The theme for season 3 of Evilaccording to creators Robert and Michelle Kingis temptation, but that isn’t as true for Sheryl Luria (Christina Lati), who has already made her deal with the satanic forces that are present as she hungers for a power that she feels will set her free, as it is for her daughter Kristen (Katja Herbers) and newly anointed priest Father David Acosta (Mike Colter), who kissed in the season 2 finale.
“I think what Sheryl wants to do with this power is to be self-sufficient, to be independent, to not be beholden to any man, to be able to do what she wants in her life, to help her family, to help her granddaughters do what they want to do in their lives, and never to be beholden to any man,” Lahti exclusively told parade.com.
For Sheryl, it is more than setting herself free, she also wants her daughter and her four granddaughters to also share the freedom. And toward this goal, Sheryl makes a deal with Leland Townsend (michael emerson) to get Kristen’s husband Andy (Patrick Brammall) out of town once again.
“Her whole life is her family,” Lahti said. “She loves her grandchildren, she loves her daughter de ella, and when Kristen’s husband Andy comes home and kicks her out de ella, saying, ‘You can never see your family again. Go away.’ Well, once that happens, she’s desperate. She needs help. She goes to Leland and begs for help. He gives her a job and she starts to make money and she gets some power back. She’s determined to keep Andy out of the picture because if he comes back, she loses her family from her.
Related: Demonic Possessions, Temptation and Miracles! Everything You Need to Know About Evil Season 3
And while Sheryl’s motives are definitely selfish, she’s also hoping that Kristen will realize that she doesn’t need Andy anymore.
“She doesn’t think Andy is good for the family, not a good partner, not a good father,” Lathi explained. “He’s an absentee father. If her daughter de ella found some man who was a real feminist, who was a real partner, then I think she would support that, but I think that Sheryl’s mission is to be independent of men and she will do whatever it takes and get revenge along the way.”
All of Sheryl’s actions can be traced back to her childhood when she was bullied and abused, so she thinks when she advises her granddaughters to stand up for themselves—like the time she told Lexis (Maddy Croco) to hit the neighbor girl, Sammy, who pushed her down—that she is doing the right thing.
“I had to really think about that episode,” Lahti said. “I’m the most nonviolent person there is, but I thought about if I was abused—I mean in different ways than my own experience, like consistently, which I think Sheryl was, I think she was bullied. I think she took it and I think what she finally had to do was hit back and maybe there was a hidden rock in her hand from her when she did it, but she found that to be effective.
It’s advice that Sheryl uses for her own life, as well. “She found that men left her alone when she struck back in that way, so I think the advice that she’s giving her granddaughter de ella, to her de ella, is sound advice. They will leave you alone, and if you don’t show them who’s boss, you will be continually bullied your whole life.”
While grandmother may not know best as her advice isn’t always the healthiest, it does come from a place of love.
“From Sheryl’s experience, I think she feels it is really important. Just hit her once and it will stop. And it will get around school what you’ve done and what happened, and nobody will bother you again. I think in the end, it might be liberating for her.”
Related: Katja Herbers on the Temptations Faced by Kristin and David on Season 3 of Evil
Keep on reading for more of the interview with Lahti in which she explains the power struggle between Sheryl and Leland and her grand plans for the future, the difficult scene in season 2 where Sheryl was drugged and given transfusions, the function of the dolls she keeps in the guest house, and if she can sleep at night after filming a particularly dark scene.
Talk about the power balance with Leland. Sometimes it seems as if she is the one who has the power in the relationship; other times it is him.
He sees that she is really interested in this world, this satanic world, and he thinks he can use her even though he treated her like s**t, basically. I think he feels that she’s easily manipulated and I think she’s pretending to be. I think that she is really smart and she will outsmart this guy and she ultimately will use him and pretend that she’s under his thumb de ella, as we said, but she’s got bigger plans and he’s not part of them.
When the series started, Sheryl wasn’t nearly as evil as she is now. Did you know what was coming when you signed on?
I didn’t know. I had no idea. I just trusted the Kings because I worked with them on The Good Wife and The Good Fight and I knew that they would take her somewhere in a really original, funny, interesting way, and I’ve embraced every twist and turn that they’ve taken Sheryl on.
You’ve described her as becoming more evil, I described her as becoming more empowered. Unfortunately, it’s coming out in dark ways but she’s desperate to be defying her power in her life because I think she’s been held down by the patriarchy, by men in particular, and she’s determined to not let that happen anymore.
There was that really uncomfortable scene where Sheryl was drugged and then they did the blood transfusion or whatever it was. How did you feel about that scene because it’s similar to a date rape?
That’s how I felt about it. That’s how scary it was. It was horrific and scary but what I understand is that Sheryl had a blackout and she does not remember any of that. She remembers waking up and feeling really great. The Kings described it like I’ve gone to a spa and that a lot of those transfusions were B vitamins and great youth serums and all kinds of things that actually were rejuvenating and made me feel incredible. So, Sheryl doesn’t recall that date rape aspect of it. But it may be that I’m starting to have instincts about it because she’s certainly on a mission to bring Leland down.
In the guesthouse, there’s the dolls. What is the significance of them? Do they act like a medium, like a cat would? How does she use the dolls?
Yeah, I guess like a medium, but the dolls to her are a source of meditation, of self-reflection, of how to access her best self, or in this case maybe her darkest, most self-empowered self, so I think it’s a daily practice that she has found to be very empowering.
Do you ever go home and have nightmares after a particularly dark scene?
I haven’t yet, but I have found that I’m not able to watch it late at night because I get scared easily. The great thing about the show, to me, is that it’s also so funny that the comedy really does cut the horror aspect of it. I think that it’s much more of a character study than a procedural, which I also love as well.
Evil is now streaming on Paramount+ with a new episode dropping each week.
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