Daybreak premiered Oct. 24 on Netflix and fans instantly fell in love with the fascinating and wacky Ms. Crumble, played by Krysta Rodriguez. She’s one of the only adults that we know of to have survived the bomb. Angelica becomes captivated with the delightfully weird Ms. Crumble, who eats maggots and talks to Barbie doll heads. Over the course of the season, fans learned that Ms. Crumble is actually suffering from a traumatic brain injury after Principal Burr pushed her down the school stairs before the apocalypse.
HollywoodLife sat down with Krysta to talk about bringing Ms. Crumble to life and embracing such a unique character. Krysta said the role of Ms. Crumble is a “total gift” she wasn’t expecting. She also discussed the “beautiful friendship” between Ms. Crumble and Angelica. Plus, does she think Sam Dean is ultimately the best person to take over? HollywoodLife and Krysta talk about all that and more.
When you got the role of Ms. Crumble and you realized this isn’t just like your conventional teacher character, what was your initial reaction to the role?
Krysta Rodriguez: Well, I don’t know how to play this was really my first reaction. I was nervous but she really is a role that I didn’t realize I’ve been dying to play. It’s hard to find roles, especially for women in their 30s who are not just like a long-suffering wife or something that’s sort of quiet and subdued. To not just be loud but be filthy and ridiculous and get to do whatever you want, it was a total gift that I wasn’t expecting.
What was the process like for you to get Ms. Crumble’s mannerisms and all of that?
Krysta Rodriguez: Part of that started with the audition process, actually. Sort of in a way to get into the mind of the character was like thinking that she wants to eat everybody and everything. She’s got keys and all these other things in her stomach, so she must be hungry all the time. So I grabbed some pistachios and like shoved them in my cheeks and did the audition with pistachio shells sort of spewing out of my mouth. I did a self-tape, so I was like home alone. I realized hearing other people’s audition stories, we almost exclusively were self-tapes, which I think led to us feeling comfortable to give something more unconventional. If I would’ve had to walk into the room and do that, I wouldn’t have grabbed the pistachios or whatever. So that sort of informed the mannerisms of that, like she’s constantly hungry and eating so that helped a lot with what her motivation was all the time. But the costumes and everything helped a lot. I developed the voice early on and basically when I got the job, I spoke to the showrunners and they told me that she has a traumatic brain injury. So that helped me be like, “Oh, she’s not just a random crazy person. There is a psychological path that I can follow through these different sorts of avenues of her brain.” So I split them all up into like five different chambers and created different little ticks and then decided who was speaking at one time and there it was.
Ms. Crumble and Angelica formed such an incredible bond. What was it like working with Alyvia Alyn Lind?
Krysta Rodriguez: It is a great emotional core and I love that it’s two women and the two most disparately aged women. It’s like we’re the oddest odd couple. But we had instant chemistry as acting partners. I respect her so much as a person but also as an actress. She is just pure. She lets things flow through her and she’s really open. All I had to do was look into her open face and I was in love. Ms. Crumble wanted to inspire young girls and not just inspire them to be strong women but to be scientists. She wanted more women to care about science. That was what her hope was. She finds that in Angelica, a young girl who loves science and is curious about the world and is smart beyond her years and is maybe using it not for good. In some ways, she’s a self-destructive genius. Ms. Crumble or The Witch can take that edge off of her and let her be open. It’s a beautiful friendship. The makeover episode with us was one of my favorite things I’ve ever gotten to do. It was so beautiful. She’s so beautiful in it. Just to be able to say to somebody of that age and by proxy everyone in the world “let’s be monsters” felt amazing.
What was your initial reaction when you learned that Ms. Crumble had a traumatic brain injury?
Krysta Rodriguez: I mean they had told me early on so I knew that was coming, which is great. But even I was surprised in the third episode where I’m playing Galaga with the bugs. I set up the bugs on the ground and I’m playing the game. I was like, oh, it’s just a silly thing The Witch is doing and then in episode 7 where you see my backstory, she’s playing Galaga at the bar when she talks to Burr about it. I was surprised to see that they were thinking about this back then. We knew the episodes before we shot them most of the time, so I knew when I was playing Galaga that I wasn’t just being silly as The Witch. I’m always trying to piece together parts of who I was before throughout the whole season until you realize what’s going on. So it was fun for me to be able to layer all the parts.
If there was to be a season 2, is there a particular time that you would want to explore more with Ms. Crumble?
Krysta Rodriguez: I think Ms. Crumble maybe as Angelica’s age, before she became jaded and when she wanted to be a precocious child. That could be interesting to explore where she got where she was, but also just the woman who wanted to change the world and didn’t get to. I think we see a lot of that in episode 7, but we already see her sort of beat down at school. Like what would it be if she was trying to get that job? How did she interview for that job? What was her excitement about teaching? I think that’d be interesting to see.
Do you think Sam Dean is ultimately going to be a good leader?
Krysta Rodriguez: That was a big question we asked while shooting it because you could go one of two ways. It was that Sam Dean was always evil, that this was all a long con manipulation to be in charge. Or you can go the route, which is more logical, that she is the leader. Josh was never the leader of anything. Even Turbo, while the head of the team in the apocalypse, Mona Lisa is calling all the shots. These two women actually are the likely candidates to say, “We have a better plan.” It doesn’t have to be evil necessarily, but it might be more brutal than the happy Daybreakers in the mall. But logically, yes, Sam knew everyone and knew how to help people through tough times. It makes sense for her to be the leader more than anything.
What was it like for you to be a part of this teen show that turns everything that we know about that genre on its head and really embrace something totally different with this young cast?
Krysta Rodriguez: It’s very different. I think that while I have had a lot of experience on sets or whatever, they know more about who these characters are. They know more about this generation than I know. I don’t know what any of this stuff means. It’s the first time in my life where I was like, “He’s talking and I don’t know anything. It all seems the same.” So there was a lot of that learning curve for me and for Matthew [Broderick], too. We both were sort of like, “Oh, we feel like little aliens in this world.” So they were able to bring the authenticity of what these kids are actually going through and what life is like in that age. We had very few adults anywhere. All the backgrounds were kids, so it was just kids all over the place. So it was a very authentic feel of what it’s like to have that high school experience. They taught me a lot and they’re also really wonderful actors, so I learned a lot even for me being outside of them.