Could you please summarise where we left Leyla at the end last season?
Season 1 is about a covert team from the CIA and MI6 who are on a mission looking for six Iranian nuclear scientists. When we leave Harry and Leyla at the very end of Season 1, they are feeling very disillusioned and quit. They go back to England. Harry ventures off to Africa which we see at the start Season 2. When we pick them back up in Season 2, they are both struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives.
Can you talk a bit about the importance of women in the show and to your role?
When the DEEP STATE script came to me, I was seeing a plethora of other scripts that had Arab roles for women. The reason why I looked at Leyla as a little bit more interesting is because she embodied a strong woman. She wasn’t there because of her Arab roots. She’s incredibly skilled in languages. She’s very capable. She’s very emotional, but she doesn’t let it get in the way of her work. She doesn’t see the difference between women and men in her team. She doesn’t want to be mothered by anyone and I think that’s a really important. I think she’s incredibly strong.
How do you see the Nathan Miller character in relation to Harry and Leyla? Do you see him as an adversary?
I think Leyla finds it incredibly hard to find the good in Nathan Miller even before anything bad or dodgy happens. I think she just cannot put her finger on it, but there is something about this man that isn’t transparent. She’s watching him the entire time.
Can you talk about working with the newest member of the team, Walton Goggins who portrays Nathan Miller?
It’s just a pleasure and it’s such an education for me. He’s also incredibly giving and supportive. I know he signed on to do the show because he completely believes in the project. In Season 1, we were trying to put something together for the first time but in Season 2, we’re trying to improve on the last season and see where we can take it, and Walton is an integral part to that process.
How much do you collaborate with Matthew about your work?
Whenever I have any questions, I go straight to Matthew and he always has the right answer to support me. He is also very flexible and allows his actors to discover things for themselves but he is also incredibly good at fine tuning the little things that you’re sort of stepping on. Similarly, our other director, Joss Agnew, is wonderful to work with. He remains so calm under pressure. They’ve got a lot on their plates. We move at such a fast pace making this show. There is no rest. It’s challenging and they deal with it incredibly well.
How do you deal with the two different timelines? How do you keep those straight in your head?
I think it’s helpful to meet up with your fellow actors and remind yourself as to where you are and where you’ve come from in any scene. We’re not filming chronologically. Everything is shot completely out of order which doesn’t help! It certainly keeps you on your toes.
Did you do any research before starting filming the show?
Yes, we watched a lot of documentaries about the sub-Saharan wars going on. It’s incredibly painful to watch people who are living in such harsh conditions.
Do you see parallels between the show and the revelations we hear in the news every day?
Absolutely. There are so many parallels. The themes explored in DEEP STATE two are very current.
Can you give us an example?
The Sub-Saharan war on resources is an interesting one. We all have so many electrical appliances and nobody ever thinks that one of the key ingredient for most of these appliances come from Africa, one of the poorest continents on the planet.
Do you believe there is a deep state?
Yes, I do believe that there is a deep state.
Do you see yourself in your character Leyla? Do you bring any Karima to Leyla?
Yes, absolutely, there are many similarities. I often think when I am trying to relate to the character, what would I do? However, I also think a lot of the time I am looking for the things that are most different between us. It is more interesting to find the differences more than the similarities. But there are many similarities between us.
How politically aware or active are you?
I really do care. I absolutely do care, but I have to be careful because it’s so easy to fall down the rabbit hole and be completely consumed by politics.
If you could play any other character in the show, who would it be and why?
If I could play any other character in this show, I would probably play Aminata Sissoko. I think she’s a fabulous character. What a woman. I think that she has some of the most beautiful lines in the show.
I also really like Nathan Miller, I think Nathan’s a brilliant character. He has a monologue in the last episode that I think is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing. He is an ordinary man who fell into a job that is incredibly taxing and it has impinged on his personal life and he’s gotten stuck. I like him. I like his drive and his endless tenacity. I think he’s very interesting.
DEEP STATE 2 will broadcast on FOX Africa on Wednesdays at 20:45 CAT, from 15 May.