Last week’s episode of ABC’s drama “Quantico” finally revealed who among the class of young FBI recruits was behind the show’s multiple terrorist bombings. And for star Yasmine Al Massri, it was more of a relief than a surprise.
“We had to live with the possibility of literally each one of us being the Voice,” Al Massri told TheWrap, referring to a phone call recorded with the presumed terrorist. “Every time we did ADR [post-production dialog recording], they asked all of us to read the lines for the Voice. I can’t tell you how scary that is.”
Every episode of the ABC drama’s first season – which ends Sunday – put a new character through the ringer, raising suspicion that they could be the one behind the terrorist attacks. For Al Massri, who stars as twins Nimah and Raina Amin on the series, every day of shooting the 22-episode first season was like playing “Russian roulette,” with each episode aiming the gun at a different one of her cast mates.
The actress said the revelation at the end of last week’s episode that Liam (Josh Hopkins) was the terrorist was a disappointing thing for the cast and crew. “To say goodbye to one of our family was the hardest thing about it,” she said.
Read the full interview below, in which Al Massri talks playing two characters, representing Muslim women on screen, and teases what’s coming in Sunday’s finale.
TheWrap: What was your reaction to Liam being the terrorist?
Al Massri: We’ve been playing Russian roulette with that since the first episode. Literally every episode was like pointing the gun at everyone’s head. Since we had the chance to shoot 22 episodes, We had to live with the possibility of literally each one of us being the Voice. Every time we did ADR, they asked all of us to read the lines for the Voice. I can’t tell you how scary that is. How much pressure and how much tension. Every week we had to be reminded it was one of us. … So knowing that it was Josh was not the shocking thing creatively, it was a total relief. But it was heartbreaking, disappointing. Because we grew to be a family. To say goodbye to one of our family was the hardest thing about it.
In last week’s episode, Raina makes the decision not to leave the FBI. Can you explain what was going through her mind at that point, why she changed her mind?
Raina, at the beginning, she didn’t want to go to the FBI. That was Nimah’s idea. But she went because she loves her sister very much. And she knew that Nimah wouldn’t be able to go and realize her dreams if not for the fact that they were twins. I think Raina grew up to discover what she’s capable of. She realized she could be one of those heroes that can save the United States of America. I think that’s what happened with Raina. … When she confided in Ryan about her fears and he asked if she talked to Nimah, she said she couldn’t because Nimah denies her fears. So Ryan told Raina to find someone she could trust, and she went to Simon. He opened the door for her, allowing her to choose. I think that’s the best thing that happened in last week’s episode. Raina realized she’s not a victim. She can choose. I think the moment she felt she had a choice, she realized she did not want to leave before it was over.
Your characters have a background we don’t usually see on TV, especially a broadcast network. What’s it like playing those racial and cultural differences?
As someone who was born in the Arab world and has been living around Europe and the US for a long time, I see how the west’s relationship to the Arab world is changing. In a negative way. It’s amazing for me to play these two women. Because I believe that these two women really allow everyone who does not know what the Arab world is — Muslim women, especially, do not have enough representation on television. It was really about time for a woman to come out at this time to say “Hey guys, this is what women look like in this part of the world. Some of them are veiled, some of them are not. Some of them are religious, and some of them don’t even believe in God.” I think that was the most important part of Nimah and Raina. And the person who should get the credit is Josh Safran.
How do you approach playing two different characters on the same show?
The only way it makes sense to me in my head is by saying these two characters are one person. Because if I say I have to be two people, it seems impossible … When Josh [Safran] and I spoke, we agreed that one person is capable of holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time. Two conflicting emotions. Conflicting actions. So the only rules we’ve put together are some headlines. Nimah chooses to hide her fears and she’s overprotective of her emotions. Raina is so forgiving and open. She thinks she can save the world with love. But I also have to go break those rules from time to time, to keep the characters from being monotone.
What can you tease about the finale and Season 2?
There is one event in the finale that is going to be really heartbreaking. But it’s also really exciting. We usually shoot 60 scenes for one episode, and for the finale, we did 170 scenes. And you’re going to see camerawork that’s like a dance. Really outstanding.
“Quantico’s” season finale airs Sunday, May 15 at 10/9c on ABC.