Sarah Bishop is the backbone of A Discovery of Witches. She’s the guide, the confidant, and mother figdoure to one of the most powerful witches this particular world has seen. And taking on such a role requires an outstanding actress like Alex Kingston, best known for her work on E.R. and Doctor Who.
Fangirlish got a chance to interview Alex Kingston about everything that Sarah has gone through in season three of this series, particularly the loss of Emily and supporting Diana as she takes on the world. We even got to ask her what would happen if her character met River Song. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Loss. Grief. Pain. Sarah wasn’t the only one who was feeling those things when A Discovery of Witches started season 3. Kingston herself felt that pain on personal level because of the bond she had formed with costar Valarie Pettiford who played Emily Mather. “When we started filming season three, or just as we’re about to start filming season three, we went into that thinking that Em was still alive.”
And it wasn’t until a few days into working on season three that they found out A Discovery of Witches had “reverted back to the storyline of the novel.” That devasted and shocked Kingston. “In a way, the shock was almost like a reflection of the shock of Sarah discovering that Em had been killed.”
Kingston followed that by saying, “It was incredibly hard for me season three to hold my emotions together. And in fact, I don’t know how it’s been edited, to be honest, but whenever we filmed scenes where I had to talk about Em or bring Em up or her name was mentioned, I would just start crying.”
Ultimately, Kingston belives this loss made her and her character stronger. “Heartbreak is going to happen to you at some point in your life. And I think the truth is in sense, ultimately, if you can just weather through it, I think it makes you a more compassionate person and makes you sort of more whole as a person as well, because it is a part of living.”
One of the relationships that kept Kingston going was the one she had with Teresa Palmer. Their characters of Sarah and Diana share a familial bond that has survived and thrived through the toughest of times. And like Palmer, she was especially in love with the birthing scene these two shared in episode 4 of the final season.
For Kingston, it was incredible opportunity that felt organic, real, and natural. “The birthing scene with Teresa was something incredibly special. I haven’t ever seen a child being birthed in that way on television before. And Teresa was very adamant that she didn’t want to sort of be lying on the bed with her legs spread or in hospital stirrups or something like that. She’s birthed many babies. She knows all about birth, and she wanted to do it the way that she believed Diana would want to do it.”
And we couldn’t agree more.
Finally, as we were wrapping up this interview with Alex Kingston, we couldn’t help wondering what would happen if Sarah Bishop A Discovery of Witches met River Song from Doctor Who. The answer made us want this to happen because you know these two are similar in many ways but would take each other on a wild ride.
Kingston said, “That would be really interesting because they’re both very forceful women, but in different ways. I’d say River is much more playful than Sarah. Sarah is much more sort of earthy. Not that she’s rigid, but it takes a while for her to adjust to others. She’s got her own routines. Like she wanted to go back straight away, back to her home in America.”
As for River, “Give her an adventure and she’s on board. So they’re quite different.” Together though, they would shake up the world of A Discovery of Witches. “But it would be fun for the two of them because I think River would have to coax Sarah quite hard to get her to play ball.” And anything could happen then, with these two at their best.
Ultimately, we want it and anything to do with Alex Kingston, especially if she’s on our screens.
A Discovery of Witches is available on AMC+ and Shudder.