AMC reimagines the 1960s classic
The actor behind 313 discusses her predilection for playing schizophrenic doctors, describes her bizarre love triangle with Jim Caviezel and Hayley Atwell, and takes a stab at deciphering her number in AMCtv.com’s exclusive interview.
Q: How did you end up playing 313?
A: They were casting out in Britain. I actually auditioned for both Lucy and 313 — they weren’t really sure which way to go with either of them, so you were handed both. I ended up being 313 and Hayley Atwell ended up as Lucy. And when I read the script I thought it was pretty unique — it had some very Lynchian moments in it.
Q: You’re actually working with Hayley on a film project now. Were you friends before The Prisoner?
A: We had bumped into each other on a number of occasions, but I didn’t know her that well. We got to get to know each other very well on the set — she was a saving grace for me. We went on safari a few times and went shark diving. I was already setting up this film that we were making of several shorts, and I talked to her about it and she wanted to help out.
Q: So what’s it like being in a love triangle with her and Jim?
A: Interestingly, I never really acted opposite Hayley. My only scenes with her, she was comatose in a bed, and as such it’s quite an interesting love triangle. I always felt that 313′s a little bit weird — she’s got mental health problems, obviously, but she gets very little back from Six in terms of love. So her obsession for him and her feelings for him are quite one-sided, whereas the relationship between Lucy and Six is much more of a love, even though it’s manipulated. From his point of view it’s kind of an odd “he’s-chasing-her / I’m-chasing-him” kind of thing.
Q: What do you think the number 313 means?
A: I’ve got no idea. We all tried to work out what it all meant, why we had those numbers, and I don’t think we ever really came to any conclusions. Someone told me recently that 313 is a prime number. And Lennie [James] said if you put 313 in the mirror it looks the same, but I think that was him just coming up with something.
Q: Your character in the real world is quite different from the put-together 313. Was that difficult?
A: You know, that was what I enjoyed about it. It makes her a bit more interesting because otherwise, it would just be this obsessive weird doctor who is very put together and straight. At some point you don’t really know what she’s about because you watch her, and she sits between Ian and Jim, and you don’t know where her loyalties lie. I think it’s quite nice in a way to keep that ambiguous.
Q: You played a schizophrenic doctor in The Doctor Who Hears Voices. Was that experience helpful for you in playing 313?
A: That was actually incredibly tough — you realize these people are in torment a lot. They are constantly fighting the demons in their head. This one woman I spoke to, she could hear hundreds of aliens telling her to kill her kid. To try and get used to having voices in my head I recorded stuff on a dictaphone and I listened to it — voices saying, “You’re a piece of s–t, you’re nothing, you’re fat, you’re ugly, they all think you’re weird, they can see you’re lying.” I didn’t have time to do that for The Prisoner, but because I had only filmed Doctor a year ago, I still had a reference of what that felt like. It’s frightening and scary, and so to find a place like The Village, which gives you freedom from that, of course you would put up with the downsides, which are being controlled and being watched.