Interview with Holliday Grainger for Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams
Can you explain a little bit about The Hood Maker?
It’s one of Philip K Dick’s short stories which I haven’t actually read but I think this is one that is slightly different to his other short stories. It’s set in a futuristic time that is post a meteor shower that has destroyed the internet and a lot of electricity so it feels almost like its set in the past because there’s very little electricity; everything is running of generators and cars are rare. The script describes it as being a 1950’s world but it feels like an eclectic mix of decades because everything is being reused from the past. On first glimpse you might this it’s set in a slum in the 1970’s but it’s actually a slightly post-apocalyptic world. Not only did this meteor shower destroy the internet it also created a mutant gene in all the foetuses so there is a generation that are mind readers, telepaths and are nicknamed Teeps. Also in this kind of futuristic world I guess The Hood Maker is an interesting play on prejudices because in the world that we created we wanted to get rid of the prejudices that we are used to now days. Julian Jarrold was very keen for it to feel multicultural and multi-ethnic and that the only prejudices that you did have was against the Teeps. They are being ostracised because of their ability to mind read.
Can you tell us a bit about the character you play?
Honor is a telepath, a Teep or mind reader and she has a role within the government, which is unusual for a telepath as they have the lower jobs in society so they might be street cleaners and quite often they don’t have the world open to them in terms of jobs, they are second class citizens. But Honor has an opportunity to work with the government, she’s almost like software, she mind reads where she is directed to mind read. The Teeps are almost used like the internet as they have access to each other’s thoughts so if a question is put to them they can ask that question nationwide amongst the Teeps and hopefully get an answer. So that is kind of Honor’s job at the beginning of the episode and we slowly get to learn whose side she is on because there’s an uprising amongst the Teeps but also amongst the Normals. There’s an anti-immunity bill that’s been passed granting the government access to peoples thoughts whether they like it or not. It’s quite an interesting play on how much we use the internet nowadays and how much of our personal information is private and how much isn’t. In this world even your thoughts aren’t private so there is a social uprising against that, which means there is an uprising against the Teeps and therefore the Teeps are uprising against the Normals. It’s this post-apocalyptic world that’s on the brink of a revolution.
What was it that attracted you to this project?
It’s very well written because it’s so concise, immediately it’s a world that you can engage with and understand, it’s an interesting world because it has so many parallels with today even though its set in the future but it feels like the past it’s at a time where there are questions of privacy and how much we give to each other and there’s political unrest which I think is so relevant to now. It’s just so well told because a lot happens in just 50 pages. There’s also a close love story that goes on between Honor and the Ross character and that by itself was interesting and subtle. I was really attracted to Honor because of the fact she’s a mind reader. There are a few particular scenes that stand out, one is of her closely reading someone else’s mind and there’s an opportunity to access a few characters in one. Each time Honor reads someone’s mind she is feeling their thoughts and emotions. It quite rare that you get that freedom in a role not only as an actress to find out who Horor is and what she’s feeling but being given free rein to emulate what another character and actor is feeling, that was fun and a nice challenge.
Were you already a Philip K Dick fan? Had you read any of his stuff, or seen any of the screen adaptations?
I didn’t know I was a fan of Philip K Dick because his name didn’t ring a bell to me but I love Blade Runner and Minority Report, I had no idea they were Philip K Dick until I googled him and realised they were. I was intrigued by his work. I’m not really a science fiction geek but the films that I do like from that genre are definitely Blade Runner and Minority Report so to know that Philip K Dick was the originator of those tales I just thought was definitely something I wanted to part of.
What was the experience of filming like?
It was such a short shoot. We have this epic world but it was only a three week shoot so you are right in there and diving in there from the beginning. The artistry that has gone into the entire series, the make-up, costume, art departments, and the entire vision that was created was so strong, so walking on set the first day it did completely feel like I entered this world. It was just intriguing the whole time to see the amount of work, thought and creativity that had gone into it.
How did you enjoy working with your co-stars?
Anneika [Rose] has got this wonderful world of emotion, subtly telling everything through her eyes which is so perfect for the Teep universe. I immediately was drawn into her performance. Richard [Madden] I had worked with a couple of times so it was really nice, as it was such a sort shoot, to be thrown in with someone you know. He played Ross as this fantastically, macho Scottish cop that had resonance of an old fashioned 70’s cop drama but completely brought into the realm of sci-fi.
Why do you think so many of his stories are still being made today?
Because they resonate so well nowadays. His vision of the future isn’t far from where we actually are. There hasn’t been a meteor shower but in this age of the internet that we are living in I think the questions about secrecy and identity theft and how much information is controlled and shared by governments and businesses is so relevant now. The idea of changes and shifts in prejudices is massively relevant. With the new prejudices that are coming up today, it feels like society is just getting over one and we go right into another prejudice and I think this world is very adapt.
September 6, 2017 8:19am ET by Channel 4