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.
When we begin this story, how is Erin feeling about her faith?
Kate Siegel: Erin mentions that her mother was religious, but she herself was never a churchgoer. She calls herself a heathen. “I am the godless heathen,” she calls herself. Erin didn’t come to the church until she came back to the island after her time away, so she’s been there for a few months. I think Erin has a budding faith, a brand new understanding of God and religion that is bringing her comfort. It was always the case that the Erin we meet is a moderate Catholic and believes in religion, and I think through the whole course of the show, Erin never turns her back on what she believes to be God and what she believes to be faith.
I have to say, my grandmother called me a heathen for not joining the church when I was 13…
Kate Siegel: You can just picture Erin’s mom saying that to her, and I love the fact that she comes to faith later in life because the decisions you make, the friends you make, the choices you make in your 30s and 40s, those are informed decisions that you’re making from an adult place. I think it’s beautiful that after what Erin has gone through as a child and as a young adult, she finds comfort and safety in the church.
When you’re older, you’ve realized who you are. I feel like in order to fully understand your personal faith, it would take that kind of time to develop.
Kate Siegel: I think it takes bravery. I had a lot of prejudice about what I thought people who went to church every week were like. In preparing to play a character who went to church every week, I went to church. I met more people who were in touch with the type of faith that Erin has, where they’re still like me, politically leftist, they still have their own moral compass, but the community in the face of the church brings out the best in them. I think those people are sometimes brushed aside when we talk about fanaticism, when we talk about people who are extremists and allow their understanding of God to excuse their cruelty. There is a whole other section of the religious community that are good kinds of people who are truly loving their neighbors as they love themselves.
Over the course of this journey with Midnight Mass, did you find your views changing or evolving when it comes to faith?
Kate Siegel: I want to answer this question as honestly as I can within the understanding that I believe faith to be one of the most intimate facts of a person. What I will say is that Erin prefers a structure to her faith that I don’t. But Erin’s understanding of God and understanding of a higher power is something that I really resonated with. It wasn’t until after I performed Erin, until I got the chance to watch the show, that I think my personal faith was affected.
Why do you think this time and place that we’re in was the right time for Midnight Mass to be out in the world?
Kate Siegel: I think there’s always a time and a place for truth, and that time and place is always. The level of truth that the entire team in putting together this show, achieved from Mike Flanagan to Michael Fimognari to Trevor Macy to the cast to the crew to everyone on the production team, people mined the well of their truth. I think what resonates with people right now is honesty, the honest representation of how these voices feel about this situation. And that specificity and that honesty allows people to imagine themselves in that situation, allows people to use this parable to help them process the trauma of the pandemic, help them process traumas in their childhood, help them process trauma of rejection. There’s power in the simple truth that this show seems to have in spades.