Station Eleven was one of the most unique and engaging shows in a year filled with stand out television programs. At first glance, a drama about a Shakespeare troupe set after a global pandemic – while we are in the midst of a global pandemic – may seem a little too meta for the casual viewer. However, I challenge anyone to watch the first episode and not be hooked.
One of the reasons Station Eleven works so well is the dynamic of the ensemble cast: Mackenzie Davis (look for Joey’s interview with her soon), Himesh Patel, Danielle Deadwyler, Lori Petty, Gael Garcia Bernal, the list goes on and on. Surprisingly, one of the break out performances in a production stacked with talent, happens to be a relatively new actor: Matilda Lawler (Young Kirsten).
Although still very young, Matilda brings a mature gravity to Kirsten, even as her character experiences unimaginable horrors.
Awards Radar had the good fortune to speak with Matilda about Station Eleven. She explained what attracted her to the role of Kirsten and this unique TV Project.
“What made me interested, the first thing was getting the sides for the audition. It’s like, nothing that I had ever gotten an audition for before. It was a pretty heavy audition scene. But, I like doing those scenes, And right off the bat, I could just tell that she was a very layered character. And there was a lot for me to explore there.”
Kirsten is saved from the impending apocalypse by a chance encounter with a dour factotum named Jeevan (Himesh Patel). The relationship between the two characters is one of the pillars of the show. Rarely as an audience do we get to experience the complexity of a growing friendship between an older man and a young woman who must depend on each other while also resenting the situation that was thrust upon them.
“Oh my gosh, I loved working with Himesh. He always treated me like an actor, like an equal. We talked through everything. He’s just a very down to earth person. I loved I love him as a person. But as a scene partner, he’s very generous. I think their [Kirsten & Jeevan’s] relationship, it changes all the time. They’re, what each other needs, if that makes sense. He can tell what I need in the moment. So if I’m like, feeling really upset, I need an adult kind of. And then other times, we’re like a married couple. And then sometimes, we’re like friends and it just kind of changes all the time, which I feel like it’s so interesting.”
As the daughter of two professional actors, Matilda learned quickly to throw herself into her roles.
“Anytime you’re playing a character, you always have to, at least for me, I always go in with doing a lot of research. Lots of preparation. My dad, he always helped me, he’s my acting coach. So we talk through things. We do a lot of exercises, I just read a lot of things that might help with the character. For Kiersten, I did some research on survival skills and stuff like that. And just to kind of get an idea of how she was surviving. I spent a lot of time outside, like in the forest and trying to get myself into it, and kind of experiencing fractions of what she experiences so that I can understand where she’s coming from. It’s a lot of like, preparation. For me. That’s my process. It includes a lot of working.”
Hopefully Matilda’s success with Station Eleven will lead to more opportunities for the young actor to shine. She has a recurring role in HBO Max’s The Gilded Age and was recently cast in the TV Mini-series The Santa Clause as an elf named Betty. Over at Awards Radar we’ll be keeping an eye out for Miss Lawler and are excited to see where she ends up next.
Watch the full conversation below: