The ratings are strong for AMC’s “The Prisoner,” and as of last night, we’ve officially taken the plunge into the seedy underbelly of The Village.
Those who are following the mini-series already know that Six – or Jim Caviezel – is getting seriously screwed over, and now he’s not the only one. While Six is being medically manipulated to fall in love, his friends have lost a kid down that deep dark hole and his would-be lover has taken the exact same plunge, choosing suicide after Six revealed that he knew her from a previous life.
And don’t even get me started on that final shot, of that old woman waking up in a bustling city with a startled breath. It’s clear now that we’re on the verge of learning everything: Who is Six? Why has he been brought to the desert? And what did he ever do to Two? (AMC was kind enough to give us a gloriously creepy clip from tonight’s finale, in which Ian McKellen taunts a seriously drugged-up Six)
Techland had the chance to pose four good questions to Caviezel – about what it was like to work with McKellen, the challenges of relocating to the African desert for half a year, and what’s in store for viewers during the two-part finale Tuesday night:
At the end of last night’s episode, it seemed like Six is seriously starting to lose it. He’s fallen in love, but only because they’re abducting him at night, and then that other woman kisses him and Two starts to taunt her: Does she really love him, or has she too been programmed?
This disconnect, between accepting life in the Village and finding a way out, is starting to tear your character apart.
Well I think his mind is definitely split in half – you have his conscious mind and his unconscious mind, and they are both being manipulated. All he has is these memories that come up, that he tries to hold on to. And a lot of us have that – maybe it’s instincts, or gut feelings. But then some of his instincts are being controlled and distorted, and you realize the chaos he’s dealing with, as these two worlds collide. He’s being programmed, but he’s trying to cling to those memories, and I think you saw one big chink in the armor in the last episode, when he was so determined to go down that hole to find that girl. It’s part of his personality that will be even more important in the next episode.
But while some of the manipulation is obvious, like the medical experiments, what’s really struck me about this series is how the location of The Village plays a major role in the story. This sense of disorientation, an utter lack of geography…
Swakopmund is this little German town on the coast of Nimibia, almost like a little slice of Germany floated down to Africa over a hundred years ago, and here there’s almost a sort of isolation sickness. On the one side there’s water and on the other side the biggest dunes in the world. And all of the sets we use aren’t set design; they are actually there, and I think this all plays a big part in explaining what’s going on to my character. I experienced this also when I was making “The Thin Red Line” in the Solomon Islands, you live your life in a certain gear but then you go to this place that just slows you down and suddenly you just start accepting whatever’s going on. Like the TV show in “The Prisoner” that everyone’s watching; you hate it, but then you just accept it. And living there for five and a half months, you start to feel that effect, particularly when you’re working at the pace we had to, to get six hours done in less time than it took us to make “The Thin Red Line.”
You were there with Ian McKellen too – have you two ever worked together before?
After this, I feel like we were meant to work together.
There’s a point in your career where certain actors just reach this iconic level, and you get this feeling that if I don’t have my wits about me he’s going to blow me away. And I love that feeling, almost like it’s a sparring match where you need to be perfect, and if you ever make a mistake and lose your balance they’re going to hit you in the head so hard you’re gonna be done. But from the first moment I thought we had this incredible chemistry, I hit it off with him immediately. Which is a little ironic because we couldn’t come from two more different parts of the world, raised completely differently, but he was just great to me. At one point we were talking and he asked if I’d ever done a play, and I told him about one I did a long time ago. And then we started talking about a particular show and he goes: ‘Well, if you ever do that, give me a call and I’ll do that with you.’ And I was like: ‘You gotta be kidding me,’ but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to ruin the moment. It was so nice.
Any particular scenes where you felt like he helped you to up your game?
There’s the scene where he says “There is no out, only in,” and if you read that line on the page, you’re like: Okay, how are you going to deliver that? But then he does it just brilliantly, where it conveys so much more about their dynamic. And there’s a cigarette scene, I think it’s in episode five, it’s the most brilliant, brilliant scene. He should win all the awards hands down – it’s the just the most amazing scene where he grabs the cigarette and you realize how committed he is to his character and how he is able to connect all these different pieces to reveal something to the audience, just wait until you see this scene.