I spoke with Tina Alexis Allen about Outsiders. Tina plays Shurn in the WGN America hit series. Shurn is dealing with the loss of her son, which Tina portrays beautifully and compassionately. It was wonderful to speak with her and find out more about Shurn and the series. Make sure you check her out in Outsiders, which airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on WGN America.
Lena: Congratulations on the renewal. Outsiders season two!
Tina Alexis Allen: Isn’t that so exciting! I had a pretty good felling about it once week one, two, and three happened and they seemed to hold the audience, which is an important thing after the premiere. I was hopeful but until it’s sure, you are not sure.
Lena: I love all of the fan support that the show receives.
Tina Alexis Allen: Right! It’s obviously brand new, so you never know how quickly people are going to come on board, but I’ve already noticed at least three or four fan groups. Fingers crossed that it will continue.
Lena: We met your character in such a tragic way. What a way to start out the series.
Tina Alexis Allen: I know. It was very intense.
Lena: When Hasil (Kyle Gallner) delivers the news of Tice’s (Danny Mooney) death Shurn reacts to Big Foster Farrell (David Morse) the way that everyone should, by going after him with a hatchet. [Laughing.]
Tina Alexis Allen: [Laughing.] Absolutely! Well, I think that it’s pretty clear that he is accountable. Obviously, Shurn doesn’t know what the audience knows about the specifics of what happened to Tice. It was his bright idea to take him down there on the run and of course that is all she knows. She’s certainly holding him accountable. No one has really got the real story so this is going to continue on, in terms of her need for revenge and to make things right, through the end of the season. With only four episodes left, it’s going to unfold—all of the feelings that Shurn has and it’s going to go somewhere quite interesting and, I think, a bit unexpected.
Lena: What do you think is going on in her head right now? How do you think she’s dealing with the loss of her son and everything else?
Tina Alexis Allen: Obviously, Shurn is not married. There isn’t a backstory yet that we’ve been told, but clearly the son is an only child. He’s the only immediate family that she has. I think that being taken away is something so profound that it is initially just debilitating. I also think, like most gigantic emotions, that it’s never just one thing. I think, at this point, what is going on in her mind is that she has nothing to lose.
Lena: She’s a really easy character to relate it. You just feel her and feel for her.
Tina Alexis Allen: Thank you. I think that for Shurn coming out of the gate with such a huge emotional arc to explore, I think that everybody can relate to loss—it’s such a universal thing. The shock, and how quickly it comes upon her, is a lot to deal with. I think that’s a very distinct loss when you expect someone to go, say if someone has an illness or something, even though it’s still very, very painful you have time to process. I think the shock of it, and the visceral quality of the way we live, creates a very animalistic reactive way of being, which I think Shurn definitely feels a lot. She’s like the rest of the clan—reactive and with no cover. There is no cultural cover on Shurn.
Lena: It’s funny that you brought up her being single because Outsiders Frenzy wanted me to ask you if there is anything going on between Shurn and Krake (Mark Jeffrey Miller)?
Tina Alexis Allen: [Laughing] Not yet. Season two could hold all kinds of things. I think Krake might have a little thing for Shurn. We are definitely, as the next four episodes unfold, our relating to each other is going to increase. We are, sort of, going to be investing in each other and in getting back Big Foster and getting control back to the clan because things, as everyone can see, are way out of control with him. He’s turning our world upside down and we are not going to have it.
Lena: Outsiders Frenzy also wanted me to ask you if you think Shurn considered the potential consequences of her actions towards Big Foster, especially now that he’s Brennan?
Tina Alexis Allen: Absolutely not. I think right now the emotional and mental state is two-fold, one is that Shurn has nothing to lose because the greatest loss that could possibly ever happened has now already happened, so there’s that. There’s also I think a deep understanding, a maternal quality, that Shurn has over the clan. I think that, in a way, if someone is going to stand up to him her not having something to lose is one aspect, but the other aspect is that these are also her family members and she doesn’t want it to happen again. I think there is a certain quality of her being willing to throw herself across the railroad to make sure that it doesn’t happen to anybody else. I think that’s her mental and emotional state right now. She doesn’t really give a shit. [Laughing.] And also, it’s about making something right and that’s relative to the way that they’ve been brought up. It’s not that I think Shurn is necessarily revengeful as much as I think she’s more of a mama bear and willing to go to any lengths to make sure that this doesn’t happen again to somebody.
Lena: David Morse is great at playing bad guys. [Laughing.] [I’ve still never forgiven him for that season of House M.D. No one does that to House. ]
Tina Alexis Allen: He’s incredible. We’ve got some interesting exchanges coming up that I’m really excited about. We just had so much fun. If you are going to do conflict with someone, David Morse is right at the top of the list. We get to do that together in these episodes that are coming up. I’m really excited. It’s just so much fun to play with somebody who is that good. [Laughing.]
Lena: What is he like out of character?
Tina Alexis Allen: David is a beautiful man. He’s a beautiful human being. He’s actually very gentle and seemingly very peaceful. He’s incredibly kind and was somebody that was very aware, I feel, at all times about the well-being of the set, the well-being of all the actors—from people that were there as extras all the way down the line. I think he’s a really conscious, loving human being.
Lena: That’s so wonderful to hear. Hasil’s Hunnies wanted me to ask you about filming that hatchet scene with David.
Tina Alexis Allen: What’s interesting is that I had just come onto set. Shurn gets introduced in that episode. I literally had just gotten to Pittsburgh and came to set and there we were in the middle of this conflict. David joked with me when he first met me that the hatchet was going to be real. He wanted me to be careful with it. I didn’t have any time to spare so I just gave him an evil eye and said, “You better watch it.” I knew I didn’t have a lot of time to get in as much as I wanted to like—oh, I love your work and all that. There was no time. There was just, you’re the bad guy and I know the circumstances, and you fucking killed my kid. That’s where were at. He was a bit playful and I would wink and nod back, but I was also needed to get into the work pretty fast. That scene went on all day. That scene, as you can tell from watching it, has pretty much the whole cast in it. I don’t know how many times I had to do that scene because I lost track. I just stayed in a little bubble and lost my son about thirty times that day. It was intense, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was very satisfying.
Lena: Shurn makes some really fantastic faces. When Foster was talking about his new queen, oh how I loved her face at that moment.
Tina Alexis Allen: Right! That’s one of the things that I love about Shurn. She doesn’t have a cover. She’s not hiding anything. I love that about her. It’s so in the world we live in, you know, we have to put on a lot of faces to get through our day and our life and Shurn doesn’t. That’s the beautiful thing about feeling that there is nothing to lose.
Lena: What would you miss the most and least if you had to live off the grid?
Tina Alexis Allen: The thing that I would miss the most is my iPhone. [Laughing.] I’ve become so reliant on it. It’s also fun. Technology is fun and very creative. Traffic is what is would miss the least. It’s an amazing world just going to set and disappearing in the land. It’s incredible and I remember one night shooting, we had night shoots for the first time so I hadn’t been out in the “forest” before and I remember going to set and it was lit up with these big globes in the sky above us. They were like gigantic lanterns that glowed. It was amazing because it illuminated the set but it did it from a natural place, like the moon. I remember, at one point, when I got down to set and I was just standing there in the mist of the forest and night and thought that it was like a dream come true. Who gets to stand in the middle of the forest amongst this beautiful terrain and work? It’s, kind of, mind blowing and it’s also very grounding to be so primal and get to work.
Lena: They did an amazing job casting the series.
Tina Alexis Allen: Oh, it’s incredible. The ensemble that they put together is truly special. The chemistry, I feel, between everyone is very, very strong. I just can’t wait to see what they are going to do next season, you know, where it’s going. It’s really fun.
Lena: The last episode ended with Li’l Foster Farrell (Ryan Hurst) trying to kill himself and then members of the clan deciding that they are going to go against Big Foster. What can you say about the next episode and what we have to look forward to for the rest of the season?
Tina Alexis Allen: We are firmly committed, those of us that you saw in the last episode in that scene, to making things right back on the mountain at whatever cost—we are willing to go there. I can say for sure that Shurn is very much leading the group, in terms of her protestation and her insistence that Big Foster needs to be removed as Brennan. That’s the commitment and now we’ll see what happens. [Laughing.] He’s not going to like it and we’re going to have more conflict. Let’s just say that. I feel that Shurn is not going to take his shit.
Lena: I do hope that Sheriff Wade Houghton (Thomas M. Wright) makes it to you guys at some point.
Tina Alexis Allen: I think that would be inevitable. Right? For sure, that’s where we are headed. You have to have the conflict of the down below and up above. The next four episodes are amazing. The season finale is fantastic, so I think the fans are going to be really excited with what’s to come.
Lena: Thomas M. Wright is a really great actor. [He was one of the best things about The Bridge.]
Tina Alexis Allen: Sadly, I haven’t gotten to act with him. Most people in the clan up on the mountain haven’t. I’m, kind of, rooting secretly for Shurn to go on an ATV and go down to town and realize who is actually responsible for Tice’s death. We had a joke running in the makeup trailer about how come none of the girls got to ride the ATVs. How come only the guys get to go and have all of the fun? We were in agreement that if somebody was going to get to go on the ATV it should be Shurn.
Outsiders airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on WGN America.
Follow Tina on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TinaAlexisAllen
Like Tina on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tina-Alexis-Allen-817235468404931
*Special thanks to Outsiders Frenzy and Hasil’s Hunnies for their questions.
Photos: Bobby Quillard