EXCLUSIVE: ‘HTGAWM’ Star Karla Souza Talks Season 4's Shocking Revelation & Exploring Laurel’s Dark Side
By Denny Directo
Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you haven’t watched Thursday’s season four premiere of How to Get Away With Murder. If you have, you may continue…
How to Get Away With Murder is setting up what's sure to be another season of jaw-dropping twists and turns.
In Tuesday’s season four premiere episode, titled “I’m Going Away,” the story picks up following Wes’ (Alfred Enoch) tragic death last season. Annalise (Viola Davis) sets out to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but not everyone is ready to move on.
Laurel (Karla Souza), who is still pregnant with Wes’ baby (at the beginning of the episode!), becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him the night he died and taking down her own father, who we learned in the season three finale ordered the hit on Wes.
ET talked to Souza about Laurel’s dramatic evolution and how her complicated storyline will affect Annalise and the Keating Four, whose own fates are still in question, as well as what it’s really like rocking a baby bump on set.
ET: There was a moment at the group dinner with Annalise when she tells the Keating Four, “We get a second chance.” And for a brief moment, we thought things were finally looking up for these characters. That is not the case, especially for Laurel, who we learn in a flash-forward at the end of the episode, loses the baby. What was your reaction after reading the script for the season premiere?
Karla Souza: Weirdly enough, this time around, [showrunner Peter Nowalk] was kind enough to call me up to his office and gave me the play-by-play for the first episode and said the whole hook for the midseason finale was going to be Laurel and where’s the baby? Rather than have me read it [he and new producer/director Jet Wilkinson] told me this is what they came up with when we came back from hiatus. I was just kind of like, constantly [gasping]… every time he told me anything. It just got better and better and towards the end when he said, ‘And then you’re going to wake up and not see your baby!’ I just thought, this poor woman is going to go through the ringer but at the same time, acting-wise, what a great challenge.
When we first met Laurel at the beginning of the series in season one, she was very timid, she flew under the radar and people underestimated her. How excited are you to expand her journey?
There’s actually a call back to that Laurel this season that you’ll see in future episodes, where she was super timid -- she spoke up for herself, but she was very quiet. But we didn’t know where she was coming from and she’s completely out of her shell now. The stakes are a lot higher, especially now that she has a baby inside of her. She’s capable of a lot of things and whether she’s doing them with someone or on her own she’s a woman with a mission. I think the fact that her number one enemy is her father (Esai Morales), that’s definitely hard -- it’s like a blood-to-blood relationship. There’s a very thin line between love and hate, and I think that just makes it that much more interesting that it’s not the Mahones, it’s not some distant person, but it’s her own father that she wants to take revenge on. For me, it’s just been a great experience to have more material to work with and going into season four knowing this was going to be the through-line and that I was going to have all of this to play with. I was extremely grateful.
How soon will we learn what happened to Laurel and her baby?
Right now we’re filming episode seven and I haven’t read eight yet, which is the flash-forward episode. What I do know, however, is that we will learn what happened at that point. We will at least see how we got that place, how she got to be in the hospital, how Jimmy Smits got to be involved and we’ll see a lot more of what happened that night, which is going to be super intricate like it always is, involving everyone. It becomes everyone’s baby. It’s going be a big situation for all of them and it’s going to affect all of them.
How weird was it for you to rock a prosthetic baby bump on set?
You have no idea. When I came back from hiatus I was trying on all these prosthetics, because we’re going to see a lot more of the baby and the bump and everything… The prosthetics look incredible. But when you see the bump, I’m wearing a pregnancy suit. It’s a little uncomfortable, let me just say, I’m sweating all the time. It’s like a corset. Then when you see the belly, it’s the prosthetic... But that first episode, that’s actually me pushing out my belly! That’s not a prosthetic! We were like, you know what? It’s just going to look more real if I push out my belly.
You can eat whatever you want now!
This whole season I’m like, craft services, here I come!
Another big reveal in the episode was Annalise firing the Keating Four (Five, if you include Bonnie). What will life be like for you guys without Annalise?
It’s changed the dynamic of scheduling and shooting! We normally all had the same shooting schedule throughout the first three seasons and then suddenly this season we all have different days of shooting. We have a lot more days off, but the days that we are working it’s only our characters. We all have our separate storylines and little by little we start coming together.
It’s almost like she let the flock fly and we're going to see what each of our characters [do] -- for Michaela, it’s getting preoccupied with what jobs she’s going to get, with [Laurel] it’s the revenge and then for Connor and Oliver, it’s their relationship and what that looks like and whether they want to continue law school or not. Everyone is going to have their own storylines, have more space... but it starts to wind in as stuff starts happening where we’re all going to have to come back together again. I think it’s going to be nice for the audience to seem them interact without having the structure that we normally had in past seasons.