As a star of the popular Freeform series “Siren,” Tammy Gillis was ecstatic to discover that the fantastical mermaid drama was greenlit for a second season. Not only was she eager to explore where the narrative would take her character Deputy Marissa Staub, but she was also excited to return to her on-set family, which includes Eline Powell, Alex Roe, Ian Verdun and many others. With Season 2 currently airing every Thursday, we recently sat down with Gillis to discuss finding her footing heading into the latest story arc, engaging with fans on a weekly basis, and embracing the creativity of the show.
TrunkSpace: Like many series today, “Siren” was shrouded in secrecy heading into Season 2 and an alert would be sounded should any accidental spoilers take place. Does that make this part of your job difficult… promoting a show where the who, what, where and whys need to stay a bit vague? Because honestly, if it was us, we’d be living in fear of saying the wrong thing!
Gillis: It definitely makes it challenging. I always stop and think about it for a second. I don’t want to give any spoilers!
TrunkSpace: With all that said… what can you tell us about what excited YOU the most when you learned “Siren” would be getting a second season and you’d be returning to set?
Gillis: So many things! To see where the story goes. To see where Marissa’s story goes. Does Marissa get a love interest? (Laughter) And most definitely, to work with everyone again! I keep saying it but we are really lucky to have such an amazing cast and crew that have become like family.
TrunkSpace: We read that you went back and watched Season 1 before diving back into your character Marissa. From a character’s arc standpoint, how important was that to you in order to find your Marissa sea legs and where she begins her Season 2 journey?
Gillis: It was so important because I needed to be very clear on what I knew and what Marissa knew. I also created more of a backstory for her so I could add in a bit more of a personal story with her and the other characters.
TrunkSpace: What have you enjoyed the most about getting to explore a character like Marissa over an extended period of time? Does it keep things interesting to learn new things about her as the writer’s explore her relationship within the universe more?
Gillis: I love when the writers add in more information for Marissa. It lets me explore more of my creativity and see how I can weave the new information in with the choices I’ve made.
TrunkSpace: We’re curious, from the first moment you read for Marissa to where we see her today on screen in Season 2, did she change within that span, either because of creative choices behind the scenes or as a character who is simply growing within the story itself?
Gillis: I definitely think she is changing based on the story itself as well as some choices I’ve made. This season she is being forced to step up to a new responsibility – a new authority so that changes my interactions with the other characters. By creating more of a backstory to each of the relationships with them, it gives some conflict with having to carry that new authority.
TrunkSpace: “Siren” is becoming a rarity in that, it’s a series that airs a new episode every week. As a performer, does that prolong the experience for you on the back end of shooting something, as opposed to having it all released at once for the binge-hungry masses?
Gillis: It makes it more fun to engage with the fans. Being able to Live Tweet with them when the episodes are airing is so fun. We love seeing/hearing their reactions. If it was released all at once, we would miss out on that. I’ve been on other series where it was released all at once and you really had no idea if people were watching it or not.
TrunkSpace: Is there something kind of empowering… even subconsciously so… about getting to don a deputy uniform? We’d imagine it’s pretty difficult not to walk the walk or talk the talk from time to time, especially when you catch a glimpse of yourself in all of your authority-figure glory!
Gillis: There absolutely is. Even though it’s just a costume, it feels different and people do treat you differently. When I have the gun belt on, it forces me to carry myself in a different way. I love that costumes can do that for you.
TrunkSpace: For the audience, the end product is always what’s memorable, but for you, we would think the experience of shooting “Siren” would be more important than the final cut. With that being said, what’s been the most memorable aspect of your journey on the series thus far?
Gillis: I love working on set. It is such a collaborative, creative experience and I find that I learn so much from show to show, episode to episode. “Siren” is such a creative show and every episode I love seeing how they are going to tell the story and what the other actors are going to do. There are so many memorable moments but one thing I am very grateful for is Gil Birmingham, who plays Sheriff Dale. He is such a powerhouse of an actor and such a generous, kind man.
TrunkSpace: You grew up in a town of 800 people. When you dreamed of a career in the arts, did it seem attainable in those early days, especially coming from such a small town?
Gillis: Definitely not. I’d never met an actor or even dreamt of the possibility of becoming one because I just hadn’t experienced it.
TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Gillis: No. I like not knowing where the road will lead. There is more possibility in it.
“Siren” airs Thursdays on Freeform.