Exclusive: Katja Herbers on the scary, sexy, science vs supernatural second season of Evil

Katja Herbers on set
Katja Herbers. Pic credit: Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

When Evil begins its second season on June 20, Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) has done the unthinkable. She’s killed a man. Now, she’s struggling with the consequences of the rash act, despite the fact that she felt compelled to take his life when he threatened her daughters.

“I think it’s done two things,” Herbers tells Monsters & Critics of the murder. “She’s empowered by that, but she also is going to have to deal with the aftermath of that and now being a murderer. It doesn’t necessarily make anyone feel better, probably.”

The new season of Evil will continue examining the origins of evil along the dividing line between science and religion. In Season 1 when Kristen, a psychologist, joined forces with David (Mike Colter), who is studying to be a priest, and Ben, a tech expert, to investigate the Church’s backlog of unexplained mysteries, including supposed miracles, demonic possessions, and hauntings, she was a total skeptic.

But a lot has happened since then that may not have a scientific explanation.

“I certainly think that Kristen starts to drift a little bit away from just being a pure skeptic, but I think she, time and time again, will go back to trying to find a scientific explanation,” Herbers continues.

“Even when she drifts a little, for instance, [the scene] in the elevator where she gets stuck, she will then later think that it was a hallucination and it actually didn’t actually happen, but rather, the hallucination probably happened because she killed someone and she’s in a really bad place, or because of her job.”

So, in Season 2, as Kristen struggles with all that is taking place, she decides to ask her therapist for antipsychotic medication so that the hallucinations will stop, but even with that, her major concern is that she’s losing her sanity.

During our conversation, Herbers speaks more of Kristen’s personality traits that make her susceptible to visions and nightmares, having four daughters to protect, and how much of a believer she is in real life. Read on to find out what more she had to say.

Monsters & Critics: Even before she killed somebody, Kristen seemed to have been more susceptible to visitations or nightmares. Did she then think she was losing her mind, or is there a reason why she might be more susceptible?

Katja Herbers: I think if there is a reason, she’s not going to acknowledge that reason. I think there might be a reason. Sure. She’s probably a pretty open person to start with and maybe an easy target. Maybe she takes home a little too much of what happens in her job and has a big imagination. There are things that she can’t explain and then these things start to happen in her dreams.

M & C: Leland (Michael Emerson) is the big bad in this and his job seems to be to prevent David from becoming a priest, but I’m not sure why that would be important. Any thoughts on that?

KH: I don’t really know either. I don’t really know why he has it out for me, or David, or both of us. I guess David has a darker past that we’ll see a little bit more of this season or find out a little more about. I think that Leland just wants to destroy any good intentions. For some reason he’s decided that David and I are to be taken down. I don’t know. You could ask why does anyone do anything bad to anyone else? I have no idea, but he wants to destroy us.

M & C: Kristen is vulnerable in so many ways, including her mother, Sheryl (Christine Lahti). The whole thing with the therapist is so manipulative, but is there also evil there?

KH: We’ll have to see. It is extremely manipulative. You could argue that she’s desperate and she wants to find a way back into it with her daughter because she loves her daughter so much and she misses her grandchildren, which is probably one aspect of it, but the real question is, is she still in touch with Leland? Is there still something happening there? Has she really broken up with him or not? Sheryl seems to be somebody who’s very easily influenced.

Aasif Mandvi, Katja Herbers, Mike Colter, and Peter Scolari.
Aasif Mandvi, Katja Herbers, Mike Colter, and Peter Scolari. Pic credit: Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

M & C: Leland was so mean to Sheryl. I can’t imagine how she would even begin to think of taking him back.

KH: Some people are very strange. These kinds of relationships exists and sometimes it’s kind of an addiction. I have no idea. Self-destruction? I don’t know. I don’t think they’ve seen the last of each other.

M & C: Kristen has four daughters. She seems to be dragging them into something dangerous. Does she think about that? And then there’s that episode where she goes out at night and leaves the oldest daughter in charge while she goes to a bar. What’s going on?

 KH: I think taking them to the elevator is very basic. She has a job. She thinks this elevator game is nonsense. That’s her in. And then, she has no babysitter and the kids want to come. She’s like, “OK, let’s just try to make this fun.” She has no idea that it’s going to get crazy because she doesn’t believe in that. I like how Kristen is making that outing a good experience. They come home from that not traumatized, but like our mom is such a cool ghost fighter. They had a good time.

Is it a total sin to leave your children at home while you go to a bar to have sex with somebody else who is not your husband? I guess it is. I guess that’s not great parenting, but I guess there are moments where parents aren’t entirely great.

Kristen has a lot on her plate, and she is sort of bursting out of her skin after what she’s done, she is in need of sexual attention, and she thinks that with her new lock system and her eldest being 14 years old now, it is very irresponsible, but I like it because Kristen is so many things.

She’s a very good mom; she’s a mama bear who will do anything for her children, but she’s also going out to a bar to have sex with a total stranger and leaving her kids at home. So, there’s something there for everyone to relate to.

M & C: Speaking of sex, where is her husband and will he be back this season? There was talk of him but that the trip up the mountain is taking longer than planned.

KH: Our business is not doing too well, but yes, he will come back. I don’t know if that’s a spoiler. I don’t think so and those scenes are going to be fun. I think he’s going to find somebody else. A Kristen he doesn’t entirely recognize when he comes home because so much has happened.

M & C: That’s like my first question: Who is she in this season because she does seem so different?

KH: She is different. I think a life-changing thing happened to her and she is different. She’s both sort of self-actualizing while also maybe falling apart while having some kind of rebirth. She’s doing all kinds of things at once.

M & C: What does it matter if that business doesn’t do well. She does have a job now. And the interesting thing is when the policewoman asked her if she would help on the case, I didn’t know that they could still use her services after Leland got her fired, right? It was Leland who got her fired?

KH: I quit but only because I was going to get fired. I don’t know if I’m being asked for my services.

M & C: The policewoman has some questions about the wife’s alibi in the death of Orson LeRoux (Darren Pettie).

KH: I think she was interested in my opinion because I used to work on that case, and I know the wife and now the new boyfriend of the wife is a suspect, etc. It, obviously, puts Kristen in a bind because she’s the killer. But I’m not asked in any official capacity, just as somebody who knew these people.

M & C: Evil was created by Robert and Michelle King. When you look at them, they look like such a sweet couple. What are conversations like with them? Do they really believe in evil?

KH: Robert really believes. He is a devout Catholic and Michelle calls herself a cultural Jew. Evil is the product of, I think, 20 years of marital conversations about where evil comes from. Kristen is more Michelle’s point of view and Robert’s more David, Mike Colter’s POV.  

M & C: In real life, do you believe in evil or maybe just superstitions? Do you not walk under ladders, or do you throw salt over your shoulder, and that kind of stuff?

KH: Oh, yeah, sure. I’m not religious. I probably won’t walk under a ladder but not lose a night’s sleep over it if I did. Minor superstitions.

M & C: What do you think people love about this so much? Do you think most people do believe that there’s evil in the world?

 KH: I think people like the debate because I think it’s not saying any one thing. Religion is such a big part of the way that the world functions and if you’re a believer or you aren’t, you’re dealing with religion anyway because of how the world is built and the wars that are fought for it, etc.

Then also the internet and the evil that has been able to find each other on the internet. The horrible things that are happening that we talk about on the show, I think, just make it very timely. Then Robert and Michelle King bring a great sense of humor to it and great intelligence. I think the scripts have a lot of depth. It’s a show that a lot of people enjoy.

M & C: I learned something. I thought that exorcisms were strictly Catholic, but they’re not. Muslims have Djinns, and there is a Muslim exorcism in the first few episodes. So, in addition to entertaining, the show actually also teaches.

KH: I really like that we’re not just talking about the Catholic Church. Kristen’s husband is Buddhist. We’re really coming at it with all angles, which I enjoy so much more because it’s inclusive.

Evil begins streaming its second season on Paramount+ on June 20.

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