LOS ANGELES – Carla Gugino is about to be everywhere, starring in a both big new FOX series as well as a summer blockbuster movie
The series, "Wayward Pines," takes place in a small Idaho town where nothing is what it appears to be. Think "Lost" crossed with "Twin Peaks," and a little "The Prisoner" thrown in for good measure. The new psychological thriller with a stellar cast -- Matt Dillon, Gugino, Terrence Howard and Melissa Leo -- is from creator M. Night Shyamalan, who is known for such creepy movies as "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable."
And eerie it is. Based on the books by Blake Crouch and written and developed for television by Chad Hodge, "Wayward Pines" premieres Thursday night when Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (Dillon) leaves Seattle in search of two missing fellow agents and has a car accident. He wakes up in Wayward Pines, where he finds one agent dead and the other, Kate (Gugino), with whom he had an affair, with a very serious memory issue. But worse, he can't leave town. He can't even phone home -- and the why is part of the mystery.
"'Wayward Pines' is intended to be something that you don't understand what's happening initially," Gugino tells FOX411 of the 10-part series. "Hopefully, it's intriguing enough that you would like to continue to find out. Things will definitely get answered. It does not stay unsolved."
"Wayward Pines" takes liberties, so it is loosely based on the book, rather than following it precisely. One of those differences is Kate. In the series, she's almost like three different people. She was a Secret Service agent. She was a woman who never pined for a husband or a home. And now, she appears older and has the façade of a Stepford wife, but with something going on beneath the surface.
"She's really a complicated woman, who's very different than she seems in a lot of ways, as I guess we all are as people," says Gugino, who didn't read the books until she was filming the series. "So by the time I looked at the books, it was actually very helpful for me. But it was because I had had a really clear sense of who we wanted her to be. Night and I had spoken about bringing her to life in this particular incarnation."
Gugino promises that when the mystery of "Wayward Pines" is resolved, everyone will not be actually dead like in "Lost," and that ultimately, what's going on and what's she's doing there will be revealed to be very different than what is happening in the first few episodes -- so you need to watch the entire thing.
"What drew me to it is the cast is really an exceptional group of actors, none of whom really have done this genre much," she says. "So you have a bunch of really interesting people and characters that you'll be introduced to in a world that also satisfies a lot of sci-fi elements and really does take you on a pretty good ride."
Then on May 29, Gugino segues from the psychological thriller to an action thriller when "San Andreas" blasts its way into theaters with a fictionalized version of the damage a level 9 earthquake could wreak on California if it were to happen on the San Andreas fault. Gugino plays the estranged wife of a search and rescue helicopter pilot (Dwayne Johnson). And as the chaos of the calamity engulfs them, they attempt to make their way to San Francisco to try to rescue their daughter.
Gugino, who was born in Florida, but moved to California when she was five, is no stranger to quakes, having been through a few, including the '94 Northridge earthquake, which had a magnitude of 6.7. So, she understands that a fear of the big one is a genuine fear as opposed to, say, an alien attack.
"I think that Mother Nature always is a scary thing because we can pretend we can control these things but we really can't. What we can do is learn how to protect ourselves from them more," she says.
"I just saw the movie recently and you really are on the edge of your seat. It's so good. I was very excited when I saw it," she adds. "I think going through that really scary, thrilling, exhilarating, adventurous ride in the safety of a movie theater is great. I'd love to keep it at that so everyone can get all their fear out, have some catharsis and be moved and watch other people go through this, too, but in safety."
"Wayward Pines" premieres Thursday, May 14 on FOX.