This Friday, Amazon Prime will premiere the first season of The Man in the High Castle, starring Alexa Davalos in the main role of Juliana Crain. The Mob City and Angel actress spoke with Starpulse at the recent New York Comic Con about her newest project, calling leading the Philip K. Dick adaptation “an honor.”
“I feel it’s very well distributed amongst all of us,” she continued. “We’re such an incredible team; the support that we all have is really unique, in my experience.
“[Juliana]’s an incredible character. We’re living in a world today where we have strong female characters discussed all the time, which is fantastic. I think within that is the vulnerability and the fear and the insecurity, panic and all the human emotions we feel day to day, and we can still be strong within that. So she has all these different colors, and playing with all of those is going to be fun.”
Living in an alternate history where the Axis Powers won World War II and the United States is under joint German-Japanese rule, Juliana has a tough road ahead of her. But Alexa, who first read the novel several years ago and is now on her sixth read-through, is excited for the challenge.
“It’s the birthplace, so for me to know where [executive producer] Frank [Spotnitz] has come to, the only way to understand fully is to read the source material,” she explained. “Also for me to develop Juliana, I wanted to be as true to the book as I could.
“Obviously in the script she’s different, and there’s pieces of her that are very different from the book. I was sort of hands on my hips and was like she’s not like that in the book, and I’m sure he wanted to strangle me with love, but I did get very involved in what she is in the novel. It was about finding a balance.”
“I think Frank is a genius when it comes to serialized television,” Alexa added. “He understands how little and how much to expose at a time. So it’s been a very slow build and that’s very much him. We’ve sort of pulled the thread and it’s unraveling slowly, but he wants this to go on for a very long time, so we have to kind of stretch those little unveilings if you will.”
Her preparation didn’t just involve re-reading Dick’s novel; she did a tremendous amount of research to play High Castle’s heroine. “It’s one of my favorite things,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of research about WWII for various projects and my own interest.
“In this particular case, [I did] a lot of studying the Japanese culture, which is all that she knew as far as physicality. There’s a grace and elegance about the women of that time. There’s sort of a demure quality to the women that we don’t have in this day and age. So it’s about studying the world that she lived in and Japanese culture was very important to that.”
“This is a story that explores not only physically what it feels like to live in that world, but spiritually,” Alexa continued. “How it affects the way we love and the way we live and the way we deal with people…There’s a lot of themes, in fact too many, that as you watch the series you go, wow that makes me really think of A, B, and C.”
And to her, that makes the entire journey worthwhile. “It flips everything on it’s head and that is, for me, what entertainment and escaping into a novel is,” she said. “It’s about enjoying everything and making you think. That’s exactly what we’re doing.”
The Man in the High Castle premieres Friday, November 20 with all 10 first-season episodes streaming on Amazon Prime.