Roan Curtis plays young Kate in Netflix’s Firefly Lane. The final episodes are currently streaming.
I had the chance to catch up with the actress for part 2 of season 2 and discuss what she was able to take from set, filming the last scene of the entire show, her friendship with Ali Skovbye, the gift that the character of Kate gave her, and much more. Keep reading for our conversation!
I feel like just giving you a round of applause right now because your performance this entire series, but especially part two, was amazing.
Roan Curtis: Oh my God, thank you. I mean, it was hard and, at times, arduous in terms of the emotional nature of the season or this part of the season, but we had a lot of fun too. Those moments of levity really like helped with the harder stuff.
Well, I’m gonna ask you about the fun stuff first. I loved everything about the Romeo and Juliet play. Talk to me about doing that sort of fun storyline in the middle of everything.
It was such a blast because I did tons of Shakespeare. I did theater in high school and it was one of those things that I think during — I learned to love doing Shakespeare later on as I got older, but I think when you’re younger and you’re given that super dense text, you’re like, “Oh, this is so much,” and it feels like so insurmountable at times, and all of your teachers will be like, “You’ll need this someday,” and you’re always like, “Girl, when?” It was so amazing to have all of that Shakespeare that I did in school and acting classes outside of school, all this stuff kind of come into play. And it was so great because I actually had done Romeo and Juliet when I was in the eighth grade, it was the first Shakespeare I had ever done and I played Juliet.
It was actually funny, it was one of those funny life imitates art thing, but it was one of those moments when as I was performing it, I felt for the first time like I really had grabbed an audience. I felt this rush that was so palpable in the moment as I was doing it, and so to kind of get to revisit that on the other side of things with Romeo and also having it be this thing where Kate really gets to feel that moment of recognition and success was so resonant with me because I had experienced it with Romeo and Juliet when I was like a similar age too.
I can’t imagine what it felt like for you to have that full-circle moment as an actress on a show like this.
Yeah, totally. Also, it’s funny because Shakespeare has such a cadence and a kind of a clip to it and, obviously, it’s an iambic pentameter and whatnot, but I think it’s so funny because of that kind of rhythmic nature to so much of it, it sticks in your head. As we were doing it, I was feeling parts come back to me where I was like, “Oh my God, I remember this,” and I would go to scripting and be like, “That was right, right?” And they’d be like, “Yeah, you got all of that.” I mean, obviously, I came with my lines learned, but it just started to flow out of me at a certain point, so I’d run over and be like, “Was that correct because it kind of felt like it was coming from this place deep in my subconscious,” and they’d be like, “Yeah, that was word perfect,” and I’d be like, “Okay, I still got it.”
Did you get to take home any props from set after wrapping?
I feel like I kept some wardrobe because there were some great ‘70s bits that were just vintage pieces that you’re just never gonna find again, so wardrobe was very kind and gave me some stuff. There was a lot of stuff that had to become archival. So like Kate’s glasses, they needed to go into the archives and live there. One of the gifts that wardrobe gave me at the end was a Tully Hart Girlfriend Hour t-shirt that was really cute. I don’t think I stole anything, I think I’m too much of a goody two shoes, which is very Kate of me to be far too afraid to snag anything from the set. I’m trying to think if there’s any props, but I honestly don’t think — I feel like aside from the glasses, there wasn’t anything that felt like it really encapsulated my character and of course, they’re iconic, they have to go live somewhere very safe, not in my home. So yeah, I don’t really have like a ton in terms of props, but I definitely have a lot of costumes.
Yeah, that’s very interesting to think about what goes into the archives. But those glasses are an iconic part of the series.
Yeah, maybe someday somebody else will revisit them and they too can struggle with keeping them up on their face.
I know this is an emotional question, but I imagine the last day on set was probably a very surreal moment for you. What was that like?
Well, I remember what the last scene we did was, but I’m also trying to remember what else happened that day and I think on that day, we actually filmed us driving away, like that scene of us driving away and waving goodbye as we go off to college. That day had that actual scene and so, there is that feeling of bittersweetness, and when we were saying goodbye to Chelah, Paul, and Quinn, who played Bud, Margie, and Sean, it felt so real because that was the last scene we were gonna do together. But [on] the last day, we were the last scene of the entire show, so it was with us that wrapped up the entire show and it was so sweet.
I mean, they brought out a big cake with mine and Ali’s faces on it. I think Ali’s mom actually organized that, which was very sweet of her, and I was a puddle because I think the thing is, especially because we filmed 16 episodes in succession, you’re spending so much more time than you typically would. You’re almost spending what would be the equivalent of two seasons worth of episodes on this one season. We’d spent 10 months together by the end of all of it and that’s family. You’re seeing these people more than you’re seeing your partners, your kids, everything. And so, it’s so hard to say goodbye knowing that you’re never going to replicate that exact experience, and [for] Ali and I, it was so emotional for us because like, I am waterworks to the nth degree, I am a crier. I feel like I actually have cried the last time that we spoke. I can’t remember, but there were tears that day.
But it was like one of those things where Ali and I, in particular, have grown so close and knowing that we’ll probably never get to… I mean, there’s a good chance we’ll probably work together again just because we want to so badly, but I think that we’ll probably never get to do something like this again. This is so singular in getting to play best friends and have that friendship be the center of this kind of narrative, and that feeling of kind of loss and sadness when it comes to knowing that that’s the last time we’re ever gonna get to be this way together. Of course, we hang out all the time and I love her so much, but I really miss that dynamic of getting to show up to work every day and hang out with my best friend.
I really miss her, I love her — and I don’t miss her, I see her all the time. We live in the same city and we were just on a trip together, but I just think that that’s so special and that’s the saddest part about leaving a project is knowing that you’re never gonna be in this combination of people in this story, in this dynamic ever again. I mean, I don’t know, who knows, but I think, saying goodbye to the way things are is hard.
You and Ali are going to work together again, I’m manifesting it. What would your dream project be for the two of you? What genre would it be? Who would you want to play?
I love comedy, I’m a comedy girl. I mean, I love drama, but I feel like that’s where kind of the origin of my love of performing started is in more comedic stuff. So my dream, I mean, I have jokingly said to her, I was like, “I’ll follow you anywhere. I’ll be your weird best friend forever. You go be the leading lady in a rom-com, and I’ll show up and be like, your Krysten Ritter, your Zooey Deschanel, your kooky best friend for the rest of my life.” But I think I would love to do like a Someone Great-esque, lady-driven kind of rom-com, coming-of-age thing. That would be my dream. I mean, I think that would be so fun, and yeah, doing something, honestly, kind of similar. I feel like we got to have so much fun being best friends. Though, we have always joked that if we ever work together again, we probably will play mortal enemies just because that’s the way the universe works.
Could you imagine going from best friends to enemies? That would be hysterical.
Oh, honestly we would have a blast. We would have so much fun playing adversaries, but it’s funny, even in the scenes where we had to yell at each other and fight, we’d go all out and then I’d be like, “It’s good. I know it’s not real but it feels kind of real.” And she’d go, “Yeah, it does feel kind of real,” because we never, ever fight. I mean, I feel like it’s not in either of our natures to be fighters, but we just never have any conflict. So, when you’re in that state of physically yelling at somebody that you just never yell at in real life, it can be a little jarring. We’d always like check and be like, “It wasn’t real?” “It wasn’t real.” “I love you.” “I love you,” good.
What was your favorite scene to film in part 2 of this season?
I would say my favorite scene to film was “Mandy,” when Khobe, who plays Coop, we do the dream sequence. That was so fun and he was so nervous because that was actually his voice. Winnifred, who’s the director, told me. I was like, “Can I hear? Can I hear what playback is gonna be?” She was like, “No,” and I was like, “Really?” She was like, “I want you to be surprised.” And I was like, okay, didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know he could literally sing like Barry Manilow. He sounds exactly like that, people thought it was a recording of Barry Manilow. It was Khobe. And so the first take, I think we used a lot of it because I was genuinely shocked and it was so funny because Winnifred kept being like, “Bigger, bigger, more bodice, more teenage girl’s fantasy.”
So, we were having such a good time and we totally fell into it. Khobe was so nervous but was doing such a good job and we ended up just having so much fun with it, and Ali in the background just hysterically sobbing was hilarious. We just had so much fun with that one. It’s also just such a fun reprieve from reality and all the difficult stuff that’s going on in the other timelines. I feel like it’s so fun to have this kind of fantastical, over-the-top song and dance number.
I want to also ask you about working with Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke. I mean, both of them are so incredibly talented. Did you get any advice or learn anything from watching them?
I mean, they’re both incredibly talented, both comedically and dramatically, and I also think that it’s really cool because they’re both women who’ve been doing it since they were young — well, they’re still young, but since they were teenagers, both of them. So they’ve been in the industry for a really long time, which is interesting because as have Ali and I, so it’s really interesting to see what all that experience amalgamates to, and the professionalism and the ease with which, I mean, I don’t know if it actually was easy or no, but the ease with which they make it seem like they do their jobs, and how naturally it comes to them.
So I think that there was a real beauty in kind of getting to watch how they conduct themselves leading a show. I think that that is such an important skill in and of itself. Being a great actor is great and important, but I also think that being a great coworker and a joy to have around is so integral and they’re both that, and watching how they would show up. Sarah would go through the set and she’s like one of those people who has an incredible memory for details about people and would be like, “How’s your kid,” to everyone and knows everyone’s names, knows everyone’s partner’s names, and really brings the energy up. Katie is such a professional and comes in and just is ready to work, gets it done, and is so wonderful to be around while doing it.
I just think that that’s such a great example to have been set for Ali and I, because it’s a really great example to set up how you lead a show in that sense, like as number one and two on the call sheet. I think that that’s a skill that not everybody possesses, but thankfully, they both do in this effortless way in which they still have so much fun and they’re still such consummate professionals, and I just love them both so much, both as actors and as humans. Not everyone wants to impart their wisdom on you and they really, I feel like, both took the time to be really, really good to both of us, and I appreciate that so much.
When it comes to Kate as a character, did she give you anything? I mean, I imagine playing a character for any amount of time, especially with this sort of story, you learn something or take something away.
Funnily, I think that one of the greatest gifts that I took away from all of this with regards to Kate and what she taught me, specifically the younger version of Kate, because when we started the show, I was playing a 14-year-old, is I think it was very healing for me to go back to my teenage years. In my teenage years, I was so insecure and tried so hard to be somebody I wasn’t I think a lot of the time because I just wanted to be accepted, and I sacrificed little parts of myself and put little parts of myself on the shelf in order to gain acceptance. I felt like the ugly duckling of my friend group and I felt like the one that boys didn’t like or, you know, any of those metrics by which we give ourselves value.
And I think that when we started the show, I don’t think I could fully process that and the pain that comes from that place and being that sad, insecure young person. I think that almost through reliving that for a character who, despite being relentlessly bullied and truly people are cruel to her a lot, really maintains a sense of self and that’s something that I wish that I had done more as a teenager, and that would be my advice to — every time I talk to teenagers, like my parents’ friends or my siblings’ friends about what I would go back and do, I’m like, “I would have just unabashedly pursued everything I liked to do and liked everything I liked out loud, and I wouldn’t have measured my value based on the opinion of men, what the prettiest girl at the school thinks, or whatever.”
I think that going back and reliving all of that through the eyes of somebody who was very unabashedly themselves was incredibly healing and allowed me to kind of revisit certain parts of me that I didn’t remember as well and be like, “Oh God, this is kind of who I was in high school, I just didn’t show it,” you know? I think that that was beautiful and incredible because I’m 26 now and so, I think that it’s really easy to put that in a box and be like, “That’s in the past. It’s fine.” But it’s nice to kind of be forced to reckon with your inner child in that way and deal with those feelings of discomfort, and then move through them.
Also, seeing where she ends up and knowing that being that person, you can find love, acceptance, and friendship and somebody who sees you for you, and knowing that it’s not as bleak as it sometimes feels. On the other side of that, there is an incredible life waiting.
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