TNT’s Snowpiercer is about to boil over. In this week’s episode – the penultimate before the two-hour season finale – the revolution will be televised. Or at the very least, the first attempt from the tail section to begin their march towards first class. Will they be successful and does Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) have the stomach to lead a war that they might not win?
Head engineer and head of hospitality, Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly) is in custody, while Layton prepares the Tailies and pleads for the support of the third class passengers. With the help of Miss Audrey, played by Lena Hall, they could have numbers on their side to force real change. Hall’s role started out as Snowpiercer’s entertainer, showing off her immense talent as a singer, freeing the train’s passengers from their misery. But each week, Miss Audrey proves to be a key ally for all parts of the train.
Monsters and Critics spoke to the Tony Award winner (as a part of Broadway productions of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Kinky Boots) and Grammy nominee about Snowpiercer and the exciting transformation of Hall’s character from the train’s lead therapist into a freedom fighter.
Monsters & Critics: It’s almost poetic how Snowpiercer is a confluence and metaphor to our current problems whether it be social injustice or quarantining. Could you share what makes it so compelling and how it deals with so many things we could all help sorting out today?
Lena Hall: What’s awesome about science fiction stories like this is that they can bring into light certain realities that are happening now, but because it’s going through a filter for entertainment, it’s a lot easier to watch, digest and understand. It makes difficult subjects easier to talk about or understand because it’s presented in a way where you’re further from reality.
Sometimes it’s difficult to talk about what’s going on in real life, especially right now because there’s so much going on and it’s almost overwhelming because of our reality.
So to have something that is – for sure science fiction [laughs] but is nearly the same situation, it can help us get through these difficult times. Seeing characters play out something in front of you can help relieve the stress of the day and help us understand moments even clearer.
Art is very important for us, even something fun and silly that is there to just make people laugh, to help us get through many things like being quarantined, protests and the injustices. It’s important to have a respite from the stress from the day. Science fiction can cure off the stress, so we can get out of the real situation and have fun in a different way.
M&C: Miss Audrey is a Snowpiercer performer who helps passengers from a therapeutic standpoint and dealing with trauma. Talk about her transformation as she fights for her friend that’s wrongly accused of a crime, for the third class to get equal representation during the murder trial, and works to unify the back and middle of the train.
LH: I think it’s cool because she’s supposed to be neutral and not take sides. She is for all of the people from the train to come to for healing, like a therapist. She is playing more to the patient-doctor confidentiality and is supposed to hold all of that in, and she was watching all of the injustices happen and it boils over.
She had to take a stand and do something to change what she is seeing on a daily basis. While it doesn’t affect her as much, she has been able to watching things go down. Her empathy is a big part of her character and the empathy she has for the people suffering in third class — [speaking as Audrey] “we do all the work, we run this train, and yet we have nothing, no rights”.
If someone kills us, there is no justice. Everything is corrupted so that it favors the wealthy first class. It’s time for Miss Audrey to get on board and once she does, she becomes a leader that people look to.
M&C: There’s also a visual shift in Audrey from this Madame / Dita von Teese vibe to someone even more assertive and authoritative. So many Snowpiercer characters are stuck in one look, one function, but Miss Audrey evolves and has her own visual language, doesn’t she?
LH: For sure! Her look came from Dita von Teese, but also old Hollywood starlets. There’s an Audrey Hepburn look, one for Marilyn Monroe and Eva Gardner. It’s all very much a throwback to the golden age of Hollywood.
Her look and how she presents herself is so much a part of her character that it was important to show the multiple sides of her. She is very theatrical and presentational, but she is someone who once she gets into a role, she dresses for the part, and throws her weight to the cause.
Audrey’s strongly opinionated and definitely knows who she is 100 percent, and doesn’t falter. She tells a story with how she looks and her wardrobe is an essential part of her character.
M&C: How important is Audrey’s role in getting the third class on board with the Tailies and giving this coup a shot?
LH: Layton is from the tail, so no one from the third would ever care about someone like that, unless he had the voice of third class behind him, which is who Miss Audrey is. She has the most power there and she also knows enough secrets to hold power over higher ups.
Her getting behind Layton to lead the charge and get third class on board is a big deal, and so it’s like she’s running for vice president, as an inspiring first lady [laughs]. She has the trust and love of all of her class and they’re happy to follow her. She also has the trust and love of first and second. Second class is right in the middle and can go either way.
So even though her opinions aren’t going the way at first, she has a lot of pull in changing opinions. It would have been Layton and the Tailies against the entire train if it had not been Miss Audrey getting all of third class on board.
M&C: I’m very curious about the process of making this first season — whether or not Mr. Wilford is real or not, is alive, whether he is present on the train or not, is a big mystery for the audience.
I could see keeping certain characters in the dark too. Did you shoot the episodes in order, and at what point did you know the big secret?
LH: We knew Mr. Wilford wasn’t there the whole time as actors, but as far as my character is concerned, it’s tough because her relationship with Mr. Wilford is far more complex than anyone could ever know. We find out her relationship with him in Season 2, so I can’t go much more into that, but I will say that Mr. Wilford got her on the train, got the night car built, and saved her from the freeze.
She’s indebted to him and whether or not she knows if he’s on the train or not, whether or not he’s alive, is up to the audience to decide. It’s one of the big mysteries of the show and I don’t want to spoil that. However, more will be revealed next season and I just love – I am so excited [laughs] for Season 2.
Episode 108 of Snowpiercer, These Are His Revolutions, airs on TNT, Sunday, July 5 at 9pm ET/PT.