Last week the audience was finally formally introduced to this season’s villain, terrorist Margot Al- Harazi, played by Game of Thrones star Michelle Fairley. Not only is Margot determined to do whatever it takes, it’s All In The Family so to speak as her son (Ian, Liam Garrington), daughter (Simone, Emily Berrington) and son-in-law (Naveed, Sascha Dhawan) are also committed to the mission. What is the mission? To take revenge on American President Heller (William Devane) who ordered an air strike in Yemen that killed husband and father, terrorist Al-queda Commander Mohammed Al-Harazi, three years ago.
Though still filming in London, Michelle Fairley took the time to chat with journalists about her new role.
Although Judy Davis was initially approached, producers offered Fairley the role, and after many conversations with the writers in LA, she accepted. The writers had a clear picture of exactly who their villain was, a very passionate, committed woman to her cause. As many know, on 24 they write the scripts as they film. In watching the dailies it has allowed them to write specifically to how Fairley plays Margot. In addition, it gives them more flexibility knowing who they’re writing for and can use her interpretations to enhance the character.
How does one prepare to connect with such a strong, radical villain? Fairley researched groups like freedom fighters to get a feel for their passion, total conviction for what they believe and what they are doing. Obviously the character of Margot has a core belief system that she refuses to abandon. It’s who she is. She’ll do whatever it takes to reach the endgame and will never deter from it or allow anyone involved to stray from it, no matter the cost.
Fairley describes Margot as a highly intelligent woman. While some might label her radical views and actions as crazy, she’s not dumb, but is methodical and fully committed to what she is doing. I find it
interesting that Simone is sort of her foot soldier, in the same role her mother had years before, so Margot is fully aware of all the moving parts within the plot.
Fairly explains, “The guys (writers) were very diligent about the fact this woman, she’s running this like a military operation that’s taken many years to come to this point. She’s patient. She knows it’s the right time to strike and she will take it with such seriousness . It’s so orchestrated.”
While Margot Al-Harazi is almost completely opposite of Fairley’s world-renowned role as Caitlyn Stark on Game of Thrones, both characters are similar in that they are strong women, fiercely loyal to their families.
Fairley describes that Margot loves her family, is still mourning the death of her husband and has a deep-rooted belief in what she is doing. Much like an act straight out of Shakespeare, Fairley reveals that love will play a big part as the season continues. “Love comes into play in this family very, very heavily, from her daughter’s point of view with her husband, plus her relationship with her mother.” Then there’s a little bit of sibling rivalry going on because her son is clearly on the outs with his mother and is envious of the attention Simone receives from her. Fairley adds,”It’s a real power struggle for affection.” Does this mean tragedy for Simone and her hubby? I wouldn’t be surprised!
There is definitely a huge struggle within Simone’s husband Naveed, who is set to pilot the drones targeting Heller. Upon her daughter’s return, Margot immediately picks up on her son-in-law’s reluctance to follow through with his part of the plan and disgust at what his wife has to do in the field. In an effort to ensure his allegiance, she steps in to keep him in line. However should Naveed waver in any way against her plan, Fairley believes if push comes to shove, Margot will have no problem getting rid of him regardless how it’ll affect Simone.
“Margo thinks very clearly that he’s not committed and her daughter’s marriage is incredibly important to her daughter. It’s fine line for Margo, because her family is totally devoted to her and she expects 100 percent loyalty from her children. As far as she’s concerned wouldn’t have to take sides [with regards to her son-in-law].”
Just how far will Margot go to complete her mission of revenge against President Heller? We see how ruthless this Mommy Dearest is during the chilling scene last week as she purposely causes pain while stitching up her daughter’s self-inflicted cut to get her point across.
“We have the opportunity to change history. With a plan of this magnitude, there is no margin for error. None”, she reminded harshly tugging the stitching thread.
She laughed remembering filming the scene with Berrington because it was tough getting through it thanks to the prosthetic leg they were using. Fairley explained how frustrating it was trying to say the lines, but then work with the prosthetic because the needle wouldn’t go through the fake leg! “Most of time it wasn’t going through. The I was saying why isn’t this bloody thing working and we were trying to camera was on your face, it wasn’t actually on the needle. Then they would shoot on the needle at different times, so most of the time you were saying lines and going, why isn’t this bloody thing going [in]?”
It’s clear Margot has devoted her entire existence for the past several years on this one goal. Her history working side by side with her terrorist husband has taught her to be highly cautious, conscientious, aware of everyone involved and their mind-set. Fairley gives insight to Margot’s management of the operation.
“Not only is she sort of watching it herself, she’s also having to check the people around her to check that there are no weak links in this chain because it’s taken so long to get to this point.”
I think in demanding total loyalty from her children, it also gives her complete control. They are keenly cognizant that their mother would have no qualms in turning against them should they falter or cross her in any way. They definitely seek her approval, which in my view, they equate with her love. I feel with Margot there is no such thing as unconditional love, at least not how most would define it.
So what can we expect to see from Margot as the season unfolds? Fairley assured not only will we get more of this villain’s back story, but we will see her go through her own journey. “What’s interesting is you get to see more of her own story. Her back story, what actually drives this woman, her emotional journey. Her commitment comes from pain and loss. It is about revenge, questioning what governments do as well and the power they have over their own people. She’s not just a villain, there is an emotional conflict within herself as well.”
Not only will we see her dealing with conflicting emotions, but Fairley confirms that Margot will make it out in the field herself. I have a feeling that Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) better watch his back and I’m anxious to see these two spar face to face!
“You think of it as being fortunate enough to even be considered for roles like that and to get them and to do a job that you absolutely adore.” Fairly seems to be in awe of the fandoms whenever meeting fans. “No matter where you go in the world, if people do approach you, they do it with such grace and adoration and just love for the shows. It’s incredibly humbling and makes you want to do better. As an actor you are always riddled with self-doubt. You are your own worse critic. It’s hard to accept compliments but it’s incredibly humbling when people come up to you because there is no reason apart from saying we love the show, or we loved your work or something. You don’t expect that, so it’s always lovely when it happens.”
One of the things I love is that Fairley is a fan of 24! Upon receiving the role, she immediately decided to revisit the series. “I went back and re-watched some of the seasons which was fantastic, just to get into the rhythm, get it’s style, get’s it’s pace.” One reason she likes the show so much is that it ends in a cliffhanger after each episode. Her assessment? “The actors are wonderful in it. It was a joy to watch it again.”
You took the words right out of my mouth Michelle!
“It’s a thin line between love and hate”, Fairley quips.
I’d say that’s definitely the theme this season!
So what’s in store this week? Jack created a riot and literally pushed his way into the Embassy, with Agent Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) hot on his tail! Getting in was the easy part, now not only is security alerted to his presence, so is President Heller and Audrey (Kim Raver)! How will they react to the news and can Jack get the information to the President before he’s captured or will he deliberately get arrested again to force face to face time with the President to explain?
Here’s an exclusive clip of tonight’s episode from FOX: FOX Exclusive look, ’24: Live Another Day’, 2:00pm-3:00pm
Things are going to get a bit complicated so you won’t want to miss a second of ‘Bauer Power Hour’!
Watch 24 Live Another Day, every Monday at 9:00 p.m. on FOX!
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