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My worst moment: 'Snowpiercer' star Alison Wright and the disastrous 'Mr. Robot' audition

Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

Emmy-nominated for her role on "The Americans" as Martha -- or as fans dubbed her, "poor Martha," who became the unwitting loved-up pawn of Matthew Rhys's Soviet spy -- British actor Alison Wright now stars in TNT's "Snowpiercer" playing a character who is the polar opposite, personality-wise, of poor Martha.

"That's the ideal thing, right? Every actor wants to bounce around to totally different parts," said Wright.

The series is set in a dystopian future (and based on Bong Joon-ho's 2013C sci-fi thriller of the same name) where survivors of an apocalypse are confined to a train that is forever chugging through a frozen wasteland, while inside everyone is segregated by class.

"I haven't played somebody like her before and I liked her extreme Britishness, as I see it," Wright said. "It's a character that (showrunner) Graeme Manson created in the reimagining of 'Snowpiercer' and he gave me just a few key phrases that got me really excited: That she was insecure, highly strung and very easily rattled. But she works in the hospitality department so she really shouldn't be any of those things with that job! He also imagined her to be very funny -- not intentional but she's ridiculous."

Wright's list of credits also includes the Ryan Murphy series "Feud: Bette and Joan" and the Amazon series "Sneaky Pete."

But it was an audition for the USA series "Mr. Robot" that came to mind when Wright was asked to share a worst moment in her career.

 

My worst moment ...

"It was 2016 and I got an audition for 'Mr. Robot' and it was for Special Agent DiPierro. The role was eventually played -- wonderfully -- by the excellent Grace Gummer, who is a friend of mine.

"The audition was with Sam Esmail (the creator and showrunner) and the show's producers, and it was one of those where I got the email less than 24 hours before the audition itself. So there wasn't very much time to prepare and it was a five-page scene.

"She's an FBI agent and the only information that I had about the character were the parentheticals on the page: That she had been up all night watching YouTube until 4 a.m., and then she was blaring hip-hop getting ready in the morning and slamming coffee and putting on makeup under the bags of her eyes. And then she's in the deli pounding five-hour energy drinks, buying a ton more and taking them into work with her. And then she's interviewing this guy, all the while eating this massive sandwich. And at the end of the scene it culminates with the guy saying, 'Can you stop eating the bloody sandwich?'

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