Katja Herbers on Her Journey to ‘Evil,’ More Demon Kristen and If Sheryl Is Unforgivable

Ever since Evil first debuted on CBS in 2019, I was told time and time again that it was an absolute must-watch, that this genre mash-up of a show was right up my alley. I’m deeply embarrassed to admit that it took me until summer of 2022 to actually take that advice. But, sure enough, I fell so hard for Evil that now I’m determined to pay it forward — go watch all three seasons of Evil on Paramount+ right now!

The show stars Mike Coulter as David, a Catholic seminarian working as an assessor, someone tasked with investigating the legitimacy of miracles and also claims of demonic activity. David does this with the help of Aasif Mandvi’s Ben, a contractor who specializes in technology and has a knack for disproving supernatural phenomena via rational explanations. Rounding out the team with a different perspective and set of skills is Katja Herbers’ Kristen, a psychologist who doesn’t believe in the supernatural but rather that everything has an explanation in science. However, the more cases the team takes, the more Kristen’s core beliefs are challenged.

Clearly I adore Evil overall, but one particular element of the show that makes it a must-watch series is Herbers’ performance. Not only does she deftly weave through complex cases that put everything the character believes to the test, but she goes all-in when tackling every single ounce of it, and given how many genres and tones Evil spans, that makes for a deliciously wide-ranging performance.

Given my enthusiasm for the show and her performance, it probably goes without saying that it was the ultimate treat to welcome Herbers to Collider Ladies Night to discuss her journey from Holland to Hollywood and, of course, what went down in Evil Season 3.

At this point, my mentality is, ‘Give Katja Herbers all the roles!’ But when she was first starting out, Herbers was met with rejection. But, it turns out, it was rejection that served her well. Here’s how she put it:

“I was 18 when I first auditioned here in Holland in Amsterdam for theater school and they were like, ‘You’re maybe something, but you’re really young. Go live a little and come back.’ At the time, the world was different. Now I feel a little worse about flying, climate change. But at the time it was like, ‘Great! I’m gonna go live.’ I went on this whole trip to Thailand and then I went to New York on my own for six months. I thought, then maybe I’ll grow up and I’ll have some experiences. And then I went to Uta Hagen, HB Studios in New York, and then I did have a whole bunch of experiences. As heartbroken as I was in the beginning not getting in at 18, when I did get in at 21 that was way better.”

Herbers went on to build a name for herself in Holland, but eventually, she got the itch to give Hollywood a go. She continued:

“When I went to America, I was 31 years old I think, so I had already had a career in Holland working in theater and working on TV and working in film, and I just thought, ‘I’m just gonna give it a go. Why not?’ And I had this accent that I worked on a lot and I thought, ‘I don’t have to just play a Russian spy or a whore. I can maybe just be an America. This would be great!’ So then when I did book my first job, I did think, ‘Oh my gosh, okay, so now maybe I can have a career in America.’ But then I had to start all the way over because I was sort of established here in Holland and not really there, or not at all there. But I met really good people. Thomas Schlamme was the showrunner on [Manhattan] who’s just the most wonderful director. Sam Shaw wrote it. He’s incredible. I still have friends from that time … It was a crazy show and we’re all still quite close with each other. And then later through that, I worked with someone on The Americans who also directed Manhattan and then that person got me The Leftovers. I still feel like I’m very much tied to my first job.”

Even though her Manhattan family did pave the way to other opportunities in the states, it did take Herbers a good deal of time to secure another series regular role. Here’s how she put it:

“Manhattan I got very easily, like within two weeks. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is easy, America! What the hell? What’s the problem?’ And then after that got canceled, which I think shouldn’t have gotten canceled, but after it got canceled, it took me a while to book anything substantial. My next series regular was Westworld, which was a bit later. Also because I was very picky. I thought, ‘If I’m gonna be in America and I’m gonna be away from my friends and my family, I really want to be on something that I want to watch and that I think is amazing and that I wouldn’t be able to make in Holland.’ Because otherwise, I can just go home. Why would I? So I did turn down some things I didn’t like.”

That begs the question, what was it about Evil that she liked so much? What was it about the material that made her think it’d be an opportunity that’d justify being away from friends and family back home? Herbers pinpointed the answer immediately; it was Evil creators Robert and Michelle King.

“Robert and Michelle King and their writing, what I’d seen of their writing and of their lead female roles and how expansive that is and how it keeps changing. And then my meeting with them, because I met with them for the role, I just connected a lot on a sense of humor. I’d done mostly comedy here in Holland. It’s kind of what I’m more known for here. Not in America. But they were looking for someone who could bring a little bit of lightness or had some of that background, like Aasif Mandvi, obviously. He’s a stand-up comedian. I’m in no way a stand-up comedian, but they were looking for people to bring some of that to this sometimes quite dark world and I think that worked out quite well on our show because I think it is very funny. Their writing is so funny and it’s so layered, and I’m just really proud of it.”

And that right there is one of the many special qualities of Evil; it’s not just one thing! While it’s easy to see how a show called Evil that features many incredibly well-designed demons could fall into the horror category, it’s so much more than that. Herbers noted:

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