(CBS Local)- Coroner’s second season on The CW is well underway and viewers have seen Dr. Jenny Cooper, played by Serinda Swan, continue to unpack the emotional trauma of having learned that she killed her sister when she was young and her dad hid it from her. Adding to the emotional stress is the fact that Jenny’s house now includes Liam, Ross and Jenny’s dad Gordon all under the same roof.
Those emotional and personal stressors are ones that the audience can relate to, particularly in this time. With episode 3, Crispr Sistr set to air Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on The CW, we caught up with Swan to see how she prepared to unpack these emotional moments for Jenny, Liam and what she hopes the audience takes away from her character’s arc this season.
RM: Your character, Dr. Jenny Cooper, is going through many things both personally and professionally which I think a lot of people can relate to. How did you prepare to dive deeper into those different aspects of the character in Season 2?
SS: I don’t think I was preparing for 2020, we shot this last year, so it was interesting because I was like wow, this is really relevant to what’s going on. I think the humanity that is seen in Jenny is something that is really resonating with people. I think the fact that she’s cracked not broken and that, sometimes it’s that zero to 60 where you see, ‘I struggle with mental health,’ and she’s either silent or talking normal and then she’s screaming. And you’re like, well, there’s a range here.
I think the freedom that I have been given Jenny to kind of explore that is the same freedom that I have been giving myself. Like ‘you’re not perfect, you’re not perfect,’ you know? There are all of these things that I tell her and I love that she brings out the artistry in me for really wanting to have that type of representation on screen and show that you can have a complete and total meltdown and then get up and do your job. There are all of those, you are a multifaceted human being. So, there’s days where I’m like “aahhhhhh,” but then there are other days where I’m writing and just like ‘oh my God I have enough free time to be able to develop this. It’s the positive and the negative and I don’t have to pick one side or the other, and that’s her. She’s all over the place and I kind of love that about her.
RM: You have mentioned that cathartic aspect of playing this character and I wonder is there any particular area or aspect of her experience that resonates with you?
SS: It’s interesting. I think the freedom I give her to where she’s really moving into a place of not judging herself like ‘no, no, I’m doing this for me.’ She’s like I have done everything for the past 30 years of my life for other people. Since her sister died, she just conformed and went into very Type A, very keep it in line. For Season 2 and Season 3, she’s starting to unwind in a way that is amazing and terrifying for her. And really, as we get into Season 3, we see her really start to put her forehead down and engage.
I like that. And it reminds me to not take myself so seriously sometimes. And to not worry about getting it right all the time. I have just as much of a right to succeed as I do to fail and I have to make sure I give myself both sides of that coin.
RM: As we get further here into Season 2 we’re starting to see some of the dynamics change between Jenny and Liam. Liam has all that he’s carrying with him through his PTSD. As you went through the dynamics of that relationship and bringing that relationship to the screen, how did it speak to you and how do you see it affect the relationship overall?
SS: I think it was really important to me going through Season 1 that look if you’re going to say he has PTSD then we need to show it more than just pointing at it. And they (our writers) were like, yes absolutely it’s something we plan to do in Season 2. And that’s so important to me because I think sometimes we have these things where we’re like ‘see? representation’ and you’re like okay but now what?
You can’t have the same character and then just plug something on top of it. You’re like ‘no but now it’s that.’ But no, it has to change. You have to get into it and be willing to commit. If you’re going to be giving Jenny anxiety and panic, I said you have to let her have a anxiety attack. And then, you have to script in two minutes because if I do a panic attack in 15 seconds, I’m not doing justice to the person that has a panic attack. If I’m showing representation and going, this is what panic attacks looks like and somebody watching goes, I’ve never seen that before, wow it was about 15 seconds and then she was totally fine. Or, it was about two minutes and they’re now upset, oh God, how terrifying. I was like, no we need to normalize mental health.
Going into it, looking at Liam and being like okay, PTSD is serious and it has a spectrum. Just like mental health, just like physical health. There is a runny nose and then there is cancer. Where are you within that realm? For him, within Season 1, he has sort of a good control at that point or I like to say suppression. He suppressed it quite well. But, in Season 2, you start seeing Jenny not willing to go into her own trauma so she’s picking at Liam’s trauma and trying to find the truth out for him. That’s where we start to have a problem with the two of them because they’re in Season 1 great because they’re kind of this numbing agent for each other. But, they do love each other so much so in the second season we start to see them come up against each other by being there for each other but not there for themselves. That really kind of opens the door for what he’s seeing and what he’s experiencing and how that will affect him. But, not only him, it’s the people around him as well. That happens with PTSD. It’s not just a solo experience, although it can make people withdraw. I thought it was an interesting aspect to bring into the two characters and a realistic one and a messy one. I’m all for messy when it comes to TV shows because my life is messy right now.
RM: And everybody’s life is messy right now, to your point earlier, it’s resonating with the audience in that way. And speaking of the audience, as they watch Jenny go throughout the rest of this arc to that person that you mention in Season 3 is more forward facing and moving forward with her life, what are some of the main takeaways that you want them to have?
SS: Well, I think bringing it back to messy. Messy is okay. Right now, I would be doing press in New York or L.A. and we’d be in a studio. Now, we’re on Zoom, we’re trying to get our lighting right. Are we wearing pants? Are we not? We’ll never know! It’s real messy. It’s life and I think there’s days where it overwhelms me and knocks me on my butt and there’s days that I put my head down and I go for it. I think that’s Jenny this season. I’m really lucky to have the two coincide and to be able to use that paint even though real life paint I feel like it’s finger painting right now. (laughing) Just put it on let’s go.
But, yeah I think I’m excited for people to be able to see that normalcy. And I think the normalcy is we find the normal in the unnormal. We find that sort of simplicity in the complexity. And I think, that’s something people are resonating with with the second season. Yeah, it is dark. It is heavy. But that’s life right now and it’s okay. You don’t leave it being like, oh that was depressing. You’re like, yeah me too Jenny me too! It has that kind of effect.