Kate Mara (‘A Teacher’) on playing a predatory character ‘that scares me a little bit’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“I find the most joy in playing characters that are complicated,” reveals Kate Mara. In our recent webchat, she adds, “If I hear a description of a character that scares me a little bit, I think, ‘that’s probably a good scare.’ Things should challenge you in order to grow as a person, and also an actor.” Watch the exclusive video above.

Mara stars in the “FX on Hulu” limited series “A Teacher,” playing Claire Wilson, a young high school teacher that engages in grooming and an affair with a senior student (Nick Robinson). The actress confesses, “I didn’t know much about male victimhood and how rare it is to talk about. It’s really important. There is a reason we haven’t seen many stories from the male survivor’s point of view. It’s such a taboo thing to talk about. The stereotype is that males should be the ones that are protecting. Whereas a lot of women are brought up to feel it’s ok to talk about your emotions. It’s a stupid stereotype, but it’s very much alive. It’s rare to tell this kind of story from both points of view and hopefully it becomes less rare. I loved that was we were going to focus on the consequences of it, not just the lead up to the relationship.”

Mara explains in presenting Claire, “It’s not something we see that often: the female being the predator. It makes people quite uncomfortable. It should make people uncomfortable whether it’s a male or a female. But we are not used to seeing that from a woman, especially a younger woman. Despite her obvious illegal and immoral choices we wanted to make her relatable in all other aspects of her life. So she doesn’t just come across as a monster. We want her to feel human. As an actor I was definitely trying to lean on the ways I could relate to her. I was trying to play Claire without judgement. Trying to make her as real and relatable as possible without trying to justify her behavior in any way.”

The actress admits her performance “was complicated because at the time I had a new baby. I was literally in the trailer caring for a three-month-old. Then running back to set and playing this predator. To switch on and off between the two, eventually I did get used to compartmentalizing things. It’s a really crazy headspace to go between those two extreme worlds. I had to focus as intensely as I could in whatever I was doing. When I was on set playing this person, I could not think of the new love of my life, my child. And when I was in my trailer, usually for me you are focusing on the next scene, I really had to focus on my daughter. To me it was more of a life challenge and a character challenge.”

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