“I had no idea what I was auditioning for,” reveals Weruche Opia of her initial auditions for “I May Destroy You.” The full script was not provided to her until after she booked the role of Terry, best friend to creator and star Michaela Coel’s character Arabella. After accepting the part, Opia stayed up for an entire transatlantic flight to devour the script, thinking “oh my god, I need to be a part of this.” The actress became an integral piece of the hit HBO limited series. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
It’s fitting that Opia and Coel would portray lifelong besties because the pair clicked almost instantaneously during Opia’s auditions. “We did the scene together and it was just so natural,” the actress remembers. “There was just this chemistry in the air.” She believes that having Coel on set as a constant guiding force was one of the best parts of working on the series. It meant Opia felt free to engage creatively when forming her character, even if it meant altering a line or motivation. “As much as it’s her idea, Opia explains, “she also allows collaboration…allowing me to put my stamp on the character as well.”
SEE Adam Gillham interview: ‘I May Destroy You’ cinematographer
One of Terry’s most startling moments occurs on a jaunt to Italy. After engaging in a threesome with two men whom she believes to be strangers, she feels empowered. But through her window she spies the pair walking off together and wonders if instead of being liberated, she was actually taken advantage of. Opia expertly charts Terry’s emotional journey through facial expressions alone. “I think it’s more exposing,” Opia says of this intimate, silent acting, “because you don’t have words to hide behind.” The actress employs this type of vulnerable performance across Terry’s many ups and downs in the show. “You’ll see the truth in a person’s expression and their eyes more than anything,” she reveals.
Opia hopes to “make work that changes things, that affects people.” She believes Michaela Coel has done just that with “I May Destroy You,” thanks to its complicated picture of humanity and exploration of consent and power. “It’s honestly a joy,” she admits, “to be a part of something I believe is historic.”
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