Danielle Deadwyler interview: ‘Station Eleven’

“She is fierce in just saying ‘I’m going to blow up what’s not working, I’m going to set a fire,’” declares Danielle Deadwyler about the woman she portrays on “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 think that those things are super attractive, like that’s somebody who’s going for the life that they actually want yet don’t know if they can attain. I think that’s all of us. That’s the beauty of the show. Everybody’s doing something that they don’t necessarily think they would have done before.” 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. While it confronts the harsh realities of what happens to humanity after a catastrophic deadly virus, the series paints an aspirational and ultimately hopeful picture of humanity triumphing over profound loss and destruction. 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.

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The series boasts an impressive ensemble cast, with Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel, Matilda Lawler, Lori Petty, Nabhaan Rizwan, David Wilmot, Daniel Zovatto and Gael Garcia Bernal joining Deadwyler against a haunting backdrop of a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been whittled down to a few survivors scattered across the Earth. The 10-episode series travels back and forth in time – from the outset of the pandemic to many years later in the aftermath – as it follows the Traveling Symphony, a ragtag group of artists and actors who traverse the Great Lakes region performing for locals every year.

Deadwyler plays Miranda, a logistics expert who has poured her heart into a fantasy graphic novel she calls “Station Eleven,” which she wrote and illustrated as a way to cope with childhood trauma from when her family was killed during a devastating hurricane. Miranda appears standoffish and distant on the surface, but her external demeanor belies a magnetic warmth and emotional intelligence that we discover throughout the third episode (called “Hurricane”), in which we she takes center stage as the unexpected catalyst for the entire narrative arc of the series. She travels to Malaysia for a work conference at the beginning of the end of the world after turning points in her love life and her artistic expression. While at the conference, hours after learning of her former lover’s shocking death, she experiences a final turning point — in her mortality — as she succumbs to the deadly flu in a hotel room.

The actress recognizes that her character seems to be resonating profoundly with audiences because she represents the core themes of the series — that art and community are ultimately what sustains us as human beings. “You can do it alone, but you’re never alone,” she declares. “We live in a digital media world; we’re constantly engaged in conversations you can hop in and out of the conversation, you can do it on Twitter, you can do it on Instagram you can do it on Facebook, whatever. There is a dialogue incessantly happening,” she says, adding,” I think we missed the more tactile quality of what it means to be engaging with community.”

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UPLOADED Jun 8, 2022 11:30 am