Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Katherine McNamara Says Shadowhunters Is "Darker" Than Mortal Instruments Series

And dishes on Jace and Simon!

Megan Vick

Young adult fantasy lovers will get their fix when Shadowhunters premieres on Freeform (previously known as ABC Family) on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Though The Mortal Instruments book series struck out as a big-screen adaptation, Shadowhunters hopes to give the Cassandra Claire novels a third life on a smaller screen.

Former MTV star Katherine McNamara stands at the center of the supernatural series as Clary Fray, a teenage girl who realizes there's a much bigger, and scarier, world than geometry homework and homecoming dances. She's actually a half-angel demon hunter, better known as a Shadowhunter and her life is about to radically change.

McNamara gave TVGuide.com a little preview of what's to come, and why you should tune in to the "dark" new series. Read her Q&A below.

How would you describe Clary for the people that aren't familiar with the Shadowhunters and Mortal Instrumentsseries?

Katherine McNamara: Clary is a strong-willed, short, redheaded, bad-tempered at times, individual. She's very stubborn. The stubbornness comes from her loyalty to the people that she loves. She will do anything for them and do anything to defend them. Through that, she's still young and still learning. She's a heroine but a flawed one. She doesn't necessarily think about the consequences of her actions. It costs her things. It costs things to the people that she loves and she makes selfish choices.

The redeeming quality is that through that, she learns from it. She learns and grows as a human being. She's very relatable to a lot of people.

Find out when Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, and more ABC Family shows return

How will your Clary be different from the book and film incarnations of her that we're familiar with?

McNamara: What's so great about all of these characters is that [author Cassandra Claire] has created such rich personalities for each one of them. They truly have so many elements and avenues of their beings to explore that it made it fun as an actor to see what other elements of Clary to bring out. Something that we were given a real opportunity with on this series is to dive into these characters in every sense.

Each one of them starts off in a sense of a certain stereotype. You have the nice girl. You have the mysterious stranger. You have the best friend. Yet, they are put into these situations and through these scenarios that really make them reveal things about themselves and break their stereotypes. What I love about Clary is that yes, she's a strong, confident individual. Yes, she does start down this path of becoming a fierce warrior. She's loyal to the people that she loves, but she's completely thrown off her balance within the first 10-15 minutes of the [series]. She's thrown into this new world and has to rely on instinct and on her own will to survive to make it through.

How close has Cassandra Claire been to the development of the series and what was it like having her on set?

McNamara: I did talk to Cassie a bit throughout the process. She came for a set visit and it was so much fun to have her there. For me, honestly, right before I met her it was a bit nerve-wracking. She's created this world and these characters and we want her to be happy because she knows them better than anyone else. Yet, we're taking a new perspective and a new, darker interpretation than what's been seen. We have our own perspective on the show that's different from hers.

I really wanted her to be happy with everything. I have such respect for her since she created this world. It was really fun to get to ask her the questions that only she has the answers to and to get her take on the characters and on this world, and use that as another perspective to add in to everything.

VIDEO: This Shadowhunters first look at Clary meeting Jace is everything

How soon will the series dig into the love triangle between Clary, Jace and Simon?

McNamara: I can't reveal too much, but Jace (Dominic Sherwood) [and Clary] definitely have a connection from the moment they meet. Their relationship is very unconventional and takes a lot of twists and turns throughout the season. I love the journey that they take.

The whole Clary/Jace/Simon love triangle is one of my favorites that I've ever seen because the choice isn't simple. Clary can never really choose between the two of them because each of them represents a different part of who she is. Jace understands the Shadowhunter side and he can teach her how to survive in this new world, how to become the warrior she needs to be.

Simon [Alberto Rosende] is her rock. Simon keeps her grounded and understands her human side and understands her better than she understands herself. She needs them both to survive this journey. She loves them both because they each represent a part of who she is. It creates this conflict that fuels a lot of action throughout the show.

What are you most excited for fans to see when they tune into this series?

McNamara: One element that I think is so exciting about the show is the fighting and the stunts. The Shadowhunters are essentially are soldiers. They are tasked with protecting humans from all of the things that go bump in the night. We had a lot of training with all of the different weapons and we all learned how to fight. The show takes such turns. It becomes this all-out battle at times and it truly is life or death in most of the situations. It raises the stakes to a point that makes it very exciting to watch.

How does Clary's fighting skills rank among the others?

McNamara: Dom and Matt who play Jace and Alec on the series are our best fighters. They really dug into it. Their characters are supposed to be the best fighters, the most skilled Shadowhunters at the time. They are parabatai-- which is a concept of our show. They are brothers in arms. They fight as one unit. They have each other's backs. They would come and teach us what they learned so it was a fun experience for me to get to learn with Clary. She is thrown into this. She has nothing but instinct as she's going through this world and she learns slowly how to become a fighter, how to become a warrior, how to use her sword and her other skills to get through these situations. I was very grateful to get to learn with my character.

See who will be playing Clary Fray in Freeform's Mortal Instruments series

Why should people who haven't read the books and aren't familiar with this world tune in to this series?

McNamara: Something that I love about this series are the characters and their relationships. Yes, we take place in this world of fantasy. Yes, half our characters are warlocks, vampires, werewolves or some other myriad of fantastical creature. Even so, despite all of that, these characters are all growing up. They are falling in love for the first time. They are learning who they are and what that means for them and what their place is in the world. [They're learning] who they are going to become as these beings. It creates this sense of objectivity for the audience and allows the audience to be objective in looking at their own problems and see their own struggles through the eyes of these characters. Hopefully, through that we can help people in their own lives get through whatever they are experiencing.

Aside from that, our show is very exciting. We have romance. We have drama. We have terror. We have a bit of comedy. We have hope, love, and loss. There are all these different elements and it is a crazy ride. It's a story that people are really drawn to and can get really attached to very quickly.

Shadowhunters premieres Jan. 12 at 9/8c on Freeform.

VIDEO: The Pretty Little Liars cast teases new big bad