Malin Akerman has a few complaints about “Hamilton.” Not many, but a few.
“I loved it, but I did think it was a little bit too long,” the actress confesses. “But you do get to drink alcohol in the theater, so that makes it much better.” She stresses again that she adored it, though she did have other carps. “I wished the female characters had a little more oomph. There’s a song one of the women did that’s incredible. The music is so cool and different — and then the women come in and it’s traditional Broadway songs.
“Again, I loved it,” she adds.
Akerman has been thinking a lot recently about strong female characters. When the Swedish-born actress first crashed Hollywood, she was often cast primarily for her looks: in “The Skulls,” in “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” Playing Laurie Jupiter in “Watchmen” gave her more meat than usual, but she was still largely stuck playing attractive characters. Over the last few years, she found herself ditching blockbusters to focus on TV and indies, where the roles are meaty for both genders.
That includes “The Ticket,” a drama about a blind man, James (Dan Stevens), who’s suddenly given the gift of sight. Finally allowed to see, he finds himself drifting away from wife, Sam (Akerman), and taking up with another woman (Kerry Bishe). The film is a mood piece, with beautiful cinematography and a dream-like feel. But Akerman still felt it made time for characters. That includes Sam.
“She was probably raised by a single mom. Maybe she was taking care of her. It’s a pattern that has continued [with James],” Akerman explains. “When he leaves her, it’s like the rug’s been pulled out from underneath her. She wonders, ‘What is my life if I’m not taking care of someone? Where do I belong?’
“I love any characters who struggle with real issues like that — just like in real life. I thought it would interesting to work with a character who has a real arc.” Then she adds with a laugh and a sarcastic shrug, “What a concept, right?”
Akerman doesn’t find these kinds of roles in the big movies. “I’m not going to bite the hand that feeds me, because I’m so appreciative,” says Akerman. “But I really love independent films because they’re so different. They don’t have a formula they need to follow. It doesn’t have to be a Marvel comic. It’s almost like the movies that we see in big theaters are the movies that get Botox. Everything’s so perfect. These are the ones that actually represent human beings.”
The dearth of interesting roles in big movies is why so many, like Akerman, have turned to TV as well. Currently Akerman is on Showtime’s “Billions,” with Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. She’s done TV before, but it’s the first show to last more than one season. (It’s recently been renewed for a third.)
“It’s a perfect situation. I have a three-year-old son, so I get time with him, because I don’t work every day,” Akerman says.
The shift into more complex, serious roles has also meant largely abandoning comedy. Akerman has done her share of those: “The Proposal,” “Couples Retreat,” “Wanderlust.” But it’s not her favorite genre.
“The stuff I watch is not comedy. I watch a lot of foreign films. The TV I watch is ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘House of Cards.’ I felt like I should be doing the what I love watching,” Akerman explains. Her career shift came when she gave birth to her son. “Having a child shifts your whole universe. It felt like I had a whole new well of feelings and emotions that I could tap into after having a child. I was ready to strip any kind of mask off. This feels like a more authentic place to go at this point. I just have to follow my feelings. I was craving a little more substance in my work.”
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