Rachel Nichols Interview: "Continuum" Star on Horror Flick "Demigod"
Image attributed to Rachel Nichols
Rachel Nichols began her acting career with a part in the romantic drama Autumn in New York (2000) and a one-episode role in the fourth season of Sex and the City (2002). Other television appearances include Alias, Criminal Minds, Continuum, Witches of East End, Chicago Fire, The Librarians, Titans, The Man in the High Castle and A Million Little Things. Other films are Dumb an Dumberer, When Harry Met Lloyd, The Amityville Horror, Charlie Wilson’s War, Star Trek, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Conan the Barbarian.
Demigod, now in select theaters and On Demand, stars Nichols, Yohance Myles, Miles Doleac (also the director), Rachel Ryals, Christian Stokes and Jeremy London. It tells the story of a woman and her husband who travel back to her birthplace in Germany’s Black Forest because she inherits all her grandfather’s possessions. However, soon after arriving at her grandfather’s cabin, the pair quickly realize that the inheritance is far more macabre than they bargained for.
"I’ve been confused with the other Rachel Nichols, especially recently because she’s come under fire. So I was getting attacked on Twitter."
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Hi Rachel, Demigod is certainly an interesting adventure with some demons, witches and hunters (laughs).
Rachel Nichols: (laughs) Yep. It was the first job I did during the pandemic. I thought, “You know what? This is kind of out there, and it is kind of crazy. But, why not?” Then I spoke with Miles, the director, and I genuinely really liked it right off the bat. I felt like I was going to be safe and protected there, so I just decided to do it.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Where was it filmed?
Rachel Nichols: We actually filmed in Mississippi. I know it’s set in the deep black woods of Germany, but we filmed it in Mississippi. We were in an enclosed area. We lived on and shot in sort of a campground that had cabins on it. It was creepy. But you know what? It was like the German forest, so I was all for it.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I believe your character’s husband sums it up by saying, “This place is creepy as fuck.” (laughs)
Rachel Nichols: Yes. And that’s why I actually love Yohance, or I should say, “Leo.” Her husband, Leo, is jumping into this craziness with her, and he has no idea what he’s about to get into. She (Robin) has some idea maybe. But he just loves his wife and says, “Fuck. This is crazy.”
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I don’t know much about the younger girl, Rachel Ryals, who played Amalia. But, I thought she was really good.
Rachel Nichols: She was great. She was such a professional. She had to learn how to speak those German lines. She was such a delight. Her mother was so lovely. You know, when you’re working with a younger actor, you don’t really know what you’re going to get. I just adored her.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Did you do some of your own stunts?
Rachel Nichols: Yeah. I’ve done stunt work before, and I have great respect for stunt performers. I will do as many of my own stunts as they’ll let me. Everything in Demigod, I did myself. I have a background in doing stunt things, so unless it’s being thrown through a glass wall, which has happened to a character of mine, or riding around the streets of Paris on a motorcycle, which has happened to a character of mine, I try and do as many of the stunts as I can.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You were injured on the set of G.I. Joe?
Rachel Nichols: Yes. There were a couple of times. One was a fight scene in The Man in the High Castle. I was doing this fight scene with a male actor, and we misread each other, and my shoulder popped out. Sometimes, boys don’t know how strong they are, and then they’re trying to fake fight with a girl. Their adrenaline gets going, and the testosterone gets pumped up, and then suddenly, your shoulder’s out of joint. But, yeah, I did have a little thing on G.I. Joe, but that was pyrotechnics. That was fire (laughs). It’s part of the job. My favorite thing is when you get to look at the movie or a TV show, and there’s a fight sequence, and you know that it’s you. It’s pretty badass. It’s pretty cool.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I noticed your Twitter handle is “Actress, not ESPN.”
Rachel Nichols: I’ve been confused with the other Rachel Nichols, especially recently because she’s come under fire. So I was getting attacked on Twitter. People thought I was her, so I had to change my Twitter handle so that hopefully, people would recognize it and know that I wasn’t the ESPN reporter.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Do you know the “other” Rachel Nichols?
Rachel Nichols: I’ve never met her personally. I’ve had friends that have met her. I actually have a video of her on my phone, and she’s saying, “We have to meet each other! This is crazy!” But, I’ve never met her in person.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Fans sometimes blur the lines between the actor and the character. Have you ever received social media backlash about any character you have played?
Rachel Nichols: Actually, I have had social media backlash on that. When I joined Criminal Minds, people were not happy because Paget Brewster and A. J. Cook were going to leave the series and I joined. Then, people were attacking me. I give all the credit to Thomas Gibson, Shemar Moore and Joe Mantegna for getting online and defending me and saying on Twitter, “She’s an actress that was hired for a job. She’s part of our family now. Please stop attacking her.” Because of Thomas, Joe and Shemar, that kind of shut people up. But, yeah, I did face a serious backlash from that.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Why were you let go from Criminal Minds?
Rachel Nichols: I don’t know, but I found out online when I was on vacation in Peru. It was on Twitter that I wasn’t coming back, and my team didn’t even know. Thomas Gibson and I were quite close, and I called him from Peru just crying and crying! He was so sweet, and he was also irate. He said, “What do you mean you’re not coming back?” He was so lovely and so sweet. I don’t know the ins and outs of why, but I enjoyed my time working on the show, was very grateful for it and made some great friends there. Joe Mantegna’s like the nicest person in the world, and when I wasn’t invited back, he reached out to me and said, “There’s something else coming down the pike for you.”
I then booked Continuum, and Joe ended up watching an episode when he was in Canada shooting something else. He called me and said, “I told you, kiddo! I told you!” He’s the most avuncular, sweet, kind gentleman. I wish I had been on Criminal Minds longer, but there were other things to come.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Was Continuum cancelled in the fourth season?
Rachel Nichols: They cancelled it because there was a lot of financial strife between the studio and network in Canada. They didn’t want to renew it for a season four. Then fans went crazy and nuts, so they renewed us for season four, but they only gave us six episodes not the full 13. So Simon Barry and everybody involved in the writing room had to condense a season because we had a plan for seven seasons. But, like I said, due to the financial strife that was currently happening at Shaw’s Showcase, they just didn’t want to do programming of that nature. So we did get six episodes. We did get to finish it, but it was a very truncated season.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: What was your experience like on Continuum?
Rachel Nichols: I loved that show. Literally every cast member on that show came to my wedding. I mean, that’s how close we were. I still see them when I’m in LA. Victor Webster just got married. All of them were such wonderful and amazing people. We were all really close. There wasn’t one diva on that set, and that’s what makes for a wonderful working experience. I did work with Brian Markinson again in A Million Little Things, and I just spent some time up in Vancouver shooting that. We’re all still close, and that’s what helps to make a great show.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Especially early on, A Million Little Things was compared to This Is Us. What do you think?
Rachel Nichols: Well, I’ll be honest. I’ve never seen This Is Us. But, I did start watching A Million Little Things when I booked the job because I wanted to see the show. I’m almost through the first three seasons. It’s very emotionally charged. It’s a beautiful show. David Giuntoli and I shot a pilot many moons ago, and of course, he plays Eddie on A Million Little Things. He’s such a lovely, wonderful gentleman. It was great to work with him again.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: However, your character (Nicole) did put Eddie in a wheelchair (laughs).
Rachel Nichols: Ah, yes. My character paralyzed his character. I feel so sad saying it. But, yeah, I paralyzed Eddie (laughs).
Smashing Interviews Magazine: What’s next for Nicole?
Rachel Nichols: We’re slowly figuring it out. Even I don’t know exactly.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I usually have people answer that question, “I don’t want the powers that be to kill me.” (laughs)
Rachel Nichols: I don’t want ABC to come murder me (laughs).
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Would you say your first big break on television was Alias?
Rachel Nichols: Yep, and I was a huge fan of the show. I was so excited that I was going to be on that show. I loved everything about it. The cast was amazing. Jennifer Garner’s the nicest woman I’ve ever met in my life. That was a great experience. For the first time, I was a recurring character on a major show, and they were all so lovely, inviting, warm and nice. It really was one of the most important jobs I ever had at the beginning of my career.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Did you enjoy having a fling with Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) on Chicago Fire?
Rachel Nichols: (laughs) Oh, my gosh, Taylor! He is the nicest, nicest man. But, yeah, it’s funny because I had friends that watched the show, and they’d say, “Oh, my God! You and Kelly!” He’s such a nice, sweet man. I adored him. It was obviously in Chicago because that’s obviously where the shoot Chicago Fire. But, yeah. I had a great time with him. It was really fun. Sexy scenes, as I’m sure you know, aren’t really sexy in real life because there’s a cameraman, a boom operator, a director yelling at you, there’s a crew and all these people around. But Taylor and I had some good laughs.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Taylor seems like he definitely has a mischievous side.
Rachel Nichols: Oh, absolutely! He’s got a great sense of humor. He’s very easy to be around. He cracks the jokes. I would work with him again in a heartbeat.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You were in the award-winning film Charlie Wilson’s War, and that was just a few years into your career.
Rachel Nichols: Charlie Wilson’s War was directed by the late, great Mike Nichols. It was with Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julia Roberts. I have a very small role, but I loved every second it it, especially Mike Nichols because he was my favorite director. To be able to have worked with him was pretty incredible. He had the best laugh in the business. So Jennifer Garner is the nicest woman I’ve ever met, and Tom Hanks is the nicest man I’ve ever met.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: What fills your time when you’re not working?
Rachel Nichols: That depends. Pre-COVID, I did a lot of traveling. My husband and I love to travel. We took on a different role with COVID. I got a dog, and I enjoyed jigsaw puzzles. I don’t have a very scintillating personal life. It’s not as if I’m out in the clubs dancing every night. We have a lovely house we love. We have our Pit Bull that we love. We just spent a lot of time together, obviously, during the pandemic. It’s been crucial and non-negotiable that we spent a lot of time together since we live together and weren’t allowed to go anywhere. But I’m pretty easy. I love to go home to Maine to see my family. I’m actually leaving to go to Maine in the middle of November. I haven’t been home in two years. It’s the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing my parents. So I’d maintain that travel is my favorite thing to do on my down time.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Were your parents supportive of your career choice?
Rachel Nichols: They were very supportive. I went to Columbia University in New York, and I got a degree in economics. I got my degree, and they said that they were still supportive of me pursuing this. I was 22 at the time, and they said, “Listen. You have your degree, and if you want to pursue this acting thing, do it now while you don’t have any responsibilities.” So they were very supportive. I wouldn’t be talking to you today if my parents weren’t supportive. I wouldn’t be talking to you today if my parents had said, “Don’t go to Columbia. Go to Dartmouth.” It would’ve been a very different conversation. But they’ve always been in my corner, and I can’t thank them enough for that.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: So you may have been an economics teacher instead of an actor?
Rachel Nichols: Well, I actually got offered a pretty lucrative job in the banking world before I accepted my first movie. Ironically, that bank no longer exists. My parents always joke about that with their friends and say, “We told her to go for acting.” Anyway, ironically enough, the bank’s not there anymore, and here I am sitting in a car talking to you.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Well, you made the right decision because I’ve enjoyed your work.
Rachel Nichols: Thank you so much.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Is there anything else coming up for you, Rachel?
Rachel Nichols: I shot a Netflix movie called The Last Will and Testament of Charles Abernathy, so I’m really excited about that. It’s kind of like that HBO show Succession, but it does have a thriller twist to it. I just had the best time. Most people know Bob Gunton as the warden in The Shawshank Redemption, but he plays my father. I get to play the eldest sister who’s taking over the company with my twin brother. So I get to be a bitch, and I quite like it. There’s also a vulnerable side to her. Alejandro Brugues, who directed it, had a clear and interesting vision for the movie, so I’m excited to see it. Then I’ve got some stuff on the books for next year, but everything keeps fluctuating. We’ll see what pulls through in the New Year!
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