'The Man in the High Castle' star Frances Turner says Angela Davis, who Bell Mallory was based on, ‘leaped’ out of audition script
"They (showrunners) told me (before the audition) Bell was loosely based on Angela Davis,” Turner told MEA WorldWide (MEAWW). "I knew about Angela Davis. But I knew that I did not know as much as I thought I did. So I said let me read her autobiography. And (then) understood why"
Amazon Prime Video's ‘The Man in the High Castle’ is an American alternate history television series depicting a parallel universe where the Axis powers won World War II. Frances Turner, who plays Bell Mallory on the show, recently spoke to MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) about the show’s final season, her character and how the show has worked to showcase race and the Black perspective in the face of the Axis powers.
“Bell Mallory, the character I play, she is a member of an underground black insurgent movement, that’s emerging to fight the forces of Nazism and imperialism,” said Turner. “All they really want is their own homeland. So, you know, that’s their way of fighting against it -- it’s kind of like ‘leave us alone. Let us have our own homeland, our territory, self-governing’. As opposed to the resistance that we are all familiar with… They’re taking it right to the Nazis.”
About her character, she said, “You learn about this segment of the black story and you learn that through Bell’s story.” According to Turner, Bell’s character is loosely based on Angela Davis, an American political activist, Marxist, academic and author.
Known for books like ‘Women, Race and Class’, Davis was associated with several groups including the Black Panthers. However, she spent most of her time working with the Che-Lumumba Club, which was an all-black branch of the Communist Party.
The resemblances are apparent. In the show, Turner’s character Bell Mallory is a member of a group called the Black Communist Rebellion (BCR). Talking more about that, Turner said, "Even just reading the pages [audition material], she [Davis’ persona] just leaped off the page as three-dimensional in a way I've never seen before."
“I did a lot of research on the black power movement from the 60s, the Black Panthers. And then when I was going to audition for the show, I had a conversation with the showrunners and they told me Bell was loosely based on Angela Davis,” said Turner. "I knew about Angela Davis. But I knew that I did not know as much as I thought I did. So I said let me read her autobiography. And then I read it in two days and that got me excited. And understood why she was loosely based on Angela Davis"
Talking about the Third Reich and the persecution of minorities in Nazi Germany, Turner said, “You can’t live in Germany if you were Jewish, if you were black, You couldn’t exist… My character Bell is from Alabama. She’s living in the part of the country where the Reich takes over when the Axis powers win the war. So that’s part of her history and backstory. You learn about what she experienced.”
All ten episodes of 'The Man in the High Castle' Season 4 are currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.