‘Altered Carbon’ star: My ‘Resting Bitch Face’ makes my career.
Dichen Lachman is a veteran of network sci-fi shows with cult followings – but Netflix’s new show “Altered Carbon” is her first foray into big-budget streaming television.
Lachman, who’s appeared on Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse,” ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Syfy’s “Being Human” and the CW’s “The 100,” credits her physical appearance for being cast multiple times in genre. “I think that because I have such a different look, I don’t really fit into one category,” she says. “So this [sci-fi] genre is a great place for someone like me to inhabit. I’m half Asian, half Australian – and I think the future is a lot of mixed-mixed race people.
“I have a “future” vibe about me.”
“Altered Carbon,” which reportedly cost $6-7 million per episode, is based on Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 novel and helmed by showrunner Laeta Kalogridis (“Avatar”). It’s set in a futuristic noir world similar to “Blade Runner” – but instead of replicants, human consciousness can be downloaded into different bodies, enabling the wealthy to essentially live forever. Joel Kinnaman (“The Killing,” “House of Cards”) stars as Takeshi Kovacs, an elite soldier placed in an unfamiliar body and tasked with solving a murder. Lachman plays his sister, Reileen.
While sci-fi was familiar terrain for her, Lachman says Netflix was a totally different landscape in terms of television. “Network TV and Netflix, in my experience, have been so different in terms of scale,” she says. “I was lucky I got to ride horses [in ‘The 100’], but often you’re limited in how much you can do. With ‘Altered Carbon,’ they wanted us to do everything. I trained for three months learning how to use a sword and choreography [for fight scenes]. It was scary and exciting at the same time; I had never trained so hard for a role physically.
“We were trying to achieve something that really hasn’t been done on television before – not at this level.”
And training wasn’t the only challenge. “For all my big scenes with Joel [Kinnaman], I was incredibly sick,” she says. “Reileen is one of the most powerful people in the universe and I didn’t feel that way at all; I felt like curling up in bed and sleeping for a week.”
Reileen’s power places her in good company with Lachman’s previous roles (a vampire royal in “Being Human,” a superhuman cult leader in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” A warlord-esque character in “The 100”).
“I don’t know why that keeps happening, because I feel like I’m such an awkward, dorky person,” she says, laughing. “People joke that I have ‘Resting Bitch Face’ – [that] if I’m not smiling, I look fierce. But no matter how dark my characters get, I want people to have empathy for them, I’ve had the opportunity to play women who have a lot of intention and are very clear about what they want.”
For all the sword-wielding action Lachman does onscreen, however, her heart lies in a surprising genre. “I love period dramas; I feel like Maggie Smith is my alter ego,” she says. “Because of the way I look, I don’t often get to do period pieces in the ’20s or the ’30s or further back, because those stories are not being told.
“Maybe one day I’ll find one.”
“Altered Carbon” Premieres Friday on Netflix
Original article at New York Post.