Mayfair Witches Q&A — Jack Huston Sees Lasher’s Humanity Even With The Prophecy Looming

Based on Rice’s bestselling trilogy Lives of the Mayfair WitchesAnne Rice’s Mayfair Witches is a dark drama that follows neurosurgeon Dr. Rowan Fielding (Alexandra Daddario) as she learns about her past and discovers her unlikely ties to a family of witches. In this interview with we speak with Jack Huston, who plays Lasher the mysterious entity attached to the Mayfair designees. Huston delves into why he sees some humanity in Lasher, what it was like going tête-à-tête with his friend Tongayi Chirisi in Episode 7, and what the fulfilment of the prophecy may mean for the season finale.      
Q: You’re no stranger to playing incredibly complex characters who toe the line between good and evil. How did you first come to learn about Lasher? Was it through the original books or was it through Esta [Spalding] and Michelle [Ashford]’s first scripts? 
A: Esta and Michelle's first scripts. Honestly, [Executive Producer] Mark Johnson was the one who initially called and said, "You've got to meet these amazing women who are taking on the monumental task of adapting The Witching Hour." I'm funny, I read a lot, but when I'm working on something, I wonder to myself, "Is it better to read the book and have these preconceived ideas of who these characters are? Or should I just take these scripts as fresh pieces of writing and think of them in that way?" For this project I was lucky enough to read Esta and Michelle's take on the source material and learn about Lasher through them, which was fun.
Q:  What were your initial feelings about him and did those feelings change as you dove deeper into the character?
A: Lasher was described to me as this — you know, I hate the word "evil" — but as this dark presence, this spirit that is attached to these witches, watches over them, and empowers them. The more I read and the more I read into the character, I found him incredibly human, which was so strange. Yes, there's a bit of a self-serving nature involved in Lasher, but isn't there with all of us? That's how we survive. If you were living under the guise that you only exist through somebody else, and that, yes, you could make them powerful, but they also give you power, it becomes this weird, co-dependent relationship. There’s an independence that Lasher is lacking. The more I got into it, the more human I found him. He loves these women. He loved them. Truly loved them. And when Deirdre dies, he was heartbroken, but he also has ulterior motives. I don't think that in any way has to negate the fact that he did have real relationships and he did exist with each one of these women during their time in the world. So, it was interesting getting to know him. I think when it comes to Lasher and Rowan, it's an exploration of how they're forming this relationship — I've got to show her rather than tell her who I am. She has to experience who I am, you know what I mean? I feel like that's the only way Lasher can do it.
Q: I think one of the reasons Lasher resonates so much with audiences is because we’re enamored by him and terrified of him at the same time. In Episode 6, we finally get to see how Lasher comes to be when Suzanne summons him to save herself. We’ve now seen Lasher through a variety of moments in time and in different dress, but these early moments in Scotland are particularly intense. What was it like filming those scenes with Hannah Alline and did it feel satisfying to finally capture the moment when Lasher first emerges?   
A: Oh man, I love that scene! You know, it's very funny because we're meant to be in Scotland in the Highlands, but we were filming it during the heat of summer in New Orleans. It was the most insanely brilliant set and Hannah, wow, she's a heck of an actress. She was amazing! She has such a presence to her. I love that last moment in that scene when he whispers, "You're my witch, and I'm yours." Lasher sort of takes on the personality or the traits of the witch he's attached to at any given moment, so I kind of wanted to play around with his Scottishness. It was really fun to shoot those scenes, and then when we set it all on fire. Poor Tongayi almost burned to death in the middle of the village, but it was wonderful! [Laughs] We laughed a lot about it later.
Q: So much of the magic and the power of the show comes from it being anchored in New Orleans. Anne Rice created such lore around the city itself and that definitely translates to the screen. What was it like filming in New Orleans and do you feel like the city's energy helped you get into a Lasher frame of mind?
A: Definitely! New Orleans, it's such a cool place. It has the magic, the mystery, and the spirits at its heart, so it lives and breathes in that way. The city is sexy, sultry, full of music and jazz, and I don't know, absinthe! It’s fueled by spirits and apparitions and all the rest of it. It’s just so so cool. Being an Englishman and coming over to the States, there are certain cities like New York and New Orleans that feel like they’re not actually part of any country. They feel like their own islands, and New Orleans feels like that. I think being in a place like that does help you get into character for sure. And then obviously Anne Rice still exists at every turn and it’s so obvious how important she was to the city and to the people. When you're on location, it's next to nothing. It's wonderful.
Q: Episode 7 also presented an amazing opportunity for you and Tongayi to go tête-à-tête within Lasher's earliest memories. His manipulations have worked, and this is the second time he's trapped Sip.
Poor Sip!
The big reveal here of course is that Lasher tells Sip that he's “served his purpose” by impregnating Rowan. The line that just killed me —when you said, "Why would a lion want to be a housecat," in regards to Rowan. It's really interesting to see these two men fighting for very different versions of Rowan's liberation. What was it like shooting that scene with Tongayi?
A: Well, Tongayi and I did a movie called Antebellum together a few years ago, and I will go to bat saying that one of my absolute favorite scenes I've ever done was a scene with me and Tongayi in that film. We have such a lovely relationship, we trust and respect each other, not only as friends but as actors, that we're like, "Hey man, push me, push me! Let's do it, let's do it!" And we love that. Getting into that room with Tongayi was the best because he’s a powerhouse. He's a phenomenal actor and he's wonderful to go toe to toe with. I think that Sip and Lasher are total opposites and Rowan's right in the middle. So, it's great to see these two lovers or haters, whatever you want to call them, actually really face off for a bit. Tongayi with the passion and the resilience of who Sip is as a person, while Lasher remains so calm and restrained. It's always a give and take in those situations, and that's why Tongayi is so great. He has such a fountain of emotions running through him in that scene. And Lasher does too in his own way — he's trying to remove himself and be rather mysterious, but I think it's all based on something much more for Lasher and he can only give away so much. That’s part of what I found so fascinating about him. I think a lot of his behavior might be a bit of a pretense for him. I think it goes a lot deeper with Lasher.
Q: Well, we do hear about the prophecy for the first time in Episode 7. And we learn that the Talamasca is also aware of it, so that’s intriguing. If the prophecy is a real thing, that means that Lasher’s actions and interactions with others have been leading him towards his goal of fulfilling it.
A: Yes, and it’s taken him centuries to get to this moment. Even if it’s self-fulfilling he’s a part of it. Why shouldn't he be a part of it? Yes, Rowan helps him, but he helps her too, so it is a give and take. It is based on this codependence that they have. As an actor I look at a situation like this and I ask myself, "How do we ground this? How do we base this on something?" When I say ground it, it doesn't necessarily mean ground, like in reality. It's more about grounding as a character as a person, asking the question "What's your ultimate objective?" For Lasher, I don’t think his desire to fulfill the prophecy takes anything away from how much he loved or lost or wept or felt. I think he also understands there's a greater good here and that's his ultimate objective.
Q: The episode ends with a literal bang, with Tessa being killed and Rowan summoning Lasher, which seems to be exactly what Lasher wanted to happen?
I think if viewers have been surprised by big moments in previous episodes, Episode 8 is just going to knock their socks off. What can you tease out about the season finale? Where will it find Lasher and Rowan? I know that's so difficult to answer, but can you share a little nugget?
A: Hmmmm, a little nugget! You know what I would say? The great thing about this show is it takes you down one path and then it takes a very hard left or right turn and you're introduced to something very, very different! So, there's this general coercion or manipulation that's not just happening through Lasher but is also happening to viewers as they experience watching the show — we're being led to believe one thing and sometimes it's completely the opposite! So, I think the final episode will give viewers exactly what they need and want, because we've been working towards it throughout the season. But at the same time, it's going to leave everybody with their hands over their mouths because where the heck is this going? Yeah, that's the best way of teasing it, I think. [Laughs]

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