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Exclusive interview: The Nevers’ Amy Manson dishes about her audition, playing Maladie, and going back to drama school

Production still from The Nevers.
Amy Manson plays Maladie in The Nevers Pic credit: HBO

The upcoming science-fiction fantasy series The Nevers will be making waves on HBO soon. This premiere has been a long time coming as the show initially began filming almost two years ago, in June 2019. Part one of the series will air on April 11, consisting of six episodes.

Series actor Amy Manson shared with us that the cast “can’t wait to start” part two.

She said, “We start filming the next six in June.”

The Nevers takes place in Victorian London and tells the story of “a supernatural event which gives certain people— mostly women— abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing.” But don’t be fooled, this isn’t The Avengers. This newfound community of superpowered beings are in great danger as “brutal forces” seek to destroy them.

Scottish actor Amy Manson plays the villainous, serial-killing character Maladie in this dark series. Manson describes her character as deeply nuanced and layered. She has done immense work tapping into her character and building a concrete backstory that will portray this intense emotional depth to her audience. 

Maladie isn’t a simple villain, she isn’t evil solely to be evil. As Manson shared, Maladie has an objective — she is seeking revenge on those who harmed her, and she is trapped in a bubble of learned evilness. 

Monsters & Critics recently spoke with Amy Manson to get all of the details about her new character Maladie and her experience, thus far, working on The Nevers. 

Amy Manson's headshot.
Amy Manson’s headshot. Pic credit: TJ Manou

On her character

Monsters and Critics: What can you tell us about your character? She has quite the dark backstory. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got in character and her arc throughout the series?

Amy Manson: “Where to start… Her mind, I guess. It’s all in her name, Maladie, being French for illness. She still confuses me, I think that initially when I got the part Joss [Whedon], the initial showrunner, said, ‘You know, if anybody figures out her mind, we haven’t done our job.'”

“She’s a shapeshifter and I wouldn’t say she’s mad, I think she chooses to be and I think she’s ahead of the game. As an audience, you’ll figure that out, or you’ll see that, come Episode 5 or 6. I think her relationships with herself and the people around her are complicated, but she needs people around her to achieve her objective of seeking revenge on Doctor Hague and the company of doctors and men who mentally and physically abused her.”

“And her second mission, until Episode 2, on figuring out why she’s been chosen one — when she’s going into this asylum vehicle, she thinks she sees God and this is what she spends three years questioning and thinking of.” 

On the audition process

For the most part, Manson described her audition process for The Nevers as “really relaxed,” however her first reading for Maladie was a bit difficult. She expressed, “I tried to pick it [her audition script] apart. I think I had three weeks to prep and it was only a 2-paged scene.” 

She added, “But because it was just — the language was weird — I just tried to make sense of it, as she would in her head. There was almost like a couple of characters in it as well, and I thought, ‘Right, how do I play this?’ And I did it, I went into the audition and straight away got the callback.”

Additionally, Manson recalled a story on how she warmed up before having to meet the showrunners and casting team. She said, “Before I went in, I remember printing a picture of Joss [Whedon] and I put it up on my wall just to look at it and to talk to him, so when I got in there, it wasn’t weird.” 

Continuing, she lightheartedly shared, “When I went in, it was just like he was my best mate. I was like, ‘Yo, hey, how you doing? So I think I picked apart your script.’ And he was like, ‘No, it doesn’t mean that. Doesn’t mean anything. I wrote it in five minutes.'”

On her process of getting into character 

Manson shared with us in incredible detail, her process of getting into the character of Maladie. This involved many steps; including going back to drama school to pick apart her character’s every move and speech pattern. 

She told us, “I actually went back to my drama school teacher for the first time because of the feeling that I was playing Maladie and then pre-Maladie, I just wanted to give that layers.”

Manson added, “I don’t want to play a generalized ‘I’m a baddie’ — she’s doing it for a reason, she has an objective. She’s not just existing, she’s probably got a bigger objective than everybody there, in the television show.” 

Working with her drama coach, the two “stripped everything away.” Manson eloquently shared, “Voice was last, I worked with a voice coach too. But, it was all about finding out who she was when she was a child in Victorian London. Was she close to her family, did her mom die in childbirth? Did she have to look after her siblings? What pressures that entailed… Or was she an orphan? Did she get abused in an orphanage? In an orphanage, did she look at the Victorian women and want to be them?”

She compared the experience to “being a kid,” saying she had to dive into the very beginning roots of her character and grow from there. 

Check out our full interview with Amy Manson below! 

Before playing Maladie, Amy Manson starred in Torchwood, Being Human, Atlantis, and Season 5 of Once Upon a Time.

Did you enjoy this? Check out our interviews for Netflix’s The One and OWN’s Delilah.

The Nevers premieres April 11 on HBO.

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