'The Strain's' Latest Victim Discusses "Beautiful, Emotional" Goodbye

"I had a feeling that a lot of the main characters wouldn’t make it," the departing series regular tells THR.
Courtesy of FX

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the season two finale of The Strain, "Night Train."]

Despite sticking around until the bitter end in the novels on which The Strain is based, Nora (Mia Maestro) suffered an untimely fate on Sunday when Kelly (Natalie Brown) infected her, stealing Zach (Max Charles) in the process. With no options left and a final farewell to Eph (Corey Stoll) under her belt, Nora's death was an actual shocker when she laid down her sword on the subway tracks, electrocuting herself before becoming a strigoi. 

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the actress and singer-songwriter to find out when she knew her time with the show was up, what it was like playing an ethical woman in a world full of vampires, and what's next. 

When did you know Nora’s time was up?

We knew around midseason, or maybe towards [episode] eight or nine. ... I had a lovely conversation with [showrunner] Carlton [Cuse] and we talked about it. It was really sad, and we knew the character would be very much missed, but she had a lovely arc and life within the series. It’s great that she goes out in that beautiful, emotional and shocking ending.

Knowing her fate in the books, did you expect to stick around longer?

At the very beginning of the series maybe, but then the way it had been written and developed, which is quite different than the book, I had a feeling that a lot of the main characters wouldn’t make it. There was always the possibility of it happening, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise.

Did doing the flashback episode the week before help bring closure to her story?

It’s nice to know the backstory between Eph and Nora, just to go back and see how they met. It’s also nice just to go back to a time when life was normal. That closes the whole storyline a bit more and hopefully it didn’t give away that something like that was going to happen in the last episode! But I think it was quite unexpected for a lot of the audience. But it comes with the kind of show that The Strain is; the main characters just don’t always make it.

Was it poetic that of all the strigoi it was Kelly (Natalie Brown) who infected her?

In a way. Nora had been a substitute mother for Zach the whole season, and of course everyone was just waiting for that fight between the two women. It does make sense and I think it’s lovely that Nora decides to take her life with her own hands and didn’t expect anyone else to do it. She knew Eph wouldn’t be able to do it, so it’s a lovely choice from the writers to go that way, just to lay her sword down on the tracks and go that way. 

What can you say about that progression from season one when she didn’t want to kill anyone?

As a doctor she was trained to save lives, so the first part of season one, it was only a few days since The Strain had passed. She had a very ethical point of view on killing patients. And after her mother died she overcame that and was the first one to take care of those situations. You saw a lot more of the warrior and fighter in her. My dream for Nora was to become this extremely skilled fighter, like this incredible vampire killer. But somehow the writers and producers decided to have this more, stay-at-home kind of mom to Zach, and so in a way I’m just pleased that if that was the color that they wanted for the character, it’s nice her story ended the way it did. The show has a very aggressive, sci-fi kind of vibe that the audience loves, and there’s not so much room for an ethical character or a more humanistic woman, and that’s the way they had written her.

How hard was it to say goodbye to your cast mates?

Everything has made us close; we spent a lot of time in Toronto. Except for Natalie nobody was from there. So in a way we were all coming together in Canada and we’d see each other a lot and go out a lot. So we became very close. It’s been a beautiful project and I’d been in it quite intensely for the past two-and-a-half years, since I got cast in summer 2013. It’s a big chunk of your life. But it’s lovely to do other things and move on. I just finished a lovely arc on Scandal, and that’s been exciting to just jump in.

Could you have done the role on Scandal had Nora not died?

I don’t know about that. They were pretty cool about letting their actors do other shows if there wasn’t a scheduling conflict, but you just never know. It’s different if you’re not married to a show anymore. The possibilities of casting and doing other projects are much more open.

What can you say about that role?

I can’t say anything. Anything. It’s a total surprise.

Was it something you auditioned for?

No, no I didn’t. I just got offered the role, which was really lovely.

What else is coming up for you?

I’m joining Damien Rice on his South American tour in the next month. I’ll be opening for him in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Colombia. It will be fun to switch gears into music. Then there are some projects in development when I get back in November, but nothing I can say right now. It does look like it will be a wonderful winter. 

The Strain returns for season three in 2016. Are you sad to see Nora go? Sound off in the comments below. 

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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