The Fosters 3×19 featured Shakespearian tragedy both on and off the stage, culminating in a dramatic final sequence. We spoke with Cierra Ramirez, who plays Mariana, and executive producer Bradley Bredeweg, who directed the episode, about the events of The Fosters 3×19 and where the show will go from here.
Cierra, in The Fosters 3×19, you were simultaneously playing the roles of Mariana and Juliet. What was that experience like for you as an actor and did it inspire you to do more theater in the future?
Cierra Ramirez: It was unlike anything I’ve ever done before! The whole process was crazy to me – we only did it in seven days and I really did fall in love with the whole process. As I said, I’ve never done this on television or film – or even done theater in my life – so it did inspire me. Maybe, who knows, in the future I could get into that. I have an amazing respect for people who do that live, because I can only imagine what that’s like. There was just so much dancing, and to do that while I’m continuously singing is just a crazy thought to me, but who knows? I do have a very big respect for people who do that on a daily basis.
Bradley Bredeweg: Now that I know that, Miss Thang, you and I are gonna do a stage show together. We had so much fun with this episode, so let’s do it!
Bradley, as well as producing TV shows, you’ve also produced musicals. How different are those processes, and why did you choose now – and this show – to combine them?
Bradley: I mean, look, there’s nothing like live theater – that’s why I love doing it. I sort of call it my moonlighting job. I do it when our schedule here at The Fosters allows it, or I just don’t sleep, which happens sometimes too! I love the live interaction that you get with an audience. There’s nothing like it in the whole world because you get instant feedback and you can feel that vibe and that energy in the room, and it’s just magical. So when I did a version of Romeo & Juliet that ran here in Los Angeles for a pretty successful six-month run, which is hard to do in LA, I just fell in love with the idea of juxtaposing Shakespeare’s original tale and his dialogue with this very modern, pop-rock sound, and it seemed to work pretty well. When we closed the show, we started breaking season 3B here at The Fosters and we started to look at all of our stories that were going up on the board and how we were telling different versions of Romeo & Juliet. It just became a natural progression for us to try to tackle a live theatrical piece within an episode, and I think we’re pretty proud of how it turned out!
It was awesome to be able to watch something like that on TV and not in a theater setting!
Bradley: Aw, thank you!
And related to what you were saying about timing, what was the thinking behind having Jack die at this particular point?
Bradley: Jack was a very important character for us this season because we got to explore the more corporate side of the foster care system, which is and can be a controversial aspect to foster care, and obviously he became a very important and integral part of Jude’s journey, especially after Connor. As you see in The Fosters 3×19 in particular, Jack really becomes a shoulder for Jude and kind of a new hope. When we started to break The Fosters 3×19 and look at the previous stories that we were telling on Justina and Callie and Jack and where that was going, we wanted to incorporate some more Shakespearian stories within our Fosters world as well. That ending is as Shakespearian as it gets, but it also felt very grounded and real in terms of the story we were trying to tell on Justina in particular. We were challenged by it, and we know it’s a darker story, but we wanted to go there. I think we are very proud of where we took the story.
Cierra, how are the Fosters affected by Jack’s death?
Cierra: There are so many storylines that Mariana never really was familiar with Jack, although she probably saw him around the house, but he’s played such a big role in Jude’s life this season. It’s going to be hard for Jude because he lost Connor and he’s been going through missing him and finding new friends. He finally got Jack in his life, so to lose that as well is just so hard for him and hard for the family to see him go through that, so they’re definitely here for Jude. Little Judicorn!
Bradley, as director of The Fosters 3×19, how did you go about balancing Romeo and Juliet’s onstage deaths and Jack’s real-life death so one didn’t overshadow or detract from the other?
Bradley: Well, first of all, we mapped it out in the writer’s room and did an outline and a script where we had it a certain way. We ended on the death of Jack, but then what happens is you get into the editing room. I always call that the rewriting process because you can sort of move pieces around almost like a puzzle, and I really did go back and forth between where I wanted to end. Did I want to end on Romeo and Juliet, since that was the through-line and the centerpiece for the episode, or did I want to end on Jack and Stef and the family? What became important to us was to make sure that the Fosters’ storylines were interwoven into the musical itself, and for us, the Fosters are always the most important storyline, especially within this episode. It became a natural place for us to end, especially because Jack has been such an important part for us this season – especially for Jude. We really do love the foster care storyline that we got to tell with him in particular, so it felt like the perfect Shakespearian ending.
Cierra, The Fosters 3×19 pulled Mariana deeper into the love triangle with Mat and Nick. How does she handle that situation as the season wraps up?
Cierra: I think she never really got to move on from her mistake with Mat. He’s never really given her the time of day ever since, and it’s been hard to become these roles without that undeniable attraction coming into play. I really do think that she likes being with Nick. He’s a great guy and she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings, but she’s never really gotten over Mat and I’m excited to see how that all unravels because she’s kind of torn between both. They’re both so different and she loves them both equally, in a way. I’m excited to see how it all comes out!
Lastly, congratulations to both of you on the show’s season 4 renewal!
Bradley: Thank you!
Cierra: Thank you so much! We’re so excited!
Thanks to Bradley Bredeweg and Cierra Ramirez for taking the time to talk with us! Keep up with them on social media (check out Bradley’s Twitter and Instagram, and Cierra’s Twitter and Instagram), and don’t forget to tune in to Freeform next Monday at 8/7c for The Fosters season 3 finale!