Hanna season 2: Secrets from the set – New cast, new hair and dashing Dermot Mulroney
BT TV speaks to Hanna creator David Farr and Mireille Enos about the making of season two of the Amazon Prime Video action thriller.
Hanna is one of Amazon Prime Video’s most ambitious TV series.
A hard-hitting international action thriller with a hefty cast mixing young talent and experienced star names, the second season is one of Prime Video’s most anticipated shows of 2020.
Season one was largely based around the original Joe Wright movie from 2011, but season two allows the show to establish a new voice and tone as it high-kicks, elbows and punches its way to a new storyline.
Following the death of her ‘father’ Erik Heller (Joel Kinnaman) in season one, Hanna’s new priority is keeping her friend Clara (Yasmin Monet Prince) safe from the Utrax programme.
That mission brings her into battle with the new head of Utrax John Carmichael, played by the devilish Dermot Mulroney his second-in-command Leo Garner (Anthony Welsh), who have moved the disturbing elite training programme to a mysterious new location – The Meadows.
We caught up with writer David Farr and Mireille Enos, who plays CIA agent Marissa Wiegler, to get some juicy behind-the-scenes gossip on season two.
How the show packs a real punch
One of the most impressive features of Hanna season one was its fight sequences, which broke new ground in delivering action that managed to be stylish and authentic.
Explaining how he builds up the major set pieces in the show, writer David Farr said: “I plan the arena very carefully. So where it is, and setting up opportunities for lots of things to happen.
So the railway station for season one was one of my favourites. In a railway station you know you have people, you know the architectural spaces with different levels and spaces, you know you have trains.”
The show’s creator believes that the magic ingredient in turning action sequences into something more powerful than cheap thrills is making the audience care about the stakes and planning the fights from every character’s perspective.
“I’m always trying to create the elemental structures of the fight. And if those elements are correct and preferably if you have a decision in the middle of it – like when Hanna has to decide in season one whether to shoot the policeman and become the monster – the scenes come alive,” said Farr.
“The technicality of the scenes, whether they hit them in the ribs or the head, that is left to someone else.
“What I do is make sure there is always an outcome. Are you killed? Wounded? Traumatized? There is a classic thing people always say about action – something should have changed. It shouldn’t just be a group of people crumpled on a floor and it can’t just be, ‘they got away’. Something should have altered in some way.”
Mireille Enos showed off her impressive fighting skills in the first season and gets back among the action early in season two with a brutal sequence involving co-star Esmé Creed-Miles.
“I love doing the action sequences. It’s a very visceral way of spending your day,” laughs Enos.
“All acting is about having an objective. Having a set of given circumstances and a goal. And I think fighting is the same. You have an opponent and you have a goal. At least fighting in the context of a film, that fight is supposed to tell a story. My fighting in season two is definitely telling a story.”
Hanna’s ever-changing hair
After months in lockdown, we’ll all watch on with envy at the second season of Hanna, where Esme Creed-Miles’s action hero adopts numerous different disguises, cuts and colours across the eight episodes.
“Hanna has a different identity offered to her during the season. Those identities are manifested through different choices – haircuts, clothes, all sorts of things,” explains Farr.
“It strikes me as really important that she makes those choices. There is also the literal sense of her disguising herself and trying to get to a new place. But I think those things are happening in parallel. The inner psychological changes and the plot side of things.”
Farr added: “I don’t think we’re fetishizing her. I think we always keep it what would truthfully happen within the narrative. The first thing Utrax want to do with her is change her. Make a new identity for her.”
The new Marissa Wiegler
One of the biggest changes from the 2011 movie was to the character of Marissa, who was played in the film by an icy and terrifying Cate Blanchett.
Mireille Enos’s version of the character has evolved into a much more layered character, as the CIA agent formed an emotional motherly bond with Hanna across season one.
“When I wrote the movie, I remember there being such a tug of love, because Marissa has never had a kid, she’s never really had any love in her life,” said Farr.
“Weirdly, this girl is sort of a daughter for her. She is sort of her mother in a bizarre way. And we never played with that in the film, the character remained exactly the same, but in the TV series it felt like such an opportunity.
“With an actress like Mireille, who is so good at layering a performance and so gifted, it felt like an opportunity to give her a journey.
“There is such a long way to go with Marissa and I love working with Mireille, she’s such a good actress. It’s something I’m still enjoying discovering and I have some ideas I’m looking forward to putting into action.”
Marissa ended season one at a fork in the road – would she return to work with the CIA or team up with Hanna?
Enos is not giving away any spoilers about what lays ahead in season two.
“At the start of the season, all she is thinking about is a cover story that will save her space in the CIA and keep her safe,” she said.
“She’s not thinking too much about Hanna at the start of season two. She doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her again. Marissa is back to being her own number one priority.
A new young cast
After the success of casting Esme Creed-Miles in season one, the show returns with an expanded cast of teenage newcomers in the Utrax training programme.
Rather than picking out rising stars or big name talent, David Farr opted to hunt down newcomers for the project,
“Amazon know the whole point of this show is to find unknown talent and make these wonderful young actresses into stars,” said Farr.
“And in ideal world that is what you want to do. It’s enormously enjoyable.
“Around that age, there is such incredible natural talent which can get beaten and trained out of you.
“I have to say our lot were just incredible at that. We did have to spend a lot of time looking for the right people and making the right choices, but there is so much great young talent out there.
Hello Dermot Mulroney
Dashing Dermot, best known for starring opposite Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding, joins the cast of Hanna for season two as the new boss of Utrax.
His character Carmichael is an anti-villain, who Farr describes as a “more gentle face” and more “eerie” than the fist-slamming, angry-shouty Sawyer from season one.
“We were looking a villain who wasn’t typically villainous,” said the writer.
“I felt if we had this place The Meadows, where these girls are being prepared, they are being prepared to be assassins, but they’re also being taught to act like normal American college girls. So I thought a more gentle face would be more interesting and eerie in a weird way.
“We have Leo (Anthony Wesl), who is more charming, the frontman, and Carmichael. Neither are conventionally malicious. They are both people working efficiently and competently for an organisation. They are doing a task. They don’t ask too many moral questions. That is their sin. They choose not to ask the question. That’s kind of true of so many people.
“I’m always fascinated by slightly average villains. I also love a truly villainous nasty one – we had that with Sawyer in season one, and Marissa for a while – but I think we’re trying something a little different here.”
Hanna season two is available on Amazon Prime Video from July 3.