Tonight at 10 pm/ET, ABC hopes to capitalize on the Lostapalooza with Invasion, another supernatural-tinged drama in which a Florida town is forever changed — not so much by a hurricane, but by the ominous something-or-others that covertly arrive with it. Playing doctor amidst the din is Canadian Kari Matchett, a relative newcomer to U.S. audiences, as Mariel Underlay, one of the first apparent victims of... whatever. (As Mariel's daughter eerily notes, "Mommy, you smell different.") TVGuide.com caught up with Matchett to discuss her deliciously different leading men, the sad state of the NHL and whether or not Invasion's hurricane hits too close to home.
TVGuide.com: I just finished watching the premiere, and I have to say, that is some creepy stuff!
Kari Matchett: Good, good.
TVGuide.com: Is it fun to play?
Matchett: Yes, I really love all the different flavors that are going on with Mariel. She's got some of her own stuff going on.
TVGuide.com: ABC is betting big on Invasion. Has that made the production fun, arduous, entertaining...?
Matchett: All of those things. [Laughs] We have got such an incredible creative team assembled that it makes the environment to work in so rich and full of, for me, constantly interesting elements to play with. I've worked on sets before where the mood was, "Oh, we don't really believe in this, but we're going to do our best," but here everyone is so invested in it, and that gives it magic. I really look forward to going to work — and often find myself bummed if I've wrapped already!
TVGuide.com: Where was the pilot shot? I could practically feel the humidity and bugs.
Matchett: We shot a lot of the stuff in a citrus grove around Simi Valley. And we actually shot three days in Florida — the stuff by and in the swamps.
TVGuide.com: You can't fake that.
Matchett: No, and we didn't. Believe me!
TVGuide.com: How is it to have two such different leading men in Eddie Cibrian (as park-ranger Russell) and William Fichtner (as Tom, the intense sheriff)?
Matchett: I don't think I could be luckier to have Eddie as my ex and Bill as my present husband. Karmically, I must have done something right. And its really interesting because you're right, they're very, very different people, and that fuels so much stuff in terms of what we play and how we play it.
TVGuide.com: I get the feeling that Tom knows more about the "storm" than he is letting on.
Matchett: [Cryptically] Mmm-hmm. Yeah, I think you're right.
TVGuide.com: Much has been made of Invasion's hurricane airing so close to Katrina, but I think it's not so much the on-screen wreckage but the refreshingly orderly and effective cleanup that may bother people. Did you sense there could be a timing concern?
Matchett: Everyone was so mortified by what was happening to those poor people, and that this abandonment of people happened in America — that took precedent over any feeling of "Oh, our poor series." The fact is, we shot our pilot before any of that happened. There was a feeling of "I wonder what the best way to go about this is... so we don't stir up feelings any more than we do," but I think moving forward with the original launch date was the right thing to do. Speaking for myself, if there is any hope, it's that people can see that this is in no way trying to represent the devastation that happened [on the Gulf Coast].
TVGuide.com: I think Invasion is on safe ground in that its fictional news reporters allude to Hurricane Andrew as a precedent. That tells me, "This is the reality within which we're operating."
Matchett: Yes, you're right.
TVGuide.com: Regarding the central mystery, will Invasion provide some answers soon enough, or simply amass questions?
Matchett: I think there will be answers... but also an increase in questions.
TVGuide.com: How much have they told you?
Matchett: [Creator/executive producer] Shaun [Cassidy] is very forthright and shares a lot with us, so we're not working blind. But I think that the power of the show, like the power of living a good life, is actually being inside the question. It's about wondering what's next.
TVGuide.com: Your previous credits list you as the lead in "the Canadian box-office smash, Men with Brooms." I can only imagine it's about... curling?
Matchett: It was! You knew that.
TVGuide.com: No, I was just going for a joke. What else could a movie called Men with Brooms be about?
Matchett: Cleaners? Janitorial people?
TVGuide.com: Is it true you knew nothing about hockey when you landed the role of the president of a team in the series Power Play?
Matchett: It's not true that I knew nothing....
TVGuide.com: I was going to say that's, like, illegal in Canada.
Matchett: I actually knew quite a bit.
TVGuide.com: Were you bummed when the last NHL season was cancelled?
Matchett: What I am most bummed about is that something that used to be so accessible to the people has become so inaccessible because of the almighty dollar. In Toronto, for instance, you can't just go to a hockey game anymore — it costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars to get a seat. It's really terrible what has happened. That bums me out.
TVGuide.com: There's a sign in Spalding, Saskatchewan, welcoming motorists to the birthplace of, well, you. Is that a trip?
Matchett: Yeah! That went up just over a year ago. The town is less than 500 people, so....
TVGuide.com: ... you had a pretty good shot at ranking a sign.
Matchett: [Laughs] It was an honorary sign. But yeah, it was a beautiful moment to get the letter in the mail asking me if they could do it. I have done so much work in Canada that has never been seen [in the United States]; it's just not on the radar down here. So my town was honoring me for the stuff I've done there. It was pretty amazing and weird and embarrassing.... [Laughs] But lovely.