Interview: Jordan Arthur
Photo Credit: Corey Nickols
ReVamp is thrilled to welcome Australian-born actor Hannah Levien. Now working in Los Angeles, California – Hannah finds herself in the same location as the protagonist of the huge new Netflix series, Brand New Cherry Flavor – hopefully with less of the surreal horror. In this interview we talk about Hannah’s role in this perfect-for-spooky-season series, as well as some other exciting new projects.
Hello Hannah! Thank you for talking to ReVamp. I've got to start with Brand New Cherry Flavor – Netflix's latest hit thriller in which you star as Christine. It's a tough show to describe to people, but once you've seen the first episode, its mystery and style instantly grab you. How would you describe how your character, Christine, fits into the surreal world of the show?
I'm glad to hear that the show grabbed you! BNCF is based on the novel by Todd Grimson, and my character Christine Woods is also in the novel. She is a real estate agent living in LA and dating the protagonist Lisa Nova's ex-boyfriend, Code (Manny Jacinto, The Good Place). Christine becomes Lisa's unlikely friend and co-conspirator in her revenge mission. Christine lightens the mood and heightens the absurdity of the show. She's a very different energy to Lisa and it was really fun creating that.
BNCF is set in the 90s, a period of time that's captured a lot of the public's imagination lately. Did you enjoy stepping back in time for the show? Is there anything from Christine's world you wish you could bring into the present?
I had a lot of fun with the era. The costumes and sets felt really authentic. It was like we had a time machine. One thing I loved in Code's apartment, where I spent a lot of my time, is how the set designer had placed old Blockbuster video tapes everywhere. I used to love Blockbuster video stores as a kid. Such good memories! Take me back! Also, I could live in the BNCF soundtrack... I love that era of music.
Christine first meets Lisa, a somewhat chaotic young director and ex of her boyfriend, when she crashes on her couch while moving to LA. If BNCF came to life (God help us) and Lisa showed up on your doorstep, what would you say to her?
I would turn and run.
Including BNCF, you've appeared in numerous big sci-fi and fantasy shows including Supernatural and The Magicians. Is there something in particular that attracts you to these kinds of stories? I imagine these kinds of worlds can be quite liberating as an artist to explore?
I've been fortunate to be a part of some great genre shows. One thing that does attract me is that I find there are lots of really awesome female characters in those worlds. I think writing at the moment has definitely improved for women, which is awesome to see, but the sci-fi world has been at the forefront of this for a while. I think because sci-fi shows are set in a different time, they're not so stuck in archaic portrayals of female characters.
You wrote and performed in Hunting Season, a sci-fi short, which premiered at Tribeca (among other film festivals) and received an amazing fourteen nominations. Subsequently, you're developing the project into a feature film – which is awesome. Can you tell us anything about this project?
Hunting Season is a sci-fi short film set at a gas station in rural Canada. It was a female team - my director, Shannon Kohli, and producer, Ines Eisses, are both amazing women and mentors. We were really blown away by the reception of the short film.
The adaptation to a feature film is challenging but it's a cool space to be working in. Sci-fi and magical realism. Two things I love!
From Hunting Season and other projects, you clearly have a passion for many aspects of the filmmaking process – be it writing, directing, performing, even sound design and such. I'm curious if it's your start back in Australia, where you studied a whole host of arts, that led you to this approach?
From a young age I really enjoyed writing and creating. I would put on shows in the backyard of my house with my siblings (haha). But it was never about just "performing", though sometimes I did perform, it was about the show as a whole. So, I guess the thing I love most about creativity is collaboration. Which is what led me to go to film school after drama school. Whether I’m working with a sound designer, writer, make-up artist, or a director... One of the best feelings for me is to help give agency to someone else's creativity. That's something that keeps me going and wanting more.