Thanks to Parasite, it’s a tough time to follow multi-Oscar winner and globally beloved filmmaker Bong Joon-ho. But with the arrival of newly televised adaptation Snowpiercer – a dystopian sci-fi drama that Bong presented in feature form during 2013 – Orphan Black creator Graeme Manson has done just that.
Manson knows what he’s doing though. On top of recruiting Bong as executive producer, he’s assembled a heavyweight cast for his take on Le Transperceneige, the French graphic novel about a giant train embroiled in a class war that inspired both the film and show. Amongst the ensemble – which includes Jennifer Connolly and Hamilton star Daveed Diggs – is Annalise Basso, a breakout scream queen in horror films like The Slender Man and Ouija: Origin of Evil, who sang fireside with Viggo Mortensen for indie flick Captain Fantastic and most recently starred opposite Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke in arthouse psycho-thriller Ladyworld.
Speaking to NME from lockdown at her family home in Colorado – where dance parties have become a favourite pastime – Basso breaks down the experience of playing one of Snowpiercer’s most mysterious characters, with a little help from Hannibal Lecter.
What can we expect from your character LJ?
“When you first meet her, you think that she’s this bored, angry teenager, when actually she’s something else entirely. When a role is this dark it can be challenging, especially as LJ is nothing like me – she’s very outspoken and super confident, and I’m not a confident person in real life at all.”
How did you prepare for the role?
“In terms of inspiration, I was looking at Anthony Hopkins play Hannibal Lecter. I also watched loads of true crime shows on Netflix like Making a Murderer, to the point where I was like, ‘OK no, I’m too deep into this now.'”
Bong Joon-ho is executive producer on the show – were you a fan before you got the part?
“I saw Parasite just a few weeks ago, and I had seen the original Snowpiercer. I love that movie, and I love that a director like Bong can take a different direction with Snowpiercer to what we did on the show, and for it all to still feel connected.”
What was it like working with screen legend Jennifer Connelly?
“I certainly learned a lot from a professional standpoint. One of the first scenes that I shot was with Jennifer Connelly which takes place after a major development for my character. It was very intimidating, I walked off thinking: ‘Did that just happen?’ I had to catch my breath a little bit.”
How does the show connect to what’s going on right now in lockdown?
“I think the chaos going on in the train is what’s going on in everyone’s heads, especially during this climate and where we are politically. I think that showing this story about people from all walks of life through a sci-fi drama really helps people to understand the story and be more empathetic as well. And I hope people will see that there’s always hope to be found, even in the darkest, most chaotic situations.”
The story begins with a population largely being wiped out by an environmental disaster. What message do you think that will send to people?
“I think that the show will illuminate that people really can have an impact on our environment. I have a lot of faith that we can help make the world healthier and happier and this show could help with that.”
There’s definitely an appreciation of that in Captain Fantastic, would you agree?
“It definitely made me realise how much I love being outdoors. I was 14 when we shot [Captain Fantastic], and Matt Ross [the film’s director] made us do a week-long survival course in the foothills of the Cascade mountain range [in North America] before filming. It made me realise that I had a lot in common with my character.”
What other preparation did you do for Captain Fantastic?
“There’s a scene in the film where we dance around a big fire and sing ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ that we had to rehearse in this big warehouse space. I was nervous about it beforehand because I don’t usually sing in front of people, but being able to harmonise with my co-stars like that and hearing it echo through this huge warehouse was just magical. I really felt like we became a proper family after that.”
Are you listening to anything in particular at the moment?
“I’ve been listening to a lot of classical music, stuff like Beethoven, and Chopin. Music is a huge part of my life, and I grew up doing ballet so I love to dance. I’m in lockdown in Colorado with my mum and sister at the moment, and sometimes I’ll put on some Irish music or a Bollywood soundtrack and we’ll have a dance party. It’s been a little crazy around here!”
Annalise Basso is currently starring in ‘Snowpiercer’, which arrives on Netflix in the UK on May 25 with two initial episodes – the rest of the season will be aired weekly