Soulmates Q&A — Sarah Snook (Nikki)
Sarah Snook, who plays Nikki in the first episode of Soulmates, talks about why she wanted to do the show, how quickly humans adapt to technology, and how the test drove a wedge between Nikki and Franklin.
Q: Have you ever worked on a project with a story that's set in the future?
A: I worked on Predestination. It's a time travel film set in the past, which is interesting, but it has a futuristic element to it. The other thing was Black Mirror, an episode of that. Will [Bridges] used to work on it with Charlie [Brooker].
Q: What were your first thoughts when you read this script and what drew you to the role?
A: I really liked how natural the dialogue seemed and how familiar the storyline is. It's quite a simple storyline. It's a woman who has doubts in her marriage, has a way to solve them, decides not to take it, but her husband does. That's kind of the summation of it, and it really introduces this concept of the test, and the ability to find your soulmate definitively. Though it's set in the future, it's such a relatable storyline and something that I think a lot of relationships and marriages go through.
Q: The show does a wonderful job of making you feel like this test to find your soulmate could come out tomorrow in reality. How do you think the realistic feeling of the show impacts the telling of the story?
A: I think the way technology evolves these days, it's exponential how we've folded technology into our daily lives and our dialogue so easily. How often were we using 'Zoom' as a verb a year ago? Within six months, the entire world is using it as both a verb and a means of communication. So taking things like The Test do feel very possible, and they could fold into our reality super easily.
And also in a way—we spoke about this with the creatives—that's how it would be, yes, widely available but perhaps only to the wealthy. It's an expensive test. There's got to be a way to lessen the pool of people who can access it, because if everyone gets it immediately, like it's a vaccine, then it kind of stops. Although that might be an interesting storyline as well—if everyone suddenly has found their soulmate, what happens then? But I really liked how it can become political as well. There's a choice whether to get it or not to get it, whether it is true or not true. Or do we know it's definitively true? Is that a good thing or not? For society, for yourself in love and in a relationship, should you have these answers? I think that's the kind of central question to the show, which really interested me.
Q: Before the test gets into Nikki’s head, she and Franklin seem genuinely happy together. Do you think Nikki’s inclination toward the test is more a reflection of what she might be missing, or a reflection of the state of her marriage?
A: Was it Tolstoy who said "every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way?" I think that's true. There's a seed of doubt that's planted and whether it's from a point of reality or truth is really only up to the individual to indulge it. I think being presented with the possibility of the grass being greener... as humans, I think we're endlessly curious.
I thought it was fascinating being on set with people who weighed in. It was actually about 50/50, where half the crew said 'no,' they wouldn't take the test. Some of them were newly in relationships, newly married, and they just wouldn't want to compromise the relationship that they had. And I came to the show thinking I would 100% take the test. I would want to know—and maybe that was a reflection of the fact that I was single. But other people who were also single said they wouldn't want to take away the fun, the discovery, and the romance of dating.
Nikki and Franklin have been together for 15 years. As a natural progression, there are peaks and valleys in relationships. You sort of fall deeper in love in a different way, and during a natural valley that they would normally be able to climb out of, here comes the test. It's giving them an option—and a scratch gets turned into a wound.
Q: When Nikki calls her brother to talk about the test and Franklin, he's not terribly sympathetic. What is she hoping to gain from calling him?
A: I think there's a desperation to that phone call. I think as humans we want to know what's going to happen next. That's why psychics, fortunetellers, astrology, and those kinds of things are still around trying to predict the future. We want to know what's going to happen, and we want something that is solid that we can plan for. It's why we're feeling so uncomfortable with the pandemic, because no one can plan for anything and we don't have control over anything. And The Test is the devil's cup in a way; it's the only thing that is probably definitive as it is, that can be relied on as solid. So I think she's calling her brother to try and counter that, to try and get someone to say either do or don't, don't believe in it or do believe it. I think she's just trying to find something to hold onto, that is black and white in a different way.
Q: Nikki tells Franklin she didn’t take the test after all and he drops the news that he did. Do you feel like she pushed him to do it in some ways, by questioning things so much?
A: We always see this episode from Nikki's perspective. As we were shooting, I would have loved to have seen another episode written from Franklin's perspective or from the neighbor's perspective. What are those individuals going through at the same time? And I think yeah, she probably did push him to it a little bit, but he probably would have come to it himself as well.
During that dinner table scene with friends earlier in the episode, one of the couples says, "You haven't talked about the test? You have to talk about the test." I think it's one of those conversations that couples would have to be faced with having, and Franklin and Nikki are just too chicken to have that big conversation. They end up pushing each other silently towards the test by not facing it head on together.
Q: At the end, we never get to see Nikki respond to Franklin telling her he basically regrets leaving her for his soulmate. Do you have a feeling what her response would have been?
A: Yeah, I feel like the response is probably the same question back: is this better? I don't know. I think, for both of them, they're questioning that. A hundred years ago it used to be that you get married and that's it, you don't question it. You have a soulmate and that's it, you don't question it. But inevitably we're going to always question something. In the end, maybe in ten years' time people would be questioning the efficacy or veracity of the test and there'd be all sorts of opinion pieces on that. But I think it's always going to be rhetorical—is this better?
Q: Have you seen any of the other episodes in the series? Do you have any favorites?
A: I haven't. I've only seen the trailer. I'm excited to see them because there's so many divergent storylines that you get out of this one idea.
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