Lyne Renée is having an incredible summer. She stars in the Freeform hit show ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ as the mysterious General Sarah Alder and the season two finale is tonight! But that’s not all, she also plays the cold-as-ice global real estate magnate and former top model, Helena Bergman in the highly anticipated ‘Gossip Girl’ reboot series for HBO Max.
‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ follows a trio of witches who are trained to become powerful weapons for the American military. This season, viewers will get to travel back in time and watch the story of how Sarah Alder came to be, by learning about her past decisions, past connections and more. Season two of “Motherland: Fort Salem” premiered on Freeform June 22, 2021.
The ‘Gossip Girl’ reboot series takes place eight years after the original website went dark and a new generation of New York City private school teens are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl and will address just how much social media — and the landscape of New York itself — has changed in the intervening years. The series premiered in July 2021.
How does it feel to have both these shows coming out around the same time?
Lyne: It feels pretty surreal, you know, when you’re at it for such a long time. And I’m sure my fellow actors will understand that. When you go through so much, not failure, but I should say rejection, that when you are actually in that moment, when we do thrive, and you have two shows at the same time, you’re a little perplexed and it takes some time to really sink in and I think it’s happening right now. And I have the biggest smile on my face and I know how hard I worked for it and what it requires, the sacrifice and the work with it and your team. The hard work pays off and it’s absolutely beyond wonderful to be where I’m at right now.
What excites you the most about stepping into General Alder’s shoes?
Lyne: What excites me the most is the transformation required to portray her, the level of difficulty is so high, given the fact that I have to work with American accents or military posture. I mean, she’s a 300 year old general, and it required so much of me that I had to stay in character the first three months because I thought that if I’m going to have to prove myself, I need to stay with it. And it was, I think, in the third month that one of the crew members approached me and greeted me as general. And I knew I had it. She is the opposite of what I am, I mean, I’m the most clumsy, old romantic there is on this planet. She’s something that is so far fetched that to get into her skin, it requires a lot of transformation.
Did you use anything as inspiration for this transformation?
Lyne: Oh my god, I guess all of the women in the world, women that inspire me. I think every woman has strength and strength comes in such different ways in different emotions and different disciplines and she’s ancient, so it all kind of fell together in that way.
Thinking back to the end of season one, it was kind of up in the air as to whether General Alder was a good guy or a bad guy and it’s still kind of up in the air. What is your take on that?
Lyne: I just love playing with that. The tease in season one was so great and overall, yes, people did think that she was bad, and I love to continue to keep the people guessing. She also reflects that we all make bad mistakes at times and that they all have consequences. One step shouldn’t define who you become. But what’s being shown now is what General Alder did and sacrificed to become who she is and the leader that she’s been for over 45 years, which is pretty incredible. So, all of a sudden there’s a bigger scope and there’s a lot more history and there’s a lot more understanding of who she is and I think it’s nice to leave the people hanging because it gives you something to relate to and maybe reflect upon.
What was it like filming the execution scene from last week’s episode?
Lyne: Oh my God. That scene. We actually shot it over two days, given that it’s such a big space, we filmed everything from one side of the hanger and the second day all the cameras were turned to the other side to catch everything. And you have to meet that with the same emotion, every moment. And those two days were so demanding. I think I went down to my knees and said ‘oh my god, whoever’s out there in the universe, please guide me through tomorrow because it was such a responsibility to carry as Alder, but I’m the one having to execute it. And it was such a great moment because there was such defiance and we, as artists, have a responsibility. We need to reflect the times that we’re in, and we are in a time of revolution. We are in a time of standing up and finding our voice and what our truths are and looking for the truth. Alder says to Tally at the very beginning of this season to make sure that you always look for the truth, and Tally is doing exactly that. She defies Alder and makes her see, ‘hold on, this is what you’re doing’ and sometimes we need to be reminded. And to come back to strong women, because I wanted to add something to that too is vulnerability requires more strength than anything else. And those two days were so vulnerable. We were tired, we had been filming in conditions that were so not glamorous and brutal and cold and isolated and alone and, you know, going through a pandemic, which was horrendous and we had to perform. It was done with so much love and Alder saw her units stepping up and showing what it’s all about and I saw my girls stepping up, my team stepping up. Yes, I’m General Alder, but I’m also Lyne Renée and I also have to set an example, you know, what’s important about work ethic, what is a good attitude on set, because they’re very young and all of a sudden you’re put in a leading position and I hope to fill that. So how I got inspired, I hope to inspire one day too.
Are we going to see what happens to General Alder soon?
Lyne: Yes, yes we are. Prepare yourself because this episode is, if you thought nine broke your heart… the work that is coming your way in the finale is beautiful.
The name of the finale is Revolution, Part One, does that mean that it’s going to end on a cliffhanger?
Lyne: It will. And the cliffhanger is huge. And then I believe it will translate to part two, and that will hopefully be the start of season three, but we’re still awaiting that news.
I hope we find out soon, because this is honestly one of my favorite shows on TV right now.
Lyne: Aw, thank you so much, that means so much. I have to say the love that came my way after my performance in episode nine from people who watched it and the fans that we have generated has been something that really struck me in a way that I believe that what’s being said to you, that’s God talking to you. I love that saying and you know what they say, when you get compliments really, really, hear them, even write some of them down. And the love and the compliments to the performance have been out of this world and I get very emotional from it because I have given it my absolute everything. I believe in Alder so much, I have sacrificed many other things for it, and she’s brought so much to me and my hope was always that she would move people. If I can move my audience, I have done my job. And that’s where my passion lies. If I may just take a moment and just say thank you to all of those of you out there for the beautiful words, they absolutely mean the world to me.
Reflecting back on this past season, what would you say is your favorite moment?
Lyne: I think the best moment is how we got together as a team, every single day. How we took care of each other and how we learned from each other. We were really all battling our own little war, you know, with everything that was going on and I think we found new ways to communicate with each other. I think we found new ways to talk about mental health. They were so incredible to call us all in January to check in with us. We weren’t allowed to travel, we had gone through quarantine. And I tell you, 14 days is a long time and by the 12th day you’re smacking your head against the wall. We took such great care and I think that’s what I was most happy about because it then reflects on everything, on the love we bring to set, on the stakes that are heightened. The incredible care and teamwork that came with it wasn’t always easy, you know, but we learned a lot and I think that has been the most impressive thing about our journey last year.
Is there anything you would like to add about ‘Motherland’ or ‘Gossip Girl?’ We didn’t really get to touch on that…
Lyne: You know, what I love about our industry is that it can change every single day. You never know what’s going to come your way. Yes, you do auditions and you send them off and I’ve very much learned to let go of them and not expect anything back so when my team called me and said, ‘What do you think about ‘Gossip girl?’ I knew I booked it, and it’s been a nice saving grace. It got me to New York, which I was heading to anyway, and I had four days to build a whole new character which was by far one of my biggest challenges to this day. I’ve formed incredible friendships with the cast, ones that are already so dear to my heart, which is beautiful. I basically went from one family to the new one and landed so beautifully in a very warm welcome. I love playing Helena. I get to be all glammed up, which was really lovely after being in military fatigues for the last eight months. It was a cushion that so softly was waiting for me to land on after Alder, because of what I give to Alder, after that I go into a little lost space, I guess I should call it. And so it kind of caught me so beautifully. I can’t believe it. We’re careful what you wish for, to go from one production to another and then all of a sudden it’s there and you better be ready for it.
I loved the original ‘Gossip Girl,’ and I’m loving this one as well.
Lyne: It’s very different, isn’t it. Yeah, I’m happy to hear that you do, a lot of people say they didn’t expect it to be the same, but they’re hooked. I can’t wait for you to see episode eight. There’s a good solid scene with me and Eli (Brown) and to get to work with Malcolm (McDowell), I mean, wow, one of the legends, you know, all of a sudden you’re there and you’re getting to work with someone who’s been in the industry for so long and you learn so much from them. I had a beautiful time working with him and we celebrated his birthday here and because he was also separated from his family, his beautiful family who were in California, I threw a little birthday surprise party. And all of a sudden you’re like, ‘oh my god, I just threw a little party for Malcolm!?’ He’s such a sweetheart to work with. It was very endearing to have experienced that in my career. It’s the people you meet along the way. I always say it’s really about the people you get to meet along the way.