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Common Law Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Sonya Walger

This is an interview with Sonya Walger on May 23, 2012 about the show Common Law.

Question:
What do you like most about the relationship with Travis and Wes and how it changes through therapy?

Sonya Walger:
I think I enjoy the fact that much as they resist being in couples therapy they're actually more like a married couple than actually any of the married couples in there. So that's really fun is finding these parallels every week between what looks like just two cops and what actually translates to be kind of universal to anyone who is in a relationship.

Question:
There is such a great chemistry between Wes and Travis. When you're on set with them do you notice that chemistry and was it instant when you first noticed it?

Sonya Walger:
Yes absolutely. The guys spark off each other so well and ad lib and improvise and try out different lines. They're incredibly playful, they really are. And it's really fun to hang out with them, it's fun to do take after take because they never do the same take twice. They're always trying out new bits. Particularly as the series wore on they've been doing scenes together day in and day out so they really got to know one another's rhythm and step. So they became even more in sync with one another's lines and stuff as the show went on, really fun to watch.

Question:
I was just wondering about the relationship between Dr. Ryan and Travis and Wes. Does she have a bit of a different relationship with them than some of the other couples on there? And do we see this relationship that she has, this kind of unique relationship, do we see that changing at all during the season?

Sonya Walger:
Yes it is a unique relationship because she has to be far more hands-on with them than she does with the other couples. You know, they require an awful lot more wrangling and managing than the other couples do. And the relationship does change. I think it passes through tolerance to exasperation to fondness to, I mean, I think underlying all of it is a real - she is genuinely fond of these guys and genuinely wants to help them and watches them screw up in spite of themselves. So yes I think the relationship definitely changes as the show progresses.

Question:
You always end up having the most emotional theme in the show. Any emotional moment like that the viewers will enjoy about Dr. Ryan this season?

Sonya Walger:
The boys are required to help intervene with a quite serious situation that arises in her personal life. I'm not going to give away too much but it's nothing like as emotional as the Desmond and Penny reunion. But it's pretty intense for her because then you have personal and her professional and her personal life get intertwined in a way that she is not comfortable with at all. But you'll have to watch and see that episode.

Question:
Has this specific series been different being part of a somewhat lighter series in comparison to some of the more darker or mythology heavy series you've been involved with in the past?

Sonya Walger:
It has been really fun. It's fun to sit in the chair and be the one with all the answers instead of being the one panicking on the other side of the couch. And it's fun to be doing some comedy again. My roots are in comedy, I started off doing comic plays in England and I came here doing Mind of the Married Man which was an HBO comedy. So it's actually really nice to revisit that and just be certainly playful for a change. It's fun and not tearing my eyes out about a tear in the space time continuum.

Question:
Had you spent any or much time in New Orleans before you came here for production?

Sonya Walger:
No, it's my first time in New Orleans.

Question:
How did the shoot go there? Were you in the city and how did it work for you professionally?

Sonya Walger:
Oh our shoot was great. A lovely crew, incredibly kind, sweet people that I encountered. It was fantastic. We had a great time in New Orleans, it was a very, very nice city.

Question:
Did you do any research on your own specific to this character?

Sonya Walger:
Yes I did. She is a group therapist and I didn't know anything about group therapy so I went to visit a group therapist and talked to him. And then he gave me a couple of hours, very generous to host a group therapy session so that I could see how one actually worked. So we got a bunch of actors together, I got some friends of mine and we pretended to be married couples and then he hosted it as a therapist so that we got to see just how it worked and what it is and how people talk and laugh and then I invited the writers to work some material out of it as well.

Question:
What did you learn from that experience personally or the work itself? What is it about that process and dynamic that allows people to find breakthroughs?

Sonya Walger:
I think it's a really interesting and incredibly brave therapy to get involved with. I think one-on-one sessions are incredibly revealing to expose yourself in front of eight other people but also potentially very revealing to have the validation of seven other people nodding and going yes I have experienced that too or I know what you mean and to get validation from your peers, that's a huge part of it.

Individual therapy with the therapist would help too but in group therapy it's very much about all these other people you have no interest in you, who aren't being paid, who are sort of mirroring your experience back to you which seems like I say brave and profound and difficult. And I take my hat off to anyone who does it.

Question:
What have been some of your favorite moments so far from filming Common Law?

Sonya Walger:
Well what are you up to, you're on episode 3 I think. So well the ride-along episode was really fun. It was really fun to get to hang out with the guys because otherwise I only get to see them in therapy so it was just fun just to have days of driving around with them. I felt a bit like a police dog. I felt a bit like a Labrador by the end of that series. I felt like I was just sitting endlessly in the back of the car waiting for someone to let me out. But it was great fun doing that.

And then in the later episodes, the last two or three there is a whole storyline to do with Dr. Ryan's private life that was really fun. It was fun to get out of therapy and be in Dr. Ryan's house and meet her partner and all of that. It was great.

Question:
What do you think it is about the show that really resonates with viewers?

Sonya Walger:
I think there is something fun in watching two guys who go at it head to head discovering that they're just like any other married couple. I think most people can relate to the fact that they have complicated relationships with their best friends or their coworkers or their colleagues. And that if they sat down and examined them they would find that it was no different to the dynamic that they had in their marriage or in their relationship their domestic relationship. But and I think that's a truth that isn't explored all that often but it is just really true, really happens.

Question:
In the end of episode 2 when we get to see the relationship between Dr. Ryan and her son. What part will her family play in the show?

Sonya Walger:
You meet her son and you meet her boyfriend who is not the father of her son who is just her boyfriend. And they both indirectly get her into trouble with the law and the boys have to come to her rescue and help extricate both of them from problems with the law. So you get to meet them, you definitely get to meet them. Not in a very deep way but you definitely get to meet them.

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