It hangs in the bus shelters, it is viewed a lot and as of today it is more than halfway through its first season: Citadel. Amazon Prime Video’s new series received mixed reviews, but it’s still widely watched, thanks in part to that $300 million budget and that concept that never ceases to capture the imagination: people whose memories have been erased. And not just any people, of course. We spoke to actress Ashleigh Cummings about her roles in this much-discussed series. Roll, yes.
It is a series with a large budget: what was the reason for you to do this project?
I was asked for the role. I would have done it anyway: I found it very moving to be introduced to this world. I found the concept of a global universe and the cross-cultural setup very interesting (Citadel all has local variants that still come together within that larger universe, ed.). We live in a globalized world, which should be represented on television. Moreover, I have a lot of respect for the actors I work with.
How was the atmosphere on set, did you see the other actors a lot?
We shot this series during corona, so we had to keep our distance. At the same time, I was amazed at how much camaraderie there was among people, despite the obstacles we faced. It felt a bit like being with old friends.”
What’s it like working with the Russo brothers?
The Russos know what they’re doing and you can learn a lot from them: I admire them a lot and learn a lot from them.
Why do you think they wanted you for the part?
I’ve talked to the Russos before, but we couldn’t work out agendas. When my agent came up with the offer, I also asked a few times if we could check whether this was correct. Was this real? I think they’ve seen my work before and appreciated it.
Of all the characters you play, which character is most like you?
They are all vastly different, almost opposite in fact. However, they all have a certain vulnerability and a threat. One was more from softness and family, while another is more antagonistic. I’m a lot crazier myself. I also tried to add some of those crazy elements, but they were cut out hard, haha, they thought that was a bit crazy. I think I’m most attracted to Brielle. She has a certain delicacy that is like a superpower for her.”
Which character do you like playing the most?
I think Abby. At first I didn’t necessarily want to play her, because on paper she was pretty straightforward. But I asked if we could give her a little more spunk, a little more texture. But I have learned that at the same time it is important as a model of stability. This woman has gone through so much trauma, she has built a world and a family that is all she has. She is stability and security and I like that. I’m not that organized at all.
You also played in The Goldfinch, which we know well because it is also set in the Netherlands: do you see similarities between previous roles and those of today?
I was so sorry that I was not at those Dutch parts! But I have to say, when I’m working on a character, I’m not working on previous roles. I dive deep into a character’s backstory, and each character opens up parts of me that I didn’t even know I had. But of course all those characters together make me who I am today.
What is the biggest challenge for you in playing the characters?
The logistics were the biggest challenge and the chronology especially. Of course, each character has some kind of arc that she goes through, and you have to know how to place their stories and how they behave. What part of this character is shown at what time? It wasn’t so much tough though, it was a lot of fun.
There were a lot of reshoots: how does it feel to play “the same thing” again?
I wasn’t very involved in that. We shot a lot in Atlanta and I spent a lot of time there with Caoilinn Springall, who plays my daughter on the series. We lived close to each other and we just had a lot of fun just the two of us. It’s great to see that so many people cared so much about this production and that it was often ensured that everyone was on the same page. We also got to watch the writing process and that was so interesting. A very fascinating process: special that I can be part of it.
If your memory were really wiped and you could remember one favorite movie or series, which one would it be?
Then I go for Atonement. It was the first movie I saw as a kid and based on a book I loved. I haven’t watched it in years, but it does represent a lot to me. This is the reason I wanted to get into the movie industry and tell stories. The actors and actresses are doing so well. When I went to pick out my jewelery for the day I came across an old piece of jewelery with a picture of one of the actresses in it, and then a picture of me and my grandmother on the other side!
There may be a second season, can you lift a corner of the veil about your characters?
I don’t know about a second season announcement. And honestly, I have no idea what’s about to happen: I’ve yet to see the last two episodes of this season! Everything changes so much in the editing room: it’s really its own process and changes so much about what you’ve shot. I’m really looking forward to watching the rest of the series!