When it came to making the best of the time on one of the best sci-fi shows on television, Anne Winters' Ensign Charly Burke made sure to leave a crater-sized hole in all of our hearts, given the events of The Orville: New Horizons' penultimate season three episode "Domino." (SPOILER WARNING!) sacrificing herself to save the Kaylon. Throughout the season, Charly, the newest main bridge crew member, held prejudice against the Kaylon after losing her best friend Amanda in battle. After learning of Isaac's (Mark Jackson) non-emotion-driven guilt along with the origins of her sworn enemies, she had a change of heart, at least about Isaac. The actress spoke to Bleeding Cool about the lasting impact the Hulu series had on her professionally and how like her character, went the extra mile on set.
Bleeding Cool: Since you started on the show, how was the fan reception?
Anne Winters: It's funny seeing episode one to now because everyone kind of hated me at the beginning, and now people are like, "I'm in tears. I want Charly to come back," and all this stuff which is exactly the point. I wanted that to happen because I wanted it to be very obvious that there was a massive change of heart and mind throughout the season.
BC: Did you know at the time when you were cast that your character was going to die?
Winters: Yes. It's been a looming death. Not only when I found out in the first half of filming but also during quarantine. I knew the whole time. It wasn't hard to keep [it a secret].
BC: Were there any potential other plot points that were thrown around? You had the backstory with Charly's best friend Amanda, wo your character had feelings for. Was there any talk that Charly of another love interest on the Orville, or would you feel like it would have taken away from her?
Winters: There was never really a discussion. I'm not really a part of the writing and plotting of this whole serious conversation, but I would think it would take away from the main part of the story. There's so many characters on this show anyway with different storylines that you add another one on top of what I'm already going through, I think it would have been a little bit too scattered.
BC: Did you have a favorite memory from the set?
Winters: I loved jumping out of the plane. I love action, and I want to do an action movie so bad. I used to be a competitive cheerleader, and I used to get thrown up in the air… anything that brings me back to that sport and sportiness. Other than that, the biker bar was definitely a highlight. Seeing Isaac being a robot in a room full of all these real motorcyclists was hilarious. There are a million memories. We worked like 12 hours a day for a very long time. So those were just a few highlights, but I'm sure there's more.
BC: You and Mark definitely had great chemistry together during those scenes with Charly's eye-rolling. Charly's legacy is open-ended heading into the season finale. Do you see yourself coming back to the show should there be a fourth season, maybe in some form… like a flashback or as another character in the future?
Winters: I totally think that's possible. She could have an identical twin somewhere out in space. You could make up anything in space. That's what I love about this genre and also the brilliant mind of Seth MacFarlane. He just has an endless amount of ideas that would make sense in this world. So I think anything is possible. I have no idea. We don't know if we have a season four, so we'll see.
BC: Looking back, with the understanding that so much time has passed since filming, is there a lesson or lessons to derive from your time as a professional actor that you gained from being on the show?
Winters: Gosh, that's a hard question. A lot…this was definitely a very different character than I've ever played. I really explored a different side of acting that I haven't really done, which always just feels like I'm growing as an actor in general. The lessons that I've learned, like morally, seeing Charly, not being judgmental, seeing people with nuance, and hearing different people's stories and backgrounds, were some [of the] things.
I spent a lot of time behind the camera in-between scenes instead of waiting around in the green room and in my trailer. I spent a lot of time watching Seth and Jon [Cassar] work together and learning a lot, like seeing just how everything comes together before we even get to set. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes to change the lighting or change this. Hearing the direction in the back of the room and seeing what is being portrayed is really interesting to me because I want to direct. That was probably the most learning experience, a hands-on course in directing and producing, and the whole behind-the-scenes part of it.