going to die.
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Right. But did you know at the beginning that her death would come before the end of the season?
Fairley: Because it was 12 episodes instead of 24, the producers had a basic guideline. They know the story arcs and how it's going to work, but they hadn't decided what episode it was going to be in. They are constantly tweaking, and it's a very organic, high-stakes process that they go through. But you know contractually how many episodes you're going to be in, but they didn't say at that point, you're going to go [out] in this episode. It was exciting every time to get a script because you didn't know what way they were going to take her. It was always thrilling.
What did you like about this character? She's obviously doing bad things, but she isn't pure evil.
Fairley: In her mind, she's a very honorable woman. She's very intelligent and she's completely committed. It's her purpose and her drive. She has taken something on, and she will see it through to the end. So, you play this woman's passion, you play her commitment. In her mind, she isn't evil. She's achieving a goal that is pertinent to her. It involves a loss of love with her husband.... but she's also trained her mind to not be emotional. Her emotions are very intact; they are not emotions that can send her out of control. They keep her focused, they keep her driven. She is cool under pressure.
I suppose she showed some honor when she kept her word about downing all the other drones.
Fairley: I admired the writers for putting that in. It shows that when she made that deal with the president, they both were giving their word. It's important ... because she had achieved her goal. She wasn't just going to annihilate the rest [of London]. She was prepared to draw the line once President Heller was dead. That was what she set out to do. And therefore, when she realized that [Heller] had lied, it makes the betrayal doubly hard for her. She kept her word, but she's thinking, again, "Why did I believe them? I should have trusted my instincts."
But the things she did to her daughter Simone were less than honorable.
Fairley: She feels her daughter has betrayed her. She wouldn't betray her daughter; she is forced into that position. [Simone's] actions forced Margot to play the hand that she played. It's not like she [could say,] "I'm going to back out now." She's in this until she achieves her ultimate [goal] which is the death of President Heller. If there is any form of interruption in that process, even if you are related, you're not safe.
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Although her fatal flaw might have been trusting Heller too much, couldn't she also have left before Jack arrived? Why did she stay and wait for the missiles to launch, even when her son advised against it?
Fairley: She isn't prepared to run away and leave this half done. Knowing the person that she is, it was something that would eat away at her and she would feel like she had failed. It's a flawed choice, because she's ultimately not thinking about her survival. She is thinking about what she set out to achieve and she is prepared to sacrifice herself for that.
To that end, do you think she was happy Jack threw her out the window? She doesn't seem the type that would have done well in prison.
Fairley: I think so. I think she's probably one of those people who, even if she had been captured, she probably has a cyanide pill sewn into her jacket somewhere. [Laughs] She wouldn't want to live after that. For her, it's all or nothing.
Did see the symmetry between this death and Catelyn Stark's death on Game of Thrones?
Fairley: It's coincidence really. It didn't go through my mind. She's a mother, she has kids. In retrospect, you can sit back and see the parallels. It just so happens that both of these [women] were played by me.
Interestingly, Catelyn has been in the news again. Have you been reading the Game of Thrones fans' furor about the exclusion of Lady Stoneheart from the show?
Fairley: No, I don't do any of the Internet stuff at all. I try to live in as free an Internet world as possible. I haven't seen any of that.
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Even so, do you want to return to the show and play that character? Is that a possibility for the future?
Fairley: Catelyn Stark is dead, I'm afraid. I'm sorry to say it, but she's dead. George [R.R. Martin] has written incredible novels, and David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] are doing a wonderful job of distilling those books into 10 hours and making a fantastic television series. But there's stuff along the way that has to go — you can't put everything that's in the book on the screen. There are sacrifices to be made along the way. Unfortunately, people might be expecting one thing, but it doesn't happen. It's life.
Wouldn't it be an interesting transition to go from Catelyn the caring mother to complicated villain Margot to stone-cold zombie murderer?
Fairley: Well, it would certainly be a very easy makeup job! [Laughs] It would be a breeze for the makeup artists. They would take one look at me and say, "Off you go, you don't need any makeup. You look like a zombie anyway!" But, no, it's not going to be.
In a similar fashion, do you think the ghost of Margot might haunt these last few episodes of 24?
Fairley: What they're very good at doing on 24 is once you're out, I have no idea how the series ends. I'm going to have to watch it like anybody else. But, look at what's happening in the world today. There are plenty of people who take on other people's passions and feel the need to go out and act on them. [But] I have no idea what they've got lined up.
24: Live Another Day airs on Mondays at 9/8c on Fox. Watch the most recent episode here.