You play Nyssa in Krypton. Tell us a little bit about her?
Nyssa is a junior magistrate. She’s the daughter of the chief magistrate Daron-Vex who is kind of like the emperor of Kandor. She has been brought up in a royal and slightly sterile environment, so she doesn’t have many relationships or close friends. People are commodities for her. Obviously this gets tested throughout the series but at the start she’s a bit of a princess.
It’s not easy to work out if she’s a goodie or a baddie. Do you like that enigmatic quality she has?
Yes, definitely. That’s one of the reasons I was drawn to the character – she is mysterious. To be completely honest, when I had the breakdown for her character, I was never told if she’s good or bad. I was very much learning with the character as we went on filming the series as I would only find out script by script what her intentions were. Not only did that make it easier to play, because it was coming from a really genuine place, but it also made it harder to play. I’m hoping by the end of the series you get to see who she really is, but there is a little cliff-hanger…
She’s kind of forced to couple up with the show’s hero, Seg-El. What are her feelings towards him?
She very much treats people as chess pieces. Her first thought is how can she manipulate and maneuverer Seg into getting what she wants. But as they go through difficult situations together and into challenging positions, that relationship is forced to change. It’s a really natural and honest change. Their relationship becomes a lot more genuine as the series goes on.
You had a lot of scenes with Cameron Cuffe. How did you find working with him?
Absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t have wished to work with a better actor. He’s such a giving actor. His depth of knowledge with comics and Superman and the backstories of these characters and the possibilities with where the relationships are going makes it so much easier to perform a scene. He really helped me explore the depths and bring out the best of Nyssa. Working with Cameron is just a dream. We have such a laugh on set.
Everything thinks filming a TV show is massively glamorous. What’s it really like?
You literally feel you’re engrossed into this world. There are bits that are difficult – the early mornings, the long hours… it’s definitely not as glamorous as people think. But for what it is, we are very very lucky to have what we have. The sets are so realistic and incredible that actually it makes it so effortless and so easy to perform well in that space.
Everyone has mentioned the sets…
I knew they would have! I have worked on shows where it’s literally a 2D set – two walls and then cameras. I’ve never been in a three dimensional… no four dimensional set where it stretches from the floors to the ceiling. It makes so much difference. You don’t see the lighting, you don’t see the crew. It’s amazing.
Tell us about the audition for the role?
Aaron Pierre who plays Dev has the same agent as I have. He showed me the script and said, “You should read this. The character springs off the page and is screaming to you.” And I read it and I couldn’t get her out of my head. I went to my agent and said, “You have to get me an audition, you have to!” I hadn’t really had much experience and it’s such a huge project with a massive legacy. I thought, it’s so out of my league I’ve just got nothing to lose by trying. I did the scenes in the pilot episode and sent in a tape.
I was so nervous in the audition. I hadn’t really thought anything through! I went in and somebody called my phone and that threw me off because my phone was meant to be on silent and then I did it and I actually ended up apologising! I left the room and called my agent and cried and cried and cried. I said, “I messed everything up. Can I go back, can I go back?” And he said, “No you can’t go back.” But I guess they didn’t need to see anymore – someone must have felt really really sorry for me! I couldn’t believe it. They rang me up two weeks later and I couldn’t believe it.
It’s not just Nyssa who is a kick-ass character. You yourself are something of a martial arts aficionado. Which martial arts do you do?
I really like Muay Tai. I love Krav Maga. I’ve always enjoyed boxing. I don’t do any of them to a high level. I’ve been brought up to a screen level. But I’ve done them for quite a while and the more I get engrossed the more I want to do it. I learnt them ages ago and I think that actually now when I go on set the choreographers go, let’s do this and this, and I say, well what about a roundhouse kick? It helps when you can add something to it and personalise a fight scene. It makes life so much easier because instead of thinking, “I need to do this and this and this”, I can think about the character and what is going on, how she would react. I don’t want to ruin the series but stuff does happen and it was really nice I could focus on something else instead of just trying to get the moves right.
The show is finally coming to the UK. You must be really excited it’s coming on over here?
I can’t wait. The last three things I’ve done have all been American. There’s no place like home. When a show that you’re proud of, or a film or anything, comes out on your home turf that’s a great feeling. It’s something we’re all really proud of and 90% of the cast are British. The fact that it’s coming out here because it has done well in the States is such a good feeling. I really hope people like it!
When the first episode is on, who will you watch it with?
My best friends and all my family. When we were in the States all the cast got together to watch the first episode but here it’s a bit more personalised. Finally everyone will get the chance to see it.
Set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s home planet, Krypton follows Seg-El (British actor Cameron Cuffe – The Halcyon), the legendary Man of Steel’s grandfather, who is faced with a life and death conflict. With Krypton’s leadership in disarray and the House of El ostracised, Seg is prompted into action by the arrival of Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos – The Vampire Diaries), who’s travelled from present-day Earth to warn Seg of an insidious plot to change the past and prevent the birth of the last son of Krypton – a plot he believes to have been orchestrated by the Super-Villain Brainiac (Blake Ritson – Da Vinci’s Demons). Fighting to redeem his family’s honour and protect the ones he loves, Seg is also entrusted with protecting the future of his legacy – a destiny that will see the birth of the greatest Super Hero ever known.
Krypton stars a host of new and established British talent, including BAFTA winner Georgina Campbell (Broadchurch, Flowers, Black Mirror), Wallis Day (The Royals), Aaron Pierre (Britannia) and Ian McElhinney (Derry Girls, Game of Thrones, Rogue One), along with guest stars Rupert Graves (Sherlock, Last Tango in Halifax) and Paula Malcomson (Ray Donovan, The Hunger Games). It was the first production to be shot in the new Belfast Harbour Studios.
Krypton begins Sunday August 19th at 9pm on E4