Lucy Boynton on playing the villain in The Politician and her Bohemian Rhapsody 'family'
The actress talks about her ice queen role as Astrid on the Netflix comedy and co-starring in the blockbuster Freddie Mercury biopic.
Warning: This story contains spoilers for season one of The Politician.
Glee‘s Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron). Scream Queens‘ Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts).
The actress, who appeared in 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody and is now dating co-star Rami Malek, sat down with EW to talk about perfecting that death glare for the Netflix series and trying to out serve Dylan McDermott on the tennis court.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What drew you to Astrid?
LUCY BOYNTON: The Ryan, Brad, and Ian element of it. I was very obviously very much aware of that work before. So, you know, before even going into reading it that it’s going to be something very different than what we’re already seeing on TV or in movies. And, then it kind of lived up to every expectation and exceeded it tremendously. And, especially to get to play Astrid in a Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk world where you know you get to do all the elements of the Ice Queens that you have seen before, but then she’s kind of cracked open. It’s a much more complex character. It is just heaven to complement each other in those ways to feel very liberated. Being the Ice Queen while having so much meat to that role.
Did you practice Astrid’s death glare? Because you’re really good at it.
My sister saw episode 1 at one of the screenings and says that she takes credit for that stare because I practiced it on her my whole life, so there’s that.
It sounded like Ben Platt really prioritized you all bonding before shooting started.
Yes. The first person I heard from on production I think when I got it other than obviously the production coordinator was Ben messaging me on Instagram and saying that we should all get to dinner when we move to LA, which was such a generous thing to do, to take on board as his role. I think because so many of us our storylines run so parallel, we wouldn’t have got that much opportunity to hang out and he definitely paved the way to do that and it just makes the experience so much more rich.
It means everyone is rooting for everyone else rather than feeling in any way disconnected and when then you have to do a scene in front of everyone in that auditorium or very intimately one-on-one, you’re much more at home and you’re much more confident and comfortable. And, then in that one-on-one environment, it is so tremendously helpful to do it with someone that you love and respect because it means that you get to take it so much further and be much more experimental and you feel okay to make mistakes.
The costumes and styling on this show are so incredible. Did you have input on Astrid’s look?
Yes. I mean I had an idea of what I wanted it to be and then I got the look book from Claire Parkinson the costume designer and it was everything I could want and more. I was so taken aback by it and just so head over heels for it. And, it was such an intelligent dissection of what Astrid wants herself to be perceived as.
She’s kind of cast herself in this role of the school mean girl in order to create this protective barrier. Her clothing very much represents that. So, even down to the sound of the shoes on the floors of those schools is important to Astrid and the immaculateness of it all and the colors and pairing things to make them a brand new outfit where other people will not be doing that. It’s all very important and specific.
Then, you see the way it changes throughout the series depending on how she wants to be perceived or how she feels in herself.
Why do you think she hates Payton so much? Is it because of the bond he had with River (David Corenswet)?
Yes, I think it weighs into it. She sees him as such a fraud and it’s really frustrating to see someone be so fraudulent and everyone kind of eating out of the palm of his hand and buying it. She doesn’t understand why people are willing to invest. So, it’s kind of a projected anger. I think it’s this resentment of him trying to claim any part of River. She doesn’t know how to grieve. She doesn’t know how to deal with the loss of him. And, then the kind of sharing of him in that. It was very much Astrid and River until he’s gone and then everyone gets to kind of own him and claim him. And, so I think that will running in River’s place, is it kind of taking back and drawing the line in the sand that this is where River and I stand and you are the other side of that. And, so I think that definitely feeds into that relationship with Payton.
You get to play tennis against Dylan McDermott, who plays Astrid’s father. Who’s the better player?
I will tell you that Dylan is because I had to have the ball taken out.
It’s a CGI tennis ball?!
It is a CGI ball. I worked for months with my tennis instructor in LA who is fantastic, and he said that at the end, I had great form. Great form — can’t get the ball. So, that was especially mortifying, especially as Janet Mock was directing those episodes and she is just the definition, the epitome of cool.
Astrid seems so lost throughout this series. At one point, she even fakes her own kidnapping to go to New York. What do you think she’s searching for?
She’s just kind of been brought up in this bubble of privilege and she’s always been told what to think and what to strive for, especially by her father. How to work and what your role is in the world and how to navigate that in order to get what you want which is this. And, so it was easier to just accept that than think for herself. And I think for the first time she can break from it and then starts to question for herself what, who the hell she is and what the hell she actually stands for or cares about. And, then she goes back. I think with that renewed sense of understanding of I didn’t have to cut all ties and I can still work with what I’ve got and make it mine.
There’s a time jump at the very end that finds all the main characters in New York and Astrid seems to be willing to help Payton in this new election. What can you tease about that?
I think she’s kind of finally addressing her feelings towards Payton and maybe maybe putting down some of that resentment. However, it is Astrid so we never really know where we stand with her.
You’ve had such a huge year between The Politician and Bohemian Rhapsody. What has it been like?
It’s been a lot of fun. I mean we obviously hoped going into that film and making that film and as we became a family hoped that it would touch people on an emotional level. But, you don’t extend your thoughts to what it could be and how far it could reach. How far and wide that film did reach was so astonishing and wonderful to have it be a message you can really stand behind. And, then to do it with those people who are just absolutely family, is kind of laughably ridiculous dreamy. I still haven’t found a way to describe it.
Maybe it can be like the Christopher Guest movies and you all do different films together?
Everyone keeps talking about that because we can’t bear to go on not being near each other or working together. So, hopefully, eventually, we’ll cross paths again.