Sarah Rafferty brought some of her “Suits” expertise to her role of Katherine Walter in the Netflix adaptation of Ali Novak’s novel “My Life with the Walter Boys.”
Katherine takes in Jackie Howard (Nikki Rodriguez), the daughter of her college best friend when Jackie’s mother, father and sister die in a freak accident. Katherine and her husband George (Marc Blucas) already have ten children — Will (Johnny Link), Danny (Connor Stanhope), Cole (Noah LaLonde), Alex (Ashby Gentry), Nathan (Corey Fogelmanis), Isaac Garcia (Isaac Arellanes), Lee Garcia (Myles Perez), Parker (Alix West Lefler), Jordan (Dean Petriw) and Benny (Lennix James). Jackie finds herself caught in a love triangle with brothers Cole and Alex throughout the series, and Katherine picks up on it without needing explicit hints.
“The character that I played on ‘Suits,’ Donna, she had a sixth sense. She just had a superpower where she knew sh-t. She had a spidey sense, and mothers have that about their children. That cord is always tethered,” Rafferty told TheWrap. “That was a fun thing that we worked out with Melanie and Marc [Blucas], who plays George, that a woman’s intuition is always there. There’s a moment, where we’re in the kitchen and we’re looking out the window after I’ve told George what’s going on with the boys and that Alex and Jackie are dating. The three of them are out there and George is like “‘Looks like they’ve figured it out, looks like everything’s good,’ and it’s just a tiny blip of Catherine [saying unsurely] ‘Yeah.’”
Rafferty used an example of where she and Blucas tag-team parenting observations with one of the cousins Lee Garcia, who seemed off at Thanksgiving because his dad couldn’t Zoom call at the time he said he would.
“She doesn’t have time if you think about it. Having that many children, being pulled in all those directions like in the morning scenes when everybody’s going out for the day and how chaotic they are, all she has is her moments when she can look up from the laptop and observe,” Rafferty said. “It’s George who actually has the spidey sense and goes over to [Lee] and is like, ‘Hey, you want to learn how to carve the turkey?’. So it isn’t just the mother. In the first season, Catherine had a real spidey sense about what was going on with Cole and what was going on with Alex, that they have a struggle that she is witnessing it. As a mother, I’m always scanning for things to worry about, which probably isn’t the healthiest thing, but I think Katherine has to do that too, because she’s not going to have one-on-one time with everybody all the time. She’s going to kind of try to read a room and feel an energy.”
“In the Thanksgiving episode, you see Katherine in the background note George nurture Lee, when they are struggling, but she’s aware, like ‘That’s my guy like doing just the right thing knowing exactly when to lean in, for which kid.’ They also seem to have a really good sense of when to [delegate], like this is a moment for George, this is a moment for Catherine,” she added.
One of the first scenes in the script drew Rafferty to the role in the young adult series.
“When Katherine connects with Jackie and says ‘I loved your mom. We made this promise to each other and I want to be here for you in this time and have the opportunity to nurture you through this,’ I was moved by that scene,” she said. “And Katherine’s desire to deeply connect with her best friend’s daughter and to try to help her heal and to fold her into a family that Katherine hopes ultimately she will choose to make her family. I was touched by that, and I was connected to Katherine’s desire and need to be a good mother-type figure to Jackie.”
Rafferty anchored her character in the backstory of Katherine, which doesn’t come to light until later on in the series.
“The biggest piece that I started with with Katherine was that Katherine was an adopted child and that she was raised by wonderful parents and has a close feeling with her parents, but that she always had an ache to know who her birth parents were,” Rafferty said. “Out of that ache — which is both her gratitude for being chosen by her parents and also wondering why it wasn’t going to work out with our birth parents — out of that came her quest to build the family that she has today and her commitment to that family and her drive to nurture and also probably her drive to be a veterinarian. Just her love for beings and her desire to connect with family with chosen family with blood family, and to be the architect of her beautiful life.”
Katherine reveals that she attempted to meet her birth mother with Jackie’s mom supporting her. They went to a diner, but Katherine’s birth mom never showed. Luckily, her waiter at the diner turned out to be George, and that’s how their romance began. Rafferty echoed showrunner Melanie Halsall’s sentiment that George and Katherine provide a guiding North star for marriage in the show alongside the other younger relationships.
“They’re incredibly supportive of each other. They’ve known each other for a very long time. Catherine says on Thanksgiving that she’s found her chosen family in George because he was the waiter at the diner,” Rafferty said, referring to Katherine’s backstory. “He had a kindness and the generosity and an openness during a painful moment for her, and she found she found that family. It wasn’t exactly how she planned and yet, it was exactly what she needed. Their relationship is built on a kind of gratitude for each other for the wildly different skill sets that they bring to parenting.”
“My Life with the Walter Boys” is now streaming on Netflix.