CASTLE’s Toks Olagundoye: Hayley ‘Doesn’t Let Things Get in Her Way’ | Give Me My Remote

CASTLE’s Toks Olagundoye: Hayley ‘Doesn’t Let Things Get in Her Way’

September 18, 2015 by  

Credit: ABC/John Fleenor

Credit: ABC/John Fleenor

One of CASTLE’s biggest — on-screen — changes this season is the addition of Hayley, a private investigator who first interacts with Castle and co. when Beckett goes missing in the season 8 premiere, “XY.”

As I said in my preview of the hour, bringing a new character into an already established show can be a tough challenge, but Hayley instantly fits in. The writers — and her portrayer, Toks Olagundoye — don’t try to echo any character that is already on the canvas. Instead, it just feels like a delightful new figure to explore…which will also allow for our returning favorites to have new energy to bounce off of. (And though she will be sharing some screentime with Castle, as the showrunners said previously, she is not his love interest.)

I spoke with Olagundoye about joining the series, embracing Hayley’s sass, the special relationship between Hayley/Alexis, and more…

How familiar were you with CASTLE before you joined the show?
Toks Olagundoye: I wasn’t, actually. My friend, Valerie Azlynn (Officer Hastings), she’s a good girlfriend of mine, she did a few episodes and I watched those. Besides that, I knew of the show, I knew it was very popular, but I had never watched besides those couple of episodes.

Did you do any sort of prep/research before you started filming?
TO: No, I didn’t, because I felt Hayley didn’t know any of the characters. If he had been someone who had been in the precinct or in someone’s life for a while, I would have, but I really wanted to create relationships between Hayley and the other characters without being influenced by anything. I didn’t want to pick up any mannerisms of anybody else, or the ways that people speak. I wanted it to be my own thing, and create an authentic first time meting for everyone. Since then, I have watched three or four episodes so I could be more familiar with the tone of the show. Initially, I really [thought about it] and went, nope, I’m going to go in and see how it goes first, because I want it to be an authentic energy of not knowing anyone.

What is her take on these characters? She comes into their world during an extraordinarily stressful time, but does she get a sense of who they are?
TO: I don’t think she has a take on anyone, except Alexis; she’s very fond of Alexis. Who doesn’t enjoy Castle? I think she’s amused by him.

I think she’s a woman who — because of what she does — comes in contact with a lot of people every single day. So I don’t think she has time to create opinions on people. I think she takes it as she comes, and uses it in the moment, and that’s kind of it. I think she’s fine with everyone, but she’s not attached to anyone in any way, except for Alexis.

That makes sense. Was there a part in the script that made you realize you needed to play this role?
TO: Yes and no. You have to understand, this year, I auditioned for about 50 pilots. By the time I got to this, I had auditioned for maybe 70 things this year. I had a lot of moments of, “Oh, this is such fun, I would love to play this character,” but I think because there was so much going on, I wasn’t like, “I need to play this character?” When you’ve been doing this as long as I have — I’ve been doing this professionally for 21 years — when you do that to yourself, when you don’t get the character, you’re done. [Laughs] I kind of don’t allow myself to do that.

But, it was an audition I worked particularly hard on, because I did like how witty and clever she was; I like a witty girl, I like a sassy girl, I like a sarcastic girl, because I’m very sarcastic. I did definitely enjoy that. It’s one I went over and over with my husband…I really wanted to get her body language correct. It had to be very relaxed, which was contradictory to the scene that I was auditioning with.

I was thrilled when I got it; I cried.

What do you want viewers to know about Hayley?
TO: Honestly, I think you get it all in the first episode. The thing about Hayley is I don’t think there’s much about her, personality-wise, that would be a surprise. You kind of get it when you meet her: she’s comfortable with herself, she does what she needs to do, if she thinks something stupid is going on, she’s going to be sarcastic about it. She doesn’t let things get in her way. She’s kind of easy to figure out in terms of what kind of woman she is. As far as what is going on with her personally, I think she’s kind of a shut book. It might take a while for people to get [that] out of her.

What is her dynamic with Castle like?
TO: I think she thinks he’s very amusing. I think she thinks he’s cute, which is a different dynamic for him in a woman, because she’s not impressed by him in any way insofar as who is he, or being a guy, or whatever. [Laughs] She’s amused by him. But she’s just trying to get her work done.

Like you mentioned, she instantly bonds with Alexis. Why do you think they click so fast?
TO: I think Hayley enjoys a strong woman. I think she likes the fact that Alexis is so young, but she’s driven and confident. She’s focused and disciplined, and I think Hayley is as well. She’s really intrigued by that, because most young people are not that way. I think it’s very rare that Hayley meets someone that touches her, and I think there’s something about Alexis that makes Hayley feel a little protective over her. But not in a way that she needs to take care of her — in a way she wants to guide her.

What will her relationship be like with Beckett?
TO: The same in which she works with everyone. She just wants to get her job done; that’s it. It’s nothing more fancy than that. It doesn’t really matter who it is for Hayley, she just does what she needs to do and that’s it. She’s pretty good about getting things done. But yeah, she’s in the situation to get what she needs.

Hayley gets to do some action-y sequences in the premiere. Is that a one-off, or will we regularly see her getting into the situations like that?
TO: I don’t think it’s a one-time thing. Because of what she does, she gets herself into sticky situations, and there’s no other way to get out of them.

Did you have to do any special training?
TO: No, I come from a theater background, where you have to do the stunts on stage, so you have to do stage combat; you have to study it. And so I had that in my background. I’m very athletic, so that’s pretty much it. I didn’t do anything special.

Is there a particular upcoming episode you’re excited for people to see?
TO: I’m really fond of all of them. The writing’s pretty good, and I like playing her, so I’m excited for people to see the whole shebang. I’m having a really good time.

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