AMC reimagines the 1960s classic
Rachael Blake (M2/Helen) discusses what it’s like to play Two’s unconscious wife who also happens to hold the key to The Village’s most protected secret.
Q: What attracted you to the role of M2? Were you a fan of the original series?
A: I didn’t see the original series and avoided watching it as I knew the show we were shooting was a completely new interpretation. I loved the writing and I knew Ian McKellen was playing Two — How could I resist that?!
Q: Is it difficult to be in so many scenes where you have to be “unconscious”? What do you focus on while every one else is talking around you?
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?
Q: What did writer Bill Gallagher tell you about 147?
A: Bill said that 147 is the epitome of The Village. He’s the man who has found happiness and contentment within the confines and the rules — where you can go and where you can’t go, what you can say and what you can’t say. He has found his place and he’s that guy until Six gets into his taxicab and completely turns his world upside-down
Q: As Six tends to do.
A: As Six tends to do, which is slightly annoying. [Laughs]
Q: That seems the exact opposite of your character in your other scifi series, Jericho.
The two-time Oscar nominee discusses the similarities between Two and Tony Blair, the novelty of playing a family man, and whether or not he’d make a good Villager in AMCtv.com’s exclusive interview.
Q: What attracted you to The Prisoner?
A: Well I’d seen the original, and not been an avid fan but thought it was very stylish and amusing and to the point — the point being, I suppose, an ironic critique of preoccupations in the ’70s that people had with socialism or the end of the Soviet system. If you’re going to revise that story then you can’t just copy what was originally done, because we have different preoccupations these days. And for me, it wasn’t just a question of coming on as “Ian McKellen, The Villain” and doing a turn as an enigmatic benevolent monster. It’s much more complicated than that, and that’s what appealed to me about the script and about the part. Then when I met everyone involved, I got on with them so it seemed too good to be true really.
Q: You’ve played a lot of villains in your career. Do you think Two deserves that label?
The star of such movies as The Passion of the Christ and The Count of Monte Cristo talks about working with Ian McKellen and wonders if The Prisoner has made him a more suspicious person in AMCtv.com’s exclusive interview.
Q: You intentionally didn’t watch the original Prisoner when you got the role. Now that it’s over have you gone back and seen it?
A: I haven’t. In the beginning I actually hadn’t heard of it, but it didn’t take long for me to learn how many people were huge fans of the original. It can be very hard to approach the character freshly if you’ve just seen someone else’s performance in the same role. I guess I’m kind of one of the guys that stays in the moment.
Q: One of the big draws to the miniseries for you was Ian McKellen’s casting. Did he live up to your expectations?
Check out these highlights from recent behind-the-scenes interviews with The Prisoner crew and casting directors Kate Rhodes James and Moonyeenn Lee.
• “We gave Ruth Wilson a good, clear view of the vein she would have to inject by pumping up the real-life model’s arm so that his veins extruded more than usual.” — Clinton Smith (Prosthetics Artist)
• “Let me tell you something: you can buy blood from Hollywood — it’s called ‘Hollywood Blood’ — and if you can see the difference between our blood and theirs…Well, you can’t.” — Mickey Kirsten (Special-FX Supervisor)
• “If it’s a wooden structure and it’s going to be blowing up into pieces, it can’t have nails or screws in it because those are things that even if you’re wearing padding, they could still injure your performers or crew.” — Grant Hulley (Stunts Coordinator)
• “For The Prisoner, we needed S.A. actors who would be able to perform either a passable American or English accent, and this narrowed our search.” — Moonyeenn Lee (Casting Director, South Africa)
Clinton Smith has been fooling friends and family with gory skin-and-bone special effects since he was a kid. Now as the director of Cosmesis, a Cape Town-based effects company, he has happily settled in the movie industry. In collaboration with his associates at CFX Productions, he created some amazing prosthetics for The Prisoner. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Clinton about his work — and about a disembodied head, which I saw floating around in a props truck while we were filming.
Q: How did you create the prosthetic head used in The Prisoner?
We didn’t have time to make a sculpt of Jim Caviezel’s real face so we
found a replacement model who matched Jim’s proportions. We molded
their features, created a cast and then poured in a platinum-cured
silicone rubber called Platgel 10. Once the rubber was set, we painted
the skin and then started on the stubble. We pushed individual strands
of dyed yak hair into the jaw and neck area, and then shaved it close
to resemble Jim’s stubble.
Q: And the prosthetic arm?
For Mickey Kirsten, blowing up stunt people and controlling the weather are all in a day’s work. I first met the special effects coordinator last October during The Prisoner shoot in Namibia where I was acting as multi-media producer for AMCtv.com. At the time, Mickey showed me his favorite blood-squirting tricks, the most film-friendly explosives and a few pieces of Special FX paraphernalia. Now that the show is in post-production, we met again in a quiet cafe in Cape Town where he explained (among other things) why traditional effects are often better than CGI.
Q: It amazes me that they still blow up people in movies. Why don’t they use CGI?
A: No way! Water, fire and explosions always look much better if they’re real. Unless a lot of money goes into computer graphics, they just don’t crack it — it looks fake.
Q: I saw some overhead shots of Six walking through the desert with sand blowing in these crazy patterns. Was the camera crew just lucky that day?
Stunt coordinator Grant Hulley talks about casting Jim Caviezel’s double and the importance of working in tandem with the special effects (FX) team.
Q: What were your responsibilities for The Prisoner?
A: You need try to keep your actors as safe as possible and that’s one of our responsibilities as stunt coordinators on set. We were often working in areas that were high up in the mountains, and the actor had to basically scramble up the rocks. We had to make sure it was going to be safe: If we needed to put up safety lines then we would; if we needed to clear the shale and the rocks so that they didn’t flip, that’s what we had to do as well. We also had a stunt double, who was on full time, so if there was anything, we were there to jump in.
Q: What did your casting process entail?
A: The people that are hired to work with me are stunt people that I’ve worked with before. As a stunt coordinator, that’s probably the most important: Knowing your crew and knowing their limitations so that you don’t push someone past what they’re comfortable with.
Q: How did you know George Bailey was the right guy to serve as Jim Caviezel’s stunt double?
Moonyeenn Lee discusses South African actors and her casting process for The Prisoner.
Q: Are there any well-known South African actors in The Prisoner who will be new to US audiences?
A: Yes. To name a few, there’s John Whiteley (93), James Cuningham (70), and Leila Henriques (Winking Woman). Jessica Haines (554) is also known here. She was recently cast in the movie Disgrace with John Malkovich, and I think American audiences will continue to see more of her.
Q: Did you discover any new talent casting for The Prisoner?