I had a nice time visiting and listening to Merritt Patterson chat about her character Olivia Matheson on ABC Family’s “Ravenswood” with us and other media outlets last week! Such a sweet person!
Here is the transcript from the interview:
Q: How do you feel about Olivia becoming a fan favorite?
Merritt: It’s really exciting. This is all new to me, so I’m very excited and I’m glad people responded well to Olivia.
Q: What did you bring to the role that may not necessarily have been in the script?
Merritt: Olivia and I are really similar, which was great as far as our tendencies and how we deal with things. I think I brought more of a subtle characteristic to her because she is prom queen. And I think when you think of prom queen, you think of over-the-top. It’s in my nature to be a little bit more subtle, so I think I added that to her character.
Q: What can we expect from your character in the first few episodes?
Merritt: Olivia’s kind of in a different social bracket at the beginning of the show, which is why I think she’s a little bit more separate; but obviously, as the curse continues and they continue to find out more, she’s brought together with the other four. She continues to do research on her father’s murder, and she also has a supernatural experience for herself coming up, which is pretty exciting; so I’m looking forward to both those events.
Q: Can fans expect the same twists and turns that Pretty Little Liars is famous for? Do you personally enjoy those elements?
Merritt: Definitely, yes! I think that’s what’s really great about our show and what’s similar to Pretty Little Liars — are the cliffhangers, twists and turns. So you can definitely expect lots of those; and I love that. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and it keeps it interesting. I’m excited, and I think people will respond well to that.
Q: Do you think the subtle sparks between Miranda and Caleb will put a strain on Hanna and Caleb’s relationship?
Merritt: Yes, I think it will. I think the fact that he is in a different town, that would put a strain on any relationship. Miranda and Caleb are very similar. Their characters are very similar, so they get along really well right off the bat, which could be taken wrong from someone else, especially in a different town.
Q: Will Hanna be visiting Ravenswood often?
Merritt: She doesn’t during the beginning. They definitely do keep in contact, it’s mainly over phone conversations, so she is in some of our episodes, but not in person; not yet.
Q: Is there any one particular media – between big screen movies and TV production – that you prefer?
Merritt: No, not really. I’ve always been drawn to film just because that’s what I love. As far as being on the sets and working with people — I love being on a set and being a character and doing a story. Each one is so great because you’re learning about a different character, so you get to learn different aspects that you might not have otherwise known. I’m open to everything.
Q: Do you find it hard to break out of film mode? How do you lighten things up from all of the drama on Ravenswood?
Merritt: Yes, this is new to me—the drama—and the first few episodes were very dramatic. We’re introducing the storylines and the characters, which makes it action packed. That was a bit crazy, but now things have started to get into a different pace. All of the cast gets along really well. So as soon as they’re saying cut, we’re laughing and making jokes which keeps things really light; so it’s really great.
Dis411: What is Olivia’s relationship like with her brother?
Merritt: I think their relationship right now is strained. I think the whole family is strained. They’re going through a lot with the murder of their father, and her mom has been hiding out. She’s obviously struggling, and I think Luke deals with it by being very angry. I don’t think he knows how to deal with it; neither does Olivia, but she’s trying to pretend like everything’s okay. I don’t know if it has fully hit her yet, but I think their relationship is very strained because of that. She doesn’t understand Luke’s process and how he’s dealing with the events. There’s some miscommunication there, but ultimately they’re twins. They’re family and they love each other and they’ll always have each other’s back. I think it’s like any relationship with siblings. I think it’s very up and down.
Dis411: How did you feel when you learned that you had gotten the role?
Merritt: Oh my gosh, I was so excited. It was crazy. When I auditioned for it, I put it on tape in Canada because I’m based in Vancouver, B.C. At the time, I didn’t really think I had a chance, because it was an American television show. Usually it’s a lot harder for Canadians to get on American shows unless they’re filming in Canada; then we kind of have a leg-up, so I was shocked and ecstatic.
Q: Can you tease a bit about the dynamic of the character relationships with one another?
Merritt: We all have stronger connections with different people. Olivia and her brother have a strong connection; and then Luke has a strong connection with Remy, because they’re dating. It’s a bit rough right now with their parents, but they have that. Remy and Caleb kind of bond, you see in the first episode that they’re immediately drawn together because they both want to find out more information on this curse. Then, obviously Caleb and Miranda have a connection, and they’re friends right off the bat. It’s like we each have a stronger connection with someone else in it. In the third episode, I build a stronger bond with Miranda, which was really exciting; I was happy for that. There’s a bit of a riff between Caleb and Luke, because Luke is very protective over myself and Remy. I don’t think he knows Caleb yet, so he doesn’t really know what to think of him. For the most part, we all get along, which is good, because we’re all going through this together.
Q: How much are these new events going to alienate Olivia from her friends and her social standing as the homecoming queen?
Merritt: I think she feels ostracized. She is realizing that the things she thought were important before are no longer important to her. That kind of separates her from her friends and it strains the relationships.
Q: What was it like to film Olivia’s “turning point” when she realized everything is changing?
Merritt: In episode two you see more of the strain on her relationship with her friends and her boyfriend. You see a lot of strain in episode two that she’s growing further and further apart from them because she’s so distracted by everything that’s going on.
Q: Why do you think the town of Ravenswood is treating Olivia so bad after her father’s murder?
Merritt: The town of Ravenswood thinks that our mother killed our father, so the whole family is being ignored and hated. They think that our mom murdered our father and therefore we’re all connected to this murder. I think they’re just putting us out there on our own. Nobody really trusts or respects our mom, and therefore the kids are being painted that way as well.
Q: What do you think it would take to get out from under the bad treatment from the town?
Merritt: I think Luke and Olivia are trying to figure out who murdered their father, because it doesn’t seem like the cops or anyone in the town is. They’re really pushing to find out who did it, so they start to take things into their own hands and they find clues along the way. Once the murderer is revealed, that will obviously help and make people realize.
Q: What’s your favorite aspect of Olivia?
Merritt: I like that she’s a very caring person; she cares a lot about all the people around her, and she’s very protective of them all, and I enjoy that about her. She’s not this crazy popular girl who lives in her own world. Yet she’s still homecoming queen.
Q: How does being ostracized affect her as a person?
Merritt: She’s really floating right now. She’s unsure, grasping for anything at this point because it’s all new. She’s constantly making new revelations, like “Oh, that’s what I used to love – it doesn’t mean so much to me now,” and “Oh, this person that I had so much in common with now feels so different”. So she’s constantly dealing with that. The curse isn’t a good thing, but at least she has something with those five people that she can connect to.
Q: How do you feel about the transition between Vancouver and Los Angeles?
Merritt: I actually have remained based in Vancouver. I have been to L.A. for testing; I did live there for about a month last year during pilot season, but I haven’t done the big transition yet. I was waiting for the right moment. I would love to be down there, but it just hasn’t presented itself yet. I do love L.A., and it’s definitely a different vibe because the entire city is involved in the industry. Whereas, Vancouver, it’s a very small group of people in the industry, so it’s definitely a huge change. I enjoyed it while I was down there, and I would like to be down there again soon.
Q: Is there another female actress you feel could portray Olivia?
Merritt: I don’t know off the top of my head. I immediately think of Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley. They’re the right age bracket and they’re amazing; so either of them could play it really well I think.
Q: Have there been times when you were actually scared or creeped out on set?
Merritt: Oh, for sure! The great thing about New Orleans is that it’s on location, and the locations here are amazing. There’s so much charm and history to this city. We’ve filmed a lot in a graveyard, which surprisingly isn’t that creepy, they’re really beautiful. We have filmed in an abandoned hospital and we heard stories that part of it was haunted. There was water dripping from the ceiling and people have heard footsteps. So there had definitely been a few times we were like, “Oh, did you hear that?” I’m sure we’re getting ourselves worked up, but it’s for sure on our minds.
Q: How hard is it for you as an actress to convey the creepy feeling of the show to the audience?
Merritt: The locations are huge, and they play a huge part because it’s so much easier to get into that headspace and that energy when you’re surrounded by an actual location that adds itself to the scene. That’s helpful, and the writing is wonderful too, so it’s pretty easy, and once we all get into the scene and we start going, we build off of each other and that helps as well.
Q: Is there anyone on the set of Ravenswood that you look up to as a mentor, or get along with really well?
Merritt: We all get along really well, and I think we’re really lucky to have the cast that we have, especially the core five. Everyone’s done a lot and they’re well rounded in all different aspects of television and film. Tyler obviously has been through this already with ABC Family and Pretty Little Liars, so he understands how the whole process works. That’s all new to me, so it’s good to have him and watch how he deals with it. Then, obviously Meg, who plays Mrs. Grunwald, has been in the industry for a while, and she’s really talented. Having her around is really great, and hearing her stories and having her opinions. She’s a really great person to have if you have any questions or if you’re concerned about something, talking to her is really great. She’s wonderful. I actually have a scene with her that we just filmed and it is my first one-on-one scene with her. She’s so intense that she would throw me and I would lose my lines because she was just in my face. It was crazy and wonderful, she’s brilliant.
Q: What is your favorite Disney Park?
Merritt: I’ve only ever been to Disneyland, which I loved. I loved California Adventure. Tower of Terror is by far my favorite. I would like to go to Disney World! I actually had this little girl on our set, Isabelle, who plays Max — She is from Florida and was telling me all about Disney World the other day. There’s a ton of different rides. I love amusement parks.
Q: What’s your favorite Disney ride?
Merritt: Probably Space Mountain. I love that one.
Q: What’s your favorite food or restaurant in the parks?
Merritt: Last time I was there I had pineapple soft-serve and it was amazing. I’ve never had it before and I think I ate two or three; they’re so good!
Q: What’s your favorite Disney character?
Merritt: It’s probably one of the Disney princesses. I grew up watching those movies as a kid, and I loved them. I love Belle; she’s one of my favorites, and Ariel, those are probably my top two.
Q: Is fashion something important to your character and the show in general?
Merritt: Definitely! I think it helps define a character. We’re lucky Blair [head of Ravenswood wardrobe] is so wonderful! I think what Olivia is wearing is helping her and helping me get into her character. I think that goes for all of us. I love Miranda’s outfits, too. I would personally dress more like Miranda, but I have fun with Olivia’s wardrobe.
Q: What’s your relationship to the ABC Family social media now that you’re on the show?
Merritt: I’ve always had a Facebook, and I did get Twitter about a year ago. It wasn’t until the last few months that everything has really started to blow up. During the premiere last week, my Twitter was crazy! It’s kind of overwhelming. It’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s fun, and I feel like I’m getting the hang of it. I did get an Instagram account because of the show. I thought that would be good. I like Instagram because it’s like a little photo diary. I’m getting the hang of it.
Q: What is your Twitter account for everyone to follow?
Merritt: It’s @MerrittPattrsn. Thanks for asking!
Be sure to tune in on Tuesday (November 5, 2013) for the next episode of “Ravenswood” on ABC Family!