Carrie Preston talks about Polly’s many masks and getting to improvise

26399_008 Claws ep 102 DSCF3257.jpg
26399_008 Claws ep 102 DSCF3257.jpg /

Claws Q&A number five features Emmy winner Carrie Preston. We discussed Polly’s constantly shifting identity and how the coming season will affect her, and her relationships.

When you look at the ladies from Claws, Carrie Preston’s Polly stands out like a (well manicured) sore thumb. She doesn’t wear the tight outfits that the other ladies wear, and she carries herself in a much more preppy way. Then you see her ankle bracelet and realize there is much more below the surface.

Over the course of the season we learn that Polly may be the most dangerous and most unpredictable woman in the group. She has the ability to change between identities on a whim to suit whatever the situation is asking of her, whether it’s pulling off a con or violence. We were able to speak with Carrie about this complicated character.

Hidden Remote: You are known for playing eccentric characters, but I would say Polly is probably at the top of the list. Would you agree? 

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Carrie Preston: Haha. Definitely, I would… yeah I would definitely agree. She’s not like the other kids. (laugh)

HR: She’s also a hard character to put your finger on. Have we met the real Polly yet?

CP: I don’t think you’ve ever met the real Polly because I think Polly is curating herself at all times so that you don’t. You know that’s part of what keeps her going is that she’s changing and dancing to cover up whatever kind of pain or damage happened to her a long time ago. And you know, she’s kinda taking what we’re doing already, in the world right now, which is curating our public personas. She’s taking that to a whole nother level and she’s using those personas to get what she wants. And to con her way through her life. And it works for her.

HR: Right. And you’re introduced to her as an identity thief but when you get to know her over the course of the season, you see that it’s deeper than just identity theft. It’s her basically masking something that’s deeper inside. Now, most of the other ladies mentioned that we’re going to be learning more about their characters backgrounds, is that true for Polly as well?

CP: Yes, definitely, you’re going to learn a lot about her background. I would say that Polly is one accessory away from a breakdown. (laugh) So she’s accessorizing quite a bit this season and um, we’re going to be heading to a sort of Hitchcock, psychological moment with Polly.

Carrie Preston
Carrie Preston /

HR: I could definitely see that happening with her taking on so many personas. There’s only so much a person can handle. On top of all that she’s doing she now has Marnie (Morgan Lily) in her life. In her taking on Marnie, was she identifying with her in some way?

CP: Yes, I think she’s got this picture in her mind of the white picket fence and the nuclear family and the kids and the husband and the car. You know that sort of American, suburban dream and she’s trying to live it through this girl. And it’s a lot to put on another person. Especially someone that you bought from a hooker (laugh) for Gucci purses. (laugh) So, you know, it’s not the most ideal situation to even head into but Polly’s doing her best. And she’s got a teenager on her hands so there are some teenager qualities that she’s going to be up against with Marnie.

HR: And I did see that Marnie is going to have a bigger role this season so that’s going to be a constant for Polly in season 2. Along with Marine however, you also have the relationship with Dr. Brickman (Jason Antoon). Are we going to see more growth for that relationship as well?

CP: Yes, yes. You’re going to see Polly and Ken at home. You’re going to see how that relationship plays out and develops. How the stresses of the situations they find themselves in impact the relationship.

HR: Speaking of those situations, there are new bosses coming in for season 2. I’ve heard things are going to get pretty crazy for everybody dealing with the new bosses. With Polly, what is her role in the family and how does this affect what she’s trying to do?

CP: Well there’s stuff that’s going to happen that’s going to affect Polly emotionally and will affect her actions for the rest of the season. Right off the top. In the first episode that airs on Sunday, you’ll start to see how Polly is dealing with this power shift and it’s quite scary for her.

HR: Last season Polly was the one who ended up convincing Quiet Ann to turn on the woman she’s fallen in love with. Is there a line that Polly won’t cross when it comes to protecting Desna?

Carrie Preston
Carrie Preston /

CP: Well you know Desna is the one that gave Polly her second chance, and keeps giving her chance after chance after chance. She’s the one that Polly owes everything to, so Polly is extremely protective of that and of Desna. Because it’s her sense of security that she’s also protecting. We saw last season in her confrontation with Virginia with the cupcakes and the knife (laugh). She’s not willing to let anything happen to come between them.

HR: So there is this bond between her and Desna, and from what I’m told the new Russian boss is going to be trying to forge a very tight bond with Desna. I assume that is going to affect Polly in some way.

CP: Yeah it’s going to be challenging for the girls to see this new energy enter into their crew. It’s a dangerous energy.

HR: So how much fun have you guys had this season. Have you wrapped yet?

CP: We are still shooting but hopefully we’ll be done soon. Right now we’re scheduled to be done in a couple of weeks. But yeah we have a really great time. The energy, the camaraderie, the loyalty that you see on-screen is definitely coming from the truth that we experience as actors together. The crew is incredible, so everybody’s in it to win it. Everybody’s there to make something great, that we’re all proud of. When you get all five of us ladies on the set together it is, like, (laugh). It is like a party. We laugh a lot, we make each other laugh, we’re really silly together because we’ve got to keep that energy going and that dynamic going. I just love going to work with these people.

HR: And like you said it does come across on-screen. There are times that I’m watching and it doesn’t even feel like you guys are acting. It looks like you’re just hanging out and having a good time.

CP: Thank you, yes, we definitely are given license to make it our own and to find the little subtleties that really sell that to the audience. That what you’re seeing is real. You know those scenes, especially in the salon, there’s an ease to them which doesn’t always happen on shows.

Carrie Preston
Carrie Preston /

HR: That leads me into my next question. I believe that I’ve heard there’s a lot of room for improvisation on the show. Is there any particular moment from this prior season that was improvised by you?

CP: From season 1? Yeah, you know that whole thing where Polly is going into the foster parents’ house and she’s planting the evidence and she goes in and does this, like, caper?

HR: That’s a very memorable scene. I do. 

CP: At first there was going to be a German Shepard coming and Polly was going to tase him. And I said: no, no, no, no. I think this would be an opportunity for Polly to have a whole nother persona where she was maybe at one point a dog trainer and worked with attack dogs, so she would know how to speak German. You know so I kinda went deep there (laugh) and they let me do that. And I said, also, even though it’s broad daylight I think Polly is going to get into dressing in all-black like she’s a prowler, you know? So they let us do things like that. You know, they let us get really specific with how we take what’s on the page and lift it and put some flesh on it and make it something different and our own. And they gave me the freedom to do that a lot this coming season too, which was nice.

HR: And I would assume that’s not something that’s happening with most TV shows.

CP: Nooo, yeah, no it really doesn’t. I mean, you know we do honor the writers. I mean obviously the writers are amazing and I do want to honor what they put on the page. So I’m not being prescriptive or anything like that. It feels like a collaboration in a really creatively satisfying way.

HR: Right, and I think you can get that when you have writers that are amazing at what they do. They’re going to trust the actors to help them make it better.

CP: Right, right, exactly.

Next: Claws Interview: Karrueche Tran

HR: Alright so the last thing I wanted to ask then. For fans of the show, what would you say to prepare them for what’s going to be coming, starting this Sunday?

CP: I would say get ready for the Russians (laugh). And get ready for a thrilling and bumpy ride where you’re not going to know what turn is coming next. (laugh)

Claws returns to our screens at 9/8 Central Sunday, June 10th on TNT.