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'Evil' Star Katja Herbers on Demon Kristen and the Fallout of Her Kiss With David in Season 3

'There's a big price to pay' in the aftermath of David and Kristen's Season 2 kiss, the actor says.
by Carita Rizzo — 
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Katja Herbers (right) with Andrea Martin in 'Evil'

Paramount+

Evil, the supernatural drama from The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King, has never been a low stakes show. From the very beginning, the series has explored the relationship between faith and science, and how having your beliefs rattled can fundamentally change a person.  

True to form, the final minutes of the second season were shocking for both the series' protagonists and its viewers. Forensic psychologist Kristen Bouchard, played by Katja Herbers, confessed to her closest friend, the now newly-ordained Catholic priest David Acosta (Mike Colter), that she was behind the murder of serial killer Orson LeRoux (Darren Pettie) — an emotional moment that ended in a passionate kiss between the two. 

"I basically lay myself bare in front of David and he seems to still be able to accept me and love me," Herbers tells Metacritic.

It's a tricky situation for the characters, both of whom are firmly committed to other parties. Not that Herbers is surprised about their leap of faith: "What the Kings do is, they like writing themselves into a corner and having to figure that out," she says. "I think that's what they did here as well." 

Other narrative corners that the show has to dig into this season are Dr. Leland Townsend's (Michael Emerson) persistent interest in Kristen's daughter Lexis (Maddy Crocco) and the nefarious activities stemming from RSM Fertility, where Lexis was conceived.  

Here, Herbers talks to Metacritic about the consequences of Kristen and David's transgression, what her character tackles in the third season, and why she alum loves returning to this story.  

What would you say are the repercussions of that kiss between Kristen and David? 

There's a big price to pay because they were as close as they could be to each other. I've never done this, but I know people who've kissed their best friend or something, and it's hard to return from that. There's so much at stake. Aside from the fact that they do lust after each other and love each other, they also really respect each other's choices and life paths. If he wants to be a priest, I don't think she wants to take him away from that, nor does he want her to leave her husband. The repercussions are that we have a hard time connecting, and we can't really go back to what it was before. Kristen's pretty lonely and she misses her best friend. And David's character has a way of processing what happened between them that she is not privy to. There's definitely a bit of a distance between them. 

How do you think David is faring with his calling? 

I think he's struggling a little bit. I love that this season we see how boring this life is to him. The day-to-day life of this isn't as big or meaningful as he wished it were. But when he joins the Vatican Secret Service, that might be more of the rock-and-roll persona that is David. 

Leland continues to be a trigger for Kristen. Now he's going for her girls. What can you say about what's happening between Leland and Kristen this season? 

We saw Kristen kill at the end of the first season, and then we saw her deal with the repercussions of that and her own guilt and psychological turmoil. The way of looking at that is she went over to the dark side, or evil is now inside of her. Another way of looking at it is that she's dealing with the aftermath of having committed murder, and she has some serious mental problems from that. That's always how I looked at that because personally, I don't believe in God. And therefore, I believe evil people do evil things, but I don't think that there is such a thing as the dark side. So, I think that she is aware that the way she was living last season, she can't continue to be that way. Last season, she wasn't in control of her own emotions. This season, she's trying to be in control. She wants to be an empowered woman, not an unhinged woman, so she's trying to control those urges more. At the end of the second season, she comes to David on her way to kill Leland. She says, "I don't want to do it. I don't want to kill again." But I understand why she would: because this man is absolutely awful and he seems to stop at nothing and he's after her girls. Now she's trying to deal with that in a way where she abides by the law. She gets a restraining order and she's honest to her girls about the threat that he is. It isn't unthinkable that she wouldn't kill him at some point. Not unthinkable, but not just yet. 

Do you feel Kristen's marriage is under threat? 

I think it has been hard. The only person who knows intimately about what Kristen did is David and her therapist. She didn't tell her husband about that. She tells him nothing, and he's away a lot. But they share a long history, and I think there's a lot of love between them. I tell my therapist that I'm just distracted, and he's distracted, and my therapist says, "You're distracted because of your priest friend." I think Kristen tries to make a 180 from that, because whatever goes on between David and Kristen, that's going to hit a wall at some point. Now I'm just trying to focus on my marriage, to focus on my children and to focus on all the evil sh-- going on. She's not bored. [Laughs] There's a lot going on. 

What does digging deeper into RSM Fertility mean for this season? 

We saw in the previous season that they have an egg of mine and we don't know what they did with it, but it's gone. That's concerning. We also know that Lexis who was conceived with the help of RSM Fertility is being targeted by Leland. I'm worried about her and all those other children that came from RSM Fertility, like the boy who tried to drown his baby sister in the pool. Some of these evil people have a link to [the] RSM Fertility. It's an interesting nature and nurture debate. I don't think anything's wrong with Lexis. I know that I love her and I think she's wonderful. I'm not worried — but I'm worried, obviously. There is something in the back of my mind going, "What if?" We explore a little bit of that. Later in the season, we will go into the missing egg and what happened to it. That's going to be quite something, I tell you. 

The entire premise of the show was that Kristen does not believe in the supernatural. How do you feel like she's evolved in the past two seasons and how does that propel her into the third at this point? 

In one of the first episodes, maybe the pilot, I think I said something like, "I think that science can answer every question." Maybe not all at once, but with enough time, science will figure out what everything means. I think now Kristen leaves more room for doubt. There are things that she can't explain and maybe she's become a little bit more spiritual in that sense. She's definitely more in the middle of David and Ben [Aasif Mandvi] now. And Ben's having his own issues. He's in a bit of a tough spot in his mental state, because he also can't explain everything. 

What do you think that does to a person? Especially people who try to be agnostic, like the two of them. 

It doesn't have to be that you start believing in God, but you just start to acknowledge that you don't know everything or can't explain everything away in your little frame of what you think is normal. I think actually that's a beautiful thing. I think people who have no doubt are actually quite annoying. 

Career wise, you've gotten to play in some extraordinary worlds in recent years. What makes you excited to return to Kristen's life? 

Oh gosh, I love her journey and I think that the Kings are such extraordinary writers and I get to go to such extraordinary places with, like you say, "no low stakes." I love working with Mike, Aasif, and the great guest actors that we get. I love Kristen and I can't wait to read where they take her. Every episode is exciting to me.  

Do you have favorite demons of the season? 

I would have to pick "Demon Kristen," because I just had a lot of fun playing her. I approached her as a demon with a heart and somebody who really just wants love, like all of us. She wants David to love her and, at first, she thinks that's just fulfilling this sexual fantasy, but then she finds out that he might like the real Kristen more than just lusting after her. She kind of shape-shifts and tries to get as close to the real Kristen as she can, but she can't really quite figure it out. She really hates Kristen because she can't be her and she wants David to just be happy with her. That was just a lot of fun for me. I guess the absolute scariest demon that I've ever seen and I hope to never see again is in episode nine or eight. I don't think I can tease that, but once that comes out, you'll see it and you'll be like, "Oh yeah. That's the scariest demon I've ever seen." Oh boy. 


Evil Season 3

beginning June 12.


Get to know Katja Herbers: 
The Dutch actor first became known to American audiences as a scientist on Manhattan (Metascore: 79) and later went on to co-star with Ed Harris in Westworld (72). She has also appeared in The Americans (89), The Leftovers (76), and Manhunt: Unabomber (71).