Soulmates Q&A — Malin Åkerman (Martha)

Malin Åkerman, who plays Martha on this week's episode of Soulmates, talks about how Martha's failures in life impact her decisions, why Martha is so stunned by Kurt's kindness, and her own personal opinion of the test.

Q: Have you ever worked on a project that's based in the future?

A: That's a good question. I don't think so! Watch someone go to IMDb and go, "Yeah you have." (Laughs) I don't think so, not that I can remember.

Q: Did it feel like you were acting in something futuristic, since there's this test that's not real in the present?

A: I think that was the only thing that felt futuristic,  just these conversations about the test. Even so, it doesn't feel very sci-fi or out of reach at this point in our lives, with all the technology and all the new inventions that are available and at our fingertips. I remember watching Back to the Future back in the day and thinking, "We're never going to be able to see each other virtually in a call! That's crazy." And here we are, Zoom calling every day. So, you know, it wasn't super far-fetched as far as the test goes.

I think the environment that we shot our episode in, made it feel almost like we were going back in time. Being in this brainwashed population that we found ourselves in, a place that feels like it's existed forever. So yeah, I wouldn't say I felt like it was futuristic. The idea of a test to find your soulmate is meddling a little too much in humanity and playing God, and I'm not crazy about the idea.

Q: What drew you to this project?

A: This idea of a test to find your soulmate! It was the subject matter, and it was also the writers and the actors involved. Charlie [Heaton] is such a wonderful actor. I really think he's so beautiful to watch and I jumped at the opportunity to work with him, as well as the writers who are just incredible. Stranger Things and Black Mirror are shows that I've watched and have really have admired. So, the combination of all of those things got me interested in partaking in this project.

Q: How would you describe where Martha is at in her life when we meet her?

A: Oh, I think the air was taken out of that balloon a long time ago. I think she's at a crucial point when we meet her. I think she's tried everything, and poor thing hasn't been able to break her bad pattern of relationships with the wrong guys. We find out that she's been married a few times. I think she feels like quite a failure, and to top it off is the fact that her soulmate is dead. Failing at life is where we find her or so she thinks, and that's a very vulnerable place to be. It's a perfect place to capture her and bring her into this cult-like organization.

Q: Why does Martha react to Kurt the way she does, with horror or revulsion, when she learns she took his virginity?

A: Yeah, I agree. I think that's the sentiment. Here she is, she's at this group meeting to deal with the loss of her soulmate, and then she ends up having sex in an alley with someone who she thinks is much older than he is and she's now also taken his virginity. She's just disgusted with herself. She can't believe that she's made all these bad decisions in life—yet again made another bad decision—and in doing so also took something from this boy. It's supposed to be something special the first time and it was nothing special, far from it. So I think she's revolted with herself.

Q: What do you think Martha is thinking when she finds out that Kurt is also at the place where you can meet your soulmate who has passed on?

A: I think some of it gets explained during some of their conversations. I think she's surprised just because he's so young—she does mention that a few times. She just feels like it's such a waste, because I think they see in each other the truth. She sees who he is, and see in him the potential of who he can be. She sees that he's a good person and he's got so much more life to live. He's very sweet and I think he sees the same in her, so it's just that surprise where you go, "Wow, you don't see what you actually have in yourself." And it's such a shame.

At the same time, there's a mutual understanding between them because they feel that this is the right choice. There's only one soulmate and they've committed to that belief, so here we are being brave and strong. So I think it's conflicted feelings which ultimately gives us the outcome of the episode.

Q: When they're role playing their soulmates with each other, why does she respond the way she does to Kurt's kind words?

A: Well... my very best girlfriend had just had a baby, and we ended up living together because she was also helping me with my child. I was in New York and we were working, and her baby was about three months old. I remember her coming down the stairs—everything was always about the baby—up until that point when I just said, "Babe, how are you doing?" and she just went "Oh!" and she burst into tears, because it was just not something that was being asked very often.

I think that it's the same in this moment. Somebody is actually seeing her—a lot of times we don't feel seen in this world. Especially in relationships, we just don't take a moment to just see somebody, see where they're at and just ask them how they actually are. It's a simple thing, and I think that's what gets her. It sounds like she was never seen in any of her relationships, and all of a sudden this guy who she's met a couple of times only sees her for who she is and that's hard to hear. It's hard for her to accept, because she hasn't been seen that way. She's believed all the BS that's been told to her, so it's a beautiful moment of being seen, actually hearing it, and having a hard time hearing it.

Q: Why does Martha change her mind at the last minute about running away with Kurt?

A: I think that the initial reaction when he said, "Let's not do this," it's just too much for her. It's almost like it's too good. This guy's too good and of course it won't work out, because it never does and why would this be any different? It's just like a knee-jerk reaction, I think.

When she actually faces the reality of killing herself, I think questions comes up for her. "Well, I have these feelings for Kurt and could there be a different way, and am I willing to give it a shot with someone who might be something different. What if he is different and what...?" All of a sudden it just brings up all those feelings. She's questioning everything, as you should when you're about to kill yourself for a cause that we're not even sure of. His presence and the gentleness that he's had with her—she's seeing that maybe there might be another side of the coin after all, and not every guy is going to be like the guys she's dated in the past.

Q: What do you think—do Martha and Kurt live or die?

A: I'd like to think they live. Of course I want the happy ending. I do. Of course we had that discussion, and I said I think they live, I think they give it a shot, and I think they start breaking old patterns. I don't know that they last forever, but I think they have the courage to try it and there's a gentleness and a bit of healing that's done in that relationship. But who knows? Sometimes we just need someone to grow with for a little while, and then that growth finishes and we move on to the next growth. So I'd like to think that they have that moment, for a while at least.

Read a Q&A with Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, who played Jonah on last week's episode.

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