Don’t let Angua von Überwald’s diminutive stature fool you. The member of the Watch packs a significant bite, literally. On the BBC America series that is inspired by the popular Discworld novels, Ankh-Morpork braces for the Noble Dragon. Angua and her friends are the city’s only hope.
Before the first season of The Watch reaches its conclusion, we spoke to actress, Marama Corlett, who reflects on her experiences filming the show. We also discuss her character’s journey and where she would like to take Angua if there is a season two.
AIPT: So, you play Corporal Angua and she’s this hard-nosed, tough as nails police officer in a sense. How do you get into that space to portray the character considering that wouldn’t be the type of person one would expect if they were to first see you? You pull it off really well and along with the tone of The Watch, it seems like a very fun role.
Marama Corlett: Part of the joy of acting is exploring parts of yourself you never knew you had in you. I can’t really speak to why exactly I was chosen to portray Angua. Only that I was glad to be picked. Yeah, she’s a tough as nails cop who also happens to have a spot of the old lycanthropy. But she’s also an outsider who knows she’s basically harboring a lethal weapon inside her own body and who can accidentally slaughter the only few friends she’s got if she lets her guard down. Weirdly enough, that makes for a very humane psychological cocktail and when the really juicy work of acting happens I feel.
AIPT: You have a background in ballet and it was a career you considered prior to acting. How did that previous experience help with the choreographed action sequences on the show?
Corlett: I think I’ve been very lucky to have had a background in dance. It’s always helped me whether be it work in theater, TV, or film. It gives you sense of awareness and a stamina, which is so important especially when you’re working opposite such skilled stunt people. I can’t take all the credit. We had an incredible team including and lead by an action stunt coordinator called Darrell Mclean, who trained us and encouraged us through the process. But having had trained before was extremely beneficial.
AIPT: Following up on your dancing experience, you even have this little number at the end of “The Dark in the Dark”. Did you find yourself holding back to not make Adam (Hugill) look as bad or did you embrace it and go full hamming it up?
Corlett: Not at all. I think Adam surprised all of us. He’s a brilliant dancer naturally and is the sort of person who learns something from scratch and probably becomes a pro at it and surpassing anyone’s expectations. He’s just sort of disciplined like that which is incredible. He’s a drummer too so he’s got an incredible ability timing wise and we had a lot of fun shooting that scene. I think Adam and I would have hammed it up a lot more if we had the chance but it was, you know, Cheery’s moment.
AIPT: So, Adam’s a drummer? So he did his actual parts in the band scenes as well?
Corlett: Yes, yes, he did. I think it would have been very difficult to fake that. We got very lucky. He was leading the band for sure, secretly.
AIPT: In “Not on My Watch”, we see a very heartbreaking flashback of your character and it kind of explains why she’s so guarded. You’ve described Angua’s arc this season as a journey of self-love. How do you think the other members of the Watch helped her get on this track and how did you see your character evolve throughout the season?
Corlett: I think they are complete opposites. Misfits. Maybe from the outside it comes across as a complete mess but the wonderful thing is that they have a huge heart as cheesy as that sounds. What makes them powerful and gives them power is their togetherness on this journey. It’s also when she realizes that she’s not alone that she can move beyond her limitations. All these characters cross her path for a reason. Like Vimes, you know. Although he’s a classic mess let’s say but he’s still able to be very much a father figure to her and he’s helping her on her journey despite his flaws and he doesn’t even know it. They all contribute to her journey of self-love.
AIPT: Speaking of Vimes, your character has said, “He helps people who have nowhere else to go.”
Corlett: Exactly. I think it’s very beautiful, isn’t it?
AIPT: Yeah. Speaking of love, there’s a tension between your character and Carrot. What do you think draws Angua to the constable or is it simply opposites attract? It’s also interesting to see you flash your jealous and catty side, especially with Sally.
Corlett: Our vampire, yeah? I think everything’s been turned upside down. Everyone’s given up. There’s no hope until Carrot arrives and he’s different. A breath of fresh air in this polluted city. Angua is intrigued by his hunger for change and his passion to do things the right way. Angua’s fear has stunted her growth emotionally and he helps her confront it all. I guess love and positive energy is always attractive and addictive. Angua sees Carrot as a sort of savior and naturally she follows him. They all do.
AIPT: Because of the current pandemic, you mentioned in other interviews that the show had to shoot the final parts of the season in London rather than South Africa. How difficult was this transition and do you feel some of the energy was lost in the new location?
Corlett: I guess we spent seven months with the same crew in South Africa so the energy we built together in that time was impossible to recreate. It was heartbreaking not to have our entire team with us. But saying that, we had a wonderful London crew that stepped in to wrap up the show. Of course, we were very lucky to have an extraordinary production designer, Simon Rogers, who had the toughest task recreating some of the sets in London. Watching the show, you honestly couldn’t tell we relocated to a completely different country. Simon did an incredible job.
AIPT: If The Watch was to receive a second season, what direction would you want to see your character taken? Are there any particular storylines from The Discworld series you’d want to draw from?
Corlett: I’m excited to see what our show runner, Simon Allen, has in store if we went on to do a second season. I think, of course, I’d love to see how Carrot and Angua’s friendship evolves. Whether you’ve watched the show or if you’re familiar with the books, it’s safe to say they have something special going on.
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