Generation Q’s Jamie Clayton on Season 3 Relationships

Dec 31, 2022

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Season 3 of The L Word: Generation Q.]

The third season of the Showtime series The L Word: Generation Q explores love, friendship and family, in all of their forms, but while some relationships are strengthened and others are reignited, some are also not faring so well. And even though Shane (Katherine Moennig) and Tess (Jamie Clayton) seemed like they’d gotten to a really good place, Shane’s secret came out and threatened to tear apart everything they’d built together.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Clayton talked about having very specific goals for her career, having been a huge fan of the original The L Word, why this fun and sexy continuation was appealing, what she’s most enjoyed about Tess, the Tess-Finley (Jacqueline Toboni) friendship, and what it’s been like to explore the cracks forming in the Tess-Shane dynamic. She also talked about the curiosity and amusement woven into the Priest in Hellraiser, and which TV shows she’d love to do a guest spot on.
Collider: How does it feel to be doing the work that you’ve gotten to do, the last few years? Are you surprised at this insane variety of incredible roles you’ve gotten to do, and these stories that you’ve had a hand in telling?

JAMIE CLAYTON: When I started my career, my goal was to be able to play all different kinds of roles. There are certain actors, like Alan Cumming, whose careers I’ve been so enamored with, and it’s just the variety of roles that they’ve been able to play. When I started my career, that was my thing. I was like, “I wanna be able to audition for all these different parts. I wanna be in the room. I wanna look back on my career and I want people to be like, “Oh, my God, she’s cuckoo pants. What’s she gonna do next?” So, as much as I’d love to be like, “Oh, my God, yes, I’m so surprised,” part of me is surprised that I’ve been allowed to do it, but part of me isn’t surprised because this was the goal that I set, and I achieve all of my goals. This is something that I wanted, and I made it happen. Me and my team made it happen.

Image via Showtime

As an actor, what’s it like to join a show that’s already established and not really know how people will feel about your character and about her relationship with one of the characters from the original series, and then to find out that people love her and you. On top of that, you were also made a series regular. What has that experience been like?

CLAYTON: It’s wild. With Gen Q, it was funny because I’m a huge fan of the original, and when they announced that they were bringing it back and doing this reboot, Sense8 had just ended and Twitter was like, “Oh, my God, Ms. Clayton needs to be on this.” I called my manager and was like, “What is happening with that reboot? I love that show. Can I get in for that? Twitter loves the idea.” She was like, “Let’s see what we can do.”

It was very early on, and she got a very early version of the pilot script, which I read and loved. I was like, “Oh, this is gonna be fun. This is so fun and so sexy.” I loved everything that [Marja-Lewis Ryan] was doing, and the characters felt very real. Now, they feel very much like people that I know and have known, and would wanna know. And so, when I went in for it, Tess was called something different. The character’s name was very similar to another character that I’ve played, so they changed the name. At the time, it was a smaller part, but I went in, and I killed it. Marja called me and was like, “We really loved what you did. It was really fun. We’re gonna change the part a little bit, and we’re gonna change her name, but it’s yours.” And I was like, “Oh, my God.”

I knew that my character would be interacting with Shane a bit because of the bar, but I didn’t know the whole story. Just coming on as a guest star for Season 1, I wasn’t told a lot. As they were writing, and as the character was getting bigger and Tess was having more to do, I was like, “Wow, this is really fun.” And then, we got Season 2, and people were responding. They were liking Tess and her journey and different aspects of her life, like working in the bar, but being in recovery. And then, Tess got paired up with Shane, and there was the friendship with Finley. I’ve been having so much fun. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had at work.

What have you most enjoyed about Tess, as a person, since day one? And are there things that you’ve grown to appreciate about her, the longer that you’ve played her and unraveled those layers?

CLAYTON: The thing that I appreciate the most, honestly, is that it’s the first time I’ve played a character who isn’t outwardly defined by her gender. Her storyline isn’t about her gender. So, I’ve been able to come in, as an actor, and really delve into different kinds of storylines, like a sick mother and sobriety and running this bar with all of these different events, and doing event planning and hostessing, and things that I’ve dealt with in my own life. I get to bring those to the character. It’s just been so fun for me to get to play different facets of this character’s life, outside herself, with these forces that come in and make you look at yourself. Playing a character that’s sober has been really special to me. I’ve got many friends that are in the program, and I have a deep respect for that. I’ve gotten so many messages on social media from the queer community, especially for the portrayal of someone in recovery, saying that I was doing a good job. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to get to play a character with these different kinds of facets.

Image via Showtime

I love the friendship that has developed between Tess and Finley, there’s something that Finley really respects in Tess, and she looks up to her, seeing all the success that she’s had, and it makes her want to live up to these expectations that Tess has for her. Is it fun to explore a relationship like that, that doesn’t have romantic conflict and that you can just really dig into?

CLAYTON: A hundred percent. There’s that moment that we see between the two of them after they sleep together, where it’s not that it was a mistake, or there’s any regret or anything, but it was what it was. Tess is like, “You don’t have to be weird. It doesn’t have to be weird.” And now, they know that they each have this dark passenger, to quote another good Showtime show that I love, Dexter. They’re able to form this friendship and to navigate their sobriety together, which I think is really special.

Sex can be fun, and it can be awkward, but it doesn’t have to be. You can be friends with someone after an encounter like that, and you can grow. I love that there’s no drama between them. They had an experience, but it doesn’t have to be brought up, every time they’re in the same room. They have so much more that they can connect on and talk about and learn from each other.

One of the things that has always made the dynamic between Tess and Shane fun to watch is the fact that Tess doesn’t look at Shane with the rose-colored glasses that pretty much everyone else does. Shane’s charms don’t really work on Tess in, in that way. Why do you think that is? What is it about Tess that really allows her to see through all of that?

CLAYTON: That’s a very good question. Nothing was written before that scene to establish why it’s happening, so when I have to think about things myself, or when I go to Marja or one of the writers, I’m like, “What do you think happened before this? What was it that got her here? I worked in restaurants for over a decade in New York, and I’ve hosted and waited tables, I bartended, I DJ-ed, I go-go danced. I did everything. And when you work in nightlife, and you work in the service industry, your job is to see people and to understand who they are, so that you can anticipate their needs, understand how to make them happy, and see what makes them happy or upset. There’s a hostessing aspect to Tess. She sees people for exactly what they are and who they are.

I thought a lot about her growing up in Vegas, her mom being a showgirl, and all the different kinds of people that Tess has encountered in her entire life. Nothing really shocks her or impresses her. One of the very first things she says to Shane is, “Oh, I know who you are. You’re a living legend.” She knows the dirt on everybody. When you’re working in nightlife, and you’re in a scene, you know the names, the faces, the places, the people, the tastes, and the sounds. I think that’s what it is for Tess. There’s obviously an attraction, but it’s also like, “Listen, I’ve seen you before. I’ve gone out with you before. I know you in Vegas. I knew you in wherever else.” She’s met the Shane of all the different places. She understands her, but with an undeniable attraction.

Image via Showtime

It’s not too hard to imagine that Tess would have eventually gotten to a point where she’d throw a glass of some sort of liquid in Shane’s face. What was it like to shoot a scene like that? How many times did you have to do that? Is that fun to do? Do you feel guilty doing something like that?

CLAYTON: I had never done anything like that before. You know what’s going on with Tess, her mom is there, and she’s sick, and Shane cheats. That was really tough for me, this season. It’s not that I’m method, because I’m not, but in order for me to get to a place to make something like that be authentic and real, I had to really distance myself from Kate [Moennig] a little bit, personally, during the season.

So then, when we got to that point, because it wasn’t like I was throwing a cocktail in some random stranger’s face, I was throwing it into the face of this person who cheated on me, and who I just confirmed has been cheating on me. It was fun, in the sense of having that iconic moment with Samantha in Sex and the City, when she throws the martini in Richard’s face. It’s one of those things that we all have always wanted to. I’ve always wanted to do that. It’s one of those things where everybody wants to throw a drink in someone’s face and storm off. That’s a fantasy. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it was hard because it’s sad. Tess is having a really, really, really hard time this season, and I carried a lot of that home with me. I was very up on my therapy this season, just because it’s been really sad.

Do you feel like Tess and Shane are meant to be together and that they can ultimately work out whatever issues they have, or are there some lines that you don’t cross and some circumstances that just go too far?

CLAYTON: It’s interesting, the writers were so generous when they opened up the room. We had Zooms, and everybody did Zooms. I don’t know that Shane is capable of it. I also don’t know that, with what we see with what happens with Tess, that she’s capable of it. I don’t know that either one of them are ready. Tess has a lot of work that she needs to do still. With Shane, that’s just the legacy of that character. That’s who they are and what they do, so unless some radical changes happen, I don’t know if that will ever change. Nobody wants to admit that they make bad choices, or that they have a pattern, or that they need therapy. We all think of therapy as this horrible thing, but we’ve all got trauma, and we all repeat patterns. So, I don’t know that either one of them are ready, to be honest.

Image via Showtime

With Hellraiser, your Pinhead has a bit more humor and is a bit more amused by the proceedings than Doug Bradley’s version was. Was that something you intentionally wanted to bring to the role, or is that something that just developed organically, out of how it was written?

CLAYTON: That’s a sexy question. It’s funny, I’ve done 57 interviews for that film and no one’s ever asked me that, so thank you. The director, David Bruckner, and I had a lot of discussions. We talked about Doug Bradley’s Pinhead a lot, and I wanted to do something really different. We wanted to do something really different. David wanted it to be different, and I wanted it to be different. In the press that I’ve done about the Priest’s intentions and what she would be thinking and feeling, and there’s this hunger, this desire, this seduction, and this curiosity, but the most important thing is the curiosity. The person who finds the box raises the hell. We don’t actually know what the hellraiser is gonna do. We don’t know what choices they’re gonna make. There’s a pleasure in our not knowing and in our discovery of that. You see it with the Gasp, and you see it with the Priest. The Weeper has a few lines that reference it, as well. There’s a curiosity, a hunger, and a seduction that the Cenobites have towards the individuals when they start to make these unfathomable choices.

I’m glad that you saw some humor in it. There are definitely some moments, if you’re watching close, where you can notice little things with my lip or with my eyes. There’s one moment, in particular, where I am so turned on, when Riley kills the Chatterer and I’m super impressed with it. If you look closely, you can see on my face that I’m almost proud. I’m like, “That’s my kid, who just made the goal. That’s my kid who just caught the ball.” The enjoyment with the Cenobites comes from watching these individuals make their choices because we don’t know what choice they’re gonna make. That’s why, at the end, when Riley chooses Lament, I’m so disappointed and so pissed because then it’s over and that’s no fun.

Is there a TV show that you watch, that you would love to do a guest spot on?

CLAYTON: Yes, Yellowjackets, The Flight Attendant, Severance. I could go on.

So, you’ve thought about it a bit?

CLAYTON: I’m very intentional with my career, and I’m very specific about like what I wanna do and how I wanna do it. There’s a lot of really good television on right now. What would you wanna see me on? What world do you think I would fit in?

I think you would be so much fun on Succession.

CLAYTON: That would be really fun. It would be fun to go on and have an affair with Shiv and Kendall. I could seduce both of them. That would be really fun.

The L Word: Generation Q airs on Sunday nights on Showtime, and is available on-demand and streaming.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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