If one descends to the lower-most depths of Apple TV’s titular Silo, you will find Rebecca Ferguson’s Juliette, an engineer who over the course of the early episodes will be nudged to rise — figuratively, as well as up many, many levels — to serve a new purpose.
Based on Hugh Howey’s trilogy of novels (shop Amazon) and created for television by Justified‘s Graham Yost, Silo is the story of the last 10,000 people on Earth, who reside in a mile-deep home that protects them from the world outside. No one knows when or why the silo was built — all physical and digital records were destroyed in a rebellion — and any who try to find out, possibly by way of illegal “relics” (items that predate the silo), risk fatal consequences.
In addition to Ferguson (who is also an EP on the series), the cast boasts Tim Robbins (Castle Rock), Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation), David Oyelowo (Nightingale), Common (Hell on Wheels), Harriet Walter (Succession), Chinaza Uche (Dickinson), Will Patton (Outer Range), Geraldine James (Anne With an E), Iain Glen (Titans) and Avi Nash (The Walking Dead). The first two episodes premiere this Friday, May 5, followed by weekly releases.
Speaking with TVLine, Ferguson laughs when she immediately has to stop herself from revealing too much about Juliette’s arc. “It’s so interesting to describe a world you can’t really talk about but that is so exciting,” the Swedish actress effuses.
A beat later, Ferguson carefully tees up up the circumstances under which we first meet her character, saying, “Something has happened and we’re now in search of Juliette for various reasons, so we go on a long walk down to the generator where she turns out to be the head mechanic….” After impressing the silo’s mayor (played by James) with her headstrong nature, Juliette “is asked to maybe leave her position” within engineering, Ferguson previews — though to do so would introduce a certain amount of “jeopardy.” After all, “If she is not going to run the generator, who is?”
As the story steers into the solving of a murder mystery, Juliette at first locks horns with Oyelowo’s Sheriff Holston, before her POV on a potentially explosive situation starts to gel for the veteran lawman.
Thing is, as brave and bold as Juliette can be, she is far from a perfect, lovable hero. Instead, she’s socially awkward, and blunt.
“What I really like about her — love, in fact — is that when we meet her, she is this introvert, this really hard person who has had so much trauma in her life,” Ferguson explains. “She doesn’t look at people, she doesn’t touch them, and her body language shows that she she physically finds people very difficult.
“It’s actually really sad. She’s a very broken person,” Ferguson continues. “There are moments where she is met with harshness and she doesn’t know how to meet it, so just meets harsh with harsh, and then gradually realizes that’s not going to get her anywhere. Theres a form of autism around her, which I really love.”
Ferguson is known to TV viewers from her starring role in Starz’s The White Queen, but over the past decade she has winningly figured into a pair of major film franchises. As Ilsa Faust in the Mission: Impossible films, she is every bit the crafty, badass equal of Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, while in the Dune franchise, she plays Lady Jessica, a member of the Bene Gesserit sect who has the super-human ability to manipulate others.
Comparing Juliette to those confidence-exuding women of substance, Ferguson says the key difference is “I don’t think she’s confident.” Instead, “She’s competent.”
“She’s very good at what she does and she speaks her mind,” the actress adds, “but I don’t know if there’s a confidence in it. Because she is so insecure about many things. But what she’s good at, she’s good at.”
As Juliette’s arc reveals itself and she is put on a certain path, “People start getting close to her and asking questions, confronting her, and she is constantly having to struggle with the issue of communication,” due to the introverted nature described above, Ferguson says. “There are those core fundamental feelings of, ‘I don’t want you to figure me out. I don’t want you close.’ But that is why she’s such a great character to play.”
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