On Season 2 of the action-adventure drama Human Target, British actress Indira Varma joins the cast as Ilsa Pucci, a beautiful, sophisticated and recently widowed billionaire who seeks the help of Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) after the mysterious murder of her philanthropist husband. Impressed with Chance’s expertise, Ilsa offers to be his benefactor and a silent owner of his protection agency, but it quickly becomes clear that this woman might not remain so silent.
During a recent interview, Indira Varma talked about being a part of her first American television series, working in Vancouver and juggling her career and family. She also talked about what it was like to work with Idris Elba on her BBC America series Luther, premiering on October 17th. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: What can you say about being added to Human Target this coming season? Do you come on in the first episode?
How did you come to the role?
Indira: I had my little Flip camera in London and sent a video. It was very 21st century.
Had you watched the show before, or known about it at all?
Indira: We don’t have it in England. I just heard that Channel 4 picked it up.
Did they send you episodes to watch?
Indira: Yeah, I watched a couple. It looked really fast and fun with huge action and tongue-in-cheek humor.
Were you specifically looking for something like that?
Indira: One of the things I would love to do, by the time I die, is be in every single genre. That would be really fun. I get to shoot guns and jump out of a helicopter.
Had you ever done anything like that?
Indira: Never. I love variety. I love theater. I also love radio. I love language. But, the older you get, you need to earn money. You need to heighten your profile. Plus, you also make great television here in America.
What’s your character like?
Indira: I play Ilsa Pucci, who’s the widow of Marshall Pucci, a billionaire philanthropist. They run charities. Anyway, he gets killed in mysterious circumstances, so she finds Christopher Chance and hires him. It takes her six months to find him because he’s gone to an ashram somewhere in Nepal. She’s a very determined lady, and she’s very rich. So, she meets him and he’s obviously a bit the same, so there’s an interesting little power struggle.
Is there a flirtation as well?
Indira: Well, come on, it’s TV! To be honest, in the first episode, there isn’t, but we’ll see.
Indira: She buys the company. I become an owner. I will be an absentee boss.
Will you be in every episode?
Indira: I think so, yeah.
What does she think of what these guys do?
Indira: She comes from a totally different background – the privileged kind – so the idea of men running around with guns is anathema to her. But, despite saying that she wants to be an absentee boss, I think she’s curious about what they do and will probably get in the way.
Does she have secrets of her own?
Indira: Probably, but I don’t know what they are yet.
What will her relationship be with the rest of the team?
Indira: We’re seeing what naturally evolves between all of us. But, she’s definitely a control freak, so she will probably get on people’s nerves.
Had you ever worked in Vancouver before this?
Indira: No, never.
Indira: It’s really difficult because I have a 3-year-old and a husband, and they’re in London, at the moment. We thought, at the beginning of a shoot, it’s always crazy, so they’re going to come in a bit.
What is it like to balance work and family?
Indira: It’s really hard. My daughter is in pre-school, so she’s adaptable. She’s learning things and she gets to meet people from all over the world. I don’t want to be an absent mother. Otherwise, why have children?
Can you talk about the experience of shooting Luther? What was that like?
Indira: It was brilliant. It’s an incredibly well-written six part drama, and Idris [Elba] is an amazing actor. Aside from Idris, we’ve got some of the top British actors. I think it’s quite original, the way they delivered it and the way they made it.
Did you and Idris do anything to get to know each other before working together?
Indira: I was in America and they Skyped my audition. And then, I went over there and shot it. Idris improvises with you, so I felt like I didn’t have to do any prep. When I had to be emotional in a scene, I didn’t have to do any prep because he’s so emotional. It was heaven.
Have you done any other projects recently?
Why do you enjoy about doing theater that you don’t get from doing film or TV?
Indira: You get very well-written stuff, generally, because the writer has sometimes spent years writing a two-hour play, whereas TV is turned out much quicker. In the States, there’s a group of people writing it. Also, it’s a visual medium, whereas theater is about the play. It’s a very different experience. It’s immediate. You have an audience to play off. It’s you and the play and the audience, but it’s also about comic timing. You respond to how the audience is listening and you’re holding their attention.
Is TV like working in a vacuum?
Indira: No because you’re working with other actors, unless it’s green screen. But, it’s not really up to me. I have less power. I depend on good editors and a good director. It’s up to the way they shoot it, the lighting and all that. I love both mediums. I like how small you can be on TV.