Shirley Manson Talks About Playing The World's Worst Boss

Illustration for article titled Shirley Manson Talks About Playing The World's Worst Boss

How does Shirley "Garbage" Manson put the right amount of steely menace into evil CEO Catherine Weaver on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles? She channels a little bit of Margaret Thatcher, the former U.K. prime minister, she told reporters in a conference call today. Also, we asked Manson whether she would be terrorizing any more of her underlings, and her response was... interesting. Spoilers ahead, especially if you missed the season opener. It's not that Manson thinks Thatcher was an evil liquid metal robot from the future, bent on bringing about the apocalypse, exactly. She explained: "She was really a very powerful and seemingly unassailable character when I was growing up, and I really didn't think very kindly of her. So she was a great inspiration for a CEO of a company who didn't have the kindest and warmest of hearts. My character is nothing like her but she definitely informed me." "I am the boss from hell," Manson laughed when we asked her about her management techniques. We were excited by the sequence in Monday's episode where Manson not only revealed that she was a Terminator, but also put an unruly subordinate in his place in the men's room. I asked her if she was going to be terrorizing any more employees soon, and she gave an intriguing answer: "There's a really nice surprise coming up for my character, which i obvously can't reveal. I am a woman from hell, let's put it that way." So it sounds as though Manson's next act of workplace inappropriateness relates to her being a woman in particular?

Illustration for article titled Shirley Manson Talks About Playing The World's Worst Boss

I asked her about being an evil CEO who's also a robot, and she said there may just be a theme relating to abuse of power in there, possibly. So why did the Terminator CEO choose to turn into a urinal before killing one of her troublesome employees? Producer Josh Friedman wanted to hit men where it hurts, said Manson. "It was every man's nightmare, sort of a male bastion of security in the urinal. He liked the idea of a woman who had already irritated this particular man being able to infiltrate someplace where he felt safe, and that was a true terror." She couldn't really explain the difference between her T-1001 and the T-1000 played by Robert Patrick in the movie, except that it's a bit of an upgrade in some ways. All of the actors who play Terminators on the show would like to have their characters meet and possibly throw down, but it hasn't happened yet, Manson says. And it doesn't sound as though she's had any real fight scenes. Her personal trainer has gotten her doing more boxing just in case, but she's worried that her model of Terminator is so advanced, she won't ever have to get her hands dirty. She was reluctant to sing the song at the start of the episode, "Samson And Delilah," because she didn't want to remind the audience that she was a singer when she was trying to play this very different role. But producer Josh Friedman plied her with wine and talked her into doing it as a favor to him. Manson also said she's given a lot of thought to playing a robot:

She is embodying a human being, so she has stolen the identity of Catherine Weaver, so that in itself is interesting to me. So she is physically a human being but she is unable to bring what is human to the table. It's a sort of rumination on what it is like not to have emotions and to have necessarily logical thought. The whole time I'm on set, I'm trying to imagine what that is like, and so that's a discipline for me. And it's harder to be a robot than one would think. You realize they would be probably very economical with their movements. I've tried consciously to be as undemonstrative as possible. And that's been a challenge in itself... I think it's very interesting that this is a woman who is very unassailable because she's a Terminator, and she's a successful CEO. I find it amusing, in a way, that she is on top of everything and everyone, so it is very interesting to play.


Alan Henry

Wait Shirley Manson is in this show?