INTERVIEW: Elizabeth Saunders on Donna’s Empathy, Conflict with Randall, and Hopes for FROM Season 3
Disclaimer: This FROM interview has been edited for clarity.
Fan-favourite Donna has been through a tremendous ordeal in FROM season 2. Despite having been spared from some of the more gruesome violence and mystical hauntings experienced by other characters, she has had to shoulder the weight of emotional labour for the vast majority of the town residents who are prone to confiding in her about their deepest fears and worries. Actress Elizabeth Saunders shared her thoughts about why Donna plays this role, and her hopes for what’s to come for the character in season 3.
LadyJenevia: Donna is a vehicle for some of the best lines of the show, these nuggets of wisdom. For example, when she’s talking to Ethan and she’s telling him that fear is what helps people to become brave or something to that effect, in your perspective is this something that’s a core belief of hers or is she someone who just has the wisdom to know what sort of advice and wisdom to share when somebody’s feeling afraid and vulnerable?
Saunders: I think it’s a bit of both but I think part of it with Donna is she does have the kind of wisdom to acknowledge when someone needs to hear what they need to hear, but as we know, she has no problem telling people things they don’t want to hear. There is a core belief in there, yeah.
LadyJenevia: I found it interesting that when Fatima tells her that she’s pregnant, the first reflex reaction when Fatima is explaining that she doesn’t know if the pregnancy is real or if it’s the town trying to torture her, that Donna starts laughing. I’m so curious about if that’s something that was in the script or if that was something that you brought out as an actor for whatever reason, because I couldn’t quite figure out if it was just a stress response or if it was something else going on in her head.
Saunders: it was in the script and so I had to find the ‘why.’
LadyJenevia: What is the ‘why’?
Saunders: There’s been so much down, and there’s a flood of excitement and suddenly there’s possibility and it just wells up. Whether it lasts or not, who knows…
LadyJenevia: Donna tells Fatima that a miracle is just the other side of a nightmare. In your mind, was this something that she already believed or is it more of a realisation that she’s come to from being trapped in this town?
Saunders: I think it’s a realisation she’s come to, yeah.
LadyJenevia: The thing about Donna is that we see this pattern now, especially with those two characters, where people come and confide in her when they won’t share something with the people that are seemingly closer to them, whether it’s Ethan with his family or Fatima with the father of her unborn child. What is it about Donna that you think makes people want to confide in her specifically when these things are going on?
Saunders: I think it’s that she innately holds within her character something that makes people feel that she can take the confidence that they they offer. You can give her information. You’re taking a little risk, there might be a bit of hot-headedness, but I think there are some people in life that people just gravitate towards being able to share with because I think they seem to hold some weight.
LadyJenevia: Another big dynamic that Donna has this season is this friction with Randall, mostly coming from his side. He’s very much the instigator in their conflicts. Do you see in your imagination, the possibility of those two being able to come to some sort of understanding? I think that a lot of why that relationship is the way that it is, is just because he’s such a skeptic about what’s going on with the extreme circumstances being what they are. The two of you as performers have such an engaging energy to watch back and forth. I’m just so curious about if we could ever get to see the two of you play of a whole other evolution to that relationship.
Saunders: I think we can, yeah. I think we can. Whether it’s taken that way in down the future, I don’t know, but honestly I think there’s a lot of potential for that. I don’t think it’ll ever be easy for those two but I’d love to play that complexity of… there’s some reconciliation but we’re still banging.
LadyJenevia: I like the idea of if they start to get along but maybe they still bicker a little bit.
Saunders: Exactly, yeah. I don’t think they’re ever going to just become a team that’s easy. If there’s a team between them, there will always be issues. I think those two personalities are not gonna ever be like, ‘Yeah, it’s just the way you are.’
LadyJenevia: There was supposed to be production happening with season three but of course we have the writer’s strike at the moment. Donna is a huge fan favourite; is there anything in just a general sense that you can tease about if season three does get to proceed, the general direction of what could be happening whether it’s for Donna specifically or just the show in general?
Saunders: I literally have no knowledge of the thing, none.
LadyJenevia: Well maybe where you would like to see Donna go next?
Saunders: I would like to see… god, there’s so many directions I like…
I’d like to see where she fits in with the pregnancy. I would like to see how that plays out and how Donna copes with that role. I would like to see more stuff with all my problematic men. I could take whatever the adventure is. I love having the conflict with the guys, and the women too but I have less to do with them. I just don’t have a lot of female conflict in the show. It tends to be with men, I just realised that.
I’d love to see her get stuck in something, like some kind of tracker adventure that she doesn’t know how to handle. I’ll think of something else too after we get off.
LadyJenevia: Well I’m more than happy with that answer so thank you so much for your time Liz and congratulations on the season. It’s been really fun seeing Donna be the one person who holds it down while everybody else is being messy, so I really enjoyed it.
Saunders: Thank you very much.
Watch my FROM interview with Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders here:
Watch my FROM interview with A.J. Simmons here:
Watch my interview with FROM cast members Chloe Van Landschoot and Pegah Ghafoori here:
Watch my interview with FROM cast members Ricky He and Avery Konrad here:
Watch my interview with FROM cast member Nathan D. Simmons here:
Watch my interview with Harold Perrineau and other FROM cast members here:
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