LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT's Jamie Gray Hyder on Kat Finding Her Balance in a New Unit - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT’s Jamie Gray Hyder on Kat Finding Her Balance in a New Unit

February 27, 2020 by  

Jamie Gray Hyder Law & Order SVU

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT — “Eternal Relief from Pain” Episode 21017 — Pictured: Jamie Gray Hyder as Officer Katriona “Kat” Azar Tamin — (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBC)

More than halfway through LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIM UNIT’s record-breaking 21st season, Jamie Gray Hyder—who joined the drama playing Officer Kat Tamin this year—is relishing the complexities of her character.

“We saw a little bit of this in the two-part episode [when Rollins was kidnapped], Kat doesn’t often think before she acts; she is leading with her heart,” Hyder explains of her Vice-turned-SVU-rookie. “But she has to understand in her new role at SVU, she can’t do that anymore.”

“And as an actor, you want to really dive into the instincts of your character, but at the same time, she does need to grow,” she continues. “She does need to change over the arc of the entire season. I think that Kat is going to have to continue finding that balance and learn how to best help the people she cares about, but within the confines of her new role.”

With the other members of unit long-time vets, Kat has her share of potential mentors who could help guide her down this new path.

“It comes down to her finding the strength that each of the other squad members can provide her,” Hyder says. “Learning who to go to for what and learning what she has in common with everyone. I think that she bonded with Fin, for instance, very quickly because they’re cut from very similar cloth. Benson has been a great mentor for her, but maybe Carisi and Rollins are a little bit more skeptical or maybe a little bit harder on her; they’re still trying to find their balance with this new person in the squad room. So it’s not only about Kat adjusting; I think it’s still about the other characters also adjusting her, even a dozen episodes in, it’s still about finding that that new normal.”

In early episodes, Kat has frequently clashed with new ADA Carisi (Peter Scanavino), but Hyder understands why the duo often aren’t on the same page. “Until Kat realizes how to take her instincts and really utilize them in this new world properly, she’s not really going to be able to understand where Carisi is coming from,” she says. “Carisi is someone who has had time to figure out how to separate his head and his heart. And coming from the side of the DA’s office now, that’s even more important because he’s the one actually pushing these cases through; he’s the one that has to make sure that these things stick in court. He had a lot of time to figure out how to strike that balance. For someone like Kat, who is still coming into raw, it’s hard for her to see eye-to-eye with him when her goal is to help people and he’s trying to explain to her that it’s just not that easy.”

Considerably easier has been Hyder’s real-life transition into the LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT world.

“It was daunting at first, thinking this is such a huge monumental achievement for all the people involved,” she says of joining during a year the show broke the record for longest-running primetime drama series. “I kind of get wrapped up in that without having been a part of anything that made it what it is. But I felt I had to really come to this character, this set, and join this show with a lot of reverence for what came before me.”

“And perhaps that’s a difference between myself and Kat,” she continues. “Despite both coming into new scenarios, I—as Jamie, the actor—wanted to make sure that I really appreciated and understood the way that this show works, and the vibe, so that I’m not coming in and interrupting anything, but rather enhancing or adding to it. Kat, on the other hand, is sort of used to working a certain way. And it’s been harder for her to sort of shake that and become part of an existing unit. We’ll see her get more and more comfortable with that as time goes on, but she still has a little bit of trouble with it.”

Essential to Hyder’s process was her collaboration with showrunner Warren Leight. “We worked closely on building Kat’s foundation together,” Hyder says. “Having the character be Lebanese like I am was just hugely exciting; I knew that I can identify with that part of her. As an actor, that’s what you do when you get a new character: For me, at least, I try to figure out what I can empathize with, what I relate to, and then you have to explore the rest from there. But working with Warren on creating a foundation for Kat that also was something that I could identify with is what helps to really make these characters believable and helps to keep them grounded, even if the circumstances seem outrageous.”

But as the scripts have come in, “there are little bits about her personality that I get to learn along with the writers and along with the viewers as time goes on,” she continues. “I think that’s kind of a fun part of [the process].”

Ahead for Kat is a return to her roots. “You’re gonna see Kat go undercover a little bit more, and this time, she kind of really gets herself in the thick of it,” Hyder teases. “I think that fans will be excited to see that side of her, since that’s how they were introduced to Kat [in the season premiere]. And I think it will kind of hearken back to the beginning to sort of see her front and center with some of these predators, really getting in there, so she can bring them down.”

However, if Kat finds herself in a kidnapping situation like Rollins (Kelli Giddish) did earlier this season, Hyder is wary about how that might shake out.

“I feel bad for anyone who’s going to try and do that to Kat, especially right now while she’s still kind of hot,” she admits. “For her sake, I hope that that doesn’t happen to her until she’s got a little bit more patience under her belt…her instincts may get her into trouble or get herself hurt or someone else hurt. I hope that when it comes time for her to be the survivor of one of these situations that hopefully she’s got a little bit more patience and a little bit better head on her shoulders, so she doesn’t do anything stupid.”



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Filed under Law & Order, SVU

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