When A&E's cooperating cops-and-cons series Breakout Kings premiered in early March, it did so without costar Serinda Swan, whose incarcerated single-mom character Erica Reed was introduced in the second episode. Coincidentally, her debut re-airs this Sunday at 10/9c, giving viewers a chance to get reacquainted with the scene-stealing Swan — one of Kings' jewels — before Monday night's season finale (10/9c). TV Guide Magazine caught up with the admitted tomboy actress, who first turned heads as super-powered magician Zatanna on Smallville.
TV Guide Magazine: How did you come to land the role of Erica, who wasn't in the pilot?
Swan: Bizarrely enough, I [tested] for the pilot for the role of Philly, but they went a different route. They thought I was a little too tough for the Philly role. Then in mid-June, I got a phone call saying they were looking into bringing a new character, the role of Erica. I said absolutely, because this is who I thought Philly was. It was perfect for me.
TV Guide Magazine: It's funny they thought you were too tough. Are you?
Swan: That's definitely a side to me. That's how I grew up. I was an extreme tomboy. I did competitive gymnastics for over 10 years. I cut my hair like Winona Ryder, with that little pixie cut. Mine wasn't for looks and style necessarily, but for whatever was the easiest way to get up in the morning. After that, I got into Krav Maga [style fighting]. But I am trying to embrace more of my femininity. I need to wear more pastels and put my hair down! But Erica is definitely outside of the box, based on the characters that I've played. I've gotten to play a lot of really strong women, but this time I actually get to kick some butt.
TV Guide Magazine: Erica's whole motivation for working with the cops is to one day see her young daughter.
Swan: That's what I liked about the script. Yes, it's a procedural and we deal with a new escaped convict every week, but there's always these little insertions where you get to know a little more about the characters. We all have something we're running from, which is the theme of the entire show.
TV Guide Magazine: In the finale, the team goes after a particularly nasty escapee named Carmen Vega, right?
Swan: We do. And she has some ties to our crew. So we are much more involved in this escapee and don't really have a choice on whether or not we want to be.
TV Guide Magazine: Any word on a second season?
Swan: We don't know yet. A&E said they'd let us know if we were picked up once the last episode airs. We're hoping so. They told us before that they don't pick up scripted shows until after it's aired. But we're getting such amazing feedback from people.
TV Guide Magazine: Before Breakout Kings, you were best known for playing Zatanna on Smallville. How do you feel about that series leaving the air?
Swan: I'm sad. I really am. It was a wonderful series and it kind of broke me out of my shell and gave me a chance to have a large recurring role. And the Smallville fans are like no other. They stick with you until the end. I did two episodes and I still get fan mail and people at the airport with their Zatanna pictures. It's just amazing and they really support me still. I love that. And I'm so thankful for that show. I'm sad to see it go, but I know that everybody that was on it are on to new things as well.
TV Guide Magazine: As a tomboy, were you a comic-book fan?
Swan: I was a bit of a comic-book nerd, but I wasn't to the point where I knew who Zatanna was. So I went into comic-book stores and talked to random people walking down the aisles. I was on chat forums. I was asking all these questions trying to figure out who this character was. Because she had existed before me! I can create a character, but she's already been created. The fans know her already and I had to do her justice.