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The Killing’s Jamie Ann Allman on the Show’s Big Reveal

Jamie Ann Allman. Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Jamie Ann Allman has spent the past two seasons of The Killing folding laundry, cutting sandwich crusts, and carting the Larsen boys to school. She was indispensable to grieving parents Stan and Mitch — that is until Sunday’s season two finale, when it was revealed that [SPOILER ALERT] her character Terry was the one who actually sent Rosie to her death (well, with a big assist from a political aide who brutally bludgeoned Rosie). Allman spoke to Vulture about why Terry did it, how her character’s fate made her cry, and why she sometimes laughs at clever anti-Killing missives.

I was looking at your Twitter feed last night, and I love that Billy Campbell was drunkenly tweeting you and Eric Ladin after the finale.
[Laughs.] That was really funny. He’s hilarious.

I saw that you’ve also been very diligent about replying to fans on Twitter.
Yes. In general I think that’s important, but especially with this show and the backlash with the finale and everything that happened, I feel like if people are gonna tune in to watch my work and they’re willing to say something nice about it, at least I can give them the respect to say thank you.

You gave one of the more nuanced performances in the show.
Thanks. [The finale] would be credited also to Patty Jenkins. She’s an amazing director and she really made me feel like I could do anything. I did that [confession] scene, the number keeps getting higher, but I’m thinking it’s like twenty times. Twenty-five times. Really, a lot. Because there was so much pressure on that scene, she just wanted to shoot the shit out of it to make sure she got it all.

How did you feel by the twentieth take? Where were you in your head?
Well, after four takes, I tapped Patty’s shoulder and said, “Hey, buddy, I’m done, buddy.” And she’s just like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah! That’s really great, it’s really great. Now we’re gonna do it again but this time I just want you to totally flip out. Just flip, okay?” So I went ahead and did it like that. She’s like, “Oh my God, that was freakin’ great, oh my gosh, that was so awesome. Okay, let’s just try something totally different. Let’s do it this way, and let’s do it this way.” And then after like four more, I put my hand on her shoulder and was like, “Hey, buddy, listen, buddy, I’m done.” And she’s like, “Yeah, yeah! Okay, try it for me again, and we’re gonna … ” And I’m just like, “Ohhh my God.” So then basically the next day I had a headache all day long because I was completely dehydrated. But I think it went well.

Backtracking a little bit, I wanted to go to the moment when you found out you were the killer. I read that you were told a couple of hours before the table read for the finale. Does that mean you found out only a couple of hours before everyone else?
I don’t know if other people knew. I know that Eric Ladin found out he was involved, but I don’t know how soon or all the details. But I do know for me, [Veena Sud] called me a couple hours before. It was interesting because I had thought I was involved throughout. There were some scenes that were questionable for me, like, Oh, maybe I am involved. But once I read episode twelve and there was the reveal of Jamie Wright’s face at the end of twelve, I thought there’s no way that I’m the killer now.

You’re off the hook.
And then she called me. I was thinking nothing of it, but she was very maternal and was like, “Hey, Jamie, how are you?” I was like, “I’m okay.” And she’s like, “Yeah? I have something to tell you.” And I still didn’t think anything about it. I thought I was in trouble. I was like, “Did I do something wrong on set?” And she was like, “Um, I just wanna let you know that Terry did it.” I said, “What?” She goes [in a whisper], “Terry’s the killer.” And I started to cry.

What was her reaction when you started crying?
Very maternal. It was like she was taking me through a therapy session. I was crying and I go, “It’s just not fair.” And she goes [soothingly], “I know, I know. It’s sad, I know.” I was talking to her, feeling sorry for Terry, and she’s like, “I know, yeah.” And she kept talking to me!

She was like a grief counselor.
Yes, for a minute. Over this character. I was like, “I’m so nerdy. What the heck?”

I feel like people usually pull you into rooms for that sort of talk. Did you want to see her face-to-face?
After we had the table read all together, me, Veena, and Patty sat down and we discussed the scene in depth — where I felt Terry was coming from and what they thought. Everybody got on the same page.

It actually took me a little while to figure out why Terry did what she did, because it seemed so insane that she’d kill someone just to make this guy who she loved happy. How did Veena explain Terry’s actions to you?
What you just said is pretty much it. If you backtrack, Terry at times does seem very desperate, very insane, to be able to have the lifestyle that she feels like she’s never gonna have. So she’s been grappling for it the whole time. Since that was written in there amongst the heartbreak and the guilt over getting Rosie involved, I think it did track well. But yeah, that was her reasoning in that moment. It was an instant decision: There’s an obstacle in the way of her having this lifestyle, finally. [Michael Ames, her lover] dragged her along all this time, making promises to her, saying that he can’t leave his wife because he doesn’t have enough money. And finally there’s this deal that’s gonna allow this to happen and now he’s saying the deal is off because there’s the obstacle of this person that she thought was dead in the car — only to find out the girl is alive because she’s screaming as she’s going into the water.

Obviously you and Veena discussed Terry’s actions at length, but when your castmates found out, were any of them like, “Wait, Terry did it? That doesn’t make sense. Why?”
They were sad, I think, because of the level of betrayal. With someone else doing it, it’s still sad — it’s a girl that’s been murdered — but the betrayal with the family is not as strong. In the Danish version, the guy who worked in the garage — Belko, his character — is the one who did it because he worked for the family. So [Veena] made the betrayal even bigger by having it be the sister.

I have to speak on behalf of viewers who were not totally happy with the ending. Part of their issue was that it’s just not believable that Terry would do this. Can you see where they’re coming from?
This is the first time I’ve heard that.

It’s been mixed in with positive reactions, but I’ve read some people saying that they thought it didn’t make enough sense.
That Terry would do it?

Hmmm. Well, I don’t think that Terry would kill Rosie. I don’t think that she would ever do that, and that’s the whole point of why she felt so bad. But do I think she was desperate enough to do whatever it took in the moment to get what she wanted — because she wanted to have a family and be married? Yeah, I think so, because she had been involved as a call girl for so long and been with men for so long and she finally had someone that she was in love with. So she made a bad decision in the moment.

Part of the criticism is that there have been too many red herrings this season, and Terry seems like another red herring who just happened to be the killer.
Well, I look at it as there’s people that are gonna have opinions on both sides, and that’s good. That’s fine. I’m definitely not gonna argue with somebody about their point. It’s like, I understand your point, I’m not gonna invalidate it. That’s their experience and how they feel about it, so that’s okay.

One of the fascinating things about The Killing for me has been following both sides — the love for it and the backlash. It’s a really interesting case study.
Yeah, there’s definitely both extremes. There’s not really anyone who’s in the middle, which is very interesting. They hate it with a passion, or they love it.

Do you read what the haters say?
Because I try to be open-minded and I don’t take things personally, because it’s about entertaining people, I read it and allow people to have their opinions and understand how both sides feel. I try to be very objective with it. There’s even times that I think stuff is very funny — because it’s clever and it’s funny! I’m able to have a sense of humor about everything.

Are there any specific instances that made you laugh?
Yes, but I can’t say. [Laughs.]

I wanted to ask in general about working with Veena. How would you describe your relationship with her?
It’s weird, I never got to work with her because every episode she wrote I was not in. I’m really grateful to Veena, though, because I worked on Cold Case and guest-starred and she remembered me from then. But she became, she said, a fan of me from when she saw me on The Shield. On the last panel we all did together, she mentioned she saw me on The Shield and said, “I wanna work with that girl some day.” And she gave me a job and I’m very grateful for that.

The Killing’s Jamie Ann Allman on the Big Reveal