Anna Hopkins was a wonderful Lilith, the “big bad” of Season 3A of Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments. We sat down with the actress after the announcement that she was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for her performance (up against Odette Annable, Mark Consuelos, Cameron Monaghan, Gabrielle Anwar, and yes, Mind Flayer from Stranger Things). At the time, it was unknown that Hopkins would ever return to the Shadowhunters realm, but just a few days ago a photo was tweeted from the set of the show and it was then revealed that Hopkins is going to star in the Season 3B finale and maybe more, as two extra episodes are planned.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our interview with the lovely (and un-Lilith-like) Anna Hopkins.
Brief Take: How does it feel to be nominated for Choice TV – Villain at the Teen Choice Awards?
Anna Hopkins: It’s so cool! I didn’t even know I would be on the radar for that at all, so it’s a huge surprise and really exciting. I was so happy. The Shadowhunters fans have proven themselves to be pretty incredible so far and they are a very determined group of people, which is awesome. I’m so very grateful for them all and all of their support.
BT: Let’s hope that they #SaveShadowhunters!
AH: Yeah, I mean they’re on this campaign right now and I kind of just went through this with The Expanse. It’s an interesting time right now for TV and shows that end up having to leave cable, and there’s a new landscape for shows, so hopefully, I don’t know? My fingers are crossed. It’s obviously an important show for young people and I hope that the show can find a home. It’s on Netflix internationally and I think that it’s a big part of the audience. They’re really, really popular in Brazil and in France, it’s the second most popular spot for them on Netflix. You can tell through Twitter that those are the biggest audiences, so I don’t know, we’ll see. [laughs]
BT: Do you see Lilith as completely villainous?
AH: Well, I think that the reason why she was and is such a successful villain is because there is that dimension of humanity and there’s a real pretty primal, basic reason why she’s doing what she’s doing, and I think that’s why people responded. People enjoy being conflicted about characters, and so I think that’s why she was successful. I definitely didn’t disconnect from any of the cast. I think I went in there thinking “well, I’m doing this because I love my son, and that’s that”. We all have our own motivations, and granted, in the world of fantasy and Shadowhunters, Lilith goes pretty far. [laughs] I think it’s a testament to how they wrote the character and made her pretty multifaceted.
BT: It is a great team, the Shadowhunters cast and crew.
AH: I completely agree. They are such a great group of people and they were really welcoming. Coming into a show in its third season is always a little bit difficult, and especially coming in as the antagonist, but it was just a really fun eight months for sure. I really went into the audition with a clear-cut motivation, motivated by love and so even though the portrayal was obviously quite dark and villainous and could go in that archetypal direction, I really played against it. So maybe’s that’s what they liked. Also, Todd (Slavkin) and Darren (Swimmer), who are the showrunners of Shadowhunters, they were also the showrunners of Defiance, though I think that it was Matt Hastings (executive producer of Shadowhunters) who saw my audition first, and said “hey guys, I loved this person for this role”. And then he sent it to them and they were like “Of course we know Anna!” “Berlin!”. [laughs] I didn’t think I was very right for the role at first because I imagined Lilith to be like maybe a bit older and a bit more motherly. But I really wanted to play the role, so it was a nice feeling when it finally went my way.
BT: Did they try to scare you off by telling you how long you would have to spend in the make-up chair?
AH: [laughs] Yeah, it was a long make-up process, but you know, I’m always happy if there are no prosthetics. [laughs]
BT: You have worked in a lot in the sci-fi and fantasy genre.
AH: I was based in Toronto for a while and if you take a look at what is created here, those are the doors that open for the actors who live here. That said, I always audition for cop shows and lawyers and I don’t get those [laughs] so it’s got to be something, it’s the type of look, or the type of energy, I don’t know! I’m really happy about it though. I love working in fantasy and sci-fi. I think that the boundaries are limitless, so it’s nice to explore characters that aren’t really bound by convention, which I love. The Expanse is a perfect example of this and The Handmaid’s Tale is some of the strongest social commentary we have right now. I think that’s why people respond to The Expanse and I think that it’s the most exciting genre for sure – fantasy / sci-fi.
BT: As a role model for young people, what advice do you want to share with them?
AH: I think that it’s everyone’s responsibility to be genuine with themselves and be honest be with themselves. And if something is on your mind, or something touches you, and it happens to be political, it’s a responsibility to yourself to be outspoken about that. If you’re not inherently interested in the state of affairs in the world, then I would say it would be inauthentic to be out there. Personally, there are certain things that touch me and are important to me as a person, so I’ve noticed in the last little while that’s there’s a little bit of a platform that I have. It’s not that big, but it’s enough to say, okay, this is what’s important to me, and it’s important to you too, I guess. I’m probably one of millions who wake up and try to figure out what is going on, whether it’s in Canada, or the United States, or anywhere else in the world. Right now the Supreme Court situation is troubling, as we’re talking about The Handmaid’s Tale, you’re saying that it’s far-fetched, but wait, what’s on the horizon for us? So I think for me, it’s important to keep reading and learning about what’s going on every day, connecting with people on that, and maybe finding some more active ways to get involved.
BT: You were just confirmed for season 2 of Bad Blood as well. Congratulations!
AH: Thank you! Yeah, the character that I play is a female mafia boss. I mean, when is that ever a thing?! [laughs] But it is written as not fantasy, this character could very well exist, but I’ve never really seen anyone like that on TV. What I love about the show is no one’s quite good in the underworld of organized crime, so everybody goes down the path of corruption eventually. I’m glad that I’m not the worst. I’m bad, but my character is from Calabria, my character and her twin brother. We grew up in Italy but we were sent to universities and boarding schools abroad, so we have sort of a light European accent, a little Italian.
BT: What do you have planned for the Teen Choice Awards?
AH: I think it’s a really fun show and really celebratory, so I think I’m going to go with something fun and colourful. I’m just so happy to be included in it! I’m just starting to plan going down there and I’m excited to see the show. I’ve been watching since I was a teen! I will never forget the Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling kiss. [laughs] It’s kind of like the most fun show. I love the category, that it’s women and men together and creatures. I think that’s a real cool category.
The Teen Choice Awards air on August 12th on Fox at 8pm ET, and Season 3B of Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments will be airing on Freeform and Netflix in 2019.