Magazine article Variety

New Faces Break into Race

Magazine article Variety

New Faces Break into Race

Article excerpt

WHEN IT COMES to television, this year's SAG Awards nominations may welcome a host of newcomers, including actors from Hulu's Emmy juggernaut "The Handmaid's Tale"; Netflix newcomers "Alias Grace," "GLOW," "Mindhunter" and "Ozark"; CBS's "Young Sheldon;" ABC's "The Mayor" and "The Good Doctor" and Showtime's "White Famous" and "SMILF."

Like "The Handmaid's Tale," "Alias Grace" is based on a Margaret Atwood novel. Sarah Gadon, who plays the title role, says two scenes from the series provoke the most response from viewers and stood out to her when she read the script. "I was terrified of them," she says. "How are we going to pull that off?"

She's referring to a scene in episode one when Grace stares at herself in a mirror as voiceover narration reveals how Grace, an Irish-Canadian servant convicted of murdering her employer in 1840s Canada, was viewed by others. "As it was written in the script she transforms into all these personas and I wondered, will it be special effects? Will it seem theatrical and corny?" Gadon says.

After discussing the scene with writer Sarah Polley and director Mary Harron, the trio agreed to ground the sequence and go for subtlety. Gadon is also proud of the 20-minute, filmed-in-real-time hypnotism scene from episode five, which was shot over two days.

"It's this sequence of Grace speaking under the veil as somebody else," Gadon, who worked with a dialect coach to take on the voices of other characters in that scene, says. "It was more daunting because it goes on for so long and also there's the idea of playing it out of Grace's own register and voice, out of Grace's own accent. It was a real transformation."

For Alison Brie, portraying a I980s-era actress-turned-TV-wrestler proved most challenging when her character auditions in the first episode of "GLOW." She must transform from a novice ingrappling to an experienced wrestler in a dream sequence as at a time when she was still learning the moves.

"The way it transitions from the real world to this fantasy sequence at the end of the episode is amazing and one of the things that made me really want to do the show," Brie says. "If there was a source of anxiety, it was that we had only four weeks to learn as much wrestling as possible. It's funny that the first wrestling sequence we ever shot was when we knew the least."

On ABC's breakout hit "The Good Doctor," Freddie Highmore says he's most proud of the quieter, character-driven scenes featuring his autistic surgeon, Dr. Shaun Murphy, whether that's Shaun's interactions with a neighbor he has a crush on or exploring Shaun's backstory in episode five through a patient who resembles Shaun's deceased brother. And top of mind is a sense of responsibility when portraying an autistic character.

"We are aware of the fact that Shaun can never, nor should he, represent everyone who has autism," Highmore says, "in the same way a neurotypical lead character of a television show would not represent everyone who is neurotypical in the world."

On ABC's comedy side, Brandon Micheal Hall of "The Mayor," says a scene in the pilot episode between rapper-turned-mayor Courtney Rose and his mother (Yvette Nicole Brown) echoed a conversation with his own, real-life mom.

"We're out on the fire escape and she explains to me the responsibility I'm taking on as mayor is not just about me, it's about the entire community," Hall says. "I relate to that because I have the same ideals behind working on 'The Mayor,' which is the responsibility of carrying my first show for the first time. …

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