Janet Montgomery Exposes ‘Salem’s’ Most Sinister Threats

If there’s one word that describes the drama on Salem, that word would have to be threat. As Salem’s de facto leader and a queen in her own right, Janet Montogomery’s character, Mary Sibley, seems to become the primary target of every new threat directed at Salem’s people.

Currently, Mary Sibley is facing confrontations on several fronts, but the two greatest opponents to Montgomery’s character on Salem come in John Alden (Shane West) and Countess Marburg (Lucy Lawless). While each of those two enemies pose great obstacles to Mary Sibley’s power, Ms. Montgomery admits that perhaps the most devastating menace may come from John Alden.

“I don’t know if I could say who is the bigger threat… I think to find out that John has turned again her and is going to kill her, I think would probably the most heartbreaking. The Countess is more predictable. You know, obviously… The Countess wants to kill her.”

Speaking of new oppositions, Salem will see the return of Increase Mather (played by Stephen Lang), someone whom Janet Montgomery admits has had a great impact on her own work and professionalism. Ms. Montgomery recalls working with Lange in Salem’s first season, and she says that working with Lange was such a pleasure that she wished he hadn’t been eliminated. Seeing his return to Salem, Janet couldn’t be convinced to go into much detail, but she seems as excited for his return as Salem fans themselves.

“I was really sad that we killed him at the end of last season because for me as a young actress, he could have elevated my work… his character is different this year. And I think people will be excited to see the dynamic between him and Mary slightly change.”

The Countess, John Alden, Increase Mather — it seems they would already be enough for the queen of Salem to face. However, Janet reminds us that there is yet another threat facing Mary: Mercy Lewis (Elise Eberle). As Janet points out, it’s never really clear whether Mercy is an ally or a foe, and that is perhaps the most troubling threat facing Salem.

“It’s coming from all angles for Mary. She’s got so many enemies now and very few allies. Mercy sort of seems a bit like a child compared to the Countess… The Countess is a real threat. Mercy was trying to just warn Mary, but sort of like throwing her toys out the pram in the corner. The fact that now the two of them have come together, I think there’s a real danger in what Mercy’s capable of. She’s unpredictable. Mary doesn’t necessarily worry about Mercy so much though; she thinks Mercy’s dead. So that’s another real kind of worrying situation for Mary.”

Ms. Montgomery recently told Fangoria that Salem fans can look forward to seeing her character get much more physical than she has in the past. It will certainly be interesting to see how Mary Sibley reacts once she’s really been backed into a corner. By the look of the direction in which Salem is headed, it seems all of that may come to a head sooner rather than later.

“Mary’s going to go through quite a lot of physical stuff. I have a great stunt double but I did quite a bit of the stunts myself. So my character will be getting more physical and I’ve really enjoyed that. It’s nice to see her not so puritan-like and actually get down and dirty; it’s fun.”

It’s often said that a new TV series really gets its sea legs by the second season, and that’s something Ms. Montgomery really understands. Comparing Salem’s first season to its second season, Janet feels much more comfortable in her role.

“I think I’ve grown much more as an actor during the second season, and rather than feeling like I’m forcing anything or struggling, as I did sometimes in the first season, I feel much more in tune with the character. Becoming Mary Sibley is almost like second nature, and I know her so well that I don’t have to push anything to reach those emotions. It sort of just happens.”

The next episode of Salem, “Dead Birds,” airs Sunday May 24 on WGN America.

[Featured image: Janet Montgomery courtesy of WGN America/Salem]