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Oona Chaplin Says TABOO’s Incest with Tom Hardy Forces Audience to ‘Look at Your S–t’

Oona Chaplin Says TABOO’s Incest with Tom Hardy Forces Audience to ‘Look at Your S–t’

TV loves incest. This isn’t so much a matter of opinion as it is hard-worn fact: Game of Thrones loves it, Bates Motel talks about it, Boardwalk Empire did it, Lost was sorta into it, Dexter certainly dug it, and now there’s Taboo—FX’s new miniseries that stars Tom Hardy as James Delaney, and his half-sister, played by Oona Chaplin. And guess what? These two are also staunchly situated in the bone zone. Naturally, the portrayer of Thrones‘ Talisa Stark definitely knows a thing or two about the, ahem, taboo subject matter. And while the show is definitely rooting for the series’ half siblings to get it on, Chaplin believes the series’ point is less “hooray, incest!” and more about taking a look “at your shit” and accepting it. Because it’s the darkness that shines a light on who we all truly are.

“We live in dark, confusing times, where the energies that are flying around are the opposite of what we pretended we were for a very long time,” Chaplin explained to Nerdist at the 2017 Television Critics Association’s winter press tour.

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The questions, she posits, are often more important than the answers, as confrontation of our own demons is at the heart of Taboo‘s story. For Chaplin it was less about, “‘Do we try and change that or do we look it in the face and try and work with it?'” and more about asking, “‘How do we work with that?'”

It’s a question even the most moral among us may be scared to answer for themselves, mostly because it brings up the unsavory aspects of our personalities—even if it’s less audacious than, say, brothers and sisters kissing. Said Chaplin, “I think that that comes down to every aspect of our lives. How do you feel about looking into the toilet and looking at your shit? Because we’re all full of shit. The show really revels in that, and I love it because of that.”

Chaplin believes, “there’s very few shows that make you root for a brother and a sister to finally get it on,” but Taboo‘s gritty lens, constantly evolving production style, and its use of visceral imagery, begs you to take note of how you’re reacting. “You’ll be sitting there and you’ll be like, ‘Kill the husband. Kill the husband. These guys need to just get it — oh, wait. No. They’re brother and sister. Fuck.'”

“I think that that comes down to every aspect of our lives. How do you feel about looking into the toilet and looking at your shit? Because we’re all full of shit. The show really revels in that, and I love it because of that.”

That’s the question Chaplin finds the most rich for storytelling. Because, well, repression is real—whether you’re repressing something harmless or otherwise—and “the more you bottle things up, the stronger they become, because that’s the way that energy works. That’s the way that feelings work and thoughts,” explained the actress. “That was one of the most beautiful and appealing things about this character was that the conflict is so great. It was so vast. The distance between what she wants and what she thinks she should want is giant, gargantuan. It’s just so big. I think she taught me a lot about how I was doing that in my own life.”

For Chaplin, freedom from yourself and your own issues comes from facing them head-on, and naming them. “Acknowledge it. Acknowledge it,” she asserted. “Be, ‘Fuck. I’m really messed up. That’s okay. I’m still a human being.’ Often when you look at it, when you look and stare your dragon in the eyes instead of go, ‘Hmm. Interesting.’ Then it usually kind of goes, ‘Oh,’ and goes back into its cave.” (It’s like that Louis C.K. bit about feeling our feelings.)

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Chaplin hopes fans feel the “sensorial terrorist attack” the show’s attempting to put on screen. One “where you’re just sitting in your sofa or wherever it is that you watch it, and you’re having this full-body sensorial experience with this. Because it’s not afraid of capturing that feeling.”

Chaplin credits Tom Hardy and his father Chip (co-creators of the series) for capturing that essence on screen—mostly thanks to how in-the-moment the creative process was for the series. “Because the creative process doesn’t stop,” explained Chaplin, Tom was “creating in every scene and every moment,” which meant if something didn’t work, “he can be like, ‘Okay, let’s make it work’ [in the moment]. There were many times where we’d receive the scripts, go with lines learnt to the set, and be like, ‘Okay, let’s try it out,’ and then [if] it didn’t work, he’d go ‘Okay, well, let’s change it until it does work.’ [Tom]’s very curious about life, so it gives you this incredible inclusion into the process, which is beautiful.”

“It really demanded that we all were on our toes and all really alive and there because things were just changing all the time,” she added. Just like life, eh?

Taboo airs on FX Tuesdays at 10PM. What do you think of the show so far? Let us know in the comments!

Images: FX

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