“She’s definitely heart-before-head and just dives into things almost without thinking,” actress Juliet Rylance says during a recent webcam chat with Gold Derby (watch below) about her character Cornelia Robertson on the “The Knick.” Rylance stars opposite Clive Owen on the hospital drama, which aired its first season last fall on Cinemax.
Despite the show’s 1900 setting, Rylance plays a character with liberal views on race, abortion and women in the workplace. “I feel like a lot of the issues that Cornelia faces, bizarrely, are still relevant today,” Rylance laments, which makes Cornelia not so different from more modern roles on the actress’ résumé. “She has to be very buttoned up. There is social etiquette of what’s expected from her and, obviously, she has to behave in a certain way, but there’s this flipside to her, which I love. She loves first and thinks later, and I love that juxtaposition between being very buttoned up in one sense and very unbuttoned sort of in privacy, so that’s really fun.”
Rylance shared in a Satellite Award for Best Television Cast earlier this year and will contend in the Best Drama Supporting Actress category at the Emmys for the first time this summer. Having made her career on the stage (taking after her Tony-winning stepfather Mark Rylance, who is also Emmy-eligible this year for “Wolf Hall”), Rylance describes “The Knick” as “such a fantastic way into television.” Along with director Steven Soderbergh’s efficient shooting style, she also admires his knack for more natural sets and lighting than is characteristic of the medium and is reminiscent of theater.
Currently in production on the show’s second season, Rylance teases that “The Knick” will be “even bigger, bolder and more epic” when it returns this fall. Although her character was being shipped off to San Francisco at the end of the first season, Rylance also promises that Cornelia still very much has a future on the show, even if not necessarily at the eponymous Knickerbocker Hospital in New York.
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