We Interview ‘Humans’ Star Lucy Carless About Mattie, Her Parents, & Guilt Over Causing The Sythpocalypse!
‘Humans‘ returned to Channel 4 last night with its spectacular opening episode. At the end of last season, we saw Mattie (Lucy Carless) push her completed consciousness code to the global synth network on the hope it’ll revive Mia (Gemma Chan), after she had been mind-wiped in a battle to stop Hester… Whilst this epic gamble does work, it also awakens every synth on the planet causing the worldwide ‘synthpocalypse’ which is now referred to as “Day Zero”.
As we saw in last night’s episode, “Day Zero” caused death and chaos around the globe. Laura (Katherine Parkinson) and Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) are separated, and Joe is living in the synth-free town of Waltringham. The awakened“green-eyed” synths are living in ghettos around the country, whilst a new generation of “orange-eyed” synths have been developed, who (we are told) are immune to becoming conscious.
Towards the end of last year, we had the chance to visit the set of ‘Humans’ during filming and have a chat with some of the stars including the bringer of the sythpocalypse, Mattie, aka actress Lucy Carless.
How is Mattie coping, knowing she’s responsible for a lot of the death and destruction caused by “Day Zero”?
It hasn’t been pretty, to say the least [laughs]! When she released the code, no one had any idea what would happen, but it actually resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people. Of course, she wasn’t to know that, but ultimately, she is responsible, and she has taken the full brunt of it, and is really really struggling with her guilt. It’s quite constant and implacable, and it’s there through most of the episodes really. Even if it dwindles at times, it’s present in her, so it’s been pretty rough for Mattie! It’s been a year of hell. She’s trying to get on with her life, she’s gone back to Uni, but it’s always there. It’s always in the back of her mind. As much as it helped to save Mia, it’s really difficult for her.
How is that manifesting itself? Is she staying at home a lot? Is she seen as a pariah if she leaves?
No one has any idea it’s her. People are trying to suss out who it was because, obviously, this person is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. There is kind of a sense of danger, but at the moment she feels pretty undercover. It doesn’t feel like she’s going to get exposed any time soon. So she goes to University, she goes to visit Leo at the rail yard in his coma, and he’s kind of a sounding board really for all her guilts. She’s free to be a little bit self-pitying, and a little bit sardonic about “Day Zero”. Whereas, as much as a mother can care for someone when they’re feeling a certain way, Laura just doesn’t understand. She can put her arm around you, but she’s not the best person to have a conversation with as she just doesn’t get how difficult it’s been for Mattie. So at home, at Uni, at the rail yard… I guess some form of routine, which is probably quite cathartic, but not much of a life really, after that day.
We know that Mattie’s parents are separated and Joe is living in the “synth-free” town. What is her relationship with him like now?
It’s difficult, because after Joe had sex with Mia (as Anita) in the first season, obviously, that was really difficult for any daughter. To find out her dad had banged the robot would be pretty rough [laughs]! It took her some time to get over that, but during series two, their relationship began to form again, and they were kind of on a level playing field at one point. But for him to decide to move to Waltringham, for Mattie, it’s upsetting. He’s ostracised himself. He’s distanced himself from everything that they’ve been through. These conscious synths have changed their lives, and for her, that’s been for the better because it’s helped her discover who she is and what she’s good at. For him to just completely “up sticks” and leave that and start this whole new life as if that never happened, I think, completely baffles her. Particularly given how responsible she feels for “Day Zero”. His disconnect from that is so upsetting. So there’s no connection between Joe and Mattie in the first few episodes.
How is Mattie’s relationship with her mother now, particularly as she is now part of this initiative dealing with the synths… and she, of course, knows her daughter is responsible for “Day Zero”?
I’ve found myself thinking about this a lot. Guilt makes people selfish and very in their own head. Mattie isn’t a selfish person, but I think, amongst all her guilt, she’s lost sight a little bit. She’s always attuned, she knows what her mum’s doing, but there’s less of a connection between what her mum is doing and what she’s doing. She’s become very insular with her guilt over the past year. I will say, when Laura gets Stanley [an “orange eye” synth forced on her by the Dryden Commission], that makes her think “you hypocrite… you’re going against all you’re trying to do”. That’s the only real nod to it. Their relationship at the top of the series is very maternal – “Are you okay?”, “Yes, I’m okay. This is how I’m dealing with it,” – with Laura giving Mattie free reign to cope with her guilt in whatever way she can.
We saw you earlier filming with Toby & Sophie this morning. How is it being back with your ‘Humans’ family?
Soooo… so good! I love everyone on this job, but there’s something so comforting about being with my fake family… Wait, that sounds bad [laughs]. I mean, when we were doing the first series, we were all so young, and I was living in London on my own in a hotel, and the scenes when I was with this fictional family were so comforting and so much fun – just playful and we get to do it together. There’s just a real discourse and dialect between us now. So yeah, it’s great to be back with them. Every part of ‘Humans’ is fun, but when you have that sort of relationship with people, it just gives you so much more freedom and it’s more entertaining.
How does Mattie feel about the “orange eyed” synths?
I’m really not sure you know, it’s interesting… It’s almost like going back to square one, isn’t it? It the same with Joe moving away. It distances itself from everything. It’s like “something’s gone wrong, that’s okay, we’ll just start over.” But something might go wrong again. So I think that disdain she had at the top of the first series for Anita is, sort of, present again. But there is a lot more sympathy and trepidation as well… As she knows how fragile the coding is [laughs]. There’s no real relationship, it’s almost as if they’ve become just robots again. So sad, after all that time, that they could just revert back to being exactly what they were before. So yeah. A little bit of disdain, but some understanding of what they are capable of.
Along with the year filming break, there is also a year time jump on the show. How has that been?
I keep likening it to going back to school! Except an entire year has passed and we’ve got new teachers and everyone looks a little bit different [laughs]. Strange but exciting. Having a year passed on the show has meant it’s much easier to come back. I was quite anxious to begin with, but because time has passed, and these characters have changed and evolved so much in that time – the same way you do in your day-to-day life outside of filming. It almost makes it easier to come back having experienced that time away to meditate on how the characters have changed and evolved.
If you want to hear Lucy actually talk, along with “orange-eyed” newcomer Dino Fetscher, and Leo himself, Colin Morgan, all three interviews are available on the Geektown Radio podcast. We also chatted with Lucy’s on-screen mum, Katherine Parkinson, and you can find that interview here.
‘Humans‘ airs Thursdays nights at 9pm on Channel 4. If you missed the first 2 Seasons or episode 1 of Season 3, you can catch up right now on All4. For our US cousins, ‘Humans’ Season 3 comes to AMC on Tuesday, June 5, 2018.