I guarantee that after you binge watch all of season two of Amazon Prime Video’s Hanna, you won’t be able to stop thinking about the fully lived-in performances of Áine Rose Daly and Gianna Kiehl (as Sandy and Jules, respectively). Without spoiling anything for those of you who haven’t watched it yet, here’s the official synopsis for the second season:
In Season Two, Hanna risks her freedom to rescue her friend Clara (Yasmin Monet Prince) from the clutches of the Utrax program, now run by John Carmichael (Dermot Mulroney) and his second in command, Leo Garner (Anthony Welsh). Hanna finds help in the unlikely form of her previous nemesis, CIA agent Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos), who must protect both herself and Hanna from the ruthless organization she once trusted. Yet as Hanna delves deeper into the elusive world of The Meadows and meets others like herself, including Sandy (Áine Rose Daly) and Jules (Gianna Kiehl), she begins to question her role in the larger context of Utrax’s assassin program and ultimately, where she truly belongs.
We were delighted to get the opportunity to join a select group of international journalists in a Zoom media junket and chat with the insightful and bubbly Áine Rose Daly & Gianna Kiehl of Hanna season two. Unfortunately (for us), the first few minutes of the chat did not include Gianna Kiehl because she was having technical difficulties. The following is a condensed and edited version of that video roundtable.
Tell me about Sandy, the way you see her?
Áine Rose Daly: I think she’s very hooked on this fake reality that the institution has given her and I can relate to that because she doesn’t have anything else. For her, it feels very dangerous to let go of that idea because then she’s going into the unknown and she doesn’t know what’s waiting for her on the other side. It’s definitely relatable to hang on to something that may not be super authentic or real, because you don’t know what the other option is – it could be something very scary – and I can relate to that.
How did you prepare to play Sandy?
ARD: I think what was really helpful was to have loads of discussions with the other actors who were playing similar characters, like Gianna for instance, and also just talking to the directors was really helpful. Coming into the role, I found it a very daunting task because it’s such an odd character to have to play with such a unique upbringing that no one can really relate to, so it was really about digging into the character and finding the root causes of what she was going through, like the idea of wanting to belong, which we all feel in some way or another. I had to kind of boil it down to that simple concept and think about when in my life I’ve felt like that, because I have and I’m sure loads of other people have, and I think that then it tends to be less about the concept of the person and where they are and it’s more about the internal struggle that they’re going through, which is quite relatable at the end of the day.
What was your experience like returning to the show for season two? Did you feel pressure to not mess things up?
ARD: To be honest, I didn’t feel that pressure. I think I really came into it with such excitement. It was amazing to connect with Yasmin Monet Prince again because we’d already worked on the first series together and we’d already had chemistry reads with Gianna and Severine (Howell-Meri), who ended up being on the show. So it was just so exciting to be back! The producers had already talked us through the gist of what was going to happen over the course of the eight episodes. Before that, I had no idea, especially from coming from such a tiny role in the first season, I have a name now! It’s very exciting stuff. Yeah, it was just so exciting because I thought “ok, this is where my character’s journey begins”. As well, it was so fun because there were so many people my age in the cast. So I was raring to go completely.
[Gianna has entered the Zoom meeting room]
ARD: Gianna! Hi!
Gianna Kiehl: Hi! Sorry everyone!
Did you find the physicality of your role more difficult or the emotional complexity involved in portraying your characters?
ARD: That’s a very difficult question. I think both had their difficulties. The physical aspect was definitely challenging, but in a good way. It was so much fun to do because I’d never done anything like that before, but there were certain aspects of the emotional side that were difficult to grasp. Again, I have to credit the directions for being so amazing and talking us through those moments and really trying to help us connect the dots for the character. I think they both were challenges, but very welcome challenges. We got three scripts at a time and so I didn’t necessarily know exactly where she would end up, but I had a relative idea of where she was going and some of the moments that she was going to have. The production team and the directions were able to talk me through the journey that she’s meant to be going on, so it was a very collaborative thing, which was nice.
GK: I think I found the physicality or the physical aspect more challenging in a way because I wasn’t used to it. The emotional aspect was stuff that’ll come with every character, well most characters that you play, and I have the background to understand how to work with that, as an actor. It’s not every day that you play a superhuman assassin [laughs], so connecting to that inhuman strength and power and confidence was much more challenging to me because it’s not good enough to go “oh, I’m just a pretty strong teenage girl”, no, I know that I can take on pretty much any other person that I encounter and that knowledge brings a lot of confidence and power to you. It felt very important to me that these girls had that, it makes a difference.
Gianna, how did it feel to be one of the new faces on the second season?
GK: The welcome was wonderful. Also, it’s a very different story to season one where season one was Hanna’s first introduction to the world, and that was a beautiful, tender story of just her, and suddenly it now opens up to the world of these other beautiful young women. And because it’s now all of those different women and meeting that world for the first time, there’s a lot of colour to season two because it’s not just this one girl, it’s a school of all these other girls. I felt very welcomed and I felt like I was part of creating this new world. I felt very privileged to get to carry these really cool stories which are so unique, there’s nothing really like them. So I felt a lot of responsibility to give them a great story to tell and it was so fun. [laughs]
Brief Take: How did you establish the bond between the ladies of The Meadows in your off set interactions?
GK: I think one of the first things was you get to know someone really quickly when you have to be there at four in the morning every single day for months on end. All of those social things kind of drop off when you’re greeting someone that early in the morning pre-coffee.
ARD: Yeah, me and Gianna had car rides to the set a lot of the time and you got to know really quickly how we interact with each other at such an early time and how to be respectful to each other when you’re that tired. [laughs] It’s very important and a very bonding experience.
GK: Yeah. A lot of the girls on set shared the fact that this was our first big, long term filming schedule and big roles, and so while, as characters we were getting to know each other, we were also getting to know each other as friends. So there was a dynamic where we were all supporting each other in how you can feel a lot of pressure some days to do really well and you get some really emotional scenes, and there’s a lot of stress to meet that. We had to film a really emotional scene in the middle of the night one day.
GK: [laughs] I just remember all of us sort of holding each other. Yeah, you can’t help but be good friends with people that you’re spending that much time with and going through such a specific experience with.
ARD: Yeah, I think filming a show like this for six months is such a unique thing, compared to anything else you do in life. I think it’s a breeding ground for friendships. You spend so much time with each other, you do things out of boredom sometimes, if there’s a lot of waiting around, and it just all adds up to the connection that you end up developing with everyone.
This series portrays young women in a very uniquely distinct way. What do you think about the way the show portrays young women?
GK: That’s such a good question. I mean one of the main things that happens is we, these girls as these trained weapons, are introduced to social media and to the things that we’re supposed to be interested in. What kind of makeup do you wear, what kind of clothes do you wear, and how does that define who you are. What kind of friends do you have, do you have a boyfriend…all those sort of questions that teenage girls have in their heads and they don’t know why they’re there. I think that’s a great metaphor for actual teenage girls out in the world. These questions are paraded in front of them and they pick them up and are told to have feelings about these sort of things, and must decide whether they connect to them or not. Some people do – for example, some people will connect to the idea of wearing makeup and want to wear makeup and love wearing makeup, and another person might not care at all. [laughs] I love makeup. [laughs] I definitely connect to wearing makeup. [giggles] What do you think, Áine?
ARD: Yeah, it is a weird portrayal of what is happening now. Girls are being told all this stuff and it’s being pushed upon them by a facility when, in real life, it is pushed upon them in a very different way, obviously. Myself, growing up, I was a tomboy and I found it quite difficult growing up feeling that pressure to suddenly be this girly girl. It’s nice to see, especially in Jules’ character, she’s constantly questioning all of these things and saying “this doesn’t have to be the way I am”. I think my character is more of the type of person who is either really into that stuff or just feels like she has to be, which is two sides that I can see in real life. I think it’s made very clear in the show and it does make you think of all of that kind of stuff.
The way teenage girls are portrayed in the media has evolved over the past few years. How do you feel about this positive change?
GK: I’m trying to think if I can back this up, but I think a big thing that’s changed is that teens are portrayed as having more responsibility and more power. When the idea of the teenager came about and when teenagers were first shown in the media, it was very frivolous and all they care about is sex and drinking and it’s all kind of messy. I think what’s evolved is that the pain and confusion of being a teenager is shown. A lot of the time that’s minimized by adults who have gone through it and don’t really remember what it feels like, but it is an incredibly confusing time for people. Again, with this show, it’s a metaphor, it’s this surreal world with these teenagers and they’re in a lot of surreal circumstances, but what remains the same is that these are teenage girls who are dealing with very complicated feelings. Not just complicated feelings, but they also have this massive responsibility, they’re weapons, they have jobs in a way and bizarre jobs at that [laughs], and it shows adults putting a lot of faith in these kids. Whether that’s right or not, you feel it.
ARD: Now teenagers are being portrayed the way they should be, where their issues are being taken seriously. I think the issues that you go through as a teenager, you can experience those as an adult as well and they carry through in your whole life. I don’t think they should be underestimated, and as Gianna says, they have so much responsibility, particularly in this show, and that’s a very valid thing. Those issues shouldn’t be made to feel frivolous because they’re not.
Hanna season 2 is now available on Amazon Prime Video