Brady at ease in new genre

Orla Brady.

By Karen Butler

Irish actress Orla Brady says she is thrilled to star in the new futuristic, martial-arts drama “Into the Badlands” because it is so unlike the projects that usually come her way.

“I’m finding it amazing that it is not a genre I know; that we’re not all wandering around with clipboards in a hospital. We’ve all done that! How many cop shows have I done?” the 54-year-old Dublin native recently said to the Irish Echo during a roundtable interview with reporters at New York Comic Con.

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“I’ve done cop shows and lawyer shows and, no, it is wonderful to just [be doing something else.] You hope it works. You hope it is something fresh and new and that it will work,” added the actress, whose credits include “A Love Divided,” “Mistresses,” “Family Law,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Hustle,” “Shark,” “The Deep,” “Strike Back,” “Eternal Law,” “Fringe,” “Sinbad” and “Doctor Who.”

Brady’s latest series is set in a post-apocalyptic, feudal society where guns are outlawed and seven rival barons rule with the help of armies of trained assassins. Marton Csokas plays Baron Quinn, while Daniel Wu plays Sunny, his trusted adviser, and Brady plays Quinn's wife Lydia.

“Lydia’s a woman who is in that curious position of not being empowered herself, but depending on somebody else for the power that she has by being in association with him,” Brady explained. “And having been the wife of pretty much the most powerful baron all of these years, she has been in a pretty good position and that is slipping now. When we join the story, he is exercising his right to be polygamous and, so, he is taking… She’s the third wife, isn’t she? Because there was a wife in between that he took who died. And Lydia is quite pleased. And, so, now he is taking a third wife. She is very young and it’s not easy for Lydia, as it wouldn’t be, I think, for anybody in that position unless you were very, very accepting of the polygamy paradigm, which I would say most women aren’t. You might have to accept it, but it’s not ideal.

“So, that’s where she stands at the beginning of the story. In short order, you see that she is sort of doubly upset by the fact that the new wife is… who is played by Sarah Bolger, who is a wonderful actress and plays the part with great spirit and great strength, and, so, it’s almost like Lydia is seeing a younger version of herself, if you like, which is quite scary. Because she knows what she was like. She sees ambition and she knows that puts her in danger.”

The actress agreed with one journalist likening Lydia to Eleanor of Aquitaine in“The Lion in Winter,” a woman more powerful in her behind-the-scenes machinations than she in her royal title.

“Yes, I like that,” Brady laughed. “Attribute that to me. Thank you!”

Even though most of the characters in the Badlands are wary of each other, the actress said Lydia and the formidable baron are, at this point, stronger as allies than they would be apart.

“They have been a team for years and they [like] the setup that they have. There would be no reason, currently, for them to be against each other. … Her fate very much rests on how this baron is doing, so there would be no reason at the beginning to suppose that there is any shenanigans going on between them,” she noted.

The complex, moral ambiguity of the world she helps create on-screen was another appealing aspect of the project.

“People don’t think of themselves as bad,” she said, pointing out how even the worst villains can find some way to defend their actions, regardless of how heinous they are. “So, you have to find the self-belief to kind of do what you need to do to preserve power. You must. Even if you are playing a historical character who is dreadful, you have to justify, you must.”

The actress went on to recall how the show’s cast and crew enjoyed a pleasant and creative atmosphere during production in Louisiana, despite the show’s many intense fight scenes and nefarious plots.

“It’s the calmest set I’ve ever been on; the most lovely, quiet, non-shouting, non-self-important. Just people who are good at what they are doing and [who] speak softly and do this beautiful stuff. On screen, it’s about great violence, but… it was a lovely set to be on.”

Co-starring Aramis Knight, Oliver Stark, Madeleine Mantock and Emily Beecham, “Into the Badlands” airs Sunday nights on AMC.