Kristin Booth couldn’t help but feel a bit lost on the set of The Kennedys After Camelot. The Canadian actress recently reprised her role as Ethel Kennedy in the follow-up to The Kennedys, the 2011 miniseries about the most famous American family of all time. Only this time, she performed without costar Barry Pepper, who played her ill-fated husband Bobby.
“I honestly felt like I was missing a limb,” says Booth. “I felt disjointed and strange and alone. Finally I realized it was because I didn’t have Barry, and then I realized as well, if I’m feeling this as an actor I can’t imagine how a woman like Ethel would feel losing her husband.”
After Camelot begins exactly where its predecessor left off: the scene of Bobby’s murder. In just four episodes, the series will span almost three decades, covering a multitude of Kennedy exploits that dominated headlines and featuring turns from Katie Holmes (Jacqueline Onassis) and Matthew Perry (Ted Kennedy).
“For The Kennedys, I had done so much research and read all these books about Ethel,” says Booth. “I was easily able to go back and look over my notes. I even found a piece of script that Barry had written on with a note about our characters and their amazing marriage. It made me cry almost seven years later!”
Who was your favourite co-star from either The Kennedys or After Camelot?
Katie Holmes. She’s just an amazing woman. She’s really inspiring, especially on Camelot. To watch her star in it, direct it, produce it, and then also take the time to be a great mom as well — I’m just in awe of her, I really truly am.
Not including Ethel, who is your favourite Kennedy?
Bobby Kennedy. How could it not be, right?
What would you say your hidden talent is?
Counselling. Friends come to me a lot for me to listen and offer advice.
What are you watching right now on TV?
I just finished Westworld, loved that. Imposters was a surprising one for me. I didn’t know what to expect at all — I was kind of skeptical to be honest — but it has this amazing dark comedy aspect to it. If you haven’t seen it, it definitely deserves a watch.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
A drama instructor in theatre school taught me to trust my instincts, and my grandmother always told me to be myself.
What would you say was the hardest scene from The Kennedys to shoot?
Definitely the hospital scene where we have to make a decision to turn off Bobby’s life support. It starts off the new series and Ethel is pregnant!
What is your worst habit?
Spending money. Shopping. [Laughs.] I like pretty things, unfortunately. It’s bad, but I love very delicate fine gold and diamond jewelry, so I love to layer and that is a really bad habit.
If you weren’t acting what do you think would have been your backup?
That’s funny you ask because for years I had no clue what I would do if I weren’t acting. Years ago, when I was a child, I thought I might be a veterinarian, but then I was horrible at math and science so that went out the window. From the time I was 12, I wanted to be an actor and I couldn’t find anything that gave me the same sort of thrill. Recently, in the last year, I rediscovered pilates and became a certified mat pilates teacher. So if it came down to finding a new job right now, that’s probably what I’d do.
The Kennedys After Camelot premieres April 16 on Bravo.