Although CCH Pounder is perhaps best known for her role as Captain Claudette Wyms on "The Shield," she has appeared in dozens of movies and TV series including "End of Days," "Hill Street Blues," "Quantum Leap," "The X-files" and "Millennium." More recently, Pounder lent her voice to Mo’at, the spiritual leader of the Na’vi in James Cameron’s "Avatar."
Pounder met with the press earlier this month to discuss her current role on the hit Syfy series "Warehouse 13." Pounder stars as the mysterious Mrs. Frederic, an apparently ageless woman who is connected to the Warehouse in ways that have yet to become clear. In this interview, Pounder shares her own theories on Mrs. Frederic’s past and her currently unseen husband before giving us a taste of what to expect from Tuesday’s second season finale.
Q: Prior to joining "Warehouse 13," you appeared in several different genres in film and television. Why did you decide to jump to the sci-fi genre to play Mrs. Frederick?
CCH Pounder: Well, only recently, like maybe in the last seven years, I took a look at my resume and kind of went, ooh, I’m kind of hitting my stride on touching pretty much every genre known to man in the film world. Maybe I should just go for it.
All of this is about timing. It wasn’t that I went out to seek a sci-fi product, but one came up and the other thing that came up was, police captain. And I thought, well having just spent seven years in that end, perhaps I’m going to go sci-fi. So that’s actually how I found sci-fi again.
And this way, the character, Mrs. Frederick is so mysterious, that even the writers haven’t been able to tell me who she is. She has no legend like the other actors do. I thought, it might be fun to just so sort of insert yourself in a place where you know nothing about the character, except what’s written on the page for that particular episode.
So far, it’s been a little scary, but still challenging and fun.
Q: What was it like working with Lindsay Wagner on the finale?
CCH Pounder: Oh, that was fun. It’s so funny, because when you’re known for something, people never say, it’s sort of like, “Oh, you know, who’s coming in on this set, it’s Lindsay Wagner.” They go, ‘No, it’s the Bionic Woman”.
So, your mind goes back to the "Bionic Woman," what 30 years ago. And then Lindsay Wagner, the actress, shows up and she is a fabulous actor of film and television and theatre and you get to work with a pro and it’s cool.
Q: Regarding the regents, a few weeks ago, Allison Scagliotti indicated that the regents were closer to working class people than government officials. Will we learn more about them in the last part of the finale?
CCH Pounder: Now, that’s really interesting that Allison, young pup, only saw what looked like working class people in that café, because in fact, there was sort of every level of humanity in that café and the surprise was, was that, they looked ordinary and that was the difference. So, I would say that regents are ordinary looking people with extraordinary responsibility.
That’s the first thing. I think you’ll hear a lot more about the regents because they are the big decision makers of Warehouse 13. Now, how did that’d all come about? I have no clue.
Q: Will the Egyptian symbolism be explored further? Some of the McPherson plotlines still haven’t paid off.
CCH Pounder: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think [the] "Warehouse 13" [producers] probably really confident, especially when they already know that season three is going to happen, so that maybe they didn’t have to explore everything and explain everything all together this season, because we’ve got another season to come.
And I think all those things kind of will reveal itself, but I don’t know which path that they’re going down. I don’t know whether it’s the eye of Horace path. I don’t know whether the Egyptian warehouse kind of Alexandria will come back up again.
And I’m kind of clueless as you are.
Q: Since you are "Mrs." Frederick on the show, who would you like to see play Mr. Frederick if they cast him on the series?
CCH Pounder: Well, I’ve been trying to figure this guy out. First of all, is he still alive? Did she take over his job? Was there actually a Mr. Frederick and she knew so much about him that she just took his place, which sounds a little bit like "Avatar" with the dude, the dead brother and the living brother.
But, it’s a possibility. And then again, there’s Mrs. Frederick with that fabulous beehive hairstyle stuck in the 60’s, perhaps he was the guy in the audience that – while she was singing in the nightclub, that passed on secret information to her.
[It] really could go anywhere. So, I have no clue, but I cannot wait to see who or what Mr. Frederick was or is. And does he look his real age? [And] is he like 150?
Q: Do you have any theories on who or what Mrs. Frederick is?
CCH Pounder: Yes, I do. I think Mrs. Frederick is a hologram.
Q: But she can touch things and interact with people.
CCH Pounder: Yes, she can.
Q: And she seems to transcend time…
CCH Pounder: Yes, how is she able to transcend time? Why doesn’t she need to enter through a door? All these things. Why is that hairstyle so prominent? Is that period that she liked and said, “Okay, I’m going to go with this for the next 400 years”.
Did she see it in the future and decide that’s a fabulous hairstyle? Is it a memory of the past? There’s, you know…
Well, I’m always trying to figure it out myself. I will tell you that, Mrs. Frederick has no legend and I don’t know if you know, that most actors are given a kind of legend or background story of who the character is. Mrs. Frederick just got a blank page and said, “Not to be divulged.”
Q: If you could create Mrs. Frederic’s backstory, what would it be?
CCH Pounder: Oh yeah. Well, I told it once, so we’ll spend a little time. I envisioned that Mrs. Frederick was actually a back up girl for some singing group. And that the resolve is a fellow in the audience that came to see her over and over again, and obviously this was CIA agent, but she didn’t know that at the time.
And he came one time when he was sick, and after her performance, he approached her in the hallway backstage and said, “Can I have a drink with you?”
And then, of course, it was the ‘60’s and I think that Mr. Frederick was a white guy and they have to find a place where a black person and a white person can have this conversation.
And he tells her his entire life and who is and what he does, and that he has this information and he says, “And I want to feed it to you.” And by whatever means he does it, through blood, through transfusions, through hooking up to electrodes together, he implants all this information in the now Mrs. Fredericks playing – who has moved from Show Girl background doo-op singer to the incredible brain of Warehouse 13.
Q: Do you have a favorite episode of the series so far?
CCH Pounder: Favorite. No, I don’t want to say I had a favorite. I’ve had one that made me the saddest and that was when I lost my bodyguard.
I don’t know if you’ve seen that episode already, but at the end of the first season, my bodyguard got some kind of internal choking mechanism happening to him while driving and he imploded.
It was horrible. I miss him. Yeah.
Q: If you don’t have a favorite episode, do you have a favorite artifact?
CCH Pounder: Well, the thing [that] you guys don’t get to see, is us when we actually walk down through the warehouse. The artifacts [they have] there that have nothing necessarily to do with the current show, but they’re there in the event that that might happen, so they are some pretty amazing ones.
I like sometimes the really simply ones, like the wallet that talks and influences. There were the bronzification machine and to see that in person, the stuff that they’ve built, is pretty extraordinary.
In terms of what else could be in there, I’m kind of tickled by the fact that it is sort of steeped in history in some way or another and that kind of steam punk look is a huge part of our show.
And so, not necessarily the artifacts, but I use [the] computer to see it in reality is an amazing thing. It is fabulous to look at how they put these keys look like they’re from the old adding machines and then there’s… this case is completely ornate. I don’t know where we get out talent forr our props and the works, but this stuff is gorgeous.
Q: Before we sign off, we wanted to mention your part in "Avatar." Did you have any friends or family stay and watch the credits to figure out if it was your voice?
CCH Pounder: Well, Avatar has huge credits. They’re really, really long and I know lots of people who stayed to determine whether that was my voice or not.
Yes, I got that a lot from lots of mail, lots of Facebook reaction on that. But, it’s really interesting that the folks who were under 15 years old who are [fans] of "Justice League" and recognized Amanda Waller’s voice, even while speaking another language. [They] knew that it was me, which I felt pretty amazing.
So, I’ve got a slew of 15 year old young men who said, "We knew that was you.”
Q: You do have a really distinctive voice.
CCH Pounder: Thank you.