Alison Wright Interview: ‘Snowpiercer’
“Unhinged is fair,” declares Emmy-nominated actress Alison Wright (“The Americans”) about the best way to describe her character on “Snowpiercer.” In our recent webchat, she adds, “When Graeme first described her to me, I think he said ‘insecure, highly strung and easily rattled’ and then he slipped ‘sanctimonious’ in there as well.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Wright above.
SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE 1ST SEASON:
“Snowpiercer” was developed for TV by Graeme Manson (“Orphan Black”) as a reboot of the Bong Joon Ho sci-fi epic of the same name, and based on the French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige.” It stars Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”) as head of hospitality Melanie Cavill and Tony winner Daveed Diggs (“Hamilton”) as Layton, a revolutionary trapped at the tail of the train with the rest of the underclass. It follows thousands of passengers on a 1,001 car train that traverses the globe carrying the remnants of humanity in a post-apocalyptic frozen wasteland.
Wright co-stars as Ruth Wardell, Melanie’s deputy, who primarily looks after the train’s first class passengers. The inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, from the ruling class at the luxury front end, to the poor disenfranchised at the tail end, undergo an internal revolution throughout season 1, leading up to an unexpected and climactic season finale. It was a story line that had significant consequences for Ruth as she discovers the truth about the mysterious founder of the train Mr. Wilfred in the eventful eighth episode of the season (“These Are His Revolutions”). Up until that episode, Ruth has been devoted to Mr. Wilfred as an all-powerful ‘man behind the curtain,’ sight-unseen. However, her whole world view and sense of purpose is irreparably shattered when she discovers that he doesn’t exist.
“I was very excited about this episode because I got to stretch my legs but also because we got to understand Ruth’s point of view, because it can be really easy to think that she’s a baddie and an evil character, but she’s really devoted to Mr. Wilfred and devoted and eternally grateful to him,” she explain. “Her point of view is that he’s the only reason they’re all alive. There’s nobody else out there that saved almost 3,000 souls. We’re the lucky ones. All of our friends and family and anyone that is not on the train is gone. They’ve perished and it’s all thanks only to Mr. Wilfred.
Wright was keen to get into the mindset of a woman like Ruth, whose devout dedication is unquestioned throughout the series until the big reveal. “Maybe her life’s a bit better on the train than it was before,” Wright ponders. “I think of her as a mobile home hairdresser, I think her previous life was,” she adds with a smirk. “She’s fully committed to him. We don’t know at this point in the story what happened to Ruth’s family. It appears she’s completely alone on the train, which means she’s completely alone in the world and she wants to hang on to this position she has in this new world and this new reality and that’s all thanks to Mr. Wilfred. She thinks he’s heaven sent and she’ll do his bidding no matter what.”