Samaire Armstrong plays Elaine Richards on ABC’s hit series Resurrection. Samaire is probably best known for her role in HBO’s Entourage, in which she played Emily, and for playing Anna on Fox’s The O.C. Recently I sat down with the actress to talk about her Resurrection character, her well-travelled upbringing, and her life off-set.
Samaire’s character on Resurrection is a strong woman; she’s an assistant bank manager, and the sole emotional and financial support for her younger brother Ray since her father Caleb’s death. Emily’s life has left little time for social life. Caleb was no prize even when he was alive, and when he returns from the dead early-on in Resurrection’s first season, it is little wonder there is tension between his father and daughter.
Samaire called Elaine’s family relationship “complex.” And with Caleb returning, “Elaine had to reconcile where he stood in her life.” But Elaine really feels no responsibility for her father, and must do what she has to do best for her family–for Ray and herself. Now that Caleb is gone again (he disappears from a jail cell towards the end of season one), Samaire is excited to see what’s in store for her character.
“Last season,” she told me, there was a “divide between people who were in favor of the return and those not.” This season, after the stunning season finale “will be a journey for Arcadia residents to try and figure out where they stand.” Unlike others in the town, she has no one directly in her life now among the returned. So, Samaire explained, things are different for her than many others in Arcadia.
Samaire has an interesting background. Born in Tokyo, she has lived in Kyoto and on the Big Island in Hawaii, among other places. Growing up, she said,“I always yearned for an adventurous life, never realizing I already had it! I didn’t realize how amazing my childhood was, growing up in Japan.”
“My parents were adventurers,” she told me. “They never wanted to live within a countries borders, and often were invited to these countries to [do] research.”
Living around the world has also had an influence on Samaire as an actor. “It’s made me very adaptable to new situations. People who get uprooted have to learn how to engage and open to new experiences all the time. Be aware of new dangers and experience. It has helped me to engage in my career fearlessly.”
On a more practical level, she noted that that being exposed constantly to new situations has helped her “gauge human behavior. Read their body language, as well as what they’re saying.” These, of course, are key tools in the actor’s craft.
Part of growing up in an Asian culture was, from a very early age, to learn the martial art of judo, which included a type of sword fighting, and she would love to use that skill in her acting career. We joked that maybe Emily might have the opportunity to use it in an episode of Resurrection. Who knows what secrets Emily has beneath that competent, yet fragile demeanor, right?
One of the more quirky characters Samaire has played in her career was on a episode of the great 1990s conspiracy/paranormal series The X-Files. In the episode “Lord of the Flies,” she played a young woman in love with a guy who was part fly! “Oddly enough the writer of that episode (Thomas Schnauz),” Samaire noted, “has written some episodes for Resurrection as well.” Of course The X-Files was a fertile ground for some of this decade’s most creative and successful television creators, including Howard Gordon (24, Homeland), and Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad, on which Shnauz was also a writer/co-executive producer).
Noting that Resurrection has been tapped for “15 or so” episodes this season, she said that its rare these days for any series on the networks to go for a 22 or 24 episode season. She agreed that fewer episodes was much better for storytelling, eliminating the need for “filler” episodes,” also giving viewers a constant flow of new shows all year round.
On her time away from the studio, Samaire has cultivated her passion for fashion and clothing design. “I learned to sew when I was a little girl,” she told me. She loves fashion and clothing and had made a pact with herself early on “never to wear the same outfit twice,” and she has made a habit out of finding fabrics to use from all the places she’s traveled.
Once she started “doing the red carpets,” she began to play with new designs and created her own line of clothing called Naru, which, she explained means “becoming” in Japanese. “Evolving,” she expanded. The designs are not necessarily Asian in design, but the name refers to the “evolution of life.” She said, “It’s a passion for me.” Although, Samaire noted, she has much less time these days to devote to her fashion line.
Like so many of us, these days, Samaire is active on social media. She especially loves Instagram, she said, confessing that, again, like many of us, she is on it far too often! She is also on Twitter, and has been known to live Tweet and communicate with fans through both social media platforms. Her Twitter and Instagram handles are identical: Samaire_Samaire.
Resurrection airs Sunday nights on ABC at 9:00 p.m. ET.
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