La Brea's Natalie Zea Previews 'Hyper-Extraordinary' Times, Lots of Running in NBC Drama's Land Down Under

Eve Harris and her son Josh take a very wrong turn on La Brea, when NBC’s sci-fi sinkhole drama makes its debut on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

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Airing Tuesdays at 9/8c, the adventure series begins when a massive sinkhole opens in the middle of Los Angeles, pulling hundreds of people, plus cars and buildings, into its depths. Those who tumble in — including Natalie Zea‘s aforementioned Eve — find themselves in a mysterious and dangerous primeval land, where they have no choice but to band together to survive. Meanwhile, the rest of the world (including Eve’s husband and their daughter) desperately seek to understand what happened.

Before Zea headed back to the States from La Brea‘s months-long shoot in Australia, she hopped on the phone with TVLine to preview her “hyper-extraordinary” trip a whole other land down under.

TVLINE | During the show’s TCA panel, I thought it really interesting what you said about this being a rare role that’s not about your relationship to a significant other.
I loved playing the significant other over the years and I’m happy to continue to do it, but this is very new territory for me, where the stakes are…. Not that love stakes are low, but they’re just different. The stakes are different.

TVLINE | Eve has truly got to fend for herself, if not for other people.
Yeah. She’s got a very maternal undercurrent, and that manifests itself by feeling the need to take care of everyone, including herself and her son.

Gorecki and Zea

TVLINE | I was thinking that maybe aside from the physical comedy of The Detour, this is one of your most physical roles ever. Were you prepared for that?
I was. I tried to get in really good shape before I left for Australia, because I knew that there would be no time to do so once I got here, so I felt very strong going into it.

Fortunately, most of the more-physical stuff happened on the front end of the season. I run a lot. And I am not a runner! I am not into cardio, my trainer even knows, “Don’t make me run, dude!” So that sucked. [Laughs] And all the running scenes happened in a cluster, and that cluster happened to be during a three-day period where I got pretty sick. I can’t shoot a pilot without getting sick, it’s in my contract. It’s weird. [Laughs] It was sort of a “bookend” situation, where in the beginning and the end there are some good stunts for me, but in the middle it’s just a lot of running.

TVLINE | As the “first five minutes” teaser reveals, Eve falls into the sinkhole with her son (played by Jack Martin), after we see her spend a hot minute with the daughter (Zyra Gorecki). How would you distinguish her relationship with each of her two kids?
You know, I wrote a history for this character, because I had a good year [Laughs] between being cast and shooting it. I got really complex with my relationship with my kids, and of course as soon as I step on set all of that completely left my brain. The short answer is: You’re right, there is just a hot minute with Zyra’s character, Izzy, so a lot of that hasn’t been explored yet, though we talk about her a lot. With Jack’s character, Josh, there’s a lot of guilt that Eve feels, for reasons that we’ll find out. And a lot of that guilt ends up governing her relationship with him and how she parents him. That’s one of the things she has to surmount while she’s on this horrific journey, in these life-and-death situations.

TVLINE | So, we’re not going to get Lost-style flashbacks to, like, a time she told Izzy to take out the garbage and she didn’t?
[Laughs] I’m not going to tell you if we have flashbacks or not.

TVLINE | And how would you describe Eve’s relationship with her husband Gavin (The Night Shift‘s Eoin Macken), who is topside with Izzy?
It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking, because these two people very much love each other. It’s not one of those situations where one of them fell out of love with the other. She has to — and we learn about this in Episode 3, I think — protect herself, so she makes the decision to do that, and that’s where some of her guilt comes from. She puts herself and her kids in a position that ultimately does not pan out for Gavin, so she carries around a lot of the sadness and guilt that comes with that.

TVLINE | Can you tease Eve’s initial reaction to this strange world that she, Josh and the others literally land in?  
She goes into survival mode. We learn a bit about who she was growing up, and some of the skills that she has that may surprise people who know her, because they’ve been dormant for a while. Every character sort of handles it differently, but her coping mechanism is to run into the burning building, so to speak.

TVLINE | What I love — and I pointed this out on Twitter — is that Eve is an office manager. She’s not an EMT, she’s not ex-military, she’s not a cop….. She’s just a regular person thrown into this extraordinary circumstance, so I’m curious to see what she brings to the table.
Yeah! I love that about the character, too. In the beginning I sort of struggled with it, because I couldn’t do much with it. But then I thought, “Hold on, I’m looking at this from the wrong angle.” Leaning into the fact that she’s got this hyper-ordinary existence and gets thrown into this hyper-extraordinary circumstance brings out the extraordinary in her that, again, is part of a past that she hasn’t been able to apply to her current life.

Okonkwo, Zea and Seda

TVLINE | Outside of with Josh, which character dynamic between Eve and somebody else should we watch for?
I really love Eve’s relationship with Ty, played by Chiké Okonkwo (Being Mary Jane), who has become a dear friend. There is some very subtle stuff going on with the two of them. It’s very nuanced, and their dynamic is just very cool. I like it.

TVLINE | Is Eve destined to become the “mayor” of this society?
Politics haven’t even been brought up yet, my God! [Laughs] I mean, I think that she is sort of the de facto leader — she and Jon Seda’s character end up doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to making decisions and calling the shots. But they kind of appoint themselves to that role.

TVLINE | Did Australia behave for you as a production? How was the weather?
Oh, the weather…. I don’t know how winter lasts seven months, but it has been winter from the moment I got here, and I leave tomorrow. Melbourne had the coldest winter on record this year.

TVLINE | So Eve will be wearing layers, that’s what you’re saying?
Ohhhh, you’ll see the transformation. [Laughs] The moment I realized we were in for a cold, cold winter, you’ll see it in my wardrobe.

Want scoop on NBC’s La Brea, or for any other show? Email [email protected] and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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