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Interview: ‘Ghosts’ Star Rose McIver on Sam: “I Like Seeing That She Has Shortcomings”

With Ghosts Season 2 winding down, Rose McIver took the time to revisit her experience making the hit CBS comedy thus far and discuss how Sam’s evolved from audition to set, and what could lie ahead for the character next season.

After gaining the ability to see the ghosts of people who died on her newly inherited property, Woodstone Mansion, Sam gets the opportunity to do two things she’s always dreamed of — have a family and make her loved ones happy. The thing is, sometimes Sam’s extreme do-gooder nature can compel her to cross certain lines and spark complications via her good intentions. The beauty of watching a character like Sam make such mistakes? She always learns, and that makes her an especially core for this unexpected family as the show moves along.

Early on in our conversation, McIver admitted that initially, she was a bit caught off guard by Sam’s willingness to lie when she first started digging into the role. Here’s how she put it:

“She can be more of a liar than I expected her to be, actually. It’s always with good intentions, I think, but she’s able to finagle things and cover things more to try to people-please. That part has been consistent. It’s always to try to keep somebody happy or make somebody like her, but there’s a little bit more of a willingness to tell stories than I thought she would. Which is good because Sam, in lots of ways, is such a do-gooder and she’s so helpful to so many people, and I like seeing that she has shortcomings that are really apparent, and watching them catch up with her.”

An example of a time when Sam’s shortcomings really caught up with her in Season 2? In Episode 16, “Isaac’s Book,” when Sam opts to lie about scoring a deal with a publisher in order to avoid devastating Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones). In true Ghosts fashion, the lie spins out of control to the point that it’s made public and Sam’s old journalism school friend (nemesis?), Isabel (Ilana Becker), finds out about it.

“When Sam’s old college buddy comes to visit and we see how — well, this is me thinking of her lying — there’s a desperation to connect, which I knew that she had, but seeing it appear with somebody who she would have gone to school with I found — her frustration at somebody else’s success, it’s not a very attractive thing to have, but it’s a human really relatable thing to be like, ‘Man!’ She’s looking at the ways that she’s falling short in her life and I found her wanting to sort of level her friend in that experience, an interesting touchstone for me when I’m thinking about her. And her willingness then to reflect on it and to say, ‘Oh god, it’s so limited of me to look at it like that,’ it made me love her a lot more to see that she can fall short, call herself out for it, still kind of indulge in it a little bit with Isaac at the end. [That] was something that I sort of think about quite a lot when I think about why she’s trying to do the things she’s trying to do and how much is riding on her desire to be liked.”

In addition to Sam’s personal shortcomings, assets, and priorities sparking change in the character all along the way, so do her interactions with the ghosts. In fact, McIver deeply values the fact that each ghost brings out a different side of Sam. She explained:

“I can only say it from Sam’s perspective, but who Sam is with Sasappis where she can be a little bit more comfortable being domineering and like, ‘My little brother, I’m gonna show you this is this, and you got to do that,’ and then she’s somebody really different with Hetty where she can be quite deferential to her, but also a little bit combative in a mother-daughter way. It’s just different facets. It makes the job so fun when you can open all these different doors.”

McIver’s already established a unique dynamic between Sam and every Woodstone ghost, but given Season 3 is on the horizon, I had to ask if there’s any particular connection she hopes the show will explore further. Here’s what McIver said:

“Sam and Flower together is really nice. Flower is such an interesting character to me and Sheila does such a beautiful job playing her. There are so many layers, and just because she doesn’t lead with her world experience and her life and what she really knows about things doesn’t mean that there’s not a deep wisdom there that we obviously get these little moments of witnessing, and I really like those characters. I think there’s so much intrigue and so much to be said from, find the person at the party who’s not actually loud and sort of running their mouth and who’s probably got something really interesting to say that they just haven’t really vocalized yet. There’s something with Sam and her that I would like to see, and there’s something Sam’s got to learn from her, I feel like.”

My name is Stéphanie - creator, webmaster and social medias manager of The Rose McIver Fansite (known as Rose McIver Source). I have been a french fan of Rose since a decade. Way back in 2013, I noticed there were no French or English website supporting her projects or promoting her amazing work – that's why I decided to create this fansite, in English to reach a larger audience. I started following Rose in my early twenties, here I am in my thirties, even more enthusiastic to share everything related to her career.​ I had the opportunity to meet Rose three times. In May 2017, at the 'Fairy Tales 5' con in Paris. In February 2020, virtually during "Empire's Virtual Hangout 4". In May 2023, I went to Germany to meet Rose again.


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