Project Blue Book's Jill Morrison on show's groundbreaking portrayal of '50s women and what drew her to Faye
In an interview with MEA WorldWide, the actress speaks about how it's the female characters one must watch out for to experience the full thrill of the show
The most recent episode of 'Project Blue Book' Season 2 highlights the impassionate pursuits of Dr J Allen Hynek and the representation of other air force officers such as Captain Michael Quinn in establishing the truth behind the sudden rise in alien and UFO sightings in America back in the '50s.
The History show's sixth episode titled 'Closed Encounters' puts the spotlight on the biggest threat the titular investigation had faced in real life. That is the CIA conducted Robertson panel which reportedly tried to shut down the project as propaganda in order to entirely quash the concept of UFOs and aliens. But as we see Hynek and Quinn come together to convince the panel about the need for the investigation to continue, what we are really reminded of are the several times the women of Blue Book have helped aid the investigation and played crucial roles spurring it forward. No amount of recognition or praise does justice to the way these women propelled research as profound as this one, acting way ahead of their time. Needless to say, the women make the show a thrilling watch.
Take Jill Morrison's air force assistant Faye for example. We meet Faye at the show lead Captain Quinn's (Michael Malarkey) office. Faye is Quinn's assistant and devoted to her job on a level that few others would be able to compete with. But even though she is loyal to the captain she reports to, Faye's arc — every time we greet her on the show — is a clear emblem of solidarity amongst women and walking hand in hand towards a striking goal.
In a casual chat with MEA Worldwide (MEAWW), Morrison addresses how Faye's loyalty expands over to Mimi (Laura Mennell) in the second season, even though it stays unwavering towards Quinn. In Season 2, we see Faye and Mimi get sparse screen time. But every time, Faye subtly helps Mimi's agenda for the day — be it digging deep into the air force's cover-ups of the alleged secret weapons or in terms of accessing classified Blue Book files on her quest to find where her kidnapped husband is.
Even though adhering to work protocols, Faye never dismisses Mimi for a civilian and neither does she condescend the astrophysicist's wife's insights on the investigation.
"Consequences are a part of Faye's storyline, but Faye’s choices are about a bigger purpose," Morrison tells us. "Her affections for Mimi remain, and the relationship really develops between these two strong women," she adds, asserting how much she loved that aspect of the character's storyline. She also said that it was amazing to work with Mennell.
Faye's stance towards Mimi is that of solidarity and respect and for good reason. While Season 1 saw Hynek (Aidan Gillen) shutting out his wife from the investigation, Season 2 saw him willingly seek Mimi's help as she went about attending UFO conspiracy meetings and connecting dots in cases where all leads seemed negative.
Even when Hynek gets kidnapped, Mimi is the one who insists on spending the night at Quinn's office and Faye provides for her sleeping accommodation without asking a single question.
It is Faye and Mimi's joint efforts in digging into the Blue Book files that help the eager homemaker figure out why and where Hynek could have been kidnapped. Before that, it was Mimi going on road trips to debunk cases of alien sightings that even Hynek couldn't solve. In the latest episode, it is again Mimi's contacts that help Hynek find a witness of sorts to testify in favor of the investigation at the Robertson panel hearing.
Mimi's contribution can't be elaborated on without significant mention of Susie Miller (Ksenia Solo). Susie is her former friend and an undercover Russian spy who single-handedly teaches the entire ring of undercover agents overlooking her work not to mess with her.
To call Susie a bada** would be an understatement because the fierce woman's only vulnerability is a young daughter back home. For her daughter, Sussie wouldn't hesitate taking the lives of those who trained her as well as those she trained. Susie's loyalty towards her nation triumphs over all of her other loyalties, but just when one would assume she is an ice-cold killer assassin, her vulnerabilities find their way to the surface subtly — never over the top and always called for.
Morrison also speaks about the work creator David Leary has done in highlighting the emergence of the women of Blue Book through empowering individual arcs way ahead of their time. She gushes about the groundbreaking work the show does when it comes to helping its female characters shine even under the shackles of suppression.
While Faye is suppressed by the strict confines of her job description, for Mimi it's societal expectations from her as the doting housewife and mother. For Susie, it is both her job obligations and protecting her daughter. The multifaceted issues the women of Blue Book overcome on a daily basis are what induce the subtle bad*** feminism that resonates throughout both seasons of the show — something that Morrison agrees with too.
"The show looks inside the heads of these women and follows them. They aren't dismissed. They show us what women have always been but were not acknowledged (duly for)," Morrison says.
"For myself personally, it really accentuates the absurdity of how far women have come, and that it had to happen in the first place. We were always these strong, intelligent species, and dismissed for so long. The camera is the eye of the world here and the world wants to see how under the umbrella of suppression, women were leaders and the absurdity of thinking otherwise. It's so interesting that that is a part of a show that deals with one of the greatest mysteries and conflicts of our time — extraterrestrials. I believe it says, we can’t ignore what is in front of us. And I'm sure the audience loves watching the women shine under suppression. So, don’t ignore us, world. You never should have," Morrison adds.
Speaking of her own character, Morrison reveals what drew her to the role, saying: "I love being in a period piece, as well as being a woman in the air force at that time. I would believe there would be many complications for her in her life. Faye is single during this time, and completely dedicated to her career. She works in a top-secret world, so fun to play with how that informs her interactions with others. It is a joy to work on this production, and the versatile directors I get to work with."
Even when not playing Faye to perfection, she admits she does believe in extraterrestrials. She has also just wrapped up her work in the second season of the Netflix hit original 'The Haunting of Hill House'. Almost entirety of pop culture might remember Morrison as the girl with "a lot of feelings" from the 2003 cult classic 'Mean Girls', but she has also wowed us with her amazing work in the 2017 adaptation of 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'.
'Project Blue Book' airs on Tuesdays at 10 pm only on History.