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Interview: Mackenzie Davis On Her Cynical Romantic In ‘What If’ & Her Punk Rock Hacker In ‘Halt & Catch Fire’

The Playlist By The Playlist | The Playlist August 8, 2014 at 12:00PM

Canadian actress Mackenzie Davis had some rather fortunate luck with her first film out of the gate: she was cast alongside Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones and Amy Ryan in Drake Doremus’ drama “Breathe In.” Not only was it a plum gig, but her small but crucial performance seized the moment and that year at Sundance she was dubbed one to watch by many (including us).
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Halt And Catch Fire

How do you look at it when you're doing a supporting role, but one that is integral to the counter point of the narrative.
I don't really think that much about it as being like a small part of a big thing. I just think about her having a life and the movie being a part of her life and you don't get to see the part of her life where she's the star of the movie, but she's operating as though she is. Everybody is the center of their own life. She's not like I'm just a footnote in [Radcliffe] and [Kazan’s] story. She's just doing what she does and she happens to turn up in it.

Tell me about creating Cameron on “Halt & Catch Fire.” I love that character and the show.
I was really lucky that [the character] was very well thought out from the beginning. They really wanted her to be a major player in the story. I don't think I could have predicted how much she would grow over the course of this one year. But she just becomes a completely comes into her own. You first see her as being a manager and like pushing herself and harnessing her energy for good instead of evil.

"It got to be very weird, because Lee Pace and I would get into fights as if we were our own characters."

And so yeah, I think it was just such a fun role to play and such a nice new challenge. I'd never done TV before but to have a new script coming your way is like every like five days basically to get ready for the next episode that was shooting. I just loved nothing more than being that busy. And so, hopefully I can keep doing it.

I imagine there must be an advantage with TV living with one character like that for so long and really being able to dive in with her.
Yes! Because by the end of the series, in a lot of ways it got to be very weird, just because Lee [Pace] and I would get into fights as if we were our own characters. Just starting to defend our characters from our own point of view and then it got obvious pretty quickly that we related a little too much and didn't see them as players in a larger world.

We just kind of were myopic about who had wronged us and the price they must pay. But that also made it really nice that by the end of the series all the like injuries that Cameron sustained by the hand of Joe I felt like I had sustained. And so you have all this history to react to. It's not just imaginary history but its experiences you've actually gone through with this person, so every interaction suddenly has more weight. It was kind of amazing actually.

Do you guys know if you're renewed for a second season yet? I hope so.
I have no idea. I really love it and I just love the people I did it with so much. I couldn’t even tell you. I would love to do it again and again and again.

Halt And Catch Fire

You were also in that festival crime hit last year, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”
I play an intrepid, young Texas teen that gets wrapped up in a heist and she's a mystery enthusiast. She uses that background to help figure some shit out. It's way messier than that, but I just like that phrasing.

Back to “Halt & Catch Fire” — are there places you hope to explore with your character?
Outer space.

Hmm, I don't know how that works for that show but I'll take it.
This is a fantasy game.

“What If” is in select theaters starting and will expand on August 15th.

This article is related to: Mackenzie Davis, What If, Halt and Catch Fire, Interview, Interviews, Interviews


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