Life in the The Fosters household is never boring and after an explosive Season 3 premiere on Monday night, The TV Junkies still had many questions about how life moves on from this point, and where things are headed from here on out. Luckily, we were able to catch up with the moms themselves, actresses Teri Polo and Sherri Saum, this past weekend at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, TX.
As with any real marriage, Stef and Lena’s may have some obstacles to overcome – Lena still hasn’t come clean about Monte kissing her and has Stef learned her lesson about keeping secrets? These things all remain to be seen as Season 3 moves forward. Polo and Saum also talked about co-star Jake T. Austin’s departure, as well as how rewarding it is to work on a show that never backs down from a controversial topic.
The TV Junkies: How did you feel about Jake [T. Austin who plays Jesus] leaving the show?
Teri Polo: When you’ve got four other teenagers in your household life goes on because then somebody does something stupid and you’re off to the races again. He is still ever present, but not seen at this point. Life goes on. There’s other kids coming in and other kids going out — Brandon’s going to Idyllwild and Mariana is doing Mariana stuff. We have a new kid A.J. who comes in and wreaks havoc on our family as usual because Callie brought him home.
Sherri Saum: You can’t really stop and ponder too many of these things – on the show and in real life shooting. It never stops, the machine just keeps rolling. We have such a tight schedule as it is, we’re shooting an episode and then oh guess what at lunch time tomorrow you have a table read for the next episode.
TTVJ: Do you think that helps in getting the chaos on screen, that you’re really feeling it in real life? That’s one of our favourite parts of the show — that life is chaotic and that comes across to the audience.
TP: So very often when we’re shooting those scenes it’s pure chaos. A director came on just recently and said “I love the fact that you paid no attention when Laurel the first AD said ‘Action!'” She had yelled “Action!” and the cameras were rolling, and we still were not paying attention and doing lines, and as soon as they yell “Action!” we just roll into it. We love when that type of energy and chaos is caught on film because it’s real.
TTVJ: Does Lena start to wrestle with not telling Stef about the kiss with Monte?
SS: It’s definitely eating away at her like a flesh eating bacteria. She’s definitely struggling with it.
TP: As well she should!
SS: As we’ve seen in the past there’s things I do keep from Stef – I still haven’t told her that I changed Jude’s grade and that’s pretty scandalous. It remains to be seen if I come clean, but I think it’s a big elephant in the room. I think that she probably knows deep down that they can’t progress in an honest way in the relationship, and the relationship is struggling in ways as it is.
TP: It’s eating away at the relationship during the course of the season. It’s always something that informs every one of Lena’s lines and actions to Stef, and they make sure that she remembers that during the course of us filming those episodes in the season.
TTVJ: So Lena is mad at Stef for keeping secrets when she’s just as big of a secret keeper.
TP: Thank you!
TTVJ: Does Stef start to get suspicious at all?
TP: No! There’s nothing that she does or says that makes her suspicious. Stef’s just well aware, Sherri calls it a misfire – they are absolutely two ships passing in the night at this point, which is normal and happens in every relationship.
TTVJ: That’s one of the best things you guys show – the good and the bad. How important is it to do that?
TP: Even over the course of one day, you’ll be arguing, but then in the same episode later on that day we hold hands and give each other a kiss. That happens in real life.
TTVJ: Will Lena and Stef be OK in the end?
TP: Nothing gets tied up with a pretty bow on The Fosters. And who’s OK at the end of everything?
SS: They do get divorced at the end of the 9th episode so that’s a bummer. [laughs] No no no, yea we’re going to be OK man. We’re going to be OK.
TP: We’re going to be OK in the sense that we’re going to have a fight one day and be OK the next day.
TTVJ: How will they deal with Callie getting closer to the Quinns this season? What about Stef?
TP: She ain’t happy. Stef is very protective of Callie and she does NOT approve of Robert Quinn in any way shape or form.
TTVJ: Even though he’s kind of backed off and said he’ll agree to whatever Callie wants? That doesn’t earn him any good will with Stef?
TP: It does eventually, but early in the season she discovers some things about him that aren’t so kosher. Callie is dealing with Sophia and they are very present and trying to be present in her life. Callie is trying to understand and come to terms with her own feelings of “how do I feel about him? How do I feel about the Fosters? Where do I want to be?” Poor Callie, this is very confusing for her and if you think about being that age and those emotions and being pulled one way and then pulled the other.
SS: As parents we want to give her access to her birth father if she wants it, but it’s hard not to be a little resentful of all the outside forces pulling this girl when all we want is to have her at home.
TTVJ: Lena attempts to reconnect with her half-brother in an upcoming episode. How’s that go?
SS: Nathan [her brother] makes an appearance and there’s a lot of bad blood and history there.
TTVJ: Does your mom, Lorraine Toussaint (Orange is the New Black) come back at all?
SS: Yes, my mom comes back and my dad comes back but he looks a little different. [Editor’s note: The role of Stewart Adams was previously played by Stephen Collins but has been recast with Bruce Davidson.]
TP: No he doesn’t. What are you talking about?
SS: He got a haircut. But yea, they come back and have a visit, but nothing is really resolved.
TTVJ: The Fosters is such an important show, tackling controversial issues such as the youngest gay kiss or abortion. Is there anything where they have come to you with a story and you’ve been a little hesitant about it?
TP: They had extensive talks with Hayden [Byerly who plays Jude], Gavin [MacIntosh who plays Connor] and their parents about that storyline to make sure everybody was OK. They came to you about the story with losing the baby.
SS: They definitely consult with us when there are issues that will maybe touch home. At the time, I was pregnant when we were shooting the losing the baby stuff and they are very sensitive and very conscious and supportive. From the get go the show has proven it’s not afraid to do anything, so we just roll with it.
TP: We’ve gotten a lot of feedback and it’s such an honor and so fulfilling to go to a job not just for a paycheck, not to chase aliens with a laser gun. You’re doing something that really means something and touches people, affects their lives and changes their lives. I’ve said this in so many interviews – I’ve been in Ralph’s the grocery store, or in IKEA and I’ve been hugged and cried and “Thank you for telling my story. I’m a 70 yr old grandmother,” or “I’m a 14 year old girl and my 9 year old brother watches it too,” or “I’m a 35 year old straight man and I love your show.” It all runs the gamut to transexuals who say “thank you for telling my story.” It’s so satisfying and fulfilling to be involved in something where our fans are so glorious and we’re filling them and they in turn fill us.
TTVJ: Anything else on Season 3?
SS: There’s a very, very exciting change that’s going to happen in Episode 10 [the summer finale].
TP: I get a sex change.
SS: Something exciting happens in Episode 10. In Episode 10 there’s going to be a really fun and exciting surprise. Fun and sexy surprise.
TP: I get a boob job. What is it? I don’t even know. She’s talking about something very specific, but it’s stupid. It’s not that exciting.
SS: It is exciting and you better just wait. Twitter’s gonna break. Twitter’s gonna break.
What did you think of The Fosters Season 3 premiere? Are you worried about Stef and Lena? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below.
The Fosters airs Mondays at 8p.m. ET on ABC Family and ABC Spark.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.