Tuesday, April 9

Daisy Edgar-Jones: “Religious fundamentalism is a danger when we all feel so vulnerable”


After touching fame with ‘Normal People’, the British gets into a Mormon community in the 80s with the Disney + series ‘By command of heaven’

London actress, Daisy Edgar-JonesChris PizzaloAP

Underneath that angelic aspect, of a girl who has never broken a plate in her life, hides the forcefulness of a perfectly articulated speech and the rotundity of an actress who has made chamelenic her lifestyle. So what Daisy Edgar-Jones (London, 1998) has just landed among us. She did it in 2020, when the world was being hit by a pandemic, at the hands of Sally Rooney and the adaptation of her bestseller normal people.

Of that languid, depressive and adolescent Marianne, only the memory remains. Because the protagonist of it has fled from puberty to settle in the skin of a woman, in a Mormon community in Utah, whom her two brothers-in-law, religious fundamentalists, murder by order of God. This is Brenda Lafferty and the story happened on American Fork in 1984. In 2003 non-fiction was made thanks to journalist Jon Krakauer’s investigation into obey god. And today it is a series -worthy successor to True Detective- from the hand of Disney + in by command of heaven.

I was really intrigued when I read this script. Because that novel was a very rich source and a very powerful material to analyze how tension is built in family dynamics. I am interested in that dynamic in a family that is so patriarchal and so toxic because of the way they interact. It was great to explore it that way from my role as Brenda.

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Because she is the main woman of this true crime thriller, a genre devoured by the female public. According to various studies, they are the majority consumers of this type of projects, even reaching 80% of the public in some sound and audiovisual cases.

Why do you think these stories challenge women more than men?
I am not at all surprised that this is the case because normally the victim is a woman. And our way of thinking is that by seeing it you can detect the signs, I think that is an important aspect. But in this series I like that the victim is not defined by her death as in a real case. We’ve done a good job of developing Brenda and celebrating her life. Although her death is obviously the focus, we see the empathic, kind and brilliant person that she was and it is important that we see more of this.
When someone gets into that role knowing that the story is real, do they suffer more or do they take that pain off the set?
The first episodes with a cheerful and happy Brenda were much easier. You don’t take anything home, but the ending is much darker. I’ve had to find ways to leave that at work and not take it with me so I can move on.
Is this a warning of the danger that fundamentalism has today?
It is clearly a cautionary tale. Fundamentalism is very dangerous within any community. And today it is more so in such difficult times where we all feel vulnerable. People are more likely to fall for it. So yes it is a warning.
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When Jon Krakauer’s work on which the fiction is inspired was released in 2003, criticism from religious sectors soared, even calling for its withdrawal from the market for distort real events to make a story interesting. This was requested by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the main Mormon institution in the United States, which even sent its complaints without much success to newspapers of the stature of the bostonglobe either The Wall Street Journal. That was still a world without social networks, where criticism is more immediate and in many cases direct to the protagonists of the story.

Seeing that reaction, is she prepared for what may come next?
It is true that now there is more access to that criticism and it can become broader, but I did not know that controversy. But I usually like social networks although they can also be very destructive. You can have a one-sided view of the world depending on the algorithm you have and your networks can become a noise machine.

Noise, in this case in a positive sense, was precisely what generated his arrival in the world of acting. That girl of an Irish mother and a Scottish father, raised in Muswell Hill, north London, burst unannounced with a Golden Globe nomination for her first leading role in normal people.

Now that two years have passed, how has your life changed since you suddenly became a star?
In general it has been very surreal because it was in the middle of a pandemic. It’s really hard to disconnect both things for me.
Despite everything that pandemic brought, I suppose something may have also enjoyed fame.
Yes, it’s wonderful now to be able to experience all of this with the people I’ve been working with. In Normal People it was more difficult because we can’t see each other as much. It’s very strange because you live a very intense experience during the shooting and you miss the best part which is to celebrate it. I have gone from that bubble to another of spending a whole year recording this in a pandemic. These months are being incredible because I am going out into the world and enjoying it. Now, at last, we are getting back to normal.
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