Mackenzie Davis, who plays Cameron Howe on AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, talks about Cameron’s new startup and playing with an Atari on set.
Q: Cameron is starting anew with her own company, Mutiny. Were you excited for her and her new journey?
A: Yeah! I think it’s nice seeing Cameron grow up. She’s in a circumstance now where she can’t be reactive as much as she was last season, so she’s forced to figure out how to be an adult. I find that interesting because I don’t think that’s natural for her. I was really excited about the partnership between Donna and Cameron. Last season was really marked by adversarial relationships, conflict and people selfishly trying to achieve their personal goals. Cameron is now forced to figure out how to work with another person. She has to make decisions about what sort of boss and co-worker she wants to be.
Q: Speaking of computer games, was that a real Atari you were playing during the Season 2 Premiere?
A: It was. I played with it and I’m always amazed at the stuff they manage to get [on set] and the condition that it’s in.
Q: Do you think you’d have what it takes to do Cameron’s job? What would be the hardest thing about it for you?
A: Well, how Cameron’s mind works – I’m not a computer genius – so I don’t think that I have what it takes, but I think I could run a company. I’d probably do it a little healthier than she goes about it, but there’s something very charismatic in how dysfunctional she is. She’s like an animal who is trying to become domesticated.
Q: What would your own startup be like? Would the atmosphere be lax like Cameron’s?
A: It was amazing. I spent most of the four months that we shot last season in a square dungeon in the basement of Cardiff Electric. It was a joy to interact with other humans and have natural light. [Laughs] I loved it! The way it looks on film is the way it is in reality. It’s a bunch of chaos, boys and footballs being thrown around. It’s a madhouse.
Q: In Episode 202, Cameron and Donna arrive at the venture capital meeting in totally opposite attire. Does that speak to the differences between the two?
A: I think Cameron is taking cues from Donna a lot and trying to figure out how to behave in this world. She’s smart enough to know that the way she is isn’t always advantageous to the goals she has. It’s a really interesting thing that goes on between Donna and Cameron with Donna being a feminist, having kids and having dealt with sexism her entire career. Cameron is like a spoiled kid who thinks the world should be hers.
Q: What did you think about Cameron’s confrontation with Tom, when he admits to hacking her network? Do you think she finally met her match, in terms of intellect?
A: Cameron’s a lot of things – she’s very volatile and immature, but above all else, she’s very smart and game recognizes game. He’s a very worthy adversary for her.
Q: Did it shock you that she hired him, or was it a tactical move?
A: I think that’s where her intellect takes place. This person is challenging her and she’s very ambitious and determined. She’s smart enough to recognize that bringing someone else on would fulfill her goals eventually.
Q: Cameron really wants computers to have a “personality” as opposed to millions of machines that just “work” for the user. What do you think that says about her?
A: On a very basic level, Cameron struggles to connect with other humans and that’s part of her journey this season. She always uses computers to connect to people and to have a soul. That’s been her way into a world that’s felt very hostile to her in life. It’s been comfort to her for her entire life.
Q: What do you find is the most important aspect of your own computer?
A: I’m a user. I’m not really a creator as far as computers are concerned. So, I’m sure my relationship to my machine is very different [from Cameron’s].
Q: Last season, you mentioned how bad of a typer you are. Has it gotten any better?
A: Absolutely not! I’ve been surprised at how many people do type the way I did. I thought I could play it off as a character choice for Cameron, but then I discovered how many people of that generation couldn’t type, so I guess this is period accuracy seeping through.
Click here to read an interview with Lee Pace (Joe MacMillan).