Allegra Edwards is a force to be reckoned with. The intelligent and funny performer is a highlight of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series Upload, as her portrayal of Ingrid Kannerman in the Greg Daniels created show is an uproarious take on a character that one might assume is based on a certain first daughter.
However, when Brief Take spoke exclusively with the charming actress, she could not be any more different from the high-strung Ingrid, and instead projected a message of relatability, empathy, and above all, a real appreciation for the project.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our chat with the alluring Allegra Edwards of Upload.
BT: How did you go about crafting the character of Ingrid Kannerman, who perhaps could be seen as the villain of the series but is instilled with positive and redeeming humanity?
AE: Great question! So, I would say that with Ingrid, as with the case with any other character, hopefully any other character, you always have to find a way in, and none of us set out to be the villain in our own story, right? [chuckles] And yet we all make mistakes and that is universally true, that’s true of my favourite heroes, in fiction and non-fiction, in life. And I think that it’s great to keep in mind when you’re starting on a character, for the most part, maybe with a couple of exceptions, like Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello, for example, whose motivations are really difficult to pinpoint and pin down. For the most part, people in comedies like this are doing the best they can with what they have. So in terms of approaching Ingrid like this, it was: “Okay, is this someone with who Allegra the actress would want to spend time on a daily basis?” Probably not. It would be hard to be in the same room with her for more than five minutes at a time. But I found pieces about her personality that I really admired. For example, I admire that she is so detail-oriented, I admire that she’s thinking far into the future. I admire that she’s ambitious, that she has a plan for her life and for her loved ones lives, I admire that she’s got some skills. She knows how to put an outfit together, she knows how to party, she knows how to cook a meal, which in the age of printed food is actually a pretty advanced skill and a little old-school [laughs] in terms of the year 2033, so there’s a lot to admire about her. And if I focus on that instead of the selfishness or the narcissism, it helps me get through each scene.
BT: Everything with Ingrid is sort of loud and exaggerated, in terms of the outfits, the way that you stand, the cat…what was that even a real cat?
AE: Yes! Yes! [laughs] Oh, wasn’t he marvellous? I love that cat! [laughs]
BT: I know that you’re a cat person, but that cat was scary! But the hairless cat fits the character of Ingrid.
AE: Yeah, not exactly approachable. What I love about Ingrid and her world is that everything, like you said, is heightened, it’s arch, it’s vibrant. The colours that she wears…she likes to be seen, she likes to be heard, she stands out, your eyes should be drawn to Ingrid, I think, at all times. That would be the way that she would have it. Like I want everyone to look at me, I want everyone to listen to me and using the cat as an example, what better way to be the centre of attention than with a totally hairless cat, which is unique, but it also gives you the opportunity to talk about it, you know? It’s a conversation piece. [laughs]
BT: How did you strike the right balance in tone with your scenes in which you are face to face with your romantic rival, Nora, played by Andy Allo, and instead of being cutthroat, you’re sort of relating to each other?
AE: Yeah, well I think, again, it goes back to that same through line of she’s still got a heart in there, even though it’s hard to find at first. But…she tries. She tries to connect with Neveah (Chloe Coleman), Nathan’s niece. She appreciates good customer service when she sees it. If you do a good job, then she’ll reward good work. But she may not give second chances. She’s got a very high standard for herself and for other people. But I especially loved shooting that day on set because I never get to have scenes with Andy Allo and yet she and I are really good friends. So that whole day, we were really, oh man, we were laughing so much in that car, and also running down the street, the virtual tour guide office, the tourism office. There’s a lot that day that we got to enjoy with each other and we’d be laughing it up until “rolling” and then we’d have to get together and pretend that we didn’t like each other again, which was a challenge. [laughs]
BT: You relayed how you missed Vancouver, and you probably meant the city, the show and the people involved. Had you known anyone prior to filming the series?
AE: No. I do miss Vancouver. I think I enjoyed the…you can basically one-stop shop I would think of Vancouver as being so beautiful and yet a full city available to you as well, and a lot of kind people. I don’t know what more you could want- really amazing food, beautiful views and the same time zone as Los Angeles, just a short plane ride away. I enjoyed shooting there, I had a great time. The members of the crew and I have to say, particularly the transpo department on our show, they were so generous. From the second I arrived, one of our drivers was giving me a lay of the land: of the best restaurants to check out, things to see, places to go, and I had some really great conversations in those long car rides from where I was staying to set. The transpo department made a really strong impression on me! [laughs]
BT: Because of the technology, your character felt sort of off to the side a little bit. Did you feel this way while filming as well? Did you not feel fully integrated?
AE: Yes, but I think that’s good. I had enough time to see my other castmates on the weekends, if we could get together we were watching the final season of Game of Thrones together, we would go to hockey games together, we would go out to eat a few times, but I actually think it’s good for the sake of the characters if Ingrid is sort of other. She’s trying to figure things out, back on Earth, alive, and in L.A., and so having minimal contact, you feel like you’re missing out on your loved ones’ life, it’s like any long-distance relationship. I’m in a long-distance relationship right now with my fiancé and there is something alienating about not getting to be in Lakeview with Nathan in person all the time, meeting his friends, eating whatever he’s eating, it creates a divide, for sure.
BT: You were on perhaps the greatest episode of The Mindy Project: Mindy Lahiri Is A White Man. What was it like working with Greg Daniels after Mindy Kaling?
AE: I had never worked with Greg before, but Howard Klein (Mindy’s Manager) is executive producer, he did produce on The Mindy Project, I believe. And that was when I had met Howard for the first time. That was kind of nice, to be reunited in that way, although it’s such a different experience because that was a small co-star role, and that was probably one of the first…that was one of the early things I’d done on television in which it felt like a win to be there. The whole day goes by in a blur. I was so excited just to be in a scene with more than a few sentences to say, it was really nice, you know? In terms of working with Greg, man, he made it so easy and very approachable, very relatable, I don’t know, he might be the complete opposite of an Ingrid Kannerman, in which he’s unassuming, he’s on the quieter side, but he’s got this “still waters runs deep”, so many great ideas and he creates an environment of collaboration and generosity and just makes it very approachable.
BT: All of the social media comments to you are so supportive. You have ones from Robbie, from Zainab (Johnson), I don’t think you even had any scenes together. What was the click that worked so well with this ensemble?
AE: Oh my gosh, yes! I love Zainab, that’s the thing is that we got to do all of these table reads together, and so especially if they were developing season one and they invited the actors to come to the writer’s room, talk about characters, talk about the story, and what that meant is I got to know these other actors as people and as performers. And then we had an opportunity to spend more time together once we were shooting the full season up in Vancouver and it really is kind of amazing that with each of us, there’s something else that we’ve got going on. For Kevin (Bigley), he just wrote a book and we’re all really proud of him for being a published author. Zainab, she’s touring the country doing stand-up comedy and she was doing stand-up actually in Vancouver, and members of the cast would see her perform stand-up at like 10 o’clock at night at a comedy club in downtown Vancouver, just for the support. And then Robbie was premiering this movie he had made called Code 8. And Andy has an incredible music career, so it’s nice to be able to have the opportunity to support your friends. That’s what it is, they’re my friends now, they don’t even feel like my co-workers, they’re my buddies.
BT: Shout out to the Sleepover episode with Chloe Coleman and your hair at the end of it. What was your favourite scene to shoot?
AE: Oh gosh, that was a great one! I really loved the scene in…it’s called the Afterwives Therapy Group with that group of women. We had a really great time that day, just because it was such a strange scenario of we’re getting a support group but we’re all talking about our spouses that are kind of dead but kind of alive, and that was a great one. I also really loved the day when I went for a swim in the fountain. I felt like I had gotten hit by a train the next day, but boy, the adrenaline that it gave me, the fact that I got to wear those ridiculously amazing yellow pants and the fact they had multiple changes of clothes for me was also great.
BT: I was inspired by the diversity present in the series in which it’s never really addressed as a subject matter, but it is present. Which themes really emerged for you from this series?
AE: Great question. I loved how it plays with how each of us may have a different idea of what our perfect eternity could look like. And what we think we like may not actually be…careful what you wish for, right? I love anything that explores that theme in particular. And I’m also really curious about how Nathan, even though he’s technically dead—his body’s dead—he can still change and his tastes may change and his character may develop and change…or does he? I think that the show plays with the idea of “Can you continue growing?”, and how we learn from other people and with whom to surround yourself and it explores aspects of not just love and relationships, but also friendships. If you were able to look back on the life that you’ve lived, are you happy with the choices that you’ve made, and how soon is too soon to start making those adjustments? Is there such a thing as too much evaluation?
BT: While Nathan is a bit on the reserved side, Ingrid, but also Nora and everyone around him, is quite loud. Did you perhaps play into this disparity a little bit?
AE: Yeah, you know that’s interesting that for contrast, like it’s definitely looking at Lakeview through Nathan’s eyes, right? And if he’s the one that’s getting thrown off-kilter by strange characters or strange scenarios, it’s helpful I think from an audience perspective to have Nathan as the vehicle through which they’re experiencing this afterlife and getting bombarded by these characters on all sides. But I’m excited to see how Nathan in particular may lean in to some of his passions more, especially into a season two, but by the end of season one as well. But for Ingrid, I love that the writers went there and made her larger-than-life in a way, but still not a cartoon, if that makes sense. Because I know those people and they’re real. [laughs]
BT: You made a reference earlier to Shakespeare. What have been some of the key shows for you and what are you currently watching in this this time of quarantining?
AE: Well, right now I’ve actually been thinking a lot about my favourite Chekhov plays. This season of life that we are in feels like The Cherry Orchard or Three Sisters or The Seagull in which everybody is at the same house and everyone wants to be somewhere they’re not and there’s this general malaise of: “Oh! I remember better times and I can’t leave and I wish I could”. I got to do The Seagull almost a decade ago and yeah, that one really left a strong impression on me. Another one that shaped me in doing it was A Doll’s House by Ibsen. Again, funnily enough about a woman who’s trapped. [laughs] In some ways, both Chekhov and Ibsen have tapped into something that Greg (Daniels) is looking at as well, which is: “What about these characters that feel like they don’t want to be where they are?”. People that are stuck and want to get out of there and want to make the most of a tough situation.
And then in terms of what I’m watching, it kind of goes between Nailed It! and Great British Baking Show, which is pure soothe. It’s like a blankie at bedtime, you know? [laughs] But then I’m also really looking forward to watching Killing Eve, I have to catch up on Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I’m a big Fleabag fan, so I’m really drawn to and love a lot of the female-driven, super juicy dark comedy stuff.
BT: How has this series changed your relationship with technology?
AE: Man, I’ve been thinking so much about the show this week, as I’ve said: I am in a long-distance relationship currently, my fiancé is on the West Coast, I’m on the East Coast and I haven’t seen him in…as of now, like seven weeks and so we’ve been doing a lot of FaceTime and boy! I was talking with my parents last night over dinner about how there will be a catch-up in terms of conference call technology improving and video quality and audio quality and I long for the days in which spotty wi-fi doesn’t interrupt your phone call. And where Ingrid can appear as a six foot tall hologram in front of you, like a visual voicemail like she does in the show, and boy, it would be nice if my fiancé could appear as a 6 foot 2 hologram in front of me! You know, that would be nice! We could slow dance or something.
I’ve also thought about how it would be nice if we didn’t have to make trips to the grocery store at this time, we could instead print our food from home, using 3D Printers with fat cartridges, which is something which they talk about very briefly in Upload and how that might be a very sanitary solution to what’s been going on recently. Yeah, those things come to mind.
BT: But it is important what you’re doing right now for your parents, with the J. Paul no Getting Sicky Gallery…
AE: Oh! Wow! You really studied my Instagram, I’m so honoured. Ah! There’s this Museum Challenge that’s been circling the Internet that you’ve probably seen, in which I think it started with the Getty Museum actually, where they asked people to recreate paintings or sculptures from their online archives, using objects that were found around the house or with the people or animals around you and my Dad’s birthday was April 4th and I reached out via email to family, friends, people that know him and love him and gave them the homework assignment to take a painting and reproduce it and send it back to me. And then I printed them all off and I put them in a room of our house and we put on bougie art museum music and made hors d’oeuvres and served Prosecco and he got to see a full gallery! I divided them into categories, too, like silly categories. [laughs] I think one was called Meditations and one was called Domesticity, you know like how they do. And he loved it. We had a really good time doing it. And our friends and family really showed up, they did a great job.
BT: Ingrid has a bit of a complicated relationship with her father and her family.
BT: Have you shown Upload to your parents?
AE: [laughs] Yes, actually, I had the opportunity to sit with them and swear them to secrecy and tell them this was exclusive and there’s no telling their friends. And it was really funny to watch them watch the scene around the Kannerman table. There was this reaction of like: “Ooooh! Ooooh! Gash! Ooooh!” You know, they definitely feel like little Chloe Coleman, Neveah, in that scene than the actual Kannerman people. But I love those actors. They’re all Vancouver locals and they are so talented.
BT: What is something that you would like to talk with viewers about in terms of the show?
AE: I’d love to hear people’s reactions to upgrades and data plans and the hypothetical question of: “If you as grandma could live forever on your grandkids’ cellular data plan, for example, would you want to?” Or, “if your grandma was on your data plan forever, would you want her to be there? What is actually ideal? If you could upload, would you choose to?” I think that’s the question at the heart of the show. And it certainly was a constant debate between the characters of Nora and her father, and I would want to know what people would say to that. If you could live forever, would you?
I think that it sounds attractive at first, but then if you really consider it, there’s a lot that you have to weigh.
BT: My answer is that I would do it if I could be at Lakeview. What was being there or slightly near it like?
AE: Yeah, Lakeview is beautiful Vancouver, basically. [laughs] I loved walking around the lobby of Lakeview because there are little art decorations and scenery and props that if you look closely, there are unicorns, there are mythical creatures, there’s a flying pig on the concierge desk. And those little details brought me so much joy because I knew that they were intentional design elements that pointed to fantasy. And whoever designed Lakeview in the story, but also on our Upload crew, our art department put a lot of thought into creating fantasy, in teeny tiny little nooks and crannies even, but I love that.
BT: If you had your own Angel, how would you use it, or would you even want an Angel?
AE: [laughs] I would want an Angel. I would probably use it more as a tutor or like an all-purpose personal trainer / chef / language teacher. I would use it like a one-stop shop to learn. I am a lifelong learner, I’m very curious, and I think to have someone constantly to help me learn and develop skills would make me feel like I’m accomplishing something. [laughs]