Interview With Wrenn Schmidt
What is driving Julia's fight for custody of Tommy? Is it out of love for him or Richard?
It's out of love for both of them. By the time Richard leaves Tommy with her at the end of Season 3, she definitely loves Harrow, but she's also starting to love this little kid. Julia's not the kind of person who likes to daydream and have expectations but I think by that point, the idea of them as a family unit has gotten the best of her. She also didn't know where Harrow was, so her "momma bear" instincts kicked in, given what she knew about Gillian. It's not just her growing love for Tommy - but understanding what his living situation was before. She's prepared to fight tooth and nail so that he doesn't have to grow up with that kind of person.
How confident is Julia in her ability to win the custody battle?
She has a trump card going into that courtroom?she knows what the kid went through and how he has nightmares about what happened. He looks to Julia for reassurance?not Gillian. But she loses that confidence when the judge points out that she and her father don't make a lot of money and she's unmarried. This is this first time it's like, "Shit." And now Gillian suddenly appears to have this wealthy suitor. When it was just her, it wasn't like she had the most stellar reputation in town.
Does she resent Gillian's weakness? Or can she empathize?
Gretchen and I were actually talking about that. Both of them are survivors who always readjust to their circumstances, but they have made very different choices about how to adapt. There's a part of Julia that's disgusted by Gillian but she also understands and feels sorry for her. She doesn't feel it's an excuse, but Julia feels really bad about the lot in life this woman has.
Has Julia forgiven Harrow for leaving?
I don't think she has. When Richard shows up, she's confused, hurt, sad - and there's definitely a part of her that's angry with him, too. The proposal comes more out of her need to save Tommy than "Let's get married!"
So it's more out of convenience than lingering feelings of love?
Oh, she's still in love with Harrow. That's what makes his disappearance hurt that much more. She got to a point where she opened herself up to the possibility that she might be able to have a family and then she gets sucker-punched in the season finale. It was a huge betrayal because she loves him so dearly. One of Julia's greatest fears, although she'd probably never say it, is being abandoned.
In a way, her father abandoned her after her brother was killed.
Yeah. Both his reaction to what happened to her brother as well as Douglas's (the widower she dated before Richard) reaction to her father - whatever it was that scared him off - that's part of why she's so strong. She's her own anchor. And then the person she never thought would abandon her, whom she opened up to, does it without any explanation. That's the hardest thing to deal with after he's gone. She's lying in bed wrestling with, "What does it mean? Why has he done this?"
Would you say she's used to difficult men?
Yeah. She's pretty tough. I think there's some exasperation on her part that she has to propose, but the need for it to be done outweighs her pride. She's OK with leading the charge because she's been doing it for a long time with her dad.
Also, she knows it'd be forever before Richard asked her. She knows he wants to be there for her but she doesn't fully trust that he's not going anywhere. Tommy propels her forward, as well as discovering that her dad is dying.
It's a lot to deal with all at once.
Oh my god yeah! When I read that scene, I was like, "Holy shit!" There are times when I get her scenes and I just start crying. I really admire her resilience, and her move forward despite all the things that might be pushing her back.
Despite what he's put her through, what is it about Richard that Julia can't turn away from? Why do they work?
You can't control the people you fall in love with, especially when there's a spark. I don't think she felt that initially?when she first met Richard her priority was to get her wasted dad home. She sees him as a whole person, not as a handicapped person, and he sees her in the same light. He's not dissuaded or discomfited by her dad. There are probably many men that have approached Julia and got scared off; Richard's the first person not running for the hills. Before they met each other, Julia and Harrow had resigned themselves to their circumstances. Between having to be the breadwinner in her family and given who her dad is, she thought she'd grow up to take care of her father and be a cat lady.