WARNING: This post contains spoilers from Saturday’s Halt and Catch Fire episode “Tonya and Nancy.” Read at your own risk!
Halt and Catch Fire provided a nice change of pace for Anna Chlumsky, who made her debut on the show Saturday.
In Saturday’s episode, “Tonya and Nancy,” the AMC tech drama introduced us to Katie Herman, Comet’s enthusiastic new chief ontologist played by the Veep actress. Whereas her Veep character Amy Brookheimer is an incredibly cynical and tightly wound insult machine, Katie is warm and more of a free spirit. Joe and Gordon (Scoot McNairy) hire Katie to help them index the web, and within a short amount of time, she introduces some changes to the way things are run and helps them get ahead of their competitor, Rover, led by Gordon’s ex-wife Donna (Kerry Bishé). At the same time, she also develops an attraction to Gordon, which we’ll see play out as the season continues. (Read our full recap here.)
Ahead of the episode, EW hopped on the line with Chlumsky to talk taking a break from Veep, why Katie is attracted to Gordon, and what Rover’s big win at the end of the episode means for Comet’s future.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Halt and Catch Fire is very different from Veep. Did you miss the profanity-heavy dialogue or was this a welcome reprieve?
ANNA CHLUMSKY: It was definitely the latter. Veep and I get plenty of each other over the last six years. I love it and I love being there, but yeah, on the hiatuses, it’s nice to get as separate from the thing you’re used to.
How are Katie and Amy Brookheimer different?
One, I think Katie respects people a heck of a lot more than Amy. Katie thinks outside of the box. Even though she likes to find order in things, which is what draws her to library science and, of course, ontology, she’s, to use a ’90s term, an alterna-chick. Therefore, she is an independent thinker. So is Amy, but I think Amy likes to fancy herself kind of understanding the game and playing the rules of the game so well that she wins. That’s her ultimate Amy. I think Katie is the opposite of that. She’s very much like, “Hey, no rules.” She’s like, “Let’s see what life brings.” An “I’ll try anything type.” I think the reason why the group at Comet ends up really embracing her is she understands the fringe and she loves the fringe. She’s open to people. She’s a no-judgment zone, whereas Amy is an all-judgment zone.
Is Katie’s free spirit what attracted you to the role in the first place?
Yeah, it is. Also, when she calls herself a California girl, I was like, “Oh, I don’t think I’ve ever played a ‘California girl.’” That’s definitely something that I was excited to explore. To this day, I’m still really drawn to the things that are underlying for Katie, because she’s not perfect. There’s this brand new type of perfection where you’re so laid-back you’re winning, that Janeane Garofalo-type persona. She carries herself that way and she does live her life that way a lot, and that’s kind of who she is on the outside, but, obviously, stuff has brought her around. She even says in her first interview that she only stayed at her last job for a year. She’s also the other side of the free spirit. That was more interesting to me — what’s on the other side of that coin.
Within a few weeks of joining Comet, she’s brought a bit more life to the entire place with this competition. What can we expect from her role in the company moving forward?
In the company, she gives a S-H-I-T. That’s what’s nice. She’s not just an employee. She cares about the direction and her role in it. I think that’s the first time she’s ever felt that valuable and that valued. Also, she falls in love with the family and the people, and I think for the first time she really feels like she can really belong somewhere.
At the end of the episode, we learn that Comet’s future isn’t so bright now that Rover has sorted out its algorithm. Where can we expect Comet, which we know will fail when it comes to search, to go from here?
That’s like the gorgeousness of the show! Over and over, we already kind of know the outcomes. The purpose of this show is to explore the characters and the way they think and the reason they make the choices they do. The purpose, obviously, is not to find out “what happens,” because we pretty much know that as a society. “Oh, that’s the algorithm? We know what happens to the algorithm?” It rides its course. Also, I literally don’t know because I left the show after episode 8. I asked them a bunch of times what’s happening in the next episode, and they’re like, “Oh we don’t know…” I actually don’t know what ends up going on with Comet and how it meets its fate. Just even watching the struggle and the striving and Joe’s vision, I love this Comet-Rover dynamic just because it is this story of this same vision taking different roads. That’s fascinating about life. That’s one of those things that we’re always asking about — the road not taken. So we get to explore that.
Since Katie leaves after episode 8, what does that mean for her and Gordon? In this episode, we get a hint of mutual attraction between the two of them. What can we expect from that relationship going forward?
They dig each other. That’s apparent from the beginning — and we did that on purpose. No one is reading more into that than they need to, that’s for sure. Their stories continue and she’s a part of it.
What do you think attracts her to Gordon?
She definitely likes brains. The funny thing about Gordon that I’ve always noticed is even though he’s maybe what you would call, I don’t know, a beta male or something, even though he’s smaller in stature and he’s definitely more brains than brawn, he’s still like super testosterone-y. He’s got a temper. I always find that so many of the previous seasons are about his ego. So I think he’s just kind of the full package for her. He’s sensitive enough to listen, and I think he’s a really good listener, which actually is apparent in that interview. She’s kind of just rambling and telling her story, and he’s paying attention. That goes a long way, fellas [laughs].
You had to rattle off this list of metal bands. Was that spiel hard to memorize and internalize?
It was a little bit. What I did is I looked up every band, so I kind of knew what they were about and why she grouped them the way she did. First of all, I’m an actor. I can learn lines. I’ve done verse, I’ve done six-page monologues. It’s a craft. There’s a way to memorize. But then on top of it, I really didn’t want to just seem like she was just listing something. She’s actually answering a question, which is just a long answer for a question about how she organizes, and I think she’s excited about it.
Halt and Catch Fire airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on AMC.