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Melissa George, The Mosquito Coast



Schauspielerin Melissa George über ihre Rolle in der Serie „The Mosquito Coast“

In der neuen Serienversion von „The Mosquito Coast“ schlüpft die in Paris lebende Schauspielerin Melissa George nun in die Rolle einer Mutter, die ihre Kinder vor den Widrigkeiten des Lebens beschützt. Wir haben mit der Schauspielerin über die herausfordernden Dreharbeiten und die ihre intensive Rollenvorbereitung gesprochen.

Von Philipp Emberger

Mit dem Roman „The Mosquito Coast“ ist dem Schriftsteller Paul Theroux Anfang der 80er ein Bestseller gelungen. Das Buch handelt von einem Erfinder, der von den USA und seinem kapitalistischen System so angewidert ist, dass er mit seiner Familie nach Mittelamerika ziehen will. Der Roman diente schließlich als Vorlage für den gleichnamigen Film mit Harrison Ford und Helen Mirren in den Hauptrollen.

Nun erscheint ein Serienableger des Buches mit Justin Theroux und Melissa George in den Hauptrollen. Sie arbeiteten in der Vergangenheit bereits bei „Mulholland Drive“ zusammen.

Die Serienversion von „The Mosquito Coast“ ist eine Art Prequel zum Buch. Vater Allie (Justin Theroux) und Mutter Margot (Melissa George) leben zu Beginn der Serie mit Tochter Dina (Logan Polish) und Sohn Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) zurückgezogen auf dem kalifornischen Land. Das plötzliche und unerklärliche Auftauchen des US-Auslandsgeheimdiensts NSA zwingt sie aber eines Tages zur Flucht. Die auf Hochglanz getrimmte Thrillerserie folgt ihrer Flucht unter widrigen Umständen quer durch die Wüste bis nach Mexiko City.

Melissa George im Interview

Die Rolle von Margot wurde im Vergleich zu Buch und Film deutlich aufgewertet und hat nun das Mindeste bekommen - einen Namen. Im Film wurde die Rolle simpel als Mutter bezeichnet.

Die australische Schauspielerin Melissa George übernimmt in der Serie diese Rolle und wir haben mit ihr über ihre Sicht auf die Rolle, wie intensiv sie sich darauf vorbereitet hat (Spoiler: sehr!) und warum Roman- und Filmvorlage zwar in ihrem Kasten stehen, sie diese aber nie gelesen oder gesehen hat.

Melissa, you’re playing Margot, the mother of the Fox family. Can you describe the role a little bit for us?

She is the equivalent of a mama bear with her cubs. She’s fiercely protective and would do anything to protect her family. She is in a bit of a Bonnie & Clyde kind of a relationship with her husband Allie, because she can’t live with him, but also can’t live without him. She gave up a lot, she was a professor and all of a sudden, we find here in the beginning of “Mosquito Coast”, which is the prequel to the book and the film, having just given up her life. You’ll ask yourself why is she hiding of her family and hasn’t seen them for over a decade, taken her job a job at the library when she used to be a professor?

When you start seeing it from episode one to the finale you see how well equipped this woman is to get out of all sorts of situations of danger. That was exciting to play because obviously the book and the film didn’t have a lot for Margot. She was just called mother – even though it was a fantastic role.

I read that you wanted the role so badly because it impressed you so much. What is the fascination of this role for you?

Since I was a little girl, I often dreamed about living off the grid like Margot and Allie. I am Australian and I lived in Argentina and Chile. I married a Chilean in Bali and moved to Los Angeles, London and New York. Now I’m in France and I have two little French kids. My life is just about survival, living off the grid and being a chameleon. Because of that and because of my kids I really related to Margot in such a way. When you read the script and you don’t have kids, I don’t know if you would connect in the same way about how far you would go to protect your family. I loved it and knew it would be exciting.

It’s also great to see an American family going to Mexico and escaping America versus a Mexican family escaping to go to America. To me it goes against a lot of stereotypical things. Everyone dreams about going off the grid and avoiding capitalism and socialism and just living your whole life and just go to the beach and eat fish and just live without anything.

When you finally got the role, what did your preparations look like?

Usually if you go to see a psychiatrist it’s for yourself. In this case I went to see one for Margot. I went in as Margot and explained my life, much to the horror of the psychiatrist. It was about understanding her, about how to survive. I wanted to know why did she talk the way she talks, why did she walk the way she walks and why did she do the things she does? It was wonderful to hide myself in Margot and to see and talk to an expert of characters. That was super helpful. I think I’ll do that with every role from today on.

Was he surprised when you came in with the story which is like a very huge one to be honest?

Yes, yes, yes and then it got revealed it wasn’t really me, I’m not Margot and it’s just research. That wasn’t until a long time after, but it was a great way to be psychologically prepared for this part. It’s a whole other level of that because you’ve got the character down and everything but then you got how are you going to shoot this and as Melissa as the person playing this part it was very stretching and very tough at times but also incredibly liberating.

When you look back now to shooting the series. What will stick with you the most?

I think the resilience. We were put under an immense amount of stress, not intentionally, but just because of the Foxes. I mean, look at what they went through, we had to live that too. I would say the desert episode really scarred me. Even today I can’t really say the word without breaking out in sweat and feeling some sort of trauma. But at the end only positive things came out of it. I found myself loving my fox family and couldn’t live without them. Weekends would come and it would feel weird being without them, so it’s just been an exceptional journey.

The Mosquito Coast


Justin Theroux und Melissa George in „The Mosquito Coast“

The relationship with her husband and her kids is a very important part of the role. How would you describe the marriage Margot has with her husband Allie?

I think they are team partners now. We purposely made us not very affectionate, like have you ever seen them hold hands? We did that on purpose because we were thinking it’s not a normal family drama. There’s a lot of other things at play and by seeing these two people super distant but yet so much in complicity with each other, that was a great thing to do. If they would kiss it would mean something. There’s so much at stake for this family that every move they do together is calculated, planned and carefully prepared. They are this Bonnie and Clyde duo, but ad two kids onto that. Imagine seeing Bonnie and Clyde but with two teenagers in the back of their car all the time.

And yet, you still can feel the love Margot has for Allie in some kind of way and vice versa?

I really wanted the audience to see that she got his back but also that it’s just a way to get what she ultimately needs for the family. We all carefully calculated each nuance between the two of them to try and really get the message across about who these people are. It changes rapidly by the end of the last episodes. They are not so in sync with each other, they are stuck together but they can’t leave each other. That’s going be the next journey of the conflict.

The series is based on the novel with the same name. What was your first point of contact with the book? Did you read the book, or did you see the film made in the 80s with Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren?

I have not seen the film and I have not read the book. I did that on purpose because I couldn’t be with a preconceived idea of the book when we were doing a prequel to the book. To me it was a clean slate, and I could actually just take something and mold it how I saw fit with the script that I was handed. Because at the end of the day, if I was playing an exact person that really existed, I could copy Helen Mirren but she did it so perfectly that there’s no way I would do her justice. I came up with my own Margot and I felt reading the book and watching the film would confuse me.

I mean I have it on my shelf and I could watch the film every day if I want. It was a really good way for me to go who is Margot for me and doing my interpretation of her and I’m going to read the book for the start. I will one day look back and it would be nice to see the nuances and certain things that we did the same and what we did differently.

The book was written by Justin Theroux’s uncle. Was this a big advantage on set to play with somebody who is so personally connected to the story or didn’t it matter at all?

It didn’t matter at all for me, but I think for Justin it was super special. Justin got the role because of Justin. He didn’t get the role because it was a family affair. It was just a matter of what a coincidence and what a brilliant family. I mean, look, you got the uncle and his brother – it’s an amazing twist of fate that Justin got the role of a book his Uncle wrote. I think there was a nice familiarity and also maybe for Justin it’s a position of honor. You could see, he was super invested in it because of the family affair with this book.

Thanks, Melissa for taking the time and all the best to Paris!

The Mosquito Coast


„The Mosquito Coast“ ist ab 30. April auf AppleTV+ zu sehen

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