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Interview: Lauren Ambrose Exits ‘Servant’ Madness and Enters ‘Yellowjackets’ Chaos With Expressive Precision

No matter where she is in on screen, actress Lauren Ambrose demands your attention. I cannot think of an actress whose performance so effectively extends across her dialogues to the silent moments in between her lines. Ambrose emotes with precision. Her facial expressions, often while completely silent, convey more than many actresses do with dialogue. It is something of which the show’s talented cinematographers took full advantage. The actress self-teasingly calls herself a ‘professional face maker,” but there is much more to her work than she will acknowledge.

Ambrose’s always-on performance added much-needed emotional weight, depth and even subtle humor to moments that could be underwhelming or worse forgettable without her efforts. As Dorothy Turner on Servant, a mother who was emotionally shattered after suffering the tragic loss of her child. The ability to properly grieve is stolen from Dorothy as those around her coverup the baby’s death. In the series’ final season, the mental wall protecting Dorothy from truth begins to break.

Lauren Ambrose in “Servant,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

As it does, we see heart-breaking glimpses of an emotionally confused mother who instinctually needs to grieve even while holding ‘her’ child. It is subtle, but so effective. As Dorothy, Ambrose spent four seasons conveying the repressed emotions both the upsetting and uproarious. No one hosts a dinner party gone out of control like Dorothy Turner – as bedlam crashes down around her, her eyes say everything is fine while her eyes tell a much different story. From the pilot right to the series finale, Ambrose had me captivated, often rewatching after to take it all in, because there’s much more to Dorothy beyond the surface.

Ambrose’s mesmerizing work carries over to Showtime’s Yellowjackets where she plays Adult Van – one of the survivors of a plane crash that is only the beginning of pure madness. For her first appearance on screen with a fellow survivor the actress doesn’t say a word, but her expression is worth a thousand of them. It is just the beginning of her first season on the acclaimed series, one that promises much more chaos and anguish in seasons to come.

Lauren sat down to talk with Awards Radar about her recent work. It is a unique conversation that begins with some gardening 101 and then dives into what the actress delivers on screen even if she appears too humble to take the compliment. It is a captivating conversation that serves as the last chapter of our Servant conversations which date back before the season one premiere to red carpets, junkets and more. While disappointed to see the Turner story end, I excited to see what the actress brings to Van’s journey. Listen to our full conversation below.

Excerpts from our conversation:

On playing Dorothy and her inspirations:

“It’s obviously great to be given an opportunity to have such a rich inner life as a character and to always have so much going on. I think has to do with the genre, that you can kind of go so far with the big emotions and then also the other side of it, which is comedy is the release of her going to be so absurd that it’s funny. I always thought of Dorothy as an old movie star. I don’t know, I thought like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and even Lucille Ball were my inspirations for her or that character. Just with from the facade she wore, the hair, and the makeup and the costume and the house and all of the perfection.”

Lauren Ambrose as Van in YELLOWJACKETS, “Two Truths and a Lie”. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.

On playing Van on Yellowjackets:

“I love the combination of so guarded and protected and tough and so vulnerable. To get to continue the story of that person is just such an honor. And to imagine, along with the writers, where, what, how the years of trauma of what they’ve been through and all the traumas of her life. The first time you see that character, she’s waking up her drunken mother before they even go off to the soccer tournament before they before even the plane crash. So she’s obviously dealing with a lot, and always a protector and a survivor – this character who like narrowly escaped death constantly. Then all of the shame and guilt of what they’ve been through, out there in the woods, and what they did to each other, and how they managed, and survived. So to think about how the years worked on her. For me, it was like she’s kind of stuck, clearly. She’s stuck. She’s living completely in the past and working in this video store and bathed in the pop culture of the time, kind of before the plane crash. That’s a sort of beautiful emblem for the character.

Lauren Ambrose’s work can be seen in the complete series of Servant on Apple TV+ and on season two of Yellowjackets on Paramount+.

Enjoy just a sampling of Lauren’s expressive work below.


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Written by Steven Prusakowski

Steven Prusakowski has been a cinephile as far back as he can remember, literally. At the age of ten, while other kids his age were sleeping, he was up into the late hours of the night watching the Oscars. Since then, his passion for film, television, and awards has only grown. For over a decade he has reviewed and written about entertainment through publications including Awards Circuit and Screen Radar. He has conducted interviews with some of the best in the business - learning more about them, their projects and their crafts. He is a graduate of the RIT film program. You can find him on Twitter and Letterboxd as @FilmSnork – we don’t know why the name, but he seems to be sticking to it.

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