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Quantico’s Third Season: An Interview with Marlee Matlin & Michael Seitzman

Mama's Geeky Marlee Matlin Michael Seitzman Quantico

I admit it, before this press event I had never watched an episode of ABC’s Quantico. Now, I have had several friends tell me that I needed to, and that I would love it. Season three started last week and I knew ahead of time that this season could be a stand alone season – meaning that you would not have to see the first two seasons to enjoy it. But after watching the first episode, I plan to go back and watch the first two seasons. It sucked me right in and I immediately became invested in the characters. Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin joined the cast this season so I was excited to get to talk with her and Executive Producer and Showrunner Michael Seitzman.

Quantico Season 3 Cast

Photo Credit: ABC

Three Years in the Future

If you are a Quantico fan, then you likely know season three brought in a new showrunner, Michael Seitzman. It was so great to meet him and pick his brain about what he was doing with season three. He made the decision to start season three with a three year time jump from season two. When we asked him why, he went on to explain why.

People that watch television or watch a movie, they don’t realize that the primary job of the writer and the filmmaker is to frustrate the audience – not to give the audience what they want. To put it another way, the audience always wants their favorite couple to get together. We sit in a room and the bulk of our time is spent trying to figure out ways to keep them apart. At the end of Season 2, Ryan and Alex flew off into the sunset together. And what’s left? They did it. Are they gonna have marital disputes for the next season? Is that what’s gonna happen? Is that the show right now? Or, did something go wrong? And maybe if something went wrong. I could buy a lot by giving us three years.

Michael wanted to serve the new audience, like me, as well as the loyal audience. As a new fan, I really appreciate this. I felt like I could continue on this season, with no need to go back and watch the first two seasons.

Quantico Interview Marlee Matlin Michael Seitzman

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Marlee Joins The Cast

You might not know this, but Michael and Marlee worked together before Quantico. They met at Rob Lowe’s roast on Comedy Central and discussed the show Code Black. He wrote her in to an episode of that and they had such a great time, they talked about working together on Quantico. Marlee explained how that came about,

About two months later he texts me and says I have a great idea for you. I said, sure, what is it? Tell me what it is. [He said] I want to write you into Quantico. And he told me what the character was. And I said, oh, my gosh, I’m so interested, let’s go for it. Then before I knew it, I was on the set in New York City playing Jocelyn Turner for him.

Michael told his version of the story and added in how much himself and the writers enjoy writing for Marlee’s character. The writers really utilize Marlee and her deafness to propel the story lines forward and help solve the cases. If you have seen the first episode of season three already, then you know how vital Jocelyn Turner was in finding the solution. I especially loved her telling Ryan to look at it with clear eyes.

Quantico Season 3

Photo Credit: ABC

Adjusting the Way You Work

For many, possibly all, of the cast and crew of Quantico, working with Marlee was their first time working with a deaf person. We learned that Marlee actually came in to the writer’s room. Marlee felt that this was really important.

I felt that the writers needed to see me in person to get a feel for who I am. To be able to pick up the different situations that I might find myself in and the situations that I’ve been in in my life or what I envisioned could happen as a result of the character that I’m playing. The writers are all brilliant. It was really helpful that I was able to be there in the writing room.

Michael Seitzman Quantico

Photo Credit: ABC

Micheal went on to explain how good that session was for the writers as well.

It was a great session for us because we had to learn. We also had a deaf writer in the room, which helped us. But, really, the session with Marlee was the most illuminating for us because we got to ask the questions head on and ask how it feels to be in this situation, how it feels to be in that situation. We got to learn a little bit. We’re constantly texting with each other so that we can make adjustments to make it work. Here’s a good example. A hearing person, somebody who’s not deaf, I wouldn’t think right away that everybody has to look at her when they’re talking to her. It wouldn’t occur to me.

Of course, it is important that the other characters and actors look at Marlee, at Jocelyn, in the show. If she is to be able to read lips, they would have to be looking at her. Something really interesting that Micheal pointed out to us, was that we were all looking at Marlee’s interpreter when she was answering our questions at first. But within a few minutes, we started looking at her while she answered. That is because we adjusted, and realized that although she may not be talking, she was the one communicating with us.

Quantico Interview Marlee Matlin Michael Seitzman

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Get Excited For Episode Six

We asked Marlee and Michael what their favorite episode of this season was, and they both said episode six. No spoilers here, but they did tease us with some information. In this episode, we see Jocelyn before she went deaf, and this allowed Marlee to do something she had never done before – play a hearing person. Micheal explained why he really enjoyed writing and filming this episode.

We see her before she was deaf so we see her with a different voice. We see her with the voice of someone who’s hearing and it’s really exciting. The story that we tell in the flashbacks is wildly compelling and fascinating to watch because by episode six, we know the character really well. So to see what happened to the character and to see how that relates to the story that we’re telling present day. We ask the question what would it be like if you were put into the most horrifying experience that you could imagine and you couldn’t hear? The show enters a different genre in that episode. In a lot of ways it becomes as much of a horror genre as it is a spy genre.

Marlee added in what she learned while filming this episode, and while preparing to film it. You might already know this, but she was deaf at 18 months, so she doesn’t remember hearing.

My job was to learn about hearing and learn about the characteristics of a hearing person. I did a lot of homework – you guys take your hearing for granted. It was a real challenge for me as an actor because being deaf, I use my eyes more than any other of my senses. So here I am in a situation where I’m playing completely opposite of that. And I didn’t use my eyes, I used my hearing. It was a challenge, but yet it was very exciting. I don’t know how many times I thanked [Michael] for writing that episode.

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About Quantico Season Three

It’s been three years since American hero Alex Parrish has had to navigate the dangerous waters of the Central Intelligence Agency and put her life on the line for her country. She has been living a peaceful, anonymous life somewhere in Italy. However, Alex is forced to abandon this idyllic existence when Ryan persuades her to help him rescue Shelby from a notorious international arms dealer known only as The Widow, who is holding her hostage – and in exchange for her release she demands something that only Alex can provide.

The next episodes, Fear and Flesh, airs tonight, May 3rd at 10pm ET: In tracking down the origin of a deadly strain of tuberculosis threatening Americans, Agent Ryan Booth must go undercover and infiltrate a white supremacist organization. An assignment that threatens the life of another member of the team.

Watch Quantico Thursdays at 10|9c
on ABC or streaming or on the app!

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