Tue, 14 June 2022
Interview: Elisabeth Moss talks about 'Shining Girls,' having a women-led crew and the deep affection for her co-stars Wagner Moura and Jamie Bell
That was two-time Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss invoking the iconic Maggie Smith line from Downton Abbey as we began our chat on a Sunday morning. Reminding ourselves that we aren't in chosen industries where phrases like 'weekends' and 'business hours' are non-existent, it's a funny icebreaker before diving into talking about her work.
Moss may play some of film and television's most taunted and tormented characters but she as opposite of that in possible in real life. Jovial and effervescent (I don't think I've interviewed someone who laughs as much), our conversation digs into her new role and new show Shining Girls, which recently finished airing on AppleTV+. Moss plays Kirby Mazrachi, an archivist for a Chicago newspaper in the mid-90s who was savagely attacked six years prior. When a recent murder is discovered to have a similar calling card to her own assault, she forges a bond with a reporter (played by Wagner Moura) to find and nab the killer (Jamie Bell).
We jump right into the fact that the show throws the audience into this story, one of split personalities, time shifting and time travel, and gives them just enough information to stay afloat, much like Kirby herself. Often as an audience we're one step ahead of our protagonist but in Shining Girls, based on the novel by Lauren Beukes and from showrunner Silka Luisa, the viewer is a part of the unfolding mystery and sharing in the suspense.
Moss received the script back in 2018 ("I just thought it was the coolest thing") to act in and produce, but her time behind the camera on The Handmaid's Tale more than prepared her to helm this new project that features all women directors; Moss is joined by Michelle MacLaren (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad) and Daina Reid (The Handmaid's Tale) as well as a crew largely comprised of women ("It was just the natural thing to do...and all the best people for the job were women") and talk about the ever-important penultimate episode, .
We of course dive into working with her co-stars Wagner Moura, aka "Wag," who Moss says is "so unbelievably alive, he's so facile. He has a presence that is absolutely electric." On Bell, playing heavily against type as the series bad guy, she remarks, "This is the best performance he has ever given. I think that man is going to be somebody who is going to win an Oscar."
This is AwardsWatch so I would be remiss if I didn't take a look at how Moss is poised to make Emmy history if she's nominated for her performance in Shining Girls. She is currently tied with 10 women who have earned Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy nominations for two different shows, including Glenn Close, Connie Britton and Barbara Stanwyck. Moss earned lead actress nominations for Mad Men and The Handmaid's Tale, winning for the latter. She would be in a place all her own if she can nab a nom this year for a third show.
Listen to our conversation below. Major spoilers of the series in the last third of the interview so if you haven't seen the show, I recommend it.