Silo Star Rebecca Ferguson Talks Accents, Relics, & More

SiloYesterday, Apple TV Plus premiered the first two episodes of its new science fiction series, Silo. Based on the trilogy of best-selling novels by Hugh Howey, the story takes place in the future, where a community of ten thousand people live in a giant underground silo, unable to leave, because the outside world is uninhabitable. They live by a strict code of rules and to disobey, or to request to leave, has deadly consequences. After a series of unexplained events, Juliette (Rebecca Ferguson), an engineer from down in the deep of the silo, starts down a path of trying to solve the larger mystery of the silo, where finding out the truth could be as deadly as the lies.

Ferguson recently talked to the press where she spoke with SciFi Vision about working on Silo. One of the difficulties the actress faced, she told the site, was speaking with an American accent. “An American [accent] is always quite difficult, because when [I] have to do an accent, I have to step out,” said Ferguson. “…I have a voice coach on set, but you're not free to ad lib and play. You're stuck within the frames of rhythm and culture, and American culture is not the same as Swedish culture in the way Americans speak.” The actress also added that she also had to hold herself back to make Juliette more introverted than she herself is.

SiloAs relics from the past become an important part of the story, SciFi Vision also asked Ferguson what relic of her own would perhaps be left behind if someone were to find her home in the future. “I just stopped smoking,” explained the actress. “…But I always find substitutes, because I'm that kind of a person. So, I found these little toothpicks that have caffeine in them. So, I always find, we find, the toothpicks all over. I've now become like this B12 caffeine toothpick person. Wherever I go, there's a trail of toothpicks behind me…So, I think at this time, you [would] find a toothpick.”

For more from the actress, read the full transcript below. Be sure to catch the series, now streaming on Apple TV Plus.

QUESTION:  Silo is based on a series of books by Hugh Howey. How familiar were you with that book series before taking on the role, and if you were not familiar with the book series, have you read it since and what are your thoughts?

REBECCA FERGUSON:  When I was offered the role, no, I wasn't familiar with them. Then, obviously, I went deep diving and read all of them. I was in direct conversation with Hugh, because, obviously, they had to change the narrative a bit from book to the TV show, and I kept him talking about how to maintain the core of her that he created. So, yeah, I do all the research.

QUESTION:  …With Juliette, I noticed at first she kind of at times is slightly hunched and didn't make eye contact at first with people…Was that something that you wanted to bring to the character, or was that in the script?

REBECCA FERGUSON:  No. It's so silly. It's like if you would write something, and I would go, “By the way, I hit that little note in your writing,” and you go, “Yes, thank you.” I did. I worked actually with - it sounds maybe a bit silly; I don't think so. I worked with a body movement coach, because I often find myself quite erect, poised, and I thought I really don't want to do that with her, because she needs something else. Especially being in a cramped environment with the machinery, you would have the sort of body traumas, sort of the hunchback, and the fact that she doesn't look at people, I think is very much how I interpret someone who has a lot of grief and sadness and anger and has these sort of [blinders] up and just moves. She doesn't want to touch people. She doesn't want to be around people. She just wants a machine. So, thank you. Yes, I worked really hard on that.

SCIFI VISION:   So, as you were doing that, developing the character, what was kind of the part of her that you had the most difficulty connecting with on that level?

REBECCA FERGUSON:  I think what I found, I mean, an American [accent] is always quite difficult, because when [I] have to do an accent, I have to step out. I have to do the work as good as I can, and I have a voice coach on set, but you're not free to ad lib and play. You're stuck within the frames of rhythm and culture, and American culture is not the same as Swedish culture in the way Americans speak. So, that is always quite a bit of a hold back. Then, I think, for me in general, because I wanted her to be quite introvert until she kind of grows - me as Rebecca, I lean forward and I'm curious, and I take a lot of place. I had to constantly remind myself that Juliet doesn't. Like there'll be scenes, and I would be confronting someone, and then I have to go “Oh, yeah, no, she wouldn't [do that]. Let's go. Let's do that again.”

QUESTION:  The theme of the show seems to be about learning about the past will teach you about your future. I was wondering, what does Juliette hope the past teaches her about her present?

REBECCA FERGUSON:  I think what's interesting for Juliette is the fact that she's hiding away from the past, and what the future is doing is actually unraveling a box that she has for years tried to not unpack. I think she's coming to terms with that grief, and loss is something that makes you whole. You know, she's put in a position of leadership to move something forward. But how can you move things forward if you're not whole, right?

QUESTION:  Rebecca, you're not only an actress in Silo, you're also one of the executive producers. I was wondering if you could talk about your role as executive producer and what that entailed? What were your contributions to Silo in that role?

REBECCA FERGUSON:  It was all quite new to me. So, when I was offered the role with Graham [Yost] in the room and Morten Tyldum, the first director, we were talking, and I was um-ing and ah-ing and it wasn't sort of - not that I didn't - I loved it, and I loved Graham, but it's a big role to put yourself into, right? I felt a bit like the thing we talk about, I've come from sci-fi; I do sci fi. [It’s] this sort of, I don't want to get into the genre of it, but I love the character…And he kind of went, “Well, how about an executive producer?” And I went, “I'm just going to Google what that means. Two seconds.” I literally [did that], because I didn't know. When I realized it was the fact that I was allowed to be a part of the creative aspect of something - it doesn't mean that I'm writing; it's written, but he listened to my ideas. I felt heard. I was quiet. I would listen to him. I learned from a phenomenal showrunner how to set up a show. But to be honest, on set, I took the producer cap off. I was one with the team. But I think as a producer, if I act a certain way, it will be seen, and it will be respected in a certain way, and as a lead. So, if I want a quality around, and I want certain mannerisms that I will act upon - I don't like hierarchy - then that will be the setting. I think Graham had that as well. So, we had the most incredible energy on set, because everyone was a part of it, and I don't know if that's because of an executive role or people feeling like it was more important. I listen to Graham, and I watch other people, and I just do what I feel is important for a good set.

QUESTION:  I think one of the main themes of this is truth, and what is truth? And the Silo has kind of its own…Talk about that theme. It really rings, hate to say, but true to the series.

REBECCA FERGUSON:  Truth. Such a lovely juxtaposition-filled word of horror. It's funny, isn't it? Because the word is what ejects Juliette into moving forward and into a new position and idealism. [It’s] so interesting to speak about these so generally and broad. But it's also a word that is so misused and a word that a lot of people don't question. It's interesting in this environment that is so compact. I remember Hugh Howey once said, he talks about the philosophy of the two minds:  Rousseau versus Hopper. Rousseau says that society is born. We're born good, and society destroys us, and Hopper said we're born evil, and society tames us. So, he said he liked the idea, in the books anyway, to have those different idealisms and IT basically being the idea that society tames you - control, truth, the pact. And then you have something like the Mechanical who is all about tactile, moving forward, fighting, having feelings and emotions. But one can't really work without the other. What is the truth? But what you first need to do is ask the question, “who is controlling us? What is controlling us?” So, the truth is asked on so many different levels. Also, like I come back to it philosophically, but Juliette and all the characters, what is the truth for you? Chinaza Uche's character, Billings, hides behind the truth of something that he's hiding with, something that we can't talk about. We all have our own truths and how much we need to disclose of it.

SCIFI VISION:   Relics are something that is very important in the show. So, what I want to ask you is if someone dug up your home or whatever, you know, 1000 years in the future, what would be something that they would find, a relic of you that would represent you, and why?

REBECCA FERGUSON:  I like that. I was going to say [laughs] this is so stupid. So, I just stopped smoking, right? I probably shouldn't say that, but I am, because I'm the truth teller, and I'm honest. No smoking, no nicotine, 53 days, and I'm going to applaud myself.

SCIFI VISION:   Congratulations.

REBECCA FERGUSON:  Thank you. But I always find substitutes, because I'm that kind of a person. So, I found these little toothpicks that have caffeine in them. So, I always find, we find, the toothpicks all over. I've now become like this B12 caffeine toothpick person. Wherever I go, there's a trail of toothpicks behind me. I've become like this lumberjack…So, I think at this time, you [would] find a toothpick.

QUESTION:  Holston (David Oyelowo) handpicks Juliet to kind of be his successor. The question is, what would you say that Holston sees in Juliette that Juliette doesn't see in herself?

REBECCA FERGUSON:  How much do I want to say? A good question. I think he says it very well in the confrontation with her in a moment where she's showing him her truth. I think he says it to her, or he says it to someone else, when he says that she reminds him of his wife, and he has a very special relationship to his wife for various reasons. But he's in search of something, and his wife is a person who goes against - Rashida Jones plays her phenomenally - goes against the status quo, not actively but, once again, is put in a situation where things are starting to unravel. She goes against, and she questions, and we live in a society underground where people are not doing this. People are not going against and starting the ripple effects. We've had the rebellions. There's been a motion; people were killed. We want to control the status quo, and here he is now with two women who both are standing on the barricades saying, “Uh uh, enough.” I think that's what draws him to it.

QUESTION:  One of the amazing things about Silo is the production design. You've got these amazing sets. A lot of series shoot on location; Silo doesn't get that luxury. You're on a soundstage with these sets. I was wondering if you could talk about the spiral staircase. How, how big is it? I know some of that's probably visual effects, where they make it taller than it really is, but can you just tell me about the sets?

REBECCA FERGUSON:  The sets are, I mean, absolutely incredible. I've been on the most phenomenal sets. I've been lucky and fortunate enough - and yeah, like you said, I haven't done TV in a long time, but the film sets that I do are usually on location. They're real, and it's the desert, or it's this, or it's Tom in a helicopter, you know, whatever it is. I walked onto the set, and it was mind blowing how high the stairs were. It was mind blowing, the detail and intricacy of each room, of each character that had small details that make them who they are within an environment that never changes. The machinery! The fact that when we have to work with this huge machine, yes, of course, there's blue screen around us, but the size of it, the fact that we get to climb it, the fact that we need rope to get up it, is all real. It's all there. We have three different locations where we're filming, because it's too big. And it makes it so uniquely incredible as an actor to walk onto set and to use the momentum of things around you, to look at it, to feel it. It becomes real. I mean, I'm so happy I'm not working with blue screen. I mean, we have bits, but I don't feel like that is the essence of the show. Apple has always been for us, supporting the fact that it needs to be real.

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