Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
March 1, 2018

In the sci-fi thriller Curvature, engineer Helen Phillips (Lyndsy Fonseca) discovers that her late physicist husband had been working on a time machine prototype, which her future self will apparently use to travel 36 hours into the past. But as she embarks on an investigation that sets her on a possible collision course with herself, she begins to question her own impending attempts to rewrite history: did she journey back in time to reveal the truth about her husband's death, or does she have a far more sinister agenda?

Clearly dedicated to her role as the lead in an independent movie, actress Lyndsy Fonseca took a moment from her day to speak to us about Curvature, even after the recent arrival of her first baby and all the sleeplessness that comes along with new parenthood. As she merrily puts it, "Just 3 1/2 weeks ago, I birthed a human." And so for her energetic resiliency and commitment, we salute her in gratitude, with a dash of awe...

In this exclusive interview, Lyndsy talks about film editing as time travel, reflects on the path of her career, and explains how getting thrown around on the set of Nikita added to her action repertoire. She also graciously indulges our love for How I Met Your Mother and recalls her stint with the long-running sitcom, on which she played the patient and amazingly attentive daughter of the story's narrator. In keeping with an ongoing theme of timelines, Lyndsy shot her scenes (including segments of the closely guarded series finale) at the show's beginning, then managed to keep the revelatory ending a secret over the remarkable span of nine years and 208 episodes, despite heated speculation and theories from fans.

Curvature is available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and other VOD platforms. Stories involving time travel can sometimes gets confusing in regards to continuity and paradoxes. How was your experience of keeping all those details straight?

LYNDSY: It was pretty tricky. I spent a lot of time with [director Diego Hallivis] trying to understand how this made sense, and that there are other theories out there as well, and that there isn't necessarily "the right one," because we can't necessarily show it, or do it, or prove it. But in our movie, this is one possibility. And so I spent a lot of time trying to understand that. And then also, with shooting a film out of order, it makes it even more complicated. Every film has time travel issues because you're basically shooting everything out of order, to then put it back together in a totally different timeline. [laughs] So you've got that added on top of it. So continuity alone in normal circumstances is confusing, but when you're doing continuity with a time travel film, it's really confusing. So we had codenames for Helen, and then we had Other Helen, and we had to make sure that the dirt [on me was the proper amount]. Just making sure it made sense was definitely a full-time job. [laughs]

Curvature offers up a few plot twists...When you read scripts or novels, or watch a movie or television show, are you pretty good at solving the mystery before the big reveal?

Oh, I'd say half and half. I feel like sometimes I know right away, and then other times, I'm totally stumped.

At one point, Helen ponders, "I think there's a version of us that will always be doing everything all over again." Going with that idea that countless yous are out there, what do you imagine other Lyndsy Fonsecas are doing in their alternate realities?

I don't know...I think about that all the time with my career. What else would I have done if it weren't this? And would I have gone to college and learned another trade and done something totally different? You know, I think we all have those moments in our life where we're like, "If that one person didn't give me that opportunity, where would I be right now? Or would I have always ended up here, just [by] a different path?" I think that's kind of a universal theme that we can all apply to our lives.

Did you have another passion that you thought might become your career?

Yeah, I grew up dancing since I was in diapers. I always thought I would be a professional dancer. I was onstage and I was performing constantly, and then sort of fell into acting. I just never thought it was a possibility. It just was so abstract to me, so I never was like, [with moxie] "I'm going to be a star!" It was just, "No, that's what those people in the TV do, not me!" [laughs] But then once I did it and once I was there, you know, working back in the day at 14 on a soap opera, I was like, "This is my life. This is what I'm supposed to do. This makes sense."

Given your extensive dance background and all the stunts you did during your time on Nikita, were you fairly comfortable with the physicality of Curvature? Did past training help with the action sequences?

Absolutely. It's just sort of one less thing that I need to work on, so to speak. For Helen, I had other challenges: I needed to make sure I understood the science, or [make] sure that the loss of her husband was real. [But] I knew that on the day, I would be able to do a car crash, I'd be able to hold a machine gun, that those things were second nature. It's how I do those things...Obviously Helen is not a spy, so she's going to be running with an injury very [differently] than my character on Nikita would be running with an injury. So there are differences, but it's a tool in my tool belt that I'll always be thankful I had the experience for, because it's just sort of one less thing I need to be "new at" on the day. I know how to put a harness on for stunts, I know how to be thrown out of a building. [laughs] So you just sort of know showing up for work that you are a little bit more prepared in that aspect. You're under-prepared for other things, the new things. But it definitely helped, yeah.

I'm guessing that most of the stunts they let you do in this film were a lot of fun. Except when you're running around barefoot outdoors, which actually seems pretty horrible...

Yeah, running barefoot is really tough. And also being in the cold is really tough. Those two things never really get easier. And I spent a lot of winters in Toronto shooting Nikita, and it never got easier. We did a lot of playing with the camera, so any time it was a closer shot where my feet weren't in it, I was wearing shoes. You just save your feet. And you know that when your feet are being shot, that they do a sweep and make sure there's nothing sharp that you can step on. But, you know, it's a risk. You're really running barefoot, so it hurts a lot. [laughs] And you can see the bottom of your feet, so you can't put anything on it.

What goes through your mind when you're performing scenes that require an expressive look instead of dialogue? Do you think about what Helen might be thinking, or do you use your own memories to bring up the right emotion?

That's interesting. It's not just the scenes [in which] I don't say anything, but my method as a whole is I completely put myself in character. I don't use my own life as triggers, although my own life definitely influences my capacity and my understanding of emotions. So, you know, the loss of someone close to me is going to be an impact on the loss of someone close to my character, because it's still me. But on the day, I don't think about my grandmother that died that I miss--I'm thinking about Helen, me as Helen, and the loss of my husband. So that's how I work. But I'm also not method, so a cut happens and I'm back to Lyndsy. Although if it's a highly emotional day, I kind of keep more to myself. But I'm not someone that's always in character, either. [laughs] So it's sort of like a hybrid. I work a lot on specifics and creating backstory so that I'm not just thinking of an empty place, a slate of just this sort of one-dimensional husband. I've created a life for them as Helen, so I have a well of memories that I think about in playing her.

What aspect of Curvature was the most fun and/or rewarding for you?

Hmmm...Gosh, I think just the challenge of it all. I mean, carrying a film is really hard, especially an indie film. I think just the challenge of it, and the relationship that I had with Diego and the other actors, is really fun. You know, getting to work with a different type of director each time, and the way that they work and their strength...It's really cool. You sort of take away something different every time. And with Diego, he was so specific on his vision. He knew exactly what he wanted. He had it in his head. And when you're not in his head, you're trying to understand what the heck he's talking about, and you give him all your trust. And when you see the finished product and you see how beautiful it is, and the cinematography, you understand what he was seeing.

We've talked about timelines and plot twists and climactic reveals, which were all integral concepts of another of your credits, How I Met Your Mother. Because you shot your material at the beginning of that show's 9-year run, did you always know how the series was going to end, and you just had to keep it under wraps for almost a decade?

I did, yeah. David Henrie, who played my brother, was growing up really fast. And as you know, the flash-forwards take place in one moment, so we couldn't grow up. [laughs] So they realized that very quickly, and he was, like, going through puberty very rapidly. So we just shot for a day, and they just took all our footage. We shot the ending at the beginning, so they had a lawyer there with documents, and we had to sign a confidentiality agreement. And it was actually a closed set. It was Pam Fryman the director, the two creators, and the camera operator and the boom. And that was it. It was a totally closed set, and we shot the ending...And I didn't know if the show was going to last one season, or ten years, or whatever. We didn't know. So when they did announce that the show was coming to an end, I actually forgot what the ending was because it had been so many years! [laughs] And then I remember talking to David, and I was like, "Oh, right...That's right, that's right! That's who our mom is! That's what happened!"

So you must have also done a few alternate takes, just in case the show only lasted for a single season...

Yeah, we did so many different alternate endings. And maybe that's another reason why I forgot. I mean, the creators, they knew what the ending was going to be, so not a lot was changed. But it's funny, I didn't even tell my mom. I was so terrified that she'd accidentally say something, the reason that I forgot the ending is because I literally never said it out loud. [laughs]

You're really good at keeping secrets. That's a skill you should put on your resume...

[laughs] They put the fear of God in you! When you sign a confidentiality agreement with lawyers standing by, it's terrifying!

So what's next? Will you be on hiatus to care for your tiny, newborn human being, or will we see you back at work in the near future?

[laughs] No, I am definitely taking the time right now just to be with my little baby. I miss working, because I didn't work while I was pregnant, and scripts are starting to come into my inbox right now, and I'm slowly just dabbling at reading things again. But I am really just wanting to be present. I'll know when the time is right to step back onto set. But right now, this is such a precious moment. So I'm so happy to be here.

Well, enjoy the moment. But selfishly, I will say that I hope we see you back in film and television sooner rather than later, and I look forward to when you decide it's the right time...

That's so sweet, thank you. Yes, I am looking forward to it so much!

Lyndsy, thanks for talking with us this afternoon, I know you're obviously super busy!

No problem, it was a pleasure. Thank you!

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