Breeda Wool offers a dark, unnerving, yet mesmerizing look into her character Lou Linklater in 'Mr. Mercedes'
Breeda discusses the complex psyche of Lou Linklater in 'Mr. Mercedes', being acknowledged by Stephen King, speculations for season 3, and Lou's many tattoos.
The second season of 'Mr. Mercedes' blew our mind as it dropped its season finale late last month. The AT&T Audience Network's Stephen King adaptation went from straight-up hard-boiled detective fiction of season 1 to a thrilling speculative fiction show in season 2. The show, helmed by showrunners David E. Kelley ('The Practice', 'L.A. Law) and Jack Bender ('Under The Dome', 'Lost') pulled off one of the most impressive adaptations of a Stephen King work, staying faithful to the texts, while adding their own special touches in adapting to the medium of television. King himself lauded the show as "smart and scary" and one of his "favorite adaptations." That's high praise.
In Meaww's review of the season finale, we praised the show for tying up all the loose ends and landing the ending smoothly while keeping audiences holding on to the edge of their seats. A large part of the credit goes to the impressive cast of the show that includes the legendary Brendon Gleeson (Bill Hodges), Harry Treadaway (Brady Hartsfield), Holland Taylor (Ida Silver), Jack Houston (Dr. Felix Babineau) and the Breeda Wool, who plays the emotionally disturbed Lou Linklater.
Lou was introduced to us in season 1 as mass murderer Brady Hartsfield's unsuspecting colleague and best friend, who eventually ended up being stabbed by Brady in the first season's finale. In the new season, we see her battle her post-traumatic stress as she tries to put the pieces of her life back together. Lou has been one of the strongest supporting characters through the show and (spoiler alert) when she put a bullet through Brady's head in an act of gruesome vengeance in the second season's finale, her character suddenly pivoted the entire plotline.
I had the chance to chat with the very talented Breeda Wool on Halloween night (how apt!) where we spoke about Lou's importance in the story arc, getting a nod from The King of Horror himself, violence as a theme through the show, speculations for season 3 and working alongside some of the industry's most distinguished names, among other things. Read the full interview below:
Your character on the show Lou Linklater just changed the entire game in the finale of season 2. She puts a bullet through Brady's head in a twist that nobody saw coming. When did you know how it would end? When did you get the script and what was your immediate reaction?
"I got the script may be a few days before we started shooting episode 10. My initial reaction was... first of all it's very well written. David E. Kelley is just an incredibly skilled writer and I was very thrilled to read it from an outsider's perspective. I think from my place, you know all season long, in the story as Lou Linklater, I'm struggling with being a survivor of violence. And really what that does to my identity and my confidence. My ability to discern danger in the world has been irreparably damaged by Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway). I started researching and looking at a lot of cases and empathizing about people who are survivors of violence.
And committing another act of violence is almost a defeat I think. Brady Hartsfield has been inhabiting people's minds in this season, but he didn't need to actually go into my mind in order to infect my mind. It's violence alone. And I think it's the same with Bill Hodges. His violence alone has already infected us. I think we see violence spread like that. From generation to generation, neighbor to neighbor and country to country. Violence is a disease almost. I guess when I read the script for season 10, I thought it's an amazing finale and I was so happy to have that story. But I was also a little bit sad that in my story arc, that I start caving into Brady's world of violence."
Indeed, in a sense, violence is inherent to us humans, isn't it? Violence as a reaction to anger, to sadness, and in Lou Linklater's case vengeance. It's a very complex character, isn't it? Throughout the season, you are going through a lot.
Yeah, and it was a lot of fun for sure for me to dig into that. It was really exciting and I learned a lot from Stephen King and David E Kelley and Jack Bender and Brendan Gleeson. As always, it's so wonderful to work with Harry Treadaway. He's such a playful actor and so full of this almost effervescent wildness.
I think the biggest difference between me and Detective Hodges in our reaction to Brady is that Hodges has a community. As we see over the course of season 2, it's the erosion of my community. Largely because of my own doing. You know, when you are faced with violence, you have two options. You can reach out to people and build or you can react with violence. Of course, there are many other ways to deal with violence but in the context of season 2, Bill Hodges had the opportunity to do what I did. But ultimately because of his community that he's built with Holly, Ida and Jerome, and also his ex-wife and his daughter... I don't have any of those things. If you're a survivor of something, self-isolation is a really dangerous road to walk. And it's so hard when you're a survivor to reach out to people, but it's been proven again and again through support groups and the likes that community is the real antidote to surviving violence.
What was it like to work with the legendary Brendan Gleeson? Were you a little star struck?
To be honest, when I came on to 'Mr. Mercedes', I was a huge fan of Brendan Gleeson. Obviously, I still am. I mean, 'In Bruges' (2008) is one of the most incredible performances I've ever seen. Even his older Irish films. I'm a huge fan of him from 'The Snapper' (1993), which is a much older film. I couldn't have been more thrilled to work with him. His leadership on set... he's a real giver to his co-stars and he nourishes and supports the story in a way that I found to be quite a learning experience. It's one of those moments in my career where I got to say "this isn't about anything except story and making truthful people and creating these lives", and Brendan Gleeson provides that atmosphere to work with him like that.
I wanna nit-pick at some details about Lou. Was that you riding the motorbike all over the sets or was that a stunt person?
No, it wasn't unfortunately. The insurance on the show would not allow me to ride the motorcycle myself. If you wanna do your own stunts as an actor, they have to get a different insurance. Which is why Tom Cruise has all these things for him to be able to be do all those stunts. Maybe if it was a less powerful bike, I would have been able to give it a spin. But that particular model from the show has got a lot of horsepower. It's got a lot of oomph! I remember I was like, "I totally want to ride it," and the producers said, "that's definitely not happening."
Lou also has a lot of tattoos all over her body. Although they're temp-tattoos, I'm guessing it must've taken an awfully long time in makeup to get all of them on?
Rick Poor, who's our makeup guy also did some of the extraordinary FX things like the brain surgery which was so grotesque. He made a human brain and we had a neurologist on board giving him tips and things. He and I made all the tattoos together. I drew the tattoo of the tricycle in this season. So that's my tattoo! And the one on my arm is actually my partner's tattoo that they got when they're in high school. And the ones on my neck are taken from Jack Bender's tattoo, Hannah Bender. And I have one on my hand that was taken from someone else on set. All my tattoos have a little story to them.
Are you a fan of Stephen King's works?
I am. I remember Jack Bender forwarded me an email halfway through the season saying that Stephen King has written how much he likes Lou. I tried to play it cool as an actor. You know, you try to be like "oh sure! that's cool!" But I definitely rode that exhilaration train for a few weeks. I was all like "STEPHEN KING THINKS I'M COOL! Oh My God!" It was one of those moments where I felt like my childhood was awesomely colliding with my adult life.
Totally understandable. To know that Stephen King thinks you're good. That has to count for something. That counts for a lot actually!
I know, right? 'The Shining', 'The Shawshank Redemption', 'Stand By Me' are films that are just epic. And 'Carrie' is such a big part of my childhood. An I'm a huge fan of 'It'. I think one of Stephen King's greatest writing styles is that it's very scary but it's so often from the perspective of kids. The perspective of a child's imagination into horror is so thrilling and fascinating, specifically with 'It' - the way childhood fear translates to adult fear is so amazing.
Coming back to the show, with that one scene in the finale where Lou pulls a gun on Brady, the whole story became one of revenge. In a town that's full of discrimination, especially against Lou for her sexuality, Brady is initially the only one who gets her. He's her only friend. And he breaks that trust when he stabs her. How was it to step into the character's shoes and deal with these themes?
I think there's something to be said for ostracizing people and forcing people into a place where something natural and beautiful to them forces them to become an outcast. My gender and sexuality were explored in season 1, but something that I'm proud of is that it just became a part of who I was. My struggles as a person were not defined by what might make me different from everyone else in the midwest. I really appreciated that in season 2. I think when you see gay and LGBTQ characters on TV, sometimes that part of their lives is louder than any other. In season 2, I loved the way that it was integrated and folded in so beautifully. It didn't become the loudest part of Lou.
Now there hasn't been an official word about season 3 yet. But you guys did a little skip in the timeline between the books. The show skipped the middle book 'Finders Keepers' and went straight to 'End Of Watch' to sort of keep the Brady-Hodges saga going. In my review for the finale, I speculated if the new season will now go back to 'Finders Keepers'.
Actually, in the books, Brady's body dies, but he does not.
Aah, interesting. Can you give us a hint?
No! That's no "hint, hint" from me because I actually, genuinely don't know anything. So your speculations are equally as good as mine. On this particular matter, I do not yet have any inside information. But, yeah, big spoiler alert if you haven't read the books. But Brady I believe inhabits Dr. Babineau's body. Isn't that right?
(Note: On November 20, Audience Network confirmed that 'Mr. Mercedes' will be returning for a third season, comprising another 10 episodes. Production begins early 2019 and a premiere is slated for later that year)
This is one of my favorite adaptations—smart and scary. https://t.co/sfZtuH8pAU— Stephen King (@StephenKing) November 19, 2018
I just got through the first book, 'Mr. Mercedes', but never finished the trilogy. I was reading it to keep abreast with the show, but the show got me hooked so I never got around to it. Have you read the books?
I know! I actually started reading the first book and then I started getting scripts. And I was so confused reading both at the same time that I decided to give my mom the book series, have her read them and then tell me what happens. So, I had my mom do my homework for me! My mom would be like, "Do you want me to tell you? Do you?"
And I would say, "not yet." Then when I'd get a script and absorb it and create the world and the imagination behind that script, I'd then go back to my mom and say, "ok, tell me what happens now." Since I was making the show, I wanted to see what I would create from those ingredients. I read lots of descriptions of who I was in the story from the books, and then I sort of merged the two. But you know, Harry Treadaway, on the other hand, used the books like a Bible. There are so many descriptions of Brady's inner life that the books were very helpful for him. But it's not the same with Lou in terms of my inner life. So it boiled down to "What are the ingredients that make me, me in the TV show?" I kind of wanted to create from the writing of the show.
What else do you have lined up in the near future? What are you looking forward to?
I'm actually just made this incredible short film with Nora Kirkpatrick called 'Long Time Listener, First Time Caller'. Then I made a film with Nicole Pearlman called 'The Slows'. Nicole is one of the writers of 'Guardians of the Galaxy' so she's very much in the Marvel world. And this was her first time directing and it was extraordinary to work with her. I'm also executive producing and co-wrote this film called 'Mother's Little Helpers'. We're in post-production with that and applying at film festivals.