On DirecTV’s Kingdom (airing Wednesdays at 9/8c), much noise has been made (and mouths left agape) by the freshman drama’s mighty MMA warriors, played by Frank Grillo, Matt Lauria, Nick Jonas and Jonathan Tucker.
But amidst the ensemble of jacked Joes, there’s Kiele Sanchez‘s Lisa Prince, the strong-in-her-own-right girlfriend of Grillo’s Alvey Kulina, whose gym she manages. Here, Sanchez reveals how the MMA world was familiar territory to her, ponders the threat that Lauria’s rehabilitated Ryan poses to Lisa’s new romance and weighs in on The Glades‘ dangling mystery.
TVLINE | How much did you know about MMA fighting before starting Kingdom?
I had an ex who was really into MMA, so I used to watch it all the time. I kind of fell off of it but I’m now getting back into being a fan and watching it again, and I did a lot of homework on it. The thing that I’ve always been drawn to in MMA is that on any given day, someone can be defeated. It’s like there could be a huge upset because you’re putting boxers against jujitsu people, wrestlers against karate specialists…. So if they just happen to get in a kick — or eight — you can’t withstand that. It’s really hard to dominate in that world, and the ones that do are like superhuman.
TVLINE | And what all did you know about Lisa’s background going in?
Her background is definitely more white-collar [than the guys]. She was a tomboy who grew up feeling misunderstood and unappreciated by her family, so I think this is her way of rebelling, of trying to find her own way. It’s going to be different from what her parents had wanted or wished for her.
TVLINE | And then she met Ryan (played by Matt Lauria), but things between them eventually went south?
He asked her to marry him about six years before the show takes place. They were engaged for two years and during the last year he was a real a–hole. He was a really awful guy and mistreated her and cheated on her. He was doing a lot of drugs and had gotten out of control as he got successful as a fighter. Then one day he did something really awful in front of her and…. I’m trying not to tell too much, but he went to jail, so we basically hadn’t seen each other in four years.
TVLINE | When he resurfaced, what kind of feelings went through her head?
I think that there are certain people that have such a power over you, you can’t be in the same room as them because you’re afraid of what you’ll do. That’s definitely true for her with him. So her way of dealing with it is denial. She tries to tell Alvey over and over again, “This is not someone I should be near.” That we should not just invite him back into the fold.
TVLINE | That aside, is Lisa happy with her life? Is she content?
I don’t think Lisa is ever content. I describe her as someone who’s comfortable being uncomfortable. When we start off, the gym isn’t doing well and she wants it to be huge. So her dreams are really big and she’s on that path. So she’s happy but not satisfied.
TVLINE | But she’s in love with Alvey? He wasn’t a port in a storm? The classic rebound guy?
She’s in love with Alvey. Yeah, it’s real and it’s deep and she also has known his sons, which is actually probably how she met Alvey, through them. Yeah, they connect on a lot of levels. I don’t think that you can ever love like you do the first time, but that doesn’t make the healthier love any less.
TVLINE | So in playing this role, what have you learned about running a gym?
You know, it’s kind of like any other business in a way, except that she’s a very strong woman in a male-dominated world. I go to work and it’s super-testosterone everywhere. But I’ve always been very comfortable around guys. I grew up with a brother, so I’m usually that girl that’s at the bar having whiskey with her guy friends.
TVLINE | Lastly, fans of The Glades are still upset. Do you know anything about how Jim’s wedding-day shooting would have played out?
No. I actually like to spread the rumor that Callie’s son shot Jim.
TVLINE | Some people think it was Jeff’s mom.
That’s a good one. She does like firearms.
TVLINE | What would you have liked to explore if the show had moved forward?
I was really interested in seeing Manus’ home life and more of Carlos’ home life and sort of deeper character work with the other people at the [police] station. I would have liked to have seen how an adult married couple [navigates] from that honeymoon phase to “I have a kid who’s going through awful teenage years and would be living with us.” And whose home do we live in? All of those issues that an adult love story, later marriages sort of bring. I would have loved to have explored that.
TVLINE | But to be clear, you don’t know who shot Jim.
I don’t know who shot Jim!