I am happy to sound like a broken record by repeating this; the world needs more Rebecca Hall! My current urgency to shout that out as much as possible likely has something to do with the fact that I’m still quite obsessed with her under-seen 2017 release, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, and I was also recently flat-out floored by her performance in the Sundance 2020 selection, The Night House. When the opportunity to cover Hall’s next project, Tales from the Loop, came up, there was absolutely no way I was missing out.
We recently shared a short snippet of our phone conversation about her role in Iron Man 3, but with Tales from the Loop now available to watch on Amazon, it’s time to dig into her experience working on the show! In it, Hall plays Loretta, a scientist working in a facility known as The Loop, who also happens to be the daughter-in-law of The Loop’s founder, Russ Willard (Jonathan Pryce). It’s a difficult show to synopsize further without revealing too much, but in Hall’s own words, Tales from the Loop “poses that the fundamental problem of being a human and also the fundamental joy of being a human is time.”
Check out the rest of our conversation on Tales from the Loop below to read more about Hall’s experience working with Nathaniel Halpern and learning more about the responsibilities of a showrunner, what’s driving her character, her emotional response to the material and much more. And if you’re looking for even more Tales from the Loop coverage, you can click right here to read my chat with Halpern.
Tales from the Loop Season 1 is now available to watch in full on Amazon.
There’s a lot going on in this show. What were some of the burning questions you had for Nathaniel after first reading the scripts?
REBECCA HALL: Well, I don’t know. Part of its appeal to me was that it was very mysterious and it felt a little primal on some level. I don’t know. It’s difficult to explain. I had a response to it that felt very – I was very moved by it, and I didn’t really understand what was going on. And I found it very compelling that the characters and the world seemed very much in and of itself and didn’t really relate to any other universe but its own. And yet at the same time, felt to be like everything that was fantastical or strange about it was very rooted in human emotion. The aspects of it that were enigmatic were the things that I liked the most about it. I didn’t really want him to kind of resolve everything for me, or tell me what it was all about. Part of the appeal was that, if that makes sense. [Laughs]
I’m curious to hear more about how it moved you. When I spoke to Nathaniel the other day, he told me a big thing for him was that he finds that a lot of sci-fi is cynical nowadays and that he wants to inspire hope with this. So was that emotional response a sense of comfort maybe, either working on this scenario or your character specifically?
HALL: No, because I think that her journey is quite hard, but very relatable and human. She’s a character that’s born out of the ultimate act of abandonment on some level. I don’t want to obviously give any spoilers, but it feels that her whole drive and her whole everything is tied up in trying to deal with the thing that happened to her and on some level, control the world. And she works in the world of particle physics and is dealing with existential questions about how we live and why. And there’s also those mysterious elements to everything. I don’t know.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the thing that I found the most compelling about this was that when you think about physics, and the little that I do know about particle colliders and all of these things that people are supposedly doing in the loop, is that they’re dealing with the philosophical notion of time, its existence or its nonexistence. And you talk to these people and you say, ‘Do you believe that time travel is possible?’ And they’ll say, ‘Yes.’ And you go, ‘Well, you must be crazy. That’s the stuff of science fiction.’ And it’s not. It is philosophically and theoretically possible.
And I think what I find so appealing about this show is that it takes time as its central concept, but not in a kind of like hokey, fun, now let’s jump around with it sort of way. But it sort of poses that the fundamental problem of being a human and also the fundamental joy of being a human is time. Because if it weren’t for time, then things would stay as they are, for better or worse. Relationships wouldn’t end, you wouldn’t grow up, you wouldn’t die. These things that make us human wouldn’t happen, and that can be equal parts devastating and problematic and also kind of why we find beauty and stories and all the rest of it. And that’s obviously a huge existential thing to tackle in a television show, but he does it by sort of these small human stories that take on this larger philosophical weight. And that’s the thing that I find moving about it, is that at the core it’s this very sort of basic human premise slash problem of time.
Another thing Nathaniel mentioned to me that I found interesting was that he was heavily involved in crafting the visuals of the show while you were on set. What was your collaboration with him like and how did it differ from other writers and producers you’ve worked with?
HALL: Well, this was a whole new world for me. I’ve done a lot of television, but I’ve never done television in this model. British television used to be, when I was doing British TV, if you’d signed up to do a six episode something, or a five episode something, it was all written and there was only one director, and you very much knew ahead of time what it was. And there was no showrunner. I’ve never done something with a showrunner, and so it was very interesting to me, and I didn’t really understand conceptually what a showrunner did. I was confused. Like, if they’re not the director, then what are they doing? But of course, I spent some time working on this and realized that actually Nathaniel is overseeing the entire aesthetic of the show, and every costume, every color palette, every frame of everything he is putting his stamp on and giving his approval on so that the whole thing is cohesive. And there are really brilliant cinematic directors. All of them who’ve made every episode. And it’s not like each of those directors didn’t get to put their stamp on it. They did. It’s like every director has their own sort of movie, but the whole thing is still part of one thing because of Nathaniel.
If “real you” could jump into this world, grab any piece of technology and take it back with you, what would it be and why?
HALL: I don’t know! I mean, obviously it would be fun to body swap. It would be fun to stop time. I don’t know. There’s too many things. I don’t know! That’s impossible. [Laughs]