A conversation with Lindy Booth about The Librarians Season 4 is the icing on my fan cake. After talking to all the boys of The Librarians at NYCC 2017, I didn’t even hesitate to talk to Lindy again after having had a lovely conversation with her last year.
I said it during the NYCC post, and I’m saying it again here. I’m admitting to being a Super Fan. The fact that I get to live out the fangirl dream and ask these incredibly talented, intelligent actors all of my questions is the responsibility and joy of being a GeekMom.
Whether you’re a Librarians superfan, passive show watcher, or just want to start watching because our interviews have sparked a new interest in the show, you’re in for an amazing treat. Starting on December 13, TNT is giving us a double-header two episode season starting event at 8pm ET/PT. As if that weren’t enough? We’re being treated to two back-to-back new episodes on Wednesday, December 20, also starting at 8pm ET/PT. Just because we are the luckiest fans in the world? We even get two back-to-back new episodes on December 27 at 8pm ET/PT.
So if you want to get a little insight (hopefully mostly spoiler-free with the exception of overarching theme discussions and a few non-plot sharing quotes), read more from our interview with Lindy Booth, who plays geek girl extraordinaire Cassandra.
GeekMom: Before we go into some of the next few questions, I’d like to ask you as an actress, and since I’m not one, how do you answer questions about “what your character” would do? If you’re not the one doing the writing, you’re at the whim of the writers, but you still own the character. How do you reconcile those?
Lindy Booth: It’s interesting because I think there’s two different answers depending on what you’re working on. The amazing thing about working on a television series is that at a certain point, and you’ll hear show runners and writers say this, the actor owns the character because there’s so much of us invested in these characters at this point. We play them every episode but have different writers, so the actors become The Guardians of the characters, to use a Librarians term.
We have meetings with Dean Devlin at the beginning of every season where he pitches us the big ideas, but if we have anything that we want to talk about or say that we feel the character would be experiencing that’s open for discussion. Even with our writers, they’re very open to listening to us and our opinions. It is an amazingly collaborative art form. A writer is a writer, and an actor is an actor. But we’re all working together to create these characters and all trying to elevate each other’s work. That’s part of what I love about it, that it’s teamwork.
GeekMom: Looking at Cassandra from the director’s side, since you do get to direct an episode this season, how hard is it to take this character you love and be objective?
Lindy Booth: I think part of the reason why Dean gave me this incredible opportunity to direct an episode this season is because I do look at the big picture. As an actor, I am very technical and very aware of the whole picture and the whole story, not just trying to focus on Cassandra. For me to take that step back and view her objectively was really easy because that was my job, and I love to do my job.
I was also really lucky that they very pointedly wrote a script for my first episode directing that I was not heavily featured in so I do get to step back and I only had to direct myself a couple of times. All those scenes were with the gang, and I was very well supported in that respect. I do look at her objectively. I do look at her with my heart, but I can easily separate those out.
The entire group was so amazing. The crew was incredible. I sat down with Noah a bunch and really picked his brains as someone who had stepped in front of the camera from behind it and what to watch out for. My episode features Jenkins very heavily, and I cannot tell you how great an honor that was for me. [Ed note: if you ever talked to Lindy, she is probably one of the biggest John Larroquette fans out there, and she gets just a tiny bit of fangirl to her voice talking about working with him.]
John Larroquette is someone that I not only grew up loving as a fan but admiring as an actor and comedian. I just love him so much. To work with him this closely was a dream come true. He was so fabulous and supportive. He’s a dream. I love him. He knows it.
GeekMom: When we spoke last time, Cassandra had chosen the risk of life over the certainty of death. Cassandra seems so much more confident and in control of her power this season. How is that decision from last season impacting her in this season?
Lindy Booth: I think it’s actually really interesting. She is more in control, and she has made this decision. There’s this freedom to her now. She’s sort of fearless. She faced death which was a big theme for her from the beginning. She won. She’s been granted a second life and she’s going to take full advantage of that.
During the course of the season, things are going to happen that make her question pretty much everything. One of the big overarching themes this season is the Library and its role in our lives and can we trust the Library. Something happens that throws the Library into question for all of us.
I think the way it affects Cassandra is particularly powerful because The Library is what she’s clung to. Once that gets thrown into question, we see another version of choosing life. Now she’s mortal. She used to always know how she’d die. Now she doesn’t. There’s something scary about that for her.
When all her guards get torn down, there’s something scary about her not knowing what’s going to happen to her now. She becomes more fearful. It scares her to her very core that she doesn’t know what she wants to be and the things she thought she could rely on are now not standing up for her anymore. It’s an interesting journey for her this season. It goes back and forth between this fearfulness and this fearlessness.
GeekMom: One of the themes that struck me is that the Library represents an institution, and we see that Flynn feels responsible for the institution. At one point he notes, “You put your faith in me, I failed you.” Then at the end, we have this discussion, “An institution is only as good as the people in it. That’s us. Trust us.” Cassandra is always this upbeat positive influence. How is this development of people versus institution going to impact her personally?
Lindy Booth: She was so scared when she first came to the Library and so fearful of her own mortality. She clung to the Library as an institution that gave her purpose and the people in it as the family she never had. This throws into question whether the institution is what I think it is and whether the people in are who I think they are.
She’s the most emotionally vulnerable. She really wears her vulnerability on her sleeve and her heart on her sleeve. She really is the emotional core of the group. I think it will surprise people how hard this hits her and what she’s willing to do to make it feel better for herself.
GeekMom: Let’s discuss the tension in this episode (season?) between intellect and emotion. What side would Cassandra fall on and why?
Lindy Booth: Cassandra is a super intellect. She does rely on the facts. The facts are what has gotten her through. At the same time, she follows her heart and leads with her heart. I don’t know. She goes back and forth. At the beginning of this season she’s on the side of intellect and not letting her emotions get her carried away. I think towards the end of the season we see her lean on her emotions and do what’s best for her heart without regard for anything else.
GeekMom: A lot of the NYCC conversations discussed the importance of intelligence in this show and the power of knowledge/intellect, but one of the lines in Ep 1 that cut me to the core was “Wisdom is not the key, my child. Ignorance is bliss.” How do you see this tension between knowledge and ignorance playing out for Cassandra?
Lindy Booth: Yeah, that moment is really powerful. What I love about this show is how smart it is. I love, as a woman, being on a show where the women are not only smart, but they’re tough and fearful. They’re not one thing or the other. They’re all of them. It’s so applicable and so important.
It’s so one-sided to me. The more you know, the better off you are. Cassandra is a student. She’s learned all of this stuff, and she learned from the Library and her friends. Gathering information is such an admirable quality in a character. I’m so lucky to play someone so curious and open to knowledge. I hope knowledge wins. I hope it wins on the show. I hope it wins in real life.
GeekMom: Dean Devlin mentioned at NYCC that Cassandra was written for his daughters, did you know that? How does it feel to be responsible for this?
Lindy Booth: It’s an incredible honor. I’m being given all of these traits that Dean clearly hopes his daughters have. I feel so much responsibility for it, not just for him. I read all my Twitter comments and all my Instagram comments, and I see this effect this character has on people. Not just her intelligence, but I see so many comments from mothers who say that their daughters are inspired to learn science because of her. That’s such a wonderful thing to inspire.
Then there’s her willingness to just be herself, and a lack of caring what other people think of her. This willingness to live in a life that’s undefined by what other people want to put on her. It’s an incredible character. I love playing someone overcoming such incredible odds and playing someone who refuses to be pinned down, who embraces being different. She lives her life full of joy and full of heart. She just lives her life the way she wants to and isn’t afraid of any part of it. It’s an incredible gift to play someone like that. It’s opened my heart and done that for other people. I feel really blessed to be able to play someone like that.
GeekMom: This idea of the multiplicity of Cassandra is particularly important for female heroines. The definition of “strong female character” has been this Buffy-Katniss-physically intimidating character. Cassandra gets to be this multilayered character. What would you tell other writers about writing female characters? She’s super smart, super confident, not incredibly physically strong but can hold her own.
Lindy Booth: She is not one thing. We get stuck when we write and cast characters on one thing. Cassandra is the smartest girl in any room. What’s been important to Cassandra and to our writers as well, has been to not let her be defined by that one casting line. We keep adding to her.
Look at the people around you, no one is just one thing. We all have so many layers to us, so many different shades to us. You can be the nicest person in the world and turn around and for 48 hours, be the most horrible person because something is going wrong in your life. That’s what’s missing, the reality.
We’re not one thing. Stop pretending that we are because that’s when characters get one dimensional, when we ignore the fact that we change, we develop, we grow, and we yearn to be different and break out of our comfort zone. I’ve let Cassandra just to be, to breathe, and to be as many different things as she can be. Let her learn. Let her change. Let her become new things. They’ve been so incredible in writing this character.
One of our writers Kate Rorick [ed note: of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries fame] writes a lot of Cassandra’s stuff, and her understanding of the character is so beautiful. She just lets her grow and lets her be and I think it’s really amazing.
GeekMom: The theme of first episode is clearly something with relevancy to our modern world. There’s a moment when someone notes, “it’s an institution like any other; it can make mistakes.” How do you feel about the possible politicization of this season, but how do you feel this furthers the intellectual conversations the Librarians engage in?
Lindy Booth: The show is not political. I think what the show does so beautifully is that it gives us an escape from the world. You can’t help but hold a mirror up to it. Every piece of art you see, you look for what you need in it.
This season we’re exploring really big ideas. They are very specific to the show. They are all in context of the show. All we can ever do is hope that art creates conversation. You want to have conversations. You want to have conversations with your kids about what that means.
It’s like what I was saying about Cassandra. I love that people are having people having conversations about different types of people because of this character who is not political and we’re not saying anything about her but she creates a conversation. I think that’s what we hope for.
GeekMom: What would you tell parents about watching these shows with kids; what advice would you give about this show and building the idea of intellectual curiosity? What would you tell a parent to do when watching with their kids?
Lindy Booth: When you sit down with your kids and watch this show—that’s enough. You don’t need to force a conversation about this. Sometimes it’s just enough to see something normalized on television. Something like intelligence being fun, cool, interesting. It makes you feel not afraid to be smart just to watch other people doing it. If you need an example of intelligence and the amazing adventures it can get you into, this is why I loved reading. You put a book in front of a kid and you can’t help but be transported. If a book doesn’t work, you can watch this show with cute people—I say kind of cute people—
GeekMom: I think really cute people.
Lindy Booth: —really cute people going out and having really great adventures because they’re smart. Just showing someone an example of that. You don’t need to force it and make it become a lesson. The show is escapism. It is a beautiful fun adventure every week. It can just be what it is, and you just learn by osmosis.
And, if any of you are interested in one last question from GeekKid L:
GeekKid L: How do they make the props so lifelike?
Lindy Booth: We have an amazing props department, and it’s incredible. They really use their imaginations. We’ll read a script and see things in them and wonder what it’s going to look like. It’s amazing to watch these guys. JPD (John-Pearson Denning), our head prop master, is always coming up with things, and it really helps us as actors because they’re actually things we get to play with.
Thanks once again to TNT for giving us the opportunity to have a conversation with Lindy Booth about The Librarians Season 4. Don’t forget that TNT is airing a two-episode premiere on Wednesday at 8pm and 9pm, and then airing two episodes back-to-back Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 8pm and 9pm and two episodes back-to-back on Wednesday, Dec. 27, at 8 and 9pm.