7 Questions With… Dermot Mulroney: Meet Hanna’s new ‘diabolical’ villain

We talk to the My Best Friend’s Wedding actor as he joins the cast for the second season of Amazon Prime Video’s action thriller Hanna.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 6 July 2020 - 11.47am
Chris Raphael/Amazon Prime Video

Across the last four decades, Dermot Mulroney has done it all in film and TV.

From Westerns like Young Guns in the 80s, to romantic comedies like the unforgettable My Best Friend’s Wedding in the 90s to horror (The Purge) and HBO comedies (The Righteous Gemstones) in recent years, Mulroney has never been in danger of being typecast.

This summer, Mulroney takes on a new challenge, playing the big bad new villain in season 2 of Prime Video's action thriller, Hanna.

Dermot Mulroney poses on a red carpet Chris Raphael/Amazon Prime Video
1053130260

Mulroney’s character, the shady and sinister Carmichael, is leading Phase 2 of the Utrax operation we saw get burned down at the end of season 1.

He’s tasked with making the trainees ready to head out into the world on missions to support the Utrax agenda and does this by creating backstories and family histories, and inventing whole new characters for the young female trainees to play.

However, he's got one small problem. Hanna is still on the loose and poses a threat to his ambitions for Utrax.

BT TV caught up with Dermot to find out why he signed up for the series…

1. Why did you want to be part of Hanna season 2?

Dermot Mulroney as Carmichael in Hanna season 2 Chris Raphael/Amazon Prime Video

I had the wonderful experience of watching Hanna season 1 after I was cast. But when I was watching Hanna 1, I still didn’t know who I was going to play in Hanna 2, so it was then incredibly enjoyable as I read the scripts and discovered exactly who I was playing. The whole process was like a puzzle coming together.

I had seen a few outlines of scripts and the character. And it should come as no surprise for anyone who has seen Hanna that the architect of the Utrax programme is not a good person. There is no red herring. Nobody is trying to fool you that Carmichael is a good guy.

2. Carmichael is an intriguing and unusual villain. What did you like about playing him?

One of the things I most enjoyed about the character is how brilliant the Utrax programme is. During the story you will realise to what ends he will use these devices he has helped build, but we meet Carmichael at the culmination of a long career trying to develop this programme.

Remember, Carmichael didn’t know about Hanna. The original Utrax programme was shut down before the one in Hanna.

What Marissa Wiegler doesn’t know is that the Utrax programme has jumped straight back into process in Carmichael’s hands and it’s been successful in his hands. It’s reached its final stages where Carmichael is about to deploy these intricate programmes, where he controls the bodies and minds of these young female, DNA-enhanced fighters.

For me, it was not about believing in what the bad guy is doing that allowed to play the part. It was more about considering how successful he must be feeling right now.

3. There is a wonderful dynamic between Carmichael and Marissa. How much fun were those scenes?

Mireille Enos as Marissa and Dermot Mulroney as Carmichael in Hanna season two Chris Raphael/Amazon Prime Video

Working with the great Mireille Enos made it a distinct pleasure from the start to finish. And you asked earlier about my process in joining Hanna. What I did know was that it was led by two incredible actors. Three if you include Joel Kinnaman – but he sadly met his end playing Erik Heller in season one.

I had nothing but high expectations for working with Mireille and Esme [Creed-Miles, who plays Hanna] and they both exceeded that. It was an incredible to join a hit Amazon show and I jumped at the chance.

The action and set pieces in this show are matched in the scripts by the intensity of the subtle, unspoken violence in the simplest of conversations. It’s really quite chilling.

4. I felt quite old watching the teenage cast training and fighting. How were they to work with?

The young cast of Hanna season two Chris Raphael/Amazon Prime Video

This young cast is really sterling. Everyone showed up with incredible intensity. Carmichael is like the school principle kind of guy and when he’s looking down from his castle window at these young women going through their paces… it is sinister.

5. Esme was incredible in season one. Do you think she’s going to be a big star?

Esmé Creed-Miles in Hanna season 2 Chris Raphael/Amazon Prime Video

She’s an incredible talent. She’s just so incredibly enigmatic as Hanna.

From my point of view, I didn’t know the actor, I just really felt like I was in the room with Hanna.

The scenes with Hanna always took on an extra importance. They were the most intense scenes. And it was just remarkable what she achieved.

I was impressed after we shot and even more so when I watched the whole season 2, because of the compilation of her performance. I only saw on set, one small part of it. When I saw the whole performance, it was remarkable. It’s remarkable to be a part of and witness.

6. Out of everything you’ve done in your career, what do you get asked about the most?

Dermot Mulroney with Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz at the My Best Friend's Wedding premiere Getty
75659947

It would be My Best Friend’s Wedding. That’s a perennial for me. It seems to be entering a third generation of watchers. That’s the easy answer.

But the wide variety of shows that people attach to has become really interesting for me.  If it’s not My Best Friend Wedding, or if they bring up a second thing, it’s always very telling about who they are and their taste.

Recently, it’s been really fun things like Messiah, where I played the United States president. And The Righteous Gemstones for HBO with Danny McBride, which will resume when everything resumes, and that was just so much fun.

7. You make a great villain. Do you prefer dramatic and action roles or is comedy more fun to work on?

Fortunately, I’ve never really had to choose one direction in my career. I was so fortunate throughout to shapeshift between genres.

I will say in Hanna, my character, although powerful, he is somewhat at a remove, which makes him even more diabolical.

For me, the whole Hanna experience has just grown. I got the part, watched season 1, realised what a quality show I was joining. Then I just had an incredible time shooting in the English countryside and Barcelona. It’s been an outstanding experience for me throughout.

It was great fun to play an ultra-spy, who within a government agency was able to concoct this diabolical programme and see it to the culmination.

Hanna season 2 is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.