Netflix’s next big, binge-worthy series is the futuristic, cyberpunk murder-mystery “Altered Carbon,” out Friday, February 2. Based on the sci-fi novel by Richard K. Morgan, the series does a wonderful job bringing the author’s complex vision to the screen, while delivering heart-racing action scenes and memorable characters. And yes, that includes magnetic police officer Kristin Ortega, played in true bad-ass fashion by Martha Higareda.
Despite being a huge sci-fi fan, the Mexican actress had never read Morgan’s “Altered Carbon.” But it was certainly on her radar. “It’s interesting how everything works in a magical way,” Higareda explains, over the phone. “I love going to [the bookstore] because I love books. I see all of these different titles and I take pictures of them and write myself a list of books to read. So three or four months before I got the show, I had this book written on my list because science fiction is one of my favorite genres.”
With such a complex plot that tackles the end of mortality, Higareda explains that Ortega is one of the only characters in the bleak world of Bay City that truly values her life and given body.
“She’s always on the edge because this is the only body she has had and this is the only life that she’s had," she says. "She’s literally living this to the core and to the fullest. [Joel Kinnaman's] Kovach has lived many lives. He’s seen it all. He’s sort of cold in a way. Ortega is the opposite of him.”
Shot entirely in Vancouver, Washington, the series took nearly nine months to complete. During that time, Higareda became great friends with Kinnaman and found a new respect for his acting skills. “It was fantastic! I learned so much from him,” she says. “He’s extremely talented and so gifted as an actor and very committed to his craft. He would question every scene from his character’s perspective. It was truly exciting and fun to be working with him.”
With all of the episodes premiering this Friday on Netflix, how does Higareda think viewers should tackle such a dark and dense sci-fi thriller like “Altered Carbon”? In her mind, binging is always the best plan of attack.
“What happens mostly in any science fiction is that they immerse you into their world in the first few minutes or in our show’s case, the first episode,” says Higareda. “it’s fascinating to me because at the same time you are getting all of this information with the visuals that make you feel like you are in this amazing world.”