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The Rook Season 1 2019 Emma Greenwell (Myfanwy Thomas), Olivia Munn (Monica Reed) CR: Steffan Hill/Starz
Credit: Steffan Hill/Starz

The Rook

You can’t say Emma Greenwell doesn’t commit to a role. “Day one on this job, I fell backwards over a stunt body and fractured my wrist,” the 30-year-old Brit (Shameless, The Path) confesses between takes on the London set of Starz’ new dystopian drama. “It looks real in the take, because it is real.”

Broken bones may be the least of her problems, though — her character, Myfanwy Thomas, has woken up in London with no memory of who she is, what shadowy government organization she’s working for, or where her new supernatural abilities have come from. Though everyone else, including her boss (Joely Richardson) and a trio of eerily similar platinum blondes (Jon Fletcher, Ronan Raftery, and Catherine Steadman), seems more than able to fill in the blanks.

Even Monica Reed (Olivia Munn), who plays a sort of agency interloper and rival to Myfanwy not featured in novelist Daniel O’Malley’s original source material, has a better grasp on her powers: “It’s basically people whose abilities are just heightened — there’s someone who can hear a whisper across a crowded room or see for miles, and my character has extreme strength, like I can push a deadbolt out with my thumb.”

“I’m the only American character in the show,” she continues. “She’s come out here on her own to figure out what’s happened to her very close friend–slash–partner, sort of an ex-boyfriend. And discovering what’s going on, she starts to untangle this whole web of deceit that intertwines myself with Emma’s character and with Joely’s.”

Greenwell hopes viewers, too, will want to join her in that web. “What’s really wonderful about playing this sort of character is the audience discovers with her, so she is the audience’s eyes — what I know, they know. And as the series goes on they learn slightly more than me, but initially you’re very with her. She has these clues that she’s left for herself that actually end up not quite adding up, so she learns through different characters and sort of pieces together this whole mystery of how and why she lost her memory. The supernatural elements are very much ingrained in the characters — its not super colorful or big flashes of flight coming from me. It’s more in the mindset.”

Wherever all this mystery leads, executive producer Stephen Garrett (The Night Manager) promises one thing: “The British have a great tradition of inventing things and then not being very good at them: Soccer, cricket, we always get beaten,” he laughs. “But Brits are very good at being spies, and at telling spy stories.”

The Rook
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