Aleksa Palladino, who plays Sara Wheeler on AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, talks about ’80s fashion and what interested her most about her character.
Q: You’re a newcomer to the series. What was your first day on set like?
A: I had so much to do and there was so much dialogue – which is often a nerve-racking way to start a job – but it wound up being really good because I just jumped right in and by my third day of work, I felt like I had been there for months.
Q: How much did you already know about Joe MacMillan’s backstory, and where you would be fitting in? How did you and Lee Pace go about forming the dynamic and chemistry between Joe and Sara?
A: I got the chance to work with Lee Pace before that first day. We sat down and talked about our characters and what we think happened between seasons and what our connection is. I watched all of Season 1 the weekend before I went down to Atlanta and I thought it would be interesting to see a character like Joe put in a situation where he had to be vulnerable with someone. He lives very much in his mind, so it’s nice to add an element of the uncontrollable in the heart and see a man like that be dependent on someone else in a relationship.
Q: How would you describe the way Sara feels about Joe? How about the way Joe feels about Sara?
A: I’ve been thinking a lot about the season as a whole. What I see as the common thread for both the overall story and the characters as individuals is the need for real connection. I think we see that through everything that’s going on at Mutiny with the chat rooms, the gaming and a way for people to connect. We also see that in the personal relationships between the characters and I feel that’s what Sara and Joe have. For Joe, Sara is probably the first time in a long time where he’s actually felt loved for who he is.
Q: You were just a child in the ‘80s. Do you remember the era at all? Any fond memories?
A: Well, obviously I played Mario Brothers. [Laughs] It’s the little things that you remember. In one of the episodes, I used the phone in the apartment and I remembered that as a kid, whenever we bought a phone, we had to have the longest cord possible so you could go in your bedroom and still be on it. It’s so funny how much of our day-to-day life has changed in the last 30 years. The show is a period piece, but it is also our recent history and because of all the technological advancements, it seems so long ago.
Q: amc.com creates Spotify playlists for Halt and Catch Fire characters. If you could pick one ’80s song to represent Sara, what would it be?
A: Well, I love Elvis Costello, so anything of his.
Q: Kerry Bishé told us how much she enjoys the clothing from the ‘80s. Are you a fan as well? Is there anything you want to make a comeback?
A: The Costume Designer, Kimberly [Adams-Galligan], is great because she really gets into the character with you and clothing is one of the first ways that people see you. It is important. We decided that we would keep Sara away from things that were trendy and I felt that nailed it for my character. Trends that were happening then that could come back? I mean, I’m surprised shoulder pads never came back.
Q: Should they?
A: Yeah, I don’t know if they should! [Laughs] And I do really love big hair, I have to say.
Q: What was it like using that typewriter in Episode 203? Was it drastically different from the modern technology we’re so used to today?
A: It really is and they knew it would be [different], so they dropped one off at my apartment there and told me to start practicing. The amount of pressure to push a key down, the spacing and everything is different. I was most aware of how noisy they are. I came up with this idea that Sara probably writes at night when Joe is sleeping, but then when I actually did it, I was like, “This would wake him up.”
Q: What drew you most to playing Sara? Is there anything you were particularly excited about?
A: I was really excited to play someone who had a failed “Plan A.” I think that’s another commonality between her and Joe. I think there’s something really interesting in meeting people in the second acts of their life. She’s very warm and sweet and open, but this is someone who really knows who she is. I was drawn to someone who was so formidable and self-aware in a real way.
Click here to read an interview with Mackenzie Davis (Cameron Howe).