Joanna Going has quietly been racking up reliable performances in television and film for over twenty years, from her series regular role in Dark Shadows to the quirky romantic comedy Little City opposite Josh Charles and her well-polished part as First Lady Tricia Walker in the second season of Netflix’s hit House of Cards. With everything she’s done, you’d think there wouldn’t be a stone unturned. But her newest part is unlike anything you’ve ever seen from her before.
In DirectTV’s new original series Kingdom, Joanna plays Christina, the estranged wife of mixed martial arts fighter Alvey “King” Kulina (Frank Grillo) and mother to his sons Jay (Jonathan Tucker) and Nate (Nick Jonas). But Christina’s not your prototypical spouse: she also happens to be a heroin addict and a prostitute. We sat down with Joanna before the Kingdom premiere to ask her about this radical new role and her great career.
“It was really exciting. Really a dream for me,” she enthused. “It’s a part that’s different not only from House of Cards, but pretty much everything I’ve done. There’s like one part I played in a movie that comes close. It was really exciting to be able to do a whole lot of research on drug addiction and prostitution and then dive into that, and also someone who’s not all glammed up and all proper.”
“This part didn’t come with the usual description in the script where she’s sexy and together and she’s strong and confident but vulnerable…she’s a real woman in a real situation, struggling, trying to do what she can to stay alive,” she reflected. “I didn’t feel this onus upon me to look like the perfect woman. I could just look like myself. Granted, I did some work to look like a longtime heroin addict; while everyone else was like packing on the muscle, I was not!”
While you won’t find Christina trading punches like the other characters in Kingdom, Joanna told us there’s still plenty of drama surrounding her. “She and Alvey have been together since she was eighteen or so, and maybe even before that. She had her own ambitions, but went off into life with Alvey and [their] children,” she explained.
“All of that kind of sent her off into her own demons. She’s fighting her own demons. She’s a fighter of a different kind. Everyone on the show’s fighting something.”
Not only does the role allow Joanna to further broaden an already impressive range, she had nothing but fantastic things to say about the other actors in her new cast. “It is an awesome ensemble,” she told us. “I think it’s so beautifully cast. And everybody really brought it. Everybody had to have a huge commitment to do this. All the guys, truly the physical commitment was amazing, and then me and Kiele [Sanchez], who are not fighting, there was still a lot of rawness to what we both had to do. It really felt like we dove in and did something.
“Also, we were shooting out in Whittier out in an abandoned correctional institute. It’s kind of a filthy, grimy, gritty, haunted place and it added so much to the vibe,” she added. “Even though the show takes place in Venice, we were afforded this great abandoned place that has all these different buildings.”
Kingdom gives us the chance to once again talk about Joanna’s talent and her extensive filmography. We asked her which of her many roles she’s most likely to be recognized for. “Dark Shadows, of course,” she said. “That’s not sort of the average person walking down the street, but like on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, it’s the Dark Shadows fans who are so loyal and I love them. And then Inventing the Abbotts, and Wyatt Earp.”
Is there any project that she thought flew under the radar? “There is one that is actually about to have like a re-release,” she continued. “It’s called Still Breathing and it’s with Brendan Fraser and directed by Jim Robinson. It was another of these little movies and we shot it here in Los Angeles and San Antonio, Texas. A large part of it takes place in San Antonio; it’s sort of an ode to San Antonio. It’s a lovely movie.”
You should also keep your eyes open for another of her recent projects. “There’s a film I shot right before Kingdom and it’s called The Sphere and the Labyrinth,” Joanna added. “It’s a low-budget, ultra-low budget movie. We shot it in three weeks and I play the mother of a young man who’s just between graduating high school and heading off to Columbia for college, and who is diagnosed as schizophrenic. it’s sort of a harrowing exploration in watching your child unravel. They’re just completing it now, but it’s being submitted to festivals [and] it’s something I was proud of working on.”
All of these different roles have the added effect of showing how passionate about her work Joanna is, with how fondly she speaks of a variety of characters, and even the many TV shows that she loves as a fan. “Right now, I think everybody should be watching Orphan Black. I just think the work Tatiana Maslany does is amazing. And the hair and makeup people, by the way.
“Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I would say go back and start at day one and watch Buffy. That was huge, and I was not a child when I was watching Buffy. I love that show, I love how Joss Whedon writes for women, and just the development of that show.” Whether it’s her characters or someone else’s, it’s clear that this is a woman who just loves the telling of a good story.
Now with her heartbreaking, infuriating, and always attention-grabbing performance as the troubled Christina in Kingdom, this talented and thoughtful actress is front and center in another great story of her own.
Kingdom airs Wednesdays at 9 PM ET/PT on DirecTV. For more with Joanna, be sure you’re following her on Twitter (@JoannaGoing1).
(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.