Daryl Hannah: 'Sense8' Doesn't 'Pander to Low Intelligence' (INTERVIEW)

Daryl Hannah takes her sci-fi cred one step further in the Netflix series 'Sense8,' where she plays parent to eight men and women who become telepathically connected.
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Daryl Hannah takes her sci-fi cred one step further in the Netflix series 'Sense8,' where she plays parent to eight men and women who become telepathically connected.

From the beginning of her career in Blade Runner, to the mermaid in Splash, and her comedy turn in Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Daryl Hannah has earned her sci-fi cred. Now, she takes it one step further in the Netflix series Sense8, in which she plays Angel/Angelica, a de facto parent to eight men and women, who, following a violent vision, become telepathically connected through the experience.

"The connectedness is an evolution through the whole series," Hannah tells Bio. "It evolves. It is not like by Episode 4, you will understand. It really continues to grow and evolve and reveal itself. It's a story that is designed to be a slow unraveling because you get to know everybody, and discover as they discover."

Created and written by The Wachowskis (Lana and Andy) and J. Michael Straczynski, Sense8 is the story of these eight people, who are now able to see and talk to each other, despite being located in different countries around the world, as they piece together how and why they have acquired this new ability before a mysterious organization hunts them down to destroy them.

Sense8 Daryl Hannah Naveen Andrews Photo

Naveen Andrews and Daryl Hannah in a scene from Netflix's "Sense8." (Photo credit: Murray Close/Netflix)

At the Netflix Television Critics Association press tour, Hannah filled Bio in on her role in Sense8, why she is happy to talk about the series, whether or not she has any connection to the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, and more.

Of all the projects you were offered, why pick this one?

Because of the Wachowskis and the theme of compassion, interconnectedness and empathy. I didn't know that much about the show before I knew I really wanted to be a part of it. I really admire the creativity of the Wachowskis and I know they are always trying through their storytelling to put something positive into the world. I really have a lot of respect and admiration for that.

If I have the opportunity to work with great filmmakers, I am always going to take it. The Wachowskis are one of a very small handful of people [who provided me with what] I feel was one of the most satisfying, creative experiences of my career, and will continue to be if we continue this process.

Sense8 Netflix Photo

Freema Agyeman (L) and Jamie Clayton (R) in a scene from Netflix's "Sense8." (Photo credit: Merie Weismiller Wallace/Netflix)

In the first episode, Angelica does something shocking. But then, she's back later. Can you talk about her presence in the show?

Basically, she makes a sacrifice to protect the eight because the bad guys can work through a Sense8 to find the others if they've had contact. So what she does is the only way I can protect them because I give birth to their awareness of each other. Since the bad guys — the Biological Preservation Organization — know where I am and can access me, it's the only way I can protect them unless I keep myself high all the time, which I did for a while.

Is there a function that all eight need to do together? Is that why Angelica connected them?

Yes. You will find out parts of it as you go along.

What was it like working with all the young actors?

All of these actors are starting out. I was [like], "Treasure this experience because it will only happen a couple of times in your career. If you have a long career, it will still only happen a couple of times. "

Sense8 Netflix Photo

Doona Bae in a scene from Netflix's "Sense8." (Photo Credit: Murray Close/Netflix)

So, obviously, you are happy with your decision to act in Sense8? What do you like most about it?

This show really speaks to people, and it assumes that they're intelligent and that they can put the pieces together themselves. It doesn't have to work it all out for you, or pander to a low intelligence.

I can't talk about something if I didn't enjoy the process. It is impossible for me because I really can't lie. I am really proud of this. There are a lot of filmmakers; there are a lot of storytellers, but there are not a lot of people who are really talented and inspired, and have the tools at their disposal — the wherewithal and the budget to create their vision.

Because you are so thrilled with the project, what is it like for you to not know what is going to happen next?

I have some ideas but I can't tell you. It is a project with a giant scope, and I think they have a lot to work out whether or not they're going to be able to pull it off again. It's shot all over the world with all these people and that kind of a scale. We'll keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

Sense8 Netflix Photo

Aml Ameen and Tuppence Middleton in a scene from Netflix's "Sense8." (Photo Credit: Murray Close/Netflix)

With all of the episodes released at once, does it feel more like film work to you?

I think it's the new paradigm for storytelling and I think it's the only place that something like this could exist because it really is like a 12-part movie. It really was shot like a movie. Everyone keeps saying, "What does it feel like to work on a TV show? I have no idea because it was exactly like working on a movie. And from my actor friends who work on TV shows, we had a completely different experience. We had the same directors, we had John Toll as our DP [cinematographer] . Most shows you have a different director each week. We shot it like a movie.

The other difference is that we didn't have to squish this into an hour and a half, so you could explore more storylines in much greater depth. That is why I think Netflix is so innovative and the future of television. I don't have a TV. I don't know about TV that much, but I feel this is a much more flexible format of telling a story. You are also not limited by censorship.

Are you involved at all in the Blade Runner remake?

No.

Any thoughts on it?

If Ridley [Scott] is involved, it will be great. Sequels usually work only if they are organic to the story, or if they are a part of a series of books. A sequel is not a great idea if it is just someone trying to make more money out of something that was successful. Blade Runner is a weird case because it wasn't successful when it first came out. It only proved to be successful over the long run. The fact is that it has held up after all these years and created a following. There's a lot to explore with Blade Runner. Other movies don't have that much to explore and they try to make another one.

All 12 episodes of Sense8's first season are currently available on Netflix.