Mackenzie Davis (‘Station Eleven’): ‘It’s hard to tell really earnest stories; It’s easier to tell a cynical or horrifying story’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“It’s hard to tell really earnest stories. It’s easier to tell a cynical or horrifying story,” declares Mackenzie Davis about about “Station Eleven,” the HBO Max limited series set in the aftermath of a fictional catastrophic pandemic that wipes out most of civilization. For our recent webchat she adds, “I loved the mission of the series, which was to tell a post-apocalyptic story without using any of the tropes or easy markers of a post-apocalyptic story. So, rather than savage humanity, and non-stop bloodshed, it was art and the things that are actually worth living for,” she says. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

“Station Eleven” was created by Patrick Somerville, based on the 2014 sci-fi/fantasy novel of the same name by Emily St. John Mandel. Twenty years after a flu pandemic wipes out most of the world, a group of survivors who make their living as traveling performers encounter a violent cult led by a man whose past is unknowingly linked to a member of the troupe. The series has garnered rave reviews from critics, buoyed by strong word of mouth as audiences inevitably draw parallels to their shared experiences of living under the weight of the (albeit less extreme) COVID-19 pandemic in real life.

The series boasts impressive production design, an ambitious original score by composer Dan Romer, and a nuanced emotional intelligence from head writer Somerville and his group of directors led by pilot helmer Hiro Murai. The cast members in particular have received their fair share of praise as well, led by Davis, Himesh Patel, Matilda Lawler, Lori PettyNabhaan RizwanDavid Wilmot, Danielle Deadwyler, Daniel Zovatto and Gael Garcia Bernal against a haunting backdrop of a post-apocalyptic dystopia where humanity has been whittled down to a few survivors scattered across the Earth.

Davis stars as Kirsten Raymonde, a performer in the Traveling Symphony, a nomadic group of actors and musicians who perform Shakespearean plays for the survivors of the deadly apocalyptic pandemic that struck 20 years earlier. Lawler plays a much younger version of Kirsten, an abandoned child actor who is sheltered at the outset of the pandemic by Jeevan Chaudhary (Patel), who while at a play witnesses the beginnings of the deadly virus.

As the series shifts back and forth between the two timelines, we learn more about Kirsten’s journey from the innocent and scared child witnessing the world falling apart around her, to the more stoic adult version of Kirsten. “Station Eleven” is at its core about hope, love, art and humanity. It’s the ultimate life-affirming balm of a show that came around at just the right time, when perhaps the world needed it most.

“I love that it’s so simple, and yet it feels very new in a strange way, because we’re so used to visions of a future being marked by war and this sexless, joyless life, where you’re just living out an existence,” Davis shares. “My question was always like why keep living like that? It seems horrible. What is motivating this loyalty to the human race, we keep living? No, you want to have connection and joy and ecstasy. You can have sadness and devastation, but only as part of a cocktail of life and I loved how this shows how a society would rebuild itself.”

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