HANNA’s Mireille Enos on Crafting a Complex Female Villain

You may know Mireille Enos as thoughtful detective Sarah Linden from The Killing. Well, she’s about to turn that reputation on its head with her new role as a terrifyingly focused spy on a mission to hunt down a teenage assassin in Amazon’s new reboot of Joe Wright’s Hanna. The new project sees Enos craft a cold and calculating antagonist, but her version of Marissa never feels two dimensional–she has layers which are painfully peeled away. During a visit to the Budapest based set, Nerdist chatted with Enos about crafting a complex female villain.

For Enos, finding the balance of Marissa’s character was a collaborative process with the show’s creative team, and it took inspiration from an unexpected place. “Jon Jones is a super interesting director, and so when we started our dialogue, he spent a lot of time talking about the wicked witch–like being the wicked witch and also being the protagonist. And he said you can argue also that Eric is the protagonist and Hanna is the protagonist, but in this conversation let’s argue that Marissa’s the protagonist and also the wicked witch. But then there are moments where she’s our heroine, too.” HANNA's Mireille Enos on Crafting a Complex Female Villain_1

The character’s duality was an immediate draw for the actress. “The thing I liked about her was that she’s capable of being so many different people. I think that’s an aspect of being a spy, which we touch on in films a lot, is their ability to be chameleons. That’s always a nice starting place that you have permission to go. She’s been a monster in her past, right now she’s doing a desk job, and she has people she loves–there are all of these different aspects of her. I liked that there was no need to be narrow.”

Marissa isn’t the only complex woman in the show. The series revolves around a very confused young woman, and Enos had nothing but praise for the newcomer actor bringing Hanna to life, Esme Creed-Miles. “She’s brave and shy and intelligent and very private. She’s an 18 year old English girl with artist parents who went to boarding school. There’s many different facets of Esme, and she’s at that very interesting moment in life where you’re caught between childhood and adulthood, and at any given moment, you’re not sure which side of that line you’re on. And that makes Hanna very interesting, because she’s willing to share all of that with the camera.”

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Enos focused on the reflection between her co-star and the woman she’s trying to bring to life, as well as the power that it brings to the screen. “Hanna is on this very strange, incredible journey and Esme is on a strange, incredible journey as [this is] her first big job and so much is required of her. She is allowing herself to share all of that. And so her performance is super interesting and heartbreaking. And she’d never done any sports…she has thrown herself into that. She’s sore, and sometimes grumpy, and sometimes wants to tear down the building–she’s all kind of all over the place, which is perfect.”

Hanna premieres on Amazon Video on March 29.

Images: Amazon Prime

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