I’ve been a massive fan of Kate Siegel’s since 2016’s Hush and that enthusiasm for her talent has only grown since the release of The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor and now Midnight Mass. Given how much I admire her work, it was the ultimate treat to have Siegel on Collider Ladies Night to learn more about how she got started in the industry and how her craft evolved from project to project.
Siegel plays Erin Greene in Midnight Mass. She grew up in the small, isolated community on Crockett Island, but ultimately made the move to the mainland. However, she eventually comes to decide it’s best if she returned to Crockett to build a new life for herself and for her baby-on-the-way there.
During our Collider Ladies Night conversation, Siegel shared a good deal about her earliest inspirations, her experience studying acting at Syracuse University and how she almost switched to a career in international finance before meeting the person who’d wind up changing her life on screen and off, Mike Flanagan. During our chat, I asked Siegel when she first realized that Flanagan brought the best out of her as an actor’s director and she immediately pinpointed the day they met. It was for an audition for a Flanagan film that never wound up being made. She began:
“I met Mike for the first time in an audition setting, and it was nine pages of sides. This was when I was deep in the grind where it was like, I was going out three to four times a week and things were getting close, but nothing was catching on fire and I was in a real athletic mindset where I was like, ‘What do I do to achieve what people want and how do I practice?’ Very linear in my thinking about being what somebody else wanted me to be.”
Siegel loved this particular script, so was prepared and eager to do whatever necessary to score the role:
“I really wanted this part and I worked really hard to do it right and be a good girl and get an A+ on this audition. And I went in and I did the nine pages, and he gave me a direction and I do the nine pages again. Generally speaking, with an audition that size, you get about two or three takes. They don’t have an hour to work with you. And we’d finished and I felt the room — the tinders were smoking, but I hadn’t caught anything on fire, and I was really beating myself up in my head and I didn’t want to get out of the chair. I didn’t want to leave because I loved the script so much.”
Turns out, it wasn’t time for Siegel to leave just yet. Flanagan had one more note for her and it’d wind up being a note that would change the game for Siegel going forward: “Mike looked at me and he kinda sat there for a second, and he was like, ‘Can you just do one more?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ And I was waiting for the notes he was gonna give me, and I was preemptively nodding because I was like, ‘I’m a good girl and I will take this note and I will do a good job.’ And he looked at me and he waited until I stopped nodding, and he said, ‘Can you just do one just for you?’ And I was taken aback because I didn’t know what that meant. I had forgotten. And something in me was brave enough to take the amount of time, which felt like an eternity, was probably two minutes, and figure out what it was that I wanted, and my acting changed forever on that day.”
Trust me when I tell you this is one of many moving and inspiring memories Siegel shared on Collider Ladies Night. To hear more, check out our chat in the video at the top of this article or listen to the full conversation uncut in podcast form below. Siegel also revisited working on an epic jump scare in Hill House, explained the evolution of Midnight Mass from novel to Netflix show, and offered up a whole bunch of spoiler-filled information on the final two episodes of the series.
Kate Siegel became an artist to give a voice to the voiceless. As a child, she turned to stories to articulate the emotions that she felt at any given moment. That purpose has guided her throughout her career as she’s solidified herself as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after scream queens.
This September, Kate stars as Erin Greene in the much-buzzed-about new series, Midnight Mass. Now available on Netflix, Midnight Mass follows an isolated island community that begins to experience miraculous events and frightening omens after the arrival of a charismatic, mysterious young priest.
Pop-Culturalist was lucky enough to speak with Kate about Midnight Mass, how the series tackles fanaticism, and the scene that she’s most excited for fans to see.
P-C: How did you discover your passion for storytelling?
Kate: I was a very sensitive child. I had a lot of emotions that I couldn’t name. My literal vocabulary didn’t expand past things like “sad”, “happy”, “sleepy”, which are the words we teach our children, but I always felt a combination of those. Sometimes I felt sleepy and happy, which we learn is comfort and things like that. Through stories, I was able to say to my mom, “It feels like a big ogre is chasing me,” when I was feeling anxious. It brought me so much relief that I wanted to be part of it and a part of that lineage of storytellers that help people to express themselves.
Actress Kate Siegel has collaborated with director Mike Flanagan for almost a decade now. She appeared in the 2013 Blumhouse-produced Oculus, a terrific supernatural and psychological horror film about the breakdown of a family and the trauma that lingers on years later.
Her first lead role came in 2016 with Hush, which she also co-wrote. It’s a single-location home invasion thriller in which Siegel portraits a character we actually care about: Maddie, a young deaf writer who must endure, while alone in her isolated house, the presence of a killer (John Gallagher Jr.) whose motives and plans aren’t clear.
Siegel also had a starring role in Flanagan’s first Netflix miniseries: the acclaimed The Haunting of Hill House, based on the classic Shirley Jackson novel. Siegel plays the adult version of Theodora, one of the five children of the family that was forever marked by their stay in the haunted titular place.
Flanagan is easily one of the most exciting horror directors working today; by now, his approach to genre storytelling is recognizable. His new seven-episode limited series Midnight Mass, now available on Netflix, also deals with tough, worldly themes – including regret, addiction, faith and death – while strikingly playing with a quintessential horror mythology.
Here Siegel gives life to Erin, a pregnant woman who has returned to her hometown, moving away from an abusive relationship. In the small, secluded Crockett Island, the inexplicable is about to happen.
Screen Anarchy chatted with Siegel about Midnight Mass, her and Flanagan’s evolution, Stephen King’s high praise for their work – not for nothing Flanagan adapted Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep – and much more. You can watch the conversation below.
The Haunting of Hill House and Hush actor on playing a fearless mom-to-be in the unsettling new Netflix series.
Kate Siegel usually brings trouble. In The Haunting of Hill House, she was the icy and disruptive Theo, the middle child of a cursed family, whose extrasensory abilities (and cutting sarcasm) made closeness with other people an impossibility. In the follow-up show, Bly Manor, she played the faceless, vengeful spirit Viola, who for centuries glided through the old English home while trapping new souls in her orbit of anguish. Even as the hero of the 2016 thriller Hush, starring as a deaf author stalked in her remote cabin by a slasher, her character is tougher—and more brutal—than her would-be predator assumes.
Each of those was made with her writer-director husband, Mike Flanagan, who has a penchant for tapping into his wife’s dark side. But their latest project together, the new Netflix series Midnight Mass, gives her a much different role to play: the nurturer. Siegel is sweet and sunny school teacher and single soon-to-be mom Erin Greene, whose warmth, unflappability, and basic decency provide stability in her small fishing village when bizarre “miracles” start to upend the island.
“When Midnight Mass came around, I said to him, maybe for the first time in my career, ‘Mike, I have to play this part. I know this woman,’” Siegel says. “I had just gone through two pregnancies, and I was dealing with focusing on some trauma in my life that I was working through. And I was like, I think I can bring a certain amount of joy.” The actor describes Erin as someone who “crawled through broken glass, left an abusive relationship,” and ended up back in her tiny hometown, pregnant and soon to face the otherworldly. But Siegel felt she could bring something additional: “a single ray of sunshine of hope from being at rock bottom.”
Flanagan says that perspective brought vitality to a story that sometimes veers into deep darkness. “Erin is going to be a mother, and she’s one of the only things on the island that represents new life and new birth,” he says. “Everything else on Crockett Island is kind of rusting away. All the young people have left, and everyone who’s trying to keep this island alive are slowly dying on the vine.”
Erin is one of the few people to show kindness to the island’s prodigal son, Riley (Zach Gilford), when he returns after serving time in prison for killing a young woman in a drunk driving accident. He can’t forgive himself, but he finds comfort in Erin’s welcome. She’s also a woman of faith, and when a new Catholic priest, Father Paul (played by Hamish Linklater), arrives on the island, bringing a series of inexplicable miracles with him, she’s at first as entranced as the others. But she’s also among the first to realize something is wrong. In a series full of twists and reversals, even the audience knows Erin is someone whose judgment can be trusted.
“Kate, as an actor, has been waiting and ready for a character like Erin for years,” Flanagan says. “This has a warmth and a vulnerability and a softness that she’s never gotten to play before. And in a story as dark and cold and hard as this one can be at times, that’s a wonderful thing. I think we needed it.”
Siegel, 39, spoke with Vanity Fair about the long and fraught journey to making Midnight Mass, her awkward early years in the film industry, and how her partnership with Flanagan changed her as an actor.
In the spring of 2020, writer/director Mike Flanagan and producer Trevor Macy assembled the ensemble cast for Midnight Mass, a Flanagan dream project that’s been years in the making. The cast was set, a table read was meant to be the precursor to shooting, and it seemed the project was finally happening.
Then, as we all know now, the COVID-19 pandemic happened, shutting down film and television production for months. That summer, Midnight Mass became one of the first major productions to resume work in North America. By that point, it wasn’t just about making a good new horror miniseries. It was, for the cast and crew, something more personal.
“I think we all felt like that’s where it became personal for us,” Midnight Mass star Rahul Kohli told SYFY WIRE. “Now it is our passion. We love this man [Flanagan] to death. We will go to hell and back for him. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that we get the seven episodes in the can for this guy. We love the project, we love the script, and what that meant was none of us backed out. No one backed out.”
Even without the new rigors of pandemic protocols applied to production, Midnight Mass was always destined to be a massive undertaking. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Flanagan veterans like Kohli, Kate Siegel, Annabeth Gish, Samantha Sloyan, and Robert Longstreet, as well as newcomers to the “Flanagan Family” of actors like Zach Gilford and Hamish Linklater, Midnight Mass sets out to deeply immerse the viewer in the lives of the few dozen residents of Crockett Island, a small community that seems to be constantly receding.
The fortunes of the community, known affectionately as “The Crock Pot” seem to shift suddenly and perhaps miraculously with the arrival of two figures, one new and one familiar. The familiar one is Riley Flynn (Gilford), a recovering alcoholic fresh out of prison for an accident that cost a young woman her life. Riley’s story is immediate evidence of the emotionally challenging tale in store for Midnight Mass viewers, but for Gilford, coming aboard a Flanagan production for the first time was an exercise in simply engaging with a very fulfilling script.
An isolated island falls prey to evils both human and unholy in the genuinely scary horror drama, Midnight Mass, written and directed by Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor).
The seven-part tale opens with prodigal son Riley Flynn (Friday Night Lights alum Zach Gilford) returning to his coastal home of Crockett Island after a prison stint for causing a fatal DUI crash. At the same time, the community is visited by Father Paul (Hamish Linklater), a new priest filling in for their ailing pastor.
As miracles — or would that be omens? — begin to occur, the locals zealously flock back to church, while Riley, his childhood friend Erin (Kate Siegel, above, who is married to Flanagan in real life), and an ostracized sheriff (Rahul Kohli) begin to suspect they may be witnessing the unimaginable…and otherworldly.
“It’s about faith versus fanaticism,” teases Siegel, who’s careful to avoid any spoilers. “[This show] is going to drop into people’s laps and they don’t know what they’re going to get.”
Siegel did, though. The story “has been brewing for Mike for almost as long as I’ve known him,” she says. “He’s like, ‘I’m leaving this show behind for my children.’ When they ask him things like, ‘What’s good and evil?’ and ‘What happens when we die?’ he can point to the show and say, ‘This is everything. This is my feeling.’”
Kate Siegel is one of the stars of the highly-anticipated series ‘Midnight Mass.’ The actress spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HL about Erin Greene’s feelings about faith, her impression of Father Paul, and more.
Midnight Mass is the best new show of the year, hands down. Kate Siegel is part of this incredible ensemble cast as Erin Greene, one of the residents of Crockett Island and a local schoolteacher. HollywoodLife got the chance to speak EXCLUSIVELY with Kate ahead of the show’s September 24 premiere about Erin’s journey.
For Kate, playing Erin has allowed her to showcase the strength in being vulnerable. She opened up about Erin being a “reluctant hero” in the beginning, Erin’s feelings about the mysterious Father Paul, and how Midnight Mass affected her own personal faith. Read our Q&A below.
Each character in any Mike Flanagan project is so multi-layered and nuanced, and that’s definitely the case with Midnight Mass. What was it about Erin that made you want to play this character in this story?
Kate Siegel: What I love about Erin is that she’s your reluctant hero at the beginning of the story. You think it’s about two men facing off on different sides of the religious spectrum — an atheist versus a priest. By the end of the show, you’ve got your ragtag group of heroes that you never expected. I’ve played a lot of very sharp, tough women, and I love them. I love them without reservation. But the challenge of Erin was to let go of the idea that I have to be sharp and sarcastic and quick-witted to be considered strong. You can be vulnerable and strong at the same time, and I just love Erin for that.
There is absolutely strength in vulnerability. Erin embodies that completely. Father Paul comes to Crockett Island, and he seems to be great. What is Erin’s initial view of Father Paul?
Kate Siegel: I think Erin is entranced by him. His homilies hit to the core of her. She agrees with his interpretation of the Bible. She loves the way that he personalizes it for the island, and it feels a bit like he’s speaking directly to her. I think she’s inspired by him initially.