Posted: 06/07/2010


Interview With Kate Lang Johnson of NBC’s Persons Unknown


by Laura Tucker

Film Monthly Home
Wayne Case
Steve Anderson
The Rant
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
The Indies
Film Noir
Coming Soon
Now Playing
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Interviews TV

Sometimes when I’m interviewing someone, my kids could absolutely care less. Yet other times, it makes me their hero to know that I’m talking to someone that is cool in their eyes, so that then makes me just as cool, or almost just as cool. I had the chance to speak with someone this week who both my kids were excited about. My 13-year-old daughter realized that Kate Lang Johnson had been in a Drake and Josh episode, and once my 17-year-old son realized that this was “Jennifer” from Fired Up!, his jaw dropped. I resisted his pleas to put a good word in for him.

I did share with Kate, though, that my kids were impressed with me talking to her, and she told me the Drake and Josh episode is one of the things she’s most known for. In fact, it impressed even her little brother. Because of that, and just the type of character she played in the episode, it became one of her more favorite roles to date. She’s played many roles, and as she explained it, has been a guest star on just about every series out there, as well as being in a number of films. Having had her start in the theater, she really enjoys series that are filmed in front of a live audience.

Kate’s newest role is on NBC’s new mystery/drama Persons Unknown, premiering June 7. In this series seven strangers are abducted and dropped into this abandoned town and have no idea how they got there, who’s responsible, or why they were the seven that were chosen for this. Once they start to wander around, they realize that there are cameras all over and that they’re most likely being watched. Kate plays Victoria “Tori” Fairchild, the party girl of the group who doesn’t find this at all unusual at first, as she’s used to waking up in random hotels. Just this time, she’s not sure how she got there.

I had read that Tori had one of the best lines of the pilot. Of course, that just leaves me wanting to know more. I asked Kate if she would share that line with me, but she’s not even sure what it is, feeling like it could have been any number of things her character says. I’m guessing it has something to do, though, with her party girl character waking up in a strange place, and having it not be so odd for her.

To prepare for this role and others, Kate does journaling as the character. She puts herself in the shoes of the character, writing down a whole lifestyle and history as she sees it. It just helps her delve more into it. Thinking of myself as more of a storyteller at times than a writer, I asked Kate if she ever did any other writing, but she doesn’t, interestingly enough. Just the journaling. Even still, I bet those journals would be an interesting read, both in finding out more about the characters and Kate herself.

Hopefully Kate will get the chance to play Tori beyond the thirteen episodes that are already in the can. That’s the only commitment NBC has so far for the show. Yet, it’s such a mystery, to figure out why they’re being filmed, why they were abducted, why they were the ones chosen, etc. Kate told me at the end of these thirteen episodes, the mystery will be solved, yet there’s an opening left for the series to be picked up possibly. It can either end as is as a mini-series, or they can pick up the story where it left off. This answer, of course, just leads to more intrigue.

I have to admit I had originally recorded this interview so that I could write it up later, and was very upset to find out the recording didn’t work this time, and I was left with blank airspace. But the reason I’m most upset about this is that I’m not left with the number of good quotes Kate had. Her intelligence really came out in our conversation, and I think it played into the number of different guest-starring roles she had. I had been thinking it would take a substantial intelligence to play all these different types of roles and do it so well, and our conversation just seemed to back that up. By the end of our conversation, I was just as impressed as my kids.

Catch Kate Lang Johnson on the season premiere of Persons Unkown June 7 on NBC.

Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, provides reviews at Viewpoints, and provides entertainment news pieces at Gather. She is also an Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at

Got a problem? E-mail us at