Interview with Jack Reynor for Impossible Planet
Can you explain a little bit about your episode?
Impossible Planet is a story set in a future where human beings have spread out in colonised space and the earth is extinct. Nobody lives there anymore and we kick off with two guys who work for a space travel agency. They meet a very old lady who has an android with her and she asks to go to earth. They know it doesn’t exist anymore but Benedict’s [Wong] character says look she’s offering us a crazy amount of money, let’s just find a planet that looks like earth, we will bring her there, do a loop around it and take her home, so it’s a scam that they are running. But when they take her on the journey my character Norton starts to realise that there is a lot more to this lady than meets the eye and he has a sense that he’s met her before somehow. There’s an alternate reality leaking through into what he’s doing and experiencing on this trip.
Can you tell me about the character you play?
Norton is a young guy who works for the travel agency and he has a girlfriend on the station that he’s on, which is quite remote. She’s got an ambition to move to a more upper class colony so he’s working all the time to try and make that happen for her. He loves her but I don’t know if he’s entirely in love with her and vice versa. So when this opportunity arises, where Geraldine’s [Chaplin]character arrives at the door and offers a huge sum on money to go to earth Norton sees that as a chance to make the money to move with his girlfriend to this upper class colony. When he gets on the journey he starts to revaluate how he feels about his girlfriend and himself and about everything. His sense of what’s real and what isn’t starts to unwind a bit.
What was it that attracted you to this project?
I’ve always been a big fan of Philip K. Dick, I love his work. There’s a returning theme of identity and the fragility of our identity. Even when we are looking at what we think is a stark reality it might actually be something completely different. There’s always a sense that the sands are shifting in Philip K. Dick’s work and our fragile identity is in the middle of it somehow, it’s always a real struggle to survive and hold onto ourselves and who we are. I think it’s a very relevant and topical theme. I think a lot of people struggle with their identities. In the current day and age, most of the episodes in this series speak to that idea, that why I wanted to be a part of it. Also David Farr (the director) is a good friend and he had written a film I had done two years beforehand and he said “I’m directing this and I’d like you to be involved” so I was really excited to jump on. He’s a great guy, he’s very passionate and a fantastic director, I would love to work with him again.
Do you have a favourite Philip K. Dick book or screen adaptation?
The obvious one is Blade Runner, based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I think everyone would say that that’s a really profound work. I’m a huge fan of the film and that was one of the reasons I wanted to be an actor.
What was the experience of filming like?
It was great. It was different in the sense that it’s a lot quicker than film and I usually work in film so everything - being set in one location and studio, the speed of which we powered through the project -was a change for me but it was a welcome change and I really enjoyed it. It was just a different way to work and everybody who was there seemed to be there because they wanted to be and they were passionate about what they were doing and that’s a really nice environment to work in so I had a really great time.
How did you enjoy working with your co-stars?
They were brilliant. Me and Benedict [Wong] had a really good laugh together on set. We probably pushed it a little too far sometimes, we were messing with each other which was a bit distracting for David but Benedict’s a great guy, a lovely actor and we had a blast. Geraldine [Chaplin] is an incredible person to work with. She’s so gracious, warm and accommodating. I really enjoyed spending time with her. They are both very passionate people and very clear about the kind of work they want to do and the message they want to put out with their skills as actors, so that was a great thing to experience.
The series is so varied, and his stories are all so different. What do you see as the universal themes that unite his work?
Again I think it’s that idea about identity and the fragility of our identity and our sense of reality, there’s no permanence to it. He articulately examines this idea that nothing is ever really as it seems and there are all kinds of perspectives and your reality is only really a matter of your perspective.
Why do you think so many of his stories are still being made today?
Because they are very relevant and topical, like I said we are living in an age where Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the main source of self-esteem and people spend countless amounts of time looking to see who’s trying to interact with them online and it’s all about their identity and how they feel about themselves. The reality is you’re not really going to get any self-esteem from those things and it leaves you actually feeling disconnected like you don’t have any identity in a lot of ways. I think his work is a kind of study of that way of thinking, to me it says that’s its ok to feel like you don’t have an identity because you actually do. I think for a lot of people it’s reassuring, it’s tapping into something that they need to feel.