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November 23rd, 2015

Press: Alexa Davalos Calls ‘High Castle’ Leading Role ‘An Honor’

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.

November 23rd, 2015

Press: Woman Crush Wednesday – Alexa Davalos, The Woman Running ‘The Man In The High Castle’

It’s Wednesday. Which means it’s totally cool to very publicly crush on your favorite lady. Here at Decider, we like to make a weekly point of bowing down to a kick ass member of the female race and today, we’re head over heels for emerging talent Alexa Davalos, who you’ll get to know in Amazon’s first award-worthy drama, The Man in the High Castle.

Based on Philip K. Dick’s alternative history novel of the same name, The Man in the High Castle lands on Amazon Prime Video Friday, November 20th (ahem, the same day as Netflix‘s Jessica Jones — can you say binge battle?). The period drama takes place in post-WWII America after the Allies fail to overcome Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. What unfolds is a bleak, unnerving reimagining of what the United States might look like if the Nazis had won. According to Dick’s novel, America is split as a prison state under the German Reich while Japan controls the West Coast, albeit in a slightly less menacing fashion.

Davalos, poised to be the show’s breakout talent, stars as Juliana Crain, a San Franciscan living under Japanese rule when her sister, Trudy is inexplicably shot down by rogue Nazis in the street. Before Trudy met her untimely death, however, she gave Juliana a mysterious film reel, which she only described as “a way out.” A terse, taught thriller, The Man In the High Castle offers a riveting peek inside a fictionalized version of our world that could have been all too real. Get to know the series’ star before you binge the complete first season November 20.

WHO’S THAT LADY?: Alexa Davalos Dunas

WHY WE’RE CRUSHING: In addition to playing an Aikido expert (and kicking some serious ass), it’s refreshing to see a tough, female character at the forefront of a war drama. Davalos’ fierce heroine is a tad reminiscent of Keri Russell’s Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans.

WHERE YOU KNOW HER FROM: You may recognize the French actress from the Vin Diesel sci-fi flick The Chronicles of Riddick or from Daniel Craig’s WWII drama Defiance. Davalos has also appeared in underrated horror tale, The Mist, before starring opposite Sam Worthington in Clash of the Titans. You may also remember her from TNT’s short-lived (but awesome) mini-series, Mob City, which centered on Bugsy Siegel’s organized crime ring that dominated Los Angeles in the 1940’s. Catch Davalos in The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime Video November 20.

November 22nd, 2015

Press/Photos: The Man in the High Castle Star Alexa Davalos Promises a “Roller Coaster” of a Show

The actress who thinks she was born in the wrong era explains why she fits in so well in this alternate-history period piece.

Alexa Davalos speaks quietly, and with a not-quite-placeable accent that hints at a childhood spent in Paris and Italy. She feels like someone from another time entirely, so it is no wonder that she is so often cast as a woman from the past—in the World War II film Defiance, in the noir series Mob City, and now in Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, a bit of a speculative history set in an America where Germany and Japan won World War II.

“I love to time travel,” Davalos says. “So I’m really drawn to those kinds of pieces and to be as many different women as possible in as many different eras as possible that I won’t get to experience myself. I just feel like I was born in the wrong era.”

Her character on The Man in the High Castle might identify with that feeling of being out of step. Davalos plays Juliana Crain, a woman born after World War II in San Francisco, which is now part of the Japanese Pacific States. As a young adult in the early 60s, Juliana finds herself on a mission intended for her sister: delivering a mysterious roll of film to a city in the Neutral Zone, the Rocky Mountain area that divides Japanese and German-controlled America. There she meets Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank), a young idealist with secrets of his own.

The Man in the High Castle has the bones of a spy drama, which means nearly everyone has a secret to keep, but Juliana is one of few people driven purely by her own instinct, not an agenda. “She’s being led in various directions, and therefore has a serious domino effect on everyone around her,” Davalos teases about upcoming episodes, all of which will debut simultaneously on Amazon, November 20. “Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s not. I would say the emotional roller coaster is pretty serious and she takes us all over the place.”

Davalos calls show-runner Frank Spotnitz an “expert at serialized television,” which means that he has stretched the Philip K. Dick book that the series is based on far, far beyond what we see in the first season. “It’s not the longest book in the world so he had to create a lot of things,” Davalos says. So when Season 1 ends nowhere close to the finale of the book, don’t fret; “Frank has plans,” Davalos promises, “but he won’t tell us any of them. He tells us he doesn’t want to spoil it for us.”

Vanity Fair

November 22nd, 2015

Videos/Photos: The Man In The High Castle – Interviews, Stills, and Scans

I’ve added a couple new videos of Alexa and Luke promoting The Man In The High Castle from this weekend as well as a new video from her appearance at New York Comic Con. Check them out below.

New Videos from this weekend promoting The Man In The High Castle:

New Videos from New York Comic Con (last month) promoting The Man In The High Castle:

I’ve also added a few episode stills and scans. Thanks to Alikat for the scans and Victoria for some of the episode stills.

The Man in the High Castle: 101 Stills
The Man in the High Castle: Unsorted Stills
The Man In The High Castle: Cast Promotional Images
Starburst Magazine Scans
2015 The Man In The High Castle Interview #4 (The Morning Blend) – Caps
2015 The Man In The High Castle Interview #3 (Good Day LA) – Caps
2015 – New York Comic Con Interview #3: When Nerds Attack – Caps (10/09/15)

November 19th, 2015

Press: Here’s everything you need to know about The Man in the High Castle before you binge

The Man in the High Castle takes place in an alternate history—and uses three distinct backdrops to depict it. In the years after the Allies lost World War II, the United States has been carved up: The German-occupied East is dark and disturbing, ruled by American Nazis; the Japanese-occupied West is lush with Asian-influenced designs but equally paranoid and oppressive; and the neutral zone between the two is lawless and unpredictable, a deserted landscape in which those rejected by the fascist society can rot.

Within these bleak settings is an ensemble of characters scattered across the divided U.S. Some have been reimagined or further developed from their print counterparts (the drama is based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel of the same name), while others are completely new inventions who help illustrate the themes of Dick’s work.

The bevy of major players can be hard to keep track of, whether you’ve read the book or not. (For those who have, some of the major characters won’t appear until later, and therefore aren’t in this roundup. Robert Childan, anyone?) To prepare viewers for their binge, showrunner Frank Spotnitz and several cast members broke down the roles for EW, teasing where the characters will be headed in the season:

Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos)
Who she is

Juliana is based in San Francisco, where she’s developed an appreciation for Japanese culture even though her father died in the war at the hands of the Japanese. “She can embrace that contradiction,” Spotnitz says. “And that was very deliberate to establish her as that kind of extraordinary person.” Part of what makes her an “extraordinary person” is her capacity for hope in a world mostly rid of it, a quality that drives her forward and fuels her desire to have an impact. “She’s on a mission, this woman,” Davalos says. “To a fault, I think.”
Where she’s headed

Juliana suffers a major loss and is assigned a mission to deliver a mysterious film reel — all in one night. Soon after, she decides to travel away from San Francisco. “She’s trying to do the right thing, but terrible things keep happening as a consequence of her pursuing the right thing,” Spotnitz says. And that night in the first episode will come back to haunt her: “As we go through, the cracks start to happen more, and more comes out in lots of different places, in places where it shouldn’t,” Davalos says. “It’s an incredibly emotional journey for her.”
Read More / Source

November 19th, 2015

Press: ‘The Man in the High Castle’ Review: Amazon’s Alternate-History Thriller Is a Beautiful Nightmare

Frank Spotnitz‘s adaptation of Philip K. Dick novel is expertly executed

A compulsively compelling series that grows richer and more emotionally nuanced as it gains momentum, “The Man in the High Castle” milks its provocative what-if premise for plenty of smart suspense and subtle shading. Based on Philip K. Dick‘s 1962 dystopian novel that imagined what became of America after Germany won World War II, this Amazon Studios drama crafts its nightmare scenario with consistently imaginative detail, but the show’s real highlight is its deft weaving between storylines, resulting in a nicely paced, endlessly engrossing saga.

Amazon made the first six episodes of the show’s 10-episode run available to critics, a wise move considering that some patience is required for this series’ cumulative power and ambition to sink in. Not that “The Man in the High Castle” doesn’t grab viewers from the start: We open on an alternative 1962 in which the Germans and Japanese have carved up the conquered America between themselves. (The Midwest and East Coast are now the Greater Nazi Reich, while the West Coast has been renamed the Japanese Pacific States, with a Neutral Zone in between.) But with an aging Hitler’s health failing, the brittle truce between the two nations could collapse, leading to new bloodshed.

As gripping as the show’s setup is, setting the stage for plenty of clever and disturbing tweaks on 1960s American life, showrunner Frank Spotnitz foregrounds his diverse characters, letting their personal dramas drive the plot. In San Francisco, the beautiful Juliana (Alexa Davalos) receives a smuggled 16mm film from her half-sister Trudy who’s part of an underground American resistance. After authorities kill Trudy, Juliana hops a bus to complete her sister’s mission, which was to transport the mysterious film to an unknown contact in the Neutral Zone. Meanwhile, Joe (Luke Kleintank), a young New Yorker posing as part of the resistance, is actually working for the Nazis, specifically the icily villainous Obergruppenführer John Smith (Rufus Sewell), and his latest orders put him on a collision course with Juliana.

Those are just three of the characters that bring “The Man in the High Castle” to life, as Spotnitz and his writers shift effortlessly between different narrative strands, which also include opaque political machinations being conducted by Japan’s trade minister (a marvelously tight-lipped Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), the relentless pursuit of resistance fighters by Inspector Kido (Joel de la Fuente), and the traumatic transformation that befalls Juliana’s pacifist artist boyfriend Frank (Rupert Evans) once Kido detains him for questioning. It’s a testament to the show’s skillfulness that when individual characters end up bumping into each others’ storylines, it never feels contrived but, instead, creates a sense of shared destiny that these divergent personalities have all been drawn into the same grand drama in which three nations’ fate hangs in the balance.

Despite the potentially paranoia-inducing subject matter, “The Man in the High Castle” isn’t particularly alarmist or hysterical, the show preferring to let the implications of its conceit slowly descend onto the viewer — much like the silent ashes of the bodies the Nazis have incinerated, which float through the sky in one particularly chilling moment. And because the show is set in 1962, the producers make room for casual critiques of period-specific sexism and bigotry, the twist being that, now, it’s the outsiders who are in the positions of power, not the white Americans.

None of these thematic undertones are presented with thudding obviousness: Even an episode in which John Smith invites Joe into his home to meet his deceptively all-American family manages to make its central point — even sadistic Nazis are people, too — in an offhand, subtle way. Likewise, the performances ground the fantastical premise in realism, with Sewell and de la Fuente first among equals in a cast that expertly keeps their characters’ motivations murky on occasion.

Alongside the show’s disturbing alternative history, the series’ other great hook is the teasing question of the identity of the so-called Man in the High Castle, a shadowy figure who is connected to this 16mm film that, remarkably, contains footage from our reality in which the Allied forces triumphed in World War II. Is this man real? And how does this footage exist if the Axis powers won the war in this alternate reality? Such is the spell that “The Man in the High Castle” weaves that, frankly, those are merely the sixth or seventh most-captivating elements of this crackling series.

“The Man in the High Castle” premieres Friday, Nov. 20 on Amazon.

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