7 Questions with… Utopia’s Sasha Lane: ‘I needed to make sure nobody else got this role’

We speak to Sasha Lane, the star of Amazon Prime Video and Gillian Flynn’s Utopia – the new remake of Channel 4’s dark and unforgettable thriller.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 22 September 2020 - 3.34pm
Elizabeth Morris/Amazon Prime Video

Channel 4’s dark conspiracy thriller Utopia didn’t reach many viewers in 2013, but those who did catch the mysterious and haunting drama didn’t forget it.

One big fan of the cult show was writer Gillian Flynn (Dark Objects, Gone Girl), who has taken the central premise and mysteries of the Dennis Kelly original and thrown in some extra curveballs, twists and storylines for Amazon Prime Video’s new take on the series.

The show centres on a group of comic fans who meet online and bond over their obsession of a seemingly fictional comic called Utopia.

Together, they realise Utopia’s bleak warnings about the world are not just the makings of a conspiracy. The lines between fiction and reality are blurred as they come face-to-face with the comic’s famed central character, Jessica Hyde (Sasha Lane), who joins them on a mission to save the world.

With a cast that includes Hollywood’s John Cusack making his TV series debut, Rainn Wilson (The Office) and Sasha Lane (American Honey), Utopia blends violence, romance, unsettling thrills and pitch black humour to create a must-see, high-stakes adventure.

BT TV caught up with Sasha Lane – aka the mysterious Jessica Hyde – to find out more…

1. What was your first impression when you read the script?

This is amazing. How do I get this? I need to make sure nobody else gets this role because this is what I’ve been waiting on.

2. How prepared were you for Jessica Hyde's stunts and action sequences?

I would like to say I went through a whole system and gym. But I do have good muscle memory for stunts. One of my favourite things to do is let that energy out there and push it out there.

“Jessica Hyde's stunts and fights checked every box on my inner dark side”
- Sasha Lane

A lot of time, I just thought about stance. I would talk to Toby the director about Jessica constantly moving. She never just sits on the couch – god, I wish I got to sit on the couch – but she never does that. She had to move. She had to be on edge constantly.

For Jessica Hyde, violence is a big deal, because she’s never really interacted with people other than running from and hiding from an organisation that is hunting and wants to kill her. So her only way of surviving, her only way of ever really connecting with anyone is a knife to the throat.

3. Is it true you based her moves on a cat?

When it came down to the fight scenes, I thought, "What would her movements be like?" I was studying a lot of feral cats and thinking of quiet steps and deliberate moves. I just loved it. Getting into that every time I had a stunt, I was just ready.

Sasha Lane in Amazon Prime Video's Utopia Elizabeth Morris/Amazon Prime Video

4. Are you a fan of comic books?

Most comic books, I’ve never had that big an interest. But I would definitely be into Utopia. I went into a comic book store knowing that I didn’t like them and I found some true crime stories and murder mysteries and violent things. I guess I have a mind for that sort of thing - I’m into that. Just not necessarily superpowers.

5. Have you seen the original UK Channel 4 series Utopia?

I watched a couple of episodes right after I got the script for our Utopia. I thought it was super cool. The UK has a certain style in how they film most things. I think it worked beautifully for that show. It made me want to do this show even more.

But I hit a point where I couldn’t watch it any more because I was starting to study Jessica Hyde and I didn’t want it to affect how I played the role and what Gillian envisioned. I wanted to make sure, I got what I needed and focus on what I wanted to do.

6. Have you ever had a pop culture obsession like the characters in Utopia?

I don’t think so. Its funny, I was just talking to my brother about this. It’s not that I’m a dull person and I don’t like anything, but I don’t really like any trends or hyped thing that people are really into. That’s not on purpose.

I like scrunchies, I like almonds, I like to sit by myself, I like to drink wine by myself… I’m just ranting here. I should maybe work on more hobbies and get a little bit more connected. But I’ve survived this long, so, I guess I’m fine. I’ll find something.

John Cusack in Amazon Prime Video's Utopia Amazon Prime Video

7. What was your favourite scene to film?

My favourite and the most challenging was a scene with the character Artemis. The scene in the bathroom underground. It was such an emotionally charged scene and one that was very heavy. Physically and mentally. This sounds so dark. But I think there is something so sick…

I’m giving myself away here. This sounds bad, but the stunts and fights that Jessica Hyde did, that whole dance and how that scene ended, it checked every box on my inner dark side. But also, the emotion as well. It wasn’t just one of the biggest fights, it meant something as well. I think it will really hit people. It’s not just cool moves in there.

Utopia is released on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, September 25.