Sofi Chetrar: You began your career by playing Shakespeare on stage and now you played a leading character, Bella Sway, in the recently released AMC utopian sci-fi drama “Moonhaven”. How different was it to play a cargo spaceship pilot from the classical Shakespeare character?
Emma Mcdonald: Worlds apart – literally ahah. Acting on screen is pretty different from the stage not least because of all the technical elements. When I’m on stage my primary focus is my lines, entrances and exits, an occasional prop and most importantly connecting to my other actors. On-screen you have to be aware of hitting marks, lens sizes, your mic pack not being visible, eyelines, crossing the line and oftentimes you’re doing the whole scene to a cross on the camera – box, not another actor. That’s before the text, actions and intentions even come into it. So getting to grips with that side of things was a bit of a learning process but soon it became second nature and now I really enjoy it, especially the intimacy it allows.
In terms of my classical theatre background I think it was actually pretty helpful, I used to do plays in rep, so two different Shakespeare plays at the same time. This means I’ve had to get pretty good at learning lines quickly and having a lot going on in my head which is great for when you’re shooting things out of sequence and often learning scenes the night before you film them the following day. There’s also a fair amount of stage fighting in the Shakespeare plays I’ve done which helped me with Bella’s stunts and her physicality.