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Interview: Alexandra Billings on the World of THE PERIPHERAL & Her Love of Sci-Fi

Interview: Alexandra Billings on the World of THE PERIPHERAL & Her Love of Sci-Fi

The season finale of The Peripheral premieres tomorrow, December 2, on Prime Video.

On Prime Video's The Peripheral, Alexandra Billings (Wicked, Transparent) appears as the pivotal inspector Ainsley Lowbeer, who shakes things up for the final episodes of the season.

Set in the future when technology has subtly altered society, a woman discovers a secret connection to an alternate reality as well as a dark future of her own.

The series centers on Flynne Fisher (Chloe Grace Moretz), a woman trying to hold together the pieces of her broken family in a forgotten corner of tomorrow's America. Flynne is smart, ambitious, and doomed. She has no future; until the future comes calling for her. The series gives viewers a hallucinatory glimpse into the fate of mankind-and what lies beyond.

Based on the sci-fi novel by famed author William Gibson, the series also stars Jack Reynor (Midsommar), Gary Carr (21 Bridges) and T'Nia Miller (Haunting at Bly Manor).

Before the premiere of the finale episode, BroadwayWorld caught up with Billings to discuss her character, acting in the sci-fi genre, and the special effects used in the series.


Your character, Ainsley Lowbeer, is arriving for the final couple of episodes in The Peripheral. What can audiences expect from your character?

Well, Lowbeer comes in at a real opportune time. There's a murder that has happened that is a bit of a shock, or maybe not a shock, but a surprise and she comes in to solve it. In the interim, she stumbles upon a lot of interesting things about this world and the past. She sort of breaks everything apart. I mean, the world itself is complex and fascinating, but when Lowbeer enters everything kind of splits like the Red Sea.

Were you a fan of sci-fi movies and TV shows going into this?

Oh, heck yeah. I'm a sci-fi freak. I'm a horror freak, and I'm also a sci-fi freak. So, yeah, I love anything futuristic and I love the machines and the monsters. Any kind. Give it to me, give it to me. Love it.

Speaking of those machines and monsters, I'm sure your days on set were really interesting with all of the special effects used in the series. What was it like acting with something that might not be there right in front of you?

Yeah, that's a really good question because I'm not used to doing that. Most of my work is very what I call sort of kitchen sink drama or comedy where everything is right there and you just do the thing. There was a moment, I'll never forget this, we were all outside and it's when something is being built in front of us, literally as we're looking at it, and all five of us are standing there in a line and the director said, 'Okay, everybody, there's gonna be a fish line. It's gonna be strung across about 50 feet and it's gonna go up in the air and each of you have a little tennis ball, so I want you to follow the little tennis ball as this fish line goes up in the air. I was like, 'Alright.'

So we all stood on the line and the thing went up and we all did that. Then we did like, you know, five or six times. Every time the director would say, 'Great, now be excited. Now be scared. Now be weird.' So every time we watched this fish line and then I watched the rushes and with the special effects and us and this brilliant editing, it was extraordinary. But you don't know that while you're doing it.

You have to really use your imagination. It's like being a kid again. You know, when you were a kid and you played, you know, house, or you played whatever you played,and you had to really just imagine because you were in a field or you were in your backyard and you had to imagine absolutely everything down to the spoons in the drawer. That's what being in science fiction is like, which I had never had to do.

Interview: Alexandra Billings on the World of THE PERIPHERAL & Her Love of Sci-Fi
Alexandra Billings in The Peripheral

You mentioned you're used to that kitchen sink acting and we saw you on Broadway recently in Wicked. I'm sure going into filming this TV show with theater and being on stage, being so fresh in your mind, there are so many differences. What are your favorite differences between the two mediums?

I love the idea that when you're on stage, you can take up an enormous amount of space, and when you're on screen, you have to take that enormous amount of space, because you still have to take up room, and you have to funnel it and channel it in a very particular way. I don't think of it as smaller or bigger. I just think of it as two very different ways. It's kind of like the difference when you personally go to your families for say, Thanksgiving or a holiday and the kind of person you are there and then maybe when you're in prayer or meditation and you're in this very focused sense. Those are really the differences between the two. And that's endlessly fascinating for me.

I'm sure getting to explore a character over several episodes as opposed to a single musical or film was also very exciting. What was that like?

That was really fun. The sad thing about it is for me, at the end I finally went, 'Oh, I got it.' And then that was the end. I was like, well, that's a little late. But also, on Transparent, I got to play Davina for about three or four years. So it's been a long time. But on the Conners, I play a character that's been around for a couple of seasons but this was the first time that I played someone who was so specifically written. A lot of these characters that I play are very broad and I get to bring in a lot of stuff that I know and I understand.

This character spoke differently than I do, had a different cadence, they had a different sound, a completely different sound. It was really fun to sort of explore this whole other side of me that I never get a chance to do for that length of time.


Watch the trailer for The Peripheral here:

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