Sarah Shahi talks <strong><em>Fairly Legal</em></strong> Season 2
The USA Network has another hit on its hands with Fairly Legal, which returns with all new Season 2 episodes Friday, March 16th at 9:00 PM with Episode 2.01: Satisfaction. Actress Sarah Shahi stars as Kate Reed, who works as a mediator at her late father's firm, Reed & Reed, which is now run by her stepmother (Virginia Williams). Sarah Shahi recently held a conference call to discuss the changes in store for Season 2. Take a look at what she had to say below.

Can you just talk about what we can expect this season in general?

Sarah Shahi: This year the goal kind of was to make Kate uncomfortable actually. We're going to take away her security blankets. The things that she thought that she could rely on the most. You know, like Justin for example. Something kind of big is going to happen there. There's a big reveal in the first episode. It kind of colors the rest of the season for their relationship. Then her boat blows up, Kate's boat blows up, and she ends up moving in with Lauren. And so there's room for more funny situations. But the overall goal is to kind of you know push this character who part of her charm is really in not growing up and not wanting responsibility and being kind of child-like. And to push her hand at you know, possibly being an adult, having to grow up, having you know consequences for some of the things that go wrong at work, which they will this year, and to see how she does. If I know Kate Reed, she's not going to do too well at it. That's the main difference between this year and last year. And also you know, we're building to this really nice little love triangle between Kate, Justin, and Ben.

What have you found most challenging out of this year? Is there something different that you know continues to challenge you?

Sarah Shahi: I think the hardest part of the show for me, it's the hours. It's about 16 hours every day, and that's the challenging part. Tony Shalhoub once told me that you're like a hamster in a cage. You put your head down and you don't really come up for air. Every once in a while you get to come up for air, but then you know you can't get too used to it. You just put your head down and you just keep going. It's the hours really that are the most challenging for me.

What would you say Ben brings to the show aside from annoying basically everyone?

Sarah Shahi: Well yes, he's very quickly become you know a thorn in everyone's side, but with his character comes more comedy, which is always nice. And he is going to spark, you know, something in Kate. So there - so something between Kate and Ben is going to be sparked, you know, between them. We are building to that lovely little triangle. But that's the stuff that I love. You know, it's like I'm really glad that they brought this character in because I'm interested - that's the stuff that I want to see when I watch TV is I want to see what the romantic interests are and what people's emotions are doing, and how that's coloring how they work. And you know what's so great about his character is he's definitely coloring Kate's heart in a different way. Kind of unbeknownst to herself in the beginning. And you know, he's definitely coming in and he's stirring everything up, which is just changing everyone's emotions. So it's nice. There's a lot of payoffs that comes with his character.

Is she ever going to get somewhat happier towards the end of the season, or is she still in her little rut, as I think she calls it with Leo?

Sarah Shahi: I think with her this season, it's really the goal was to kind of show a character that you know goes two steps forward and then three steps back. And then one step forward and then one step. And then she's at zero. And then she's going half a step forward and a full step back. So it's to keep her kind of dancing and to keep her on her toes. I mean you know Kate by nature is definitely a funny character, you know, within those moments of solitude that things go wrong with her. She wants to be happy and she'll find it. It's not consistent. It's going to be very up and down this year.

Do you think that one of the show's biggest appeals is how so many women can relate to Kate?

Sarah Shahi: Absolutely. I've always thought that she was a very, very personal and relatable character. I mean, you know, who doesn't have issues with their parents? Who doesn't have issues with their boss? You know, who doesn't have that relationship that they're in, but then they shouldn't be in? You know, the guy or the girl is oh, so good, but they're oh, so wrong. She's a modern day girl with very relatable problems and that was definitely my goal in playing her is playing her as a woman who, you know, comes across as kind of you know ordinary as possible. Somebody who comes across very simply in their agenda and what they want. Tthat's what I want and I hope that's what comes across.

Are we going to see more development between Kate and Lauren's relationship, and how's that going to play out?

Sarah Shahi: Yes. There is going to be more development between them. That's another one where we're going to take a couple steps forward and then take you know, gigantic leaps back. Kate ends up moving in with Lauren and they are very different people. You know, it's like at the end of the day, Kate I don't think has the maturity yet to accept that this woman did not cause the death of her father, which is the whole reason why Kate doesn't like her. She blames the initial separation of - or the distancing of Dad and Kate - she blames that on Lauren, you know, because she and her father were very close and here comes the other woman, takes Daddy away. No Dad's dead. At this point in the stage, I don't think Kate has the emotional maturity to understand that that's not Lauren's fault. So she's going to pin everything on Lauren still. You know, still enjoy watching Lauren writhe every time she calls her step-mom. But when it comes to the work, when it comes to work, there are few times where Kate and Lauren both come to each other's aid. And you know, Kate is a big enough person in those moments to recognize that - okay, she needs help and I'm going to help her. Because at the end of the day, even if they are very different people, you know Lauren is very pristine and neat, and Kate just kind of comes in and makes a mess of Lauren's place. At the end of the day, they would give the shirt off of their backs to help the other person, because they are family. And you know, if there is one thing that keeps them together, it is the firm and it is Teddy. I think in honor of their father - of Kate's father, she would never do anything that would put Lauren out. It's going to be quite a while before we see full change in their relationship - a full evolvement in their relationship. But there are some situations this year in which they have to come together and help each other. But then the kind of is back to square one, you know.

Kate, Ben, and Justin each kind of have their own idea of what is morally right. How throughout the season will they or will or will they not kind of rub off on each other and kind of have the characters maybe see other perspectives and even take other perspectives with the cases?

Sarah Shahi: Yes. I think they do. They are able to see the other person's perspective. Yes. But then again, you know, that's what's so great about the show is every character is so unique and distinct in what they believe, and so they're not you know very easily swayed. So even for, you know, Justin to see Ben's side, or for me to see - Kate never sees Ben's side. If anything, Ben starts coming more around to Kate's objectives. And you know, Lauren's goal at this point is just to keep the lights on. You know, when a character does become persuaded by another, there's a lot of work involved. It doesn't happen easily. If anything, that just becomes the main objective of that character's story line. But yes, you know, the ideas do start to rub off on each other. But I will say, you know, nobody is coloring Kate's mind. You know, Kate's objective is the show. It's the heart of the show. So Kate never will go over and see Ben's perspective or Justin's or Lauren's. Though, she will you know help them out in a moment. There's a situation that Lauren gets under - Lauren is - she's being investigated for misconduct in one episode, and you know she has her reasons for doing it and Kate kind of goes along with it just to help her. But then afterwards, she definitely you know puts it to her and tells her how wrong and how, you know, inappropriate she was for doing this and how she did put everyone at stake for the decision that she made. So again, you know, it's like other characters will be colored by Kate's point of view, but I don't think Kate ever really becomes persuaded by anybody else's.

When I watched the premiere, I thought that the tone was somewhat more adult in some way. How do you describe it?

Sarah Shahi: Yes, it was. I think the first seasons of any show more or less are kind of a trial period. And the fact that we were - we got brought back to do a second season was great because then we were able to take all the things from the first season that didn't work and change them. And one of the things that didn't work is the show sometimes last year felt a little silly. Sometimes the mediations felt a little silly and it just - you know, we needed to ground it a little bit more. So that's what this season has been about. You know, she's in this adult world, very corporate world, and she's just struggling tooth and nail to not be a part of that.

You talked about maturity, you know, and that being a constant struggle for Kate. How do you balance the need for Kate to grow in her story line and grow up a bit and maintain sort of the naïve charm she uses to be so good at what she does?

Sarah Shahi: In her heart this is a character that's very playful by nature. She's a very spirited person, so it's going to - they haven't really - well here's the thing. It's kind of an easy answer in a way. They haven't really written anything. We haven't really earned Kate growing up. You know, it's like we're only in the second season in, so if we're going to make some really big changes to her personality in that respect, I think it has to be earned and we've got to be a few seasons in. So we can't force our hand and you know join the stuffy adults too soon.

Could you go into a little bit more detail, as much as you can, about what's going to happen between you and Michael Trucco's character? Because I love that connection you guys have. It's a great dynamic.

Sarah Shahi: Yes, and it just gets even better between us. And there's just so much natural chemistry that it's just so - it's so fun to watch. We're going to go through it. You know, he's going to you know drop the hammer on me in the first episode on how he behaved during our marriage, and then from that we're just going to - it's the roller coaster. It's the - we get divorced. Kate becomes a little cold towards him. She starts being a flirtier towards other people, and then they get back together and they're going to try being together. But they're just sleeping together, but they're not really dating. And then he kind of comes to her and he's like, "Okay, well why don't we start dating?" And she's like, "Okay, why not. Let's just start dating." And then there's Ben, and then Kate starts looking at Ben a little - you know, more and starts holding his gaze a little too long. And you know, she goes back and just isn't sure about Justin anymore. And you know - and then - so yes, so we're just going to keep going round and round and round until the season finale.

Tell me a little bit about Leonardo. Are going to get to see more of him and Kate's relationship?

Sarah Shahi: Yes. Yes, we do. You know, we get to see Kate's relationship more with everyone this year, which is nice. But yes, we do. But you know, Leo is - Leo and Kate are kind of unflappable in a way, but they're not going to really - they're brother and sister, you know. He knows her better than she knows herself. He knows what she's going to do before she even does it, and so it's more of that. Their dynamic really doesn't change too much this year. You know, the only difference is Leo is having to serve as everyone that sits in the office, and you know Kate doesn't really like that too much. But - and he has to come to my defense at time with some of the other characters. But other than that, Kate and Leo are you know, true and true.

We talked about with the change in your show and everything that you're kind of aware of what's going on on the set. But do you get to give input a lot? Like with character development and maybe with some of your lines?

Sarah Shahi: Yes, I do. As far as the writing staff goes, not that I'm a writer, but I'm just saying the cast was kind of the only returning members from you know the change in regime. So in the beginning, you know, Peter did rely very heavily on me and the dynamics that were written between the characters, and we did spend a lot of time in pre-production finding the voice and the dynamics. And no, it's not because Peter is such a great writer, such a confident writer that he has no problems with me coming in and changing things or suggesting to change things; he's always taken my ideas and you know, it's a very good, open, collaborative relationship.

I know you said you're not a writer, but is there something that kind of you would just love to see happen with Kate? Whether it could happen or not, just kind of out your own mind.

Sarah Shahi: I would love for Kate to somehow mediate something between Russell Crowe and Slash and have to make out with both of them. I would love for that to happen.

Are there any guest stars you could talk about that are coming this season?

Sarah Shahi: The biggest has been Meat Loaf. Meat Loaf comes by, and he prefers to be called Meat, and he was wonderful. Kate and him kind of go head to head and get into a screaming match, which is kind of fun. I almost matched him in decibels, which I was proud of. But yes, he comes by and he plays a union worker. The union is going to go on strike because the agency that's funding them wants to cut their wages, and Kate kind of gets in the middle and finds out that there's more underneath the surface than what it appears to be. So he comes by and he was wonderful.

You mentioned we'll you see Lauren and Kate move in, and so do we get to see more of them, like I guess out of work?

Sarah Shahi: Yes. There's actually an entire episode that they spend together because they're on a case together. So there's going to be more interaction with Lauren. More interaction with everyone.

And do we get to see anyone else more outside of the office? Do we get to see more of Justin with is campaign a little bit more?

Sarah Shahi: Yes. Justin and the campaign, that comes along and - from the later episodes. And actually, we see every character in their home a few times throughout the season. We go to Justin's, we go to Ben's, we go to Leo's.

Sarah Shahi returns as Kate Reed in Fairly Legal, which airs Season 2 episodes Friday, March 16th at 9:00 PM, starting with Episode 2.01: Satisfaction.

Cinemark Movie Club