Gabrielle Scharnitzky plays Petra on Treadstone. In this exclusive interview, she shares what it was like playing a guarded and isolated character.
Treadstone has blown all expectations out of the water. The Bourne series is more than just fan-service for those who loved the original movies. It’s a series with heart, with anticipation, and with plenty of questions to keep you hooked.
Gabrielle Scharnitzky plays Petra in the modern-day setting, who we’re introduced to in the first episode. It’s not until the end of that first episode that we learn who she really is. Well, we learn who she is connected to the past. Even Petra doesn’t know who she really is, and that’s something Scharnitzky discussed in this exclusive interview with Hidden Remote.
Hidden Remote: The third episode was brilliant. I’ve been hooked to the series from the very beginning. And seeing young and current-day Petra, I’ve loved your interpretation. She’s very straight forward but has no emotion. It suits the role, but what’s it been like to play?
Gabrielle Scharnitzky: The preparation for the character was hard. I realized that I couldn’t go out anymore in the world. I had to stay inside, because she is a recluse, right? For so long she had to hide. It’s ingrained in herself not to portray what she really feels.
It was a learning process to deal with. I had to hold the character for a very long time. I started in November and ended in September.
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Scharnitzky: Yeah, and I was in Budapest for months and I hardly went out. I hardly saw anything in Budapest. I had to take time and appreciate that. I couldn’t go against it. I have to devote that to the character.
HR: You’ll have to go back and visit so you can see what you missed.
Scharnitzky: I did stay two weeks longer after filming, so I could at least see the palace. But it was important to understand and show that what she feels could be real. She had to be really strong.
HR: What was it about the role that drew you in at first?
Scharnitzky: When I got the invitation to self-tape, I had 24 hours to prepare. There was one sentence that really hooked me in the casting, you know. It was “I have given 30 years of my life to my country, for Russia, for the cause, and have lost my beauty during those years and my youth.”
That sentence was so strong because, in a sense, it was like for me. I have devoted my life to acting and I went through everything that was entailed. The ups and downs, and still, even if on the outside there was nothing happening, I kept on going.
When I read that sentence, it was like I could immediately identify with Petra. When I got the part, I realized it was big. It’s why I do this.
During the show, each and every one of those characters is going through a transformation, trying to find the true self. Who am I really in this world? And that’s such an important question we all have right now. It’s not fictional anymore. It’s a deep, inherent question we all carry within the insanity we’re living in.
HR: That’s very true.
Scharnitzky: So, this to me, that’s why this journey of my character from being born into a system that has been programmed through stalling for so long. She was born into that and is trying to get out of it. And the journey to realize what you did, that’s the journey!
HR: It’s hard to know who to trust on Treadstone, but Petra seems to have some sort of idea. She knew her neighbor was up to something. That fight scene was so great, what was the choreography preparation like?
Scharnitzky: Oh, the choreography. First of all, the action unit director and stunt coordinator, Buster Reeves, he was a great guy. And his team is full of incredible people. They were very sweet and very precise.
I had to train for weeks, from Monday to Friday, every day, between one-and-a-half and two hours. I tell you, in the beginning, it was hard. I told them I didn’t know if I could tell my brain that this leg should move but it doesn’t. I had to retrain my brain.
We started out slow and steady and got faster. Laura Swift was the stunt double representing Katerina [Medvedeva], who played Yulia. Laura trained with me and we got to the point where I said I wanted to do everything.
And then it came to the shooting, and I was nervous, as you can imagine. It took two days to shoot and it was just one of the best experiences I ever had.
HR: With it being in an enclosed space and not the high-speed chase scenes, it felt more real and imaginable.
Scharnitzky: Yes, and that was very important for me. Petra is real. She’s a human being. What we see is her in action, right? But she’s still a human being, not a machine. For me, that was very important and I hope that I got it across that she’s a human fighting for her life. That’s how I felt.
HR: Can you tease anything that’s to come without giving away spoilers?
Scharnitzky: Oh, that’s hard. I can say that the journey of Petra has only just begun. She’s been betrayed and is on the search for who did this. It’s an interesting journey, because it’s not only about confronting her and her traitors. She’s confronting herself, so that’s an interesting journey.
HR: So, we’ll see more layers of the character throughout Treadstone.
Scharnitzky: Yes. I know you will.
HR: Good, because she’s been like an onion, peeling each layer at a time.
Scharnitzky: That’s also what I love about the show. Of course, it’s an action movie series, but at the same time, to introduce so many characters and their lives, I really respect the creator and producers. The creative team, Tim Kring, Ben Smith, and others, they find these beautiful little moments that tell everything of the character. I’m so grateful for that.
HR: Just to end, while we love Treadstone and I could talk all day about it, I’m sure you have other projects on the go. Is there anything that you can talk about?
Scharnitzky: Yes, I’m now based in Berlin, and I will return in two weeks to shoot a reknowned old TV series for one episode. It’s a crime series and I’m on one episode as a psychic who is in prison and tries to get out.
I also try to combine my other, very important, hard projects, which is coaching people as an energy healer and mental coach. So I will go to an Ayurvedic resort in Austria.
What do you think of Petra so far? Are we only just scratching the surface? Is she one of the characters you need to know more about? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Treadstone airs Tuesdays on USA Network.