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Q&A: "Bates Motel" Star Keegan Connor Tracy
Written by Felix Kay
Keegan Connor Tracy has been a respected and reliable actor for over a decade. She has worked with a number of luminaries in both film and TV, including Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Josh Hartnett, and Ginnifer Goodwin, and has appeared in numerous features and TV series including 40 Days and 40 Nights, Bruce Paltrow’s Duets, Final Destination 2, and White Noise with Michael Keaton.
Currently, she is portraying the duel characters of the Blue Fairy/Mother Superior on ABC’s wildly successful series, “Once Upon a Time”, and has a recurring role on the A&E series “Bates Motel” as Miss Watson, Norman Bates’s teacher and advisor.
If you think filming two television series isn’t a full enough schedule, Keegan has also been shooting features this year. She graces the big screen in Carl Bessai’s Bloodlines and Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep. Keegan was hand-picked by Redford himself to play the part of his secretary. Of working with the icon, Keegan says, "Everyone asks what he’s like, and I can only say generous, endearing, and ridiculously charming. Even in his 70s – he’s still got it!"
I had the pleasure of speaking with the spectacular Keegan Connor Tracy about “Bates Motel”, “Once Upon a Time”, and more.
YH: You’ve played the role of the Blue Fairy on ABCs hit show “Once Upon a Time”. Now you have a new recurring role on the hit A&E show “Bates Motel”. Tell us more about your new character and what attracted you to this role.
KCT: I love when journalists ask what attracted me to a role, since I’m not nearly as powerful as you think. But I had a thought on a direction for her that attracted me for sure – I thought it’d either be crazy or brilliant. They hired me, so let’s hope it’s brilliant!
YH: Is it difficult to play two completely different characters on two separate shows at the same time? How do you manage a work life and personal life? What kind of challenges do you find yourself coming across?
KCT: I don’t find the two characters difficult – heck, I’m already so many versions on "Once Upon a Time"! (Fairy Tale Land, and Storybrooke before and after curse, Rheul Ghorm). I welcome the challenges of both of these roles, of any roles! The bigger challenge for me is the scheduling, which is mostly insane. It’s a lot of juggling and is the most stressful part of my job in general. Having a normal job with 2 kids is hard enough... this job just ups the ante!
YH: Between the two, which show do you prefer working on more, “Bates Motel” or “Once Upon a Time”, and why?
KCT: Honestly, I love both – how could I not? Especially with so many of my friends and colleagues out of work… I am grateful beyond belief to be a working actor. I must say, though, Miss Watson’s arc has been a wonderful experience, and I have really enjoyed the challenge of playing her, hopefully well.
YH: "Bates Motel" has been very successful. On the latest episode, your character alluded to having “her own troubles" in the past during a conversation with Norman; can you expand on that?
KCT: Well, they never gave me any ideas about what they might be, so as is my process, I have created a backstory for her that I think explains why she is so interested in Norman, why she feels such a strong connection to him. For me, it was about explaining why this teacher was so willing to butt up against or even cross the professional line with her interest in this student. Simply put, I think she had a family life similar to Norman's, which is something she feels she could and should save him from.
YH: Season One of "Bates Motel" is coming to an end tonight. Looking back, what episode did you enjoy filming the most?
KCT: I loved filming the later episodes, as it was an opportunity for me to explore the backstory I had created for Miss Watson. And it was wonderful to play those scenes with Freddie [Highmore] and see how close to the line I could come without it being something that would really offend people, without really getting her into dark, dark territory. But, oh, so close to it…
YH: You recently finished filming the feature film Words and Pictures with Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche. Tell us more about the film, and your character.
KCT: They were kind enough to offer me a role in the film, and as I wanted to be a part of what I knew what going to be a great picture, I said yes! I play one of the teachers who has a very antagonistic relationship to Clive Owen's character. I'm pretty sure people will hate me since they are sure to love Clive in this film. He's brilliant, as always. I knew from the minute I read the script that he would be, and every day I watched him work, he proved me right. And Juliette Binoche just simply shines…
YH: If you had the chance to work with any actor or director, from any era (dead or alive) -- who would it be, and why?
KCT: I think it would be wonderful to work on a giant, sparkling Baz Lurhmann spectacle.
YH: As an actress, how do you feel you have grown and developed throughout the years? Is there anything you would have done differently if you had the chance?
KCT: Well, I think I've grown as a woman and therefore as an artist. I think my process remains grounded in the same roots, but my whole perspective has changed as I've aged, as I've become a mother. My priorities and my goals are definitely different. It's easy to cast backward glances and say what I should have done differently. I think the biggest thing would have been to have moved to L.A. much earlier in my career -- before I was old enough to realize I didn't particularly care for the city...
YH: Last but not least, you have obtained a degree in Social Psychology from the Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. When or how did you make your decision to pursue acting full time? Is there any advice you can give to young actors who want to make it in the industry without sacrificing school or work?
KCT: Well, thank you for noticing. I always wanted to pursue a career as an actor, I just didn’t want to be a waitress (mostly because I suck at it). I wanted to be respected, and I felt having a degree would help that. I don’t know how much that actually worked, but education is never a bad choice. I’d like to do a Masters degree eventually, though in what I have no idea. In a dream world, a degree in Romance Languages or French Literature or Art. Ah, I sigh.
Catch the season finale of "Bates Motel" tonight at 10pm on A&E!

- Felix Kay, YH Staff