Viola Prettejohn is a young actress who came to stay, not only for her fierce talent but for her decisiveness when it comes to using her voice to speak out in order to make the world hear the ideas of this generation. This April the 11th you will see her as a regular actor in the greatly expected The Nevers on HBO and HBO Max.
On The Nevers, Viola Prettejohn plays the role of Myrtle Haplisch, a middle-class girl rescued from a family who cannot understand her and is thrilled to be at the Orphanage. Even though, some of you already know her for her roles in The Witcher and in Counterpart.
Viola Prettejohn | Exclusive Interview
Q: How would you describe yourself?
This is difficult because I think my sense of self isn’t fixed. I have always defined myself by my ambition, and I don’t think that will ever change but, other than that, I am still changing, so I think my response is that my ‘self’ is not fully formed yet.
Q: How is it possible that you have been able to stay away from social networks until now?
I would say I’m a naturally private person so the idea of sharing every moment of my life with the world has never appealed to me. But with the show coming out, and soon my leaving school, I now see the opportunity it provides to connect with fans of the series and also let them know a little more about me and my interests.
Q: Who do you admire and why?
There are many people I admire, but recently I have discovered a particular interest in the work of Dorothea Tanning. She was an artist whose work spans the majority of the 20th century and into the 21st. She worked both in painting and sculpture and the thing I find most interesting about her is the transformative nature of her career. She was incredibly versatile and her style evolved massively from the beginning of her career till her death in 2012, moving from surrealist painting to experimental and abstract sculpture in her later years. I think this desire to never settle or get stuck in one mold is also something that is important to me. She sought new ways to express her ideas right up until the very end, that unrelenting pursuit and work ethic is again something I very much want to emulate in my career.
Q: Which books, films, and TV shows do you like?
My favorite novel of all time is Madame Bovary, although I do have a soft spot for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which was a childhood favorite of mine that I revisit quite often. I absolutely adore Mad Men, I must have watched the whole show about 5 times in its entirety at this point! The 60s fashions and just Jon Hamm being Jon Hamm never fail to immerse me in its irresistibly seductive atmosphere. There are far too many films to choose from but one that immediately springs to mind is Phantom Thread which I actually have a poster of in my room. Daniel Day-Lewis has long been one of my favorite actors and working with Paul Thomas Anderson is a complete dream of mine; that along with the gorgeous costumes by Mark Bridges make for a truly transportive and surprisingly strange experience that I highly recommend others to check out.
This year is all about The Nevers
The Nevers is a Victorian Sci-Fi epic set in 1896 that centers around a group of (mostly) women who find themselves with unusual abilities. They are then labeled as the Touched and are met with animosity from both the upper-class statesmen and the working-class – being faced with adversity they group together to support one another and that’s where we find them. I think what viewers will discover when they watch is that of course the show features crazy action sequences showcasing the powers but it also has heart. The warmth of the characters is what really gives this show its unique quality.
Q: How does it feel to be part of this amazing creation that Joss Whedon and HBO are involved with?
It’s mind-blowing! I was such a fan of HBO, particularly shows such as Game of Thrones, Westworld and I knew, when I heard that The Nevers was an HBO production, that there was a guaranteed level of quality already embedded in the show. The material that we were given as a cast and the team behind the series was just so good that we would have really had to try hard to mess it up. The gift of a character like Myrtle doesn’t come around very often at all, so I feel very lucky that I have been given this opportunity so early in my career.
Q: Also, The Nevers has a great cast full of amazing actors we already love and you are the youngest regular cast member; could you tell us more about that kind of working environment?
It was an incredibly supportive and welcoming environment to enter into as a relatively inexperienced actor. Just through observing the other cast members at work, I learned so much about what it means to act not only as something to be passionate about but also how to view it as a vocation. Getting to explore this rich world with the most fun, wonderful people was an absolute joy and such a rewarding experience.
Time to speak out
Q: For centuries, women have been silenced due to skewed perceptions from those that hold power in our world. Views that, thankfully, are changing more and more every day. What do you have to say about shows like The Nevers that in spite of being fictional invite new generations to explore the history that serves as the time period for the show and find out more about the role of women through time?
I think it’s incredibly important for young women and men to delve back into our past to truly learn from our mistakes and set aside our prejudices. By seeing the extremity of the ideas that were engrained in our society in the time of the Empire and sadly are still prevalent today; hopefully, it will highlight the senselessness in them and encourage viewers to further examine our history.
Q: We live in a world that sometimes seems to be very unfair, but platforms like this help people to speak out about some things that really matter; therefore, what message would you like to share with all of those young people who would be able to read or hear this interview?
I think the past year has taught us all a lot about the importance of sharing our opinions and amplifying voices that society has traditionally silenced which is obviously a theme that The Nevers explores. I certainly have re-evaluated my approach to sharing my own thoughts on issues that matter most to me and have gained confidence in the individual’s power to bring around change that we want to see in our world. Young people have to push harder to make our voices heard because we are the ones who can fully realize our ideas and implement them in the future.
Before we go
But most importantly, let us remember her crucial message in this interview, we do not have to repeat past errors that our societies sadly have incurred for ages; it is our time to act, to raise our voices and stand up for a world richer in equal rights for every person.
Our voices together are more powerful than unusual abilities; we are the Touched of this generation, let us use that power for doing good.