Katherine Parkinson, who plays Laura Hawkins on AMC’s HUMANS, talks about the fight for Synth rights and Laura’s role in creating a new future.
Q: Laura has sacrificed so much in the fight for Synth rights. How would you describe the complex relationship she has with the Synths given all she’s seen?
A: She has had a complex journey with them. She starts in a place of fear and once she realizes through Anita/Mia what they actually are, I think she has a huge sense of justice and empathy. She tries to work out exactly what they are in Season 2 and then in Season 3, she’s like a proper zealot. She’s their champion. She’s not doing very well, but she’s trying to represent them and fight for their rights. She makes small victories, but she’s got the bit between her teeth. She’s galvanized into action because she started out fearing them and being their enemy. There’s probably some guilt there as well because she realizes that was the wrong position to take.
Q: How is she navigating this new family structure with Joe now living outside of the home?
A: She’s a single mom, earning less money. He’s living in Waltringham and is a good dad, but she’s not got the best kind of relationship with Joe now. Like lots of people, she’s just getting on with it. She’s not being quite as present for her children. I think whenever someone has a cause they’re fighting for, it almost becomes the most important thing in their life. It’s not like having a 9 to 5 job. That has a detrimental effect on her children. The one thing Laura probably didn’t want her children to feel is immense guilt. Now, Mattie is experiencing guilt on an ethic level. Laura understands how it drags you down and makes you sad. She probably feels quite responsible about her involvement in Day Zero, but she doesn’t get to see Mattie as much.
Q: What causes her resistance to Stanley when she’s first assigned him? How does that compare to when she first got Mia/Anita in Season 1?
A: It’s different because she feels like she’s going to look like such a hypocrite. These Orange Eyes are a completely different entity than the Green Eyes. They literally are machines, like microwaves. I think she really resents it, but she also realizes that her life is going to be much easier with him around. She’s not given a choice. She has to have him, but it’s interesting how quickly you see how she starts to enjoy what he can do for her. She needs help.
Q: What’s it like for her to witness Stanley protect her and her family in Episode 2?
A: She’s suddenly become a well-known figure and that makes her a target. That’s a new thing for her and gives her a new vulnerability, especially with Joe not around. Stanley can do things she didn’t expect. To not have him around would be putting her family in jeopardy, so I think she accepts that it’s part of what’s happening. It’s scary for her. Dino [Fetscher] is also lovely. It was great doing all those scenes with him.
Q: How hard was it for Laura to decide to join the Dryden Commission, especially after Mia voices concerns about it? What exactly is she up against?
A: If you think about what Laura’s job description is, she’s a lawyer. So, it’s about communication. That’s her skill set. Though Mia is very rightly negative about the Commission and how they’re going to be biased, Laura knows they’ve run out of options. I think she believes in her abilities to argue a point. That’s what she does for a living. I understand why she decides to. She’s trying to change things from the inside. Baby steps can change the law. It’s like a snow ball effect and she believes it will lead to great things.
Q: What does she make of Neil when she first meets him?
A: I think she’s drawn to him because he’s funny, attractive and seems to have a sadness that she shares. He’s intellectually her equal. She’s got an intellectual rigor that perhaps she hasn’t felt was matched by Joe, even though they’ve been together since they were very young. She enjoys the debate she gets to have with [Neil] and she’s got a lot of respect for scientists. In Season 2, she’s doing all this stuff with Niska and trying to scientifically work out her brain activity and whether she can feel emotion. I think she’s very interested in the scientists’ takes on things and perhaps those are the sort of people the government should be consulting.
Q: Do you find yourself interacting with current technology — Siri, Alexa, etc. — any differently since joining the show?
A: It’s been unnerving. I feel like I take technology and its good effects and bad effects more seriously. I’m interested in developments because I know that’s the future for our children. I’ve been a bit shocked at how many relevant things I’ve read in the paper while doing the show. You feel like it’s just around the corner. That’s as exciting as it is scary. I used to be a big stick in the mud and quite negative, but I’ve realized that’s a chicken approach. [Laughs] I want to embrace and understand it. I don’t want to not understand the world that we’re going to be living in.
Read an interview with Ivanno Jeremiah, who plays Max.
HUMANS airs Tuesday at 10/9c. Click here to add a reminder to your calendar.
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