Published: Thursday, 31 October 2019 | Written by Christiane Elin
SciFi Vision recently participated in several press roundtables for Apple TV+'s epic series See.
Our second roundtable included Executive Producer, Dan Shotz, and actors, Christian Camargo (Tamacti Jun), Sylvia Hoeks (Queen Kane), and Marilee Talkington (Souter Bax). The three actors all play characters that are not so nice.
Hoeks plays the role of Queen Kane, the ruler of the Payan tribe, who tasks her Witchfinder General, played by Camargo, to find the children with sight. Talkington plays a member of the Alkenny tribe, authentically representing the blind community.
During the round table interviews, the producer and actors talked about religion in the show, the details of the world, why these characters aren't necessarily the villains of the story, and much more.
QUESTION: Did you keep any of the jewelry?
SYLVIA HOEKS: I wish. I got to keep the pants. You see the pants later in the electrocution scene. The costume designer was so great, Trish Summerville.
QUESTION: What was your favorite piece of wardrobe that you had?
SYLVIA HOEKS: My crown, the one with the wolf in the back with the dangly [thing] when I electrocute people.
QUESTION: Oh, that one. The ceremony.
QUESTION: Religion in this world is very different from the ones that we experience, generally speaking...How does it affect your character?
CHRISTIAN CAMARGO: [laughs] You've got to start with that scene. That's what everybody is talking about, for good reason.
SYLVIA HOEKS: It’s 600 years in the future. People are blind. It’s a different sensory experience in a way that I felt looking at the character, that she gave herself to God and the God Flame. And the way she talks to God is the way she feels she's being heard.
And I felt, as an actress, a big responsibility to create an almost disturbing scene in that sense, because I felt the responsibility not to make it pretty, sexy, feminine. I wanted it to be a personal experience in talking to God. There's no one else around; it's her space. So, I wanted to be real in her world. She's a conflicted, rich, damaged character, and she has extremes. So, I tried to find that scene in that sense.
DAN SHOTZ: I mean, I think also just the idea of God's complex in this, I don't think it means exactly what we all understand it to mean. It's just these words that have been passed down.
SYLVIA HOEKS: Exactly. And it's interesting to say, if I can add, the God Flame you see in the second episode, one of the lords that I killed, he says, “The God Flame now only speaks with two voices,” because in her palace, she has [the turbines].
Their problem is that one turbine is broken. That meditative sound for them they feel is God and the God Flame. So, it's an interesting thing to point out, because I don't know if that's clear enough, but she uses that power as being God and the voice of God. So, when one of the machines is broken, she loses her power, and that is part of the story as well.
DAN SHOTZ: She also thinks of herself as a god, which is also, you know, complex in its own; like as the leader of these people, and how she wants people to perceive her, is also a part of it.
QUESTION: I liked how they refer to the metal as God bone.
QUESTION: Did you research a little bit in terms of anthropology and even religions and stuff, how they form, because, you know, indigenous people used to feel God was everywhere, like the moon, the sun?
DAN SHOTZ: It was a giant sort of mosh pit of anthropology all thrown in. One of the reasons I signed on when I read Steve (Knight)’s script, signed on to write and produce this, was all of those things where - you can link it to things; you can link it to Shakespeare. You can link it to the Bible; you can link it to certain pieces of culture and histories of all types. At the same time, it just was its own thing. There was a ton of research done, [but] I would never say that was directly taken from that. I think we didn't want it to feel that way. It all needed to just blend into our story.
MARILEE TALKINGTON: I want to speak to this just a little bit, because one of the things that I loved about the representation in terms of the visceral...[I’m] legally blind. I was one of the authentically cast actors, but I spent a lot of time on set. I don't think you guys ever got to go to the village
CHRISTIAN CAMARGO: I did, yes.
MARILEE TALKINGTON: Oh, okay.
CHRISTIAN CAMARGO: I took care of a few people there.
MARILEE TALKINGTON: One of the things that I loved about this in this house - I think this speaks to this question a little bit, is that, that village was crafted so meticulously in a very visceral sensory way, that I found, as a legally blind person, “so mmm”...And while I feel like this happened a lot in any set I went to, a lot of the actors would be in the tents. I was there going through and feeling every single carving of every single pillar. And in all the little houses, all the little huts, the carvings were different. I don't know if you're going to be able to see that, but I would go through and feel [them and be] like, okay, this person lives here. There's a notch right there, great. Okay, they've got the dangles here. This is what this sound is here. They're doorknobs.
That level of specificity is so rich and, actually, for me personally, it created this foundation of reality that we could then launch off of. I don't know if you all felt that, but for me personally, that was very important, because as a legally blind actor, I want to be sure that whatever I'm participating in has some level of authenticity for my community. So, I loved that part. I really loved that part.
QUESTION: Tamacti Jun is very loyal, very, very loyal and passionate. So, what do you think keeps him so loyal and [there] for the twenty summers that he's actually fulfilling this part?
CHRISTIAN CAMARGO: That is a lost art in humanity these days. We're a little bit of an entitled world these days, especially in America, where we’re sort of regarded as the “me” generation, "me, me," and he's not about "me," he's about - there's something greater than him.
And you can look at that from a religious standpoint or social or cultural standpoint of a belief in something higher than yourself.
I feel like that is something that he is so in tune with, even to the point where it becomes unattainable. He's still going to go through with it.
And this is an art we had hundreds of years ago. I mean, it was used horribly in many different ways, particularly when it comes to religion, but this kind of loyalty, you know, the circle around King Arthur, the inquisitions, all of this kind of loyalty of just throwing yourself in completely one hundred percent, is something that we don't really have these days.
And I found that really fascinating, to sort of dive into this just absolute loyalty to the point where it becomes madness almost. So, that was, to me, what was interesting. You know, I never looked at these characters - I play a lot of morally obtuse, terrible, impressionable characters, and I love it because of the psychology behind it. Sylvia and I have shared that sort of affinity for these kinds of people. But we are really nice. We are quite nice. [laughs]
DAN SHOTZ: I think also when you build story out, yes, initially when you're watching this, you see that obviously they feel like the villains in the story, and Baba Voss (Jason Momoa) and Maghra (Hera Hilmar) feel like the heroes of this story. But, you know, if we don't screw this up, [laughs] the idea here and the writing of it is that they are all the heroes in definitely their own story, and maybe even in this story. So, I think it was our responsibility to craft this in a way that you can look at any one of these characters and be sympathetic to what they are dealing with in their stories.
CHRISTIAN CAMARGO: Just to just quickly add to that, that’s what was so interesting about the script, was that in the beginning, you're like, oh, there's a good person; there's the bad person, and there's this person and there's that person, and it really sort of dissolves. You sort of start to question who really is the good person; who is the bad person? And that to me is real. That to me is, yes, we can vilify someone and make that the absolute bad person, and maybe there's a couple in the world, but generally speaking, it's much more complicated.
QUESTION: What was your favorite piece of lore or world building?
CHRISTIAN CAMARGO: There is this slight kind of Mongolian aspect to Tamacti Jun as far as the design and the elements that went behind him. So, getting into that sort of world history of the cultural history, it's not absolutely present, but that was, to me, an incredible invention of how this blind general is able to harness animal, you know, to have animal to help, just like Attila the Hun did with the elephants and everything else. So, there's a kind of crossover in that world culturally. And I think as you start to study this show, elements of history will start coming out at you, whether, like you said, Dan, it's Shakespeare, or it’s religion, or it's, you know, Queen Elizabeth. We will have these little elements show, and it really is sort of a mirror up to nature. You know, a nature of who we are.
SYLVIA HOEKS: It's interesting, the first scene where you see Maghra in labor, you think, oh, I think it's the past; they’re in a cave. And all of a sudden, this plastic water bottle comes in. [laughs] And you're like, what is that?
So, it's like it's past and future kind of really mixing, and that I think is a beautiful thing. We haven't talked about that, but nature plays a big role in this world, because population has gone to two million people, and they’re blind. Nature has had a chance to heal itself, and it's very present, even in my castle. You know, nature comes through the walls, and there's holes, and I feel that the whole planet has a chance to heal again. And in that sense, is it dystopian? Is it utopian? Because people don't seem to have it bad, until there's a change, someone can see, and hey, what are we going to do now? So that, for me, was a very interesting journey.
MARILEE TALKINGTON: I think that's such an interesting [thing], and it's making me think of this idea of what normality is. What is status quo? And when status quo is challenged, how uncomfortable people get and how afraid they get, and how in the world we live in right now, status quo is, you know, within America, white cisgender male, nondisabled, ba, ba, ba, ba ba. And when that's challenged, people get afraid. They get defensive. And in this world, the status quo, the normal, is a blind experience. And when that gets challenged, it's like, all hell breaks loose. Things literally start to crumble, which just kind of makes my mind spin around.
SYLVIA HOEKS: Didn't you also feel like a woman? I felt I was so happy that you saw in the first episode that women were fighting.
MARILEE TALKINGTON: Yes. Yes, yes, yes.
SYLVIA HOEKS: It was one big group, and there was no gender; it was all equal. And the way people are together in the community was without social media, very much, you know, connected and a totally different world than we know now.
MARILEE TALKINGTON: Even the series regulars
SYLVIA HOEKS: Yeah.
MARILEE TALKINGTON: Is it more women than men?
SYLVIA HOEKS: Yeah, the story is partially female driven, because, of course, Maghra brings the babies to the world; she tries to protect them. And then there's this Queen, and female warriors, and in a sense, it is very much a female driven story.
MARILEE TALKINGTON: Yes. Agreed about that.
SYLVIA HOEKS: That was very beautiful.
QUESTION: What was that copper wire?
SYLVIA HOEKS: That was an earring. Behind this here, I had a prayer engraved in my neck with a rat tail.
QUESTION: Yeah, it almost looked like a hearing aid.
SYLVIA HOEKS: Oh, yeah. It could've been.
DAN SHOTZ: Both of them showed up with full heads of hair, and on day one we shaved both of them.
SYLVIA HOEKS: I’m like, “I don't want to have hair. Why should I have hair?”
DAN SHOTZ: The first time I saw them with their shaved heads, we hadn't seen them yet. They had a full head of hair, and then later that night, we saw them both with shaved heads, and they both showed up, both in full denim. They were like the twins with matching jean jackets.
***If you haven't already, don't forget to check out the first round table interview, as well as the press conference.***