The fantastical rise of The Watch star Marama Corlett
Maltese actress plays a cop who's also a werewolf in the new BBC America show.
It is fair to say that Marama Corlett's police officer Corporal Angua in the new BBC America show The Watch is very much not your average cop.
"I play a member of The Watch, who are a bunch of misfit cops sitting in a city where crime has been legalized," says the actress. "Because of this, her purpose has been taken away, really. We’re introduced to Angua in episode 1, and she’s bored and staying out of trouble in a city that's dead at heart." Anything else we should know about her character? "She is a werewolf," says Corlett.
The Watch is inspired by the Discworld comedy-fantasy novels written by the late Terry Pratchett with Corlett's werewolf-cop just one of the many colorful characters viewers will encounter when the show premieres Jan. 3. Richard Dormer plays the Watch's booze-drenched commander Sam Vines while Angua's other colleagues include a massive rock-monster named Detritus.
"He’s Sergeant Detritus," says Corlett. "He's a stone troll, and he's seven-and-a-half feet tall. He's voiced by Ralph Ineson and he’s played by this extraordinary physical actor called Craig MacRae. Craig spent around five hours in the make-up chair for prosthetics and costume and he would stand on stilts the entire day. We didn’t have to imagine this guy. He was there!"
Corlett was raised in Malta which has hosted a slew of movie productions — including Cutthroat Island, Gladiator, and Captain Phillips — attracted by the large water tanks situated on the island.
"There was always stuff shooting out there when I was growing up," she says. "I think my mum did some supporting role on Gladiator. I desperately wanted to be an extra or a supporting artist in anything, but they would never pick me. I guess I was too tiny and scrawny."
Corlett studied ballet, first in Malta and then London.
"I remember dropping my cousin off at ballet school — she lived next door — and I watched the classes and it was doing something to me, I felt happy watching it," says the actress. "The teacher saw me there a few times and she said, 'Oh, would you like to give it a go?' I said, 'My parents can’t afford it,' or something. She said, 'If you train hard enough and you do well then you’d get a scholarship.' I set my mind that I had to get the highest marks in class for every exam and I was on a scholarship for a very long time. Later on, I managed to get another scholarship out in London to study fell in love with it. I think ballet was a therapy for me, at the time I just didn’t know it. It just helped my growing pains."
Corlett's first film appearance was in 2011's Dominic Cooper-starring drama-thriller The Devil's Double. A couple of years later, director James Gunn gave her a supporting role in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, but her part was mostly cut from the finished film.
"Oh my gosh, that the first time I was on such a huge set, and saw what it’s like to have this incredible team involved on such a huge budget, and the craftsmanship that goes into making a movie that way," she says. "Yeah, of course, it was sad to be cut from the film, but I still got to work with Dave Bautista and most of the guys on that show, which was overwhelming really."
Corlett recovered from that disappointment, scoring roles in the TV shows Blood Drive, Sick Note, and, recently, HBO's Ruth Wilson-starring fantasy series His Dark Materials on which she played a witch.
"Ruth is an incredible actress," she says. "She’s very intense, on set, in character, which really really helped to bring it to life."
As for the future, Corlett is hoping she will continue to wolf-out on a second season of The Watch.
"Going back to South Africa would be a dream," she says. "We had such an incredible time shooting out there with this huge international team of artisans. They created this incredible playground that we played in for around seven months. Huge detailed sets. We didn’t have to fill in any gaps with our imagination, it was all there. It would be so sad for all this creation to disappear. I’d love to go back to the world."
See the trailer for The Watch below.