Anyone who has watched twisty Netflix mystery series Dark know that creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese like to keep you guessing with their creations. For new series 1899, they’ve got another compelling concept and Daphne star Emily Beecham in the lead. Empire talked exclusively to Beecham about the show.
1899‘s basic plot (and you just know there will be much more to it than that) follows the voyage of ship travelling from Europe to New York. The passengers, all of different backgrounds and nationalities, are united by their hopes and dreams for a new century and their future abroad.
When they discover a second ship adrift on the open sea that had gone missing for months, their journey takes an unexpected turn. What they find on board will turn their passage to the promised land into a nightmare-like riddle, connecting each of the passenger’s pasts through a web of secrets… Key to some of those is Maura Franklin (Beecham), a forthright and mysterious woman with a fascinating background and… Well, that would be telling. And Beecham isn’t, as she admits with a wry chuckle. “It’s really unusual and I know you always groan when you hear, ‘it’s unlike anything else!’ I want to make the show sound exciting! I genuinely swear on my life that is not like anything I’ve ever read! I had to approach it differently to the way I have any other script before.”
Alongside Beecham is a truly stacked, impressive international cast, including Aneurin Barnard, Andreas Pietschmann, Miguel Bernardeau, Maciej Musial, Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen, Rosalie Craig, Clara Rosager, Maria Erwolter, Yann Gael, Mathilde Ollivier, José Pimentão, Isabella Wei, Gabby Wong, Jonas Bloquet, Fflyn Edwards and Alexandre Willaume. And they’ll all be speaking in their native languages in the show. Fortunately for Beecham, that’s not the case once the cameras stop rolling. “On set, all of the actors can speak English, so the predominant language is English,” she says. “It’s so amazing to hear the read-through, it sounded quite beautiful and to hear the characters interacting, or struggling to. It brings a really interesting feel to it.” Any temptation to dust off language skills of her own? “Alas, I’m quite rubbish! I’ve been learning German, but everybody speaks good English! I’ll pretend to myself that I can actually speak it better than I can, but I do really want to put time into learning it.”
1899 also offers her the opportunity to work with some very new technology, with the show’s creators spearheading the construction of a giant LED Volume of the sort that has been used for series such as The Mandalorian. According to Beecham, it offers a new layer of reality to the job. “We’re shooting on a ship and it gives you seasickness. Well, not that bad, but you get that feeling like you’re moving, which is so useful. It’s like being in a virtual reality world, that stage, like a giant playground, it’s fun!” It’s also highly adaptable, and made for a big change in the shooting schedule: “The entire set can rotate. Because to change the camera angle, you can’t move the giant LED screens, so the set moves instead, and it’s very quick, so in between takes normally you wait hours to change everything and here you have none of that, it just moves. The first time I went on it, it felt like a stage, but you soon get rid of that because stage acting is very different. It’s quite nice, it feels like a stage in the best way.”
1899 has yet to announce a confirmed release date. Find the teaser below.