Katie Leclerc previews tonight’s ‘What If?’ episode of SWITCHED AT BIRTH, “Ecce Mono”
Following the events of last week’s shocking episode which not only had Regina and John having an all out screaming war, but John collapsing, suffering an apparent heart attack, tonight’s all new episode of SWITCHED AT BIRTH, titled “Ecce Mono,” follows our favorite characters through an alternate reality of sorts. It plays with the idea of what might have happened if Regina had come clean those many years ago. How would the lives of the Kennish-Vasquez family have been different? And would different mean better? I spent time chatting with series star Katie Leclerc (Daphne) about what happens tonight, what it means moving forward, and how this show continues to inspire her!
The show just continues to gel, and each week it surprises me. I can imagine when that’s happening for an audience, it’s just as exciting to get up every morning, and jump into this character / these relationships.
We have an incredible time together. I wake up every day and I pinch myself. I can’t believe, I’m so lucky to work with such great people. Not only that, the material is really, really good. Usually, you get one of the other, but we’re lucky enough to get both. The stories that we’re telling are fantastic. The acting is great, and the people on a personal level are great. We count our lucky stars for sure.
I feel like a show like this wouldn’t work as well as it does if the cast didn’t gel offscreen. You see that when you’re working back and forth with each other.
There’s a love! We really, genuinely, truly, all of us, we love each other. It’s cheesy to say, but in the process of becoming a family onscreen, we sort of became one off screen. Vanessa Marano is one of my absolutely all-time, 1000% favorite people. So much so that I moved so that I could be her neighbor [laughs]. We love each other. We spend tons of time outside of work together. So, so, so fantastic. It’s such a blessing.
I’m excited about [tonight’s] ‘what if’ episode – set up for the audience how this episode comes together?
So, at the end of episode 14, John has been under a ton of stress, and he has a heart attack. He collapses to the floor. They go in and try to save him, and we warp into John’s mind and he has this sort of fantasy/nightmare of what would have happened if, when Regina found out about the switch, if circumstances made it so that Daphne was given to the Kennish family. When that happens, they immediately give her a cochlear implant, they do not surround her within the deaf culture. It’s amazing how one change and one thing can affect so many lives for so many years later on. Daphne, in this fantasy version, ends up as a vapid, materialistic, shallow person who is empty inside. As an actor, I love regular Daphne. I identify with her quite a bit. I really genuinely think she’s just a wonderful person and good role model. Makes mistakes, sure, but who doesn’t? The alternate fantasy version was such a good time for me to play with. David Paymer was the director the episode; he’s a wonderful director, so we played with ‘how far do we push her,’ and when to pull it back. When to be vulnerable and mean at the same time. There is a scene where Daphne sort of breaks down, and everything comes to a head for her, and she kind of can’t fake it anymore. She kind of just breaks down in her closet where no one can see her. It’s a really intense moment. For me, at least, it was really interesting to explore where Regina falls into all of this in order to make Daphne a happy, productive person.
I really like what the show has been doing with exploring the relationships between Regina & Bay and Daphne & Kathryn. Even if this is in John’s mind, how does this episode inform what we’ll see for the rest of the season, or how you approached playing Daphne going forward?
I do have to say, I think that there are different versions of the same person. Me personally, I’m a big fan of the TV show FRINGE, and they had lots of fantasy, alternate reality episodes, and I kept referring to this episode as our sort of FRINGE episode. It was the same character, in essence, but a completely different take on that person. When I have scenes, since the ‘what if’ episode, when I have scenes with another actor and we’re yelling at each other, there is a nuance between the two of them that I didn’t realize was 100% there. It’s been really fun. It was a great acting challenge to be like, ok, here’s your script, you have two days, and it’s a totally different character. I loved it. I loved it so much. And not only that, I got to speak with my regular speaking voice, which I’m very excited about, for much of our audience to see that I normally use an accent on the show. I can’t wait for people to see it!
I’m excited to see what comes beyond – so many irons in the fire with Bay and Daphne kind of getting along, Daphne and Jace. What can you tease beyond [tonight’s] episode?
Bay and Daphne, I love when they like each other, because I love her so much [laughs]. We stay pretty positive with each other, and really my character arc this season has much to do with the character of Jace, played by Matt Kane. I think he is a wonderful, wonderful actor. His onscreen ability to look smooth and fluid with American Sign Language, mirrors his natural real life ability to pick up the language so fast, faster than I’ve seen, ever, before. It’s very impressive to me that he has sort of embodied Jace and run away with that. Daphne and Jace have much to learn. Coming off of last season, Daphne felt empowered with everything that happened at Carlton, and really felt like she could make a difference. Even though her politics are separate from John, she takes the internship in the office because it’s a great platform for her. She gets shut down enough that she sort of drastically jumps off the deep end in order to make a change happen. It’s not necessarily a good move. I think she’s still a teenager, and that knee-jerk reaction is so quick to just show, and so as we get further into the season, Daphne gets in way over her head.
I think enough can’t be said about how great the show has done for the platform, for the ASL platform, for and with the deaf community. It does so much for so many people.
It’s true! My favorite comment, and we’ve had an amazing fans throughout this process. Super, super, super incredibly supportive. My favorite comment, a Twitter comment, someone said that they had a deaf cousin that they never had a relationship with, and because of the show, they learned sign language and put themselves out there to have this friendship with their family member. I think that it’s okay to be afraid of what you’re unfamiliar with, but to get beyond that, you need to learn and experience things. It’s scary to put yourself out there! I remember the first time that I met a deaf person – it’s scary, it’s nerve-wracking. You think they’re going to judge you, but really, they’re just excited to have somebody to talk to. It’s great that we can show people putting themselves out there, so maybe someone at home can feel like they can do the same!
SWITCHED AT BIRTH airs Monday nights at 8/7c. For more information, head to their site at ABCFamily.com.