Interview: Dominion star Roxanne McKee: “Dominion really examines the darkness of humans”

SyFy’s new supernatural action series kicks off this evening (Thursday 30th October).

Over the past decade, there’s been a strong shift in US television to include not only movie actors and actresses but those from different countries around the world. No longer is it dominated by familiar American faces but also the best of the UK, Australia and beyond. Hugh Laurie in House, Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead and Jonny Lee Miller in Elementary to name a few, it’s great to see these talents taken to the hearts of worldwide audiences. SyFy’s new supernatural action series Dominion certainly takes this approach with its cast - Christopher Egan formerly of Home and Away, everyone’s favourite ex-librarian Tony Head, and Alan Dale - forever known to a generation as Jim Robinson out of Neighbours - the man that seems to have appeared in every US TV show of the noughties.

We had the chance to talk to one of the most popular up and coming homegrown stars we have in Roxanne McKee, well known for playing Louise Summers in Hollyoaks and more recently Doreah in Game of Thrones. Roxanne takes the role of Claire Riesen in Dominion, daughter of General Edward Riesen, the Lord Of The City and a man of much power. Claire is a teacher, caught in the middle of political struggle, constantly fighting to live by her own beliefs while surrounded by the influence of others. As heir to the throne, Claire’s destiny may be far beyond her control.

Could you tell us a bit about Dominion, how you got involved and more about your role as Claire?
In terms of how I got involved, really it was just a straight forward route through auditioning. Same as any other role I’ve had really. The show itself I would describe as a battle between good and evil, and light and dark. It focuses on humans and angels, specifically lower angels who are angels who I guess have a negative influence inside of them. Dominion really examines the darkness of humans and what these angels do against them.

Did you specifically choose a US show in particular to audition for?
No it doesn’t really work like that. It’s all the same really. We get a break down through and then a script. I’ll generally go for whatever fits to what I’m interested in. I don’t know about others but I don’t particularly think about where I’m going to work but the character I’m going to play, so I didn’t specifically choose America but the role. That was what really attracted me to the project.

How would you compare this role to others you’ve played before? You seem to always have very strong characters to work with. Is that a deliberate choice on your part?
For me it was the vastness within the character. Claire starts innocent and good but by the end she’s a political animal. It’s about the journey that she takes. She has a gravitas and also the genre lends itself to being interesting. It’s a coming of age story for her. It’s important to see her as a strong human, not just a strong woman. She stands strongly as an individual regardless of gender.
As for the characters I’ve played before – well I’d say between Game of Thrones and this, there aren’t actually that many differences. They both focus on control and what they need to survive. In Game of Thrones, Doreah learns to manipulate via sexuality which is a different approach, but it’s a means to an end. Claire has everything from the start in Dominion and so the audience will relate to her in a slightly different way. She’s very intelligent and well educated. They are both fascinating as an actress to explore the rationale behind their actions.

It’s an American show shot in South Africa and made up of a worldwide cast such as Christopher Egan and Alan Dale from Australia, and of course our beloved Anthony Head. What is it like working with such a diverse cast?
Oh I can’t speak highly enough of them all. Alan has an irreverent dry sense of humour that you rarely get to see on screen. He’s so down to Earth and I love him. Tony Head – where do you start? I’ve never met a nicer person. A truly fantastic actor who makes you feel like you’re in the moment. He really makes you feel like you’re in a different world. You look into his eyes when you’re acting with him and you’re right there.

Are there any particular names out there right now that you’d love the opportunity to work with?
Ooh… Robin Wright Penn! (House of Cards) I’d love to work with her. Everything about her is just incredible. Same with Judi Dench, and I’ve heard she’s absolutely hilarious. For guys.. well, Johnny Depp! For his acting talent obviously!

You’ve also done a number of movies over the past few years. Do you have a preference for doing TV or film or even perhaps stage one day?
My aspiration is towards great roles and great characters no matter what they’re in. If theatre lends itself to that then I’m definitely open to the possibility but I don’t have any particular urges to take on a particular medium. It’s all character dependent for me so we will see what comes through.

What do you think has made Dominion successful so far? UK fans will be relieved to know it has already been renewed for a second season.
It’s a show that will make people think, whether it’s about politics or opening your mind and considering your input into the world. The feedback on social media has been incredible – especially Twitter. I’ve got so many more friends now - virtual ones! The sci-fi fanbase is so supportive and intelligent and it’s such a pleasure to be involved in discussions about the show and that instant feedback you get online. It’s something really special to be involved in.

Dominion starts on Thursday 30th October at 10pm on Syfy.

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