Editor’s Note: This feature contains spoilers for the first season of ‘Raised by Wolves’.
Created by Aaron Guzikowski and executive produced by Ridley Scott, HBO Max’s long-awaited and critically-acclaimed Raised by Wolves finished airing its first season in early October. If you still have not watched the series, which has already been renewed for a second season, it’s not too late. Just in time for Halloween, you’ll want to see Amanda Collin exploding onto the scene with talent — and screams.
Collin plays Mother on the show, an android far in the future trying to save the human race on a new planet. Mother is not only a caregiver but also a powerful war-machine (which explains the screams). Raised by Wolves features a highly original premise, where expectations are upended and big questions are posed about humanity, faith, and more. In her stories on set, Collin sounds humble about her contributions to the sho. But she had already proved her talents and range in her Danish films A Horrible Woman, A Conspiracy of Faith, and more.
Here, Schön! catches up with the rising global star to discuss her first Hollywood project, how intuition played a big role in portraying Mother and why working with Ridley Scott was as inspiring as you’d think.
In A Horrible Woman, your character, Marie, is surprisingly strong. Your character in Raised by Wolves, Mother, is also surprisingly strong. But you seem to be able to hide her power with apparent frailty or innocence. How have your roles been able to surprise the audience?
Well, I haven’t had that much of a career, to be honest. I’ve been doing theatre and a few movies, A Horrible Woman being one of them. It was A Horrible Woman that actually got me to Raised by Wolves, believe it or not.
I play evil a lot. I play the bitch. I played the horrible woman. Until now I haven’t had much of a choice in the parts that I take on, but think we always have a choice. I definitely had my doubts about A Horrible Woman. Because it was called A Horrible Woman, and I was like “Oh my god. People are definitely going to have opinions about this.” I was pregnant and it was my first lead but, you know, sometimes coincidences also have a say in what you choose.
Raised by Wolves is a very original show there are a lot of android stories in film, not only in Ridley Scott’s previous works but also in other sci-fi worlds like Ex Machina, Ghost in the Shell, Westworld, etc. Is there a character you feel Mother is most like? But more importantly, how do you think Mother is different from all these characters?
I’m curious because I’m not that much into Sci-Fi, I have to be honest. I mean, I am now, and there’s a whole new world opening up to me. I think I’m not nearly as reflective when I jump into a project. I just looked at stuff. I watched Ex Machina again and Blade Runner and movies that I found inspiring, just to examine movements and stuff. Where do they draw the line between human and android?
But Mother just sort of came to be. The truth is, on day one on set, you take all your prep and you think you know so much, and then you throw it all in the garbage can. You have to work with what is there and how you look. I’ve mentioned this in other interviews but one of the first days of filming, we were doing the birthing scene and I started crying. I was like, “Can I even cry in this one?” I think it was also important to just let go and see what happened. There are no better hands to let go in than Ridley Scott’s, I think. He is so incredible to be around. He can answer everything. Because he invents stuff all the time. He also has so many years of experience, which I think just adds to his genius. People can be genius when they’re 35 but they might have insecurity or doubts, then they add on. When you work with someone who’s 82, they just don’t give a fuck anymore. And that is so amazing. Very inspiring to be around.
One of the things you didn’t give a fuck about were the tears, I thought that was interesting. It felt like it was really important in the scene. It was almost as if it was in the script to me when I saw it.
Well, that was 100% Ridley. That’s what it’s like to work with a genius. You’re throwing what you think the scene is about, and then he is there to be like, “Mmm, too human.”
It seemed to me, though, that you didn’t really have trouble portraying emotions as Mother. Were the moments when you remembered she’s an android and had to make an effort to pull back?
Ah, a lot of moments. A lot of moments. I mean, otherwise, I think a woman who’s going through what she’s going through would be devastated all the time. I mean, Mother is pretty devastated all the time. But I think when I have to pull back, it also makes sense in the scene.
When Spiria dies, the last one of our own female children, there’s nothing left. There are no female bodies left. I had that much bearing in mind. There is no hope of reproduction between the two. There is a lot of hope lost with her death. And you can either be devastated or Mother’s programming shut down as she overloads and she starts malfunctioning. Ir was already sort of written in the script how to react in that scene, if that makes sense.
And then I think remembering being an android, for instance, when all this necromancy thing starts coming to life. Like when Mother caught Marcus when she lands in front of that green lander of his. I remember that was like, “Oh my god, this is the first time she’s alone, with sort of the power that she has been downplaying since she came to Kepler-22b.” That was a lot of fun. Then you can go completely android because a human would never go so clean into the darkness, I think. But for Mother, it’s just like, “I know this. I got this. And this is sort of delicious. This is the old me.” It’s like Catwoman finding her suit that’s been hidden away for years.
After acting out such a powerful role, how is it returning to Earth when the director yells cut?
It was okay actually. It wasn’t too hard. As always, when there are very emotional scenes, you go through stuff during the day. And then, you have a little bit of travel time home.
I meditate or kind of do my thing and then I often come home and shred some parmesan on some pasta.
I’ve never been the lead of a show this long. There’s something about being one of the frontal figures, and then also be shooting for so long, that I was definitely tired after wrap of episode ten. There comes a point where you turn to a producer or writer and be like, “I’m empty. There’s nothing more in me.” They just smile and wave and say, “Sure there is.”
Ridley Scott and the show creator Aaron Guzikowski, of course, deserve a lot of credit for making this futuristic world. But you also have been getting a lot of praise and press for bringing this android to life. And rightfully so. What contribution of yours in this worldmaking are you the proudest of?
I’m really proud of the “Aaaooh” in episode one. I think mostly because it was a personal boundary for me.
I think we were, I don’t know, maybe one or two weeks into shooting. I had this idea very early back in Copenhagen when I was reading the scripts and going for walks and debating how to be like, “Oh, it’s the first death of a child. How would an android, if she hasn’t seen grief, how would she react to this? Where does it come from?” I was just having all these questions in my mind. Then one day, I was like, “What if she does this thing with her arm?” That’s kind of how it came to be.
And the scene comes. Obviously, there’s a lot of people on the set that I don’t know yet. And it’s by the pit, so there’s also security personnel. And Ridley was going through the scene with me, and he’s like, “and you pick up the doll, and you show it to the other people, to Father and the children. And that kind of means that…” And then I said, “Well, I also have another idea that I sort of feel like I want to try out.” He was like, “Okay, what is it?” I told him about it and he said to give it a shot. I remember just howling and people really became quiet and looked really surprised. Everyone thought it was super weird. I think — maybe not if you are Meryl Streep or Christian Bale — but as a newer actor, you’ll always have these boundaries yu y have to cross in front of new people. Mostly, “Will I look stupid doing this?” And most of the time, the answer is yes. But I’m so happy that it’s in there. We tried a lot of things in that scene and Ridley chose that. I’m so proud of that. That was a very specific thing, but it was definitely a story.
Nice, thanks for sharing! So, as seen in projects like The Leftovers, Ramy and A Conspiracy of Faith, faith is becoming a major theme in contemporary entertainment. Why do you think this is? How does Raised by Wolves take on faith that’s different?
Faith is a very big part of our world. I think the more globalised the world is becoming, the more people are becoming aware of how much people have different faiths in the world. We coexist way more, thanks to globalisation. Understanding each other’s faiths is very important and maybe that’s why people make shows about it, to let people in. I personally loved Unorthodox. I used to live in Williamsburg in that very area and I was so happy to watch that one because it let me in behind the scenes and gave me a little bit of history on the topic, which sparked my imagination and my need to learn more about it. I think that’s what stories are able to do, really.
Regarding Raised by Wolves, in this particular show, I don’t think it’s necessarily faith versus atheism but just two very strong opponents. It’s the fighting to just very simply cut out that if you believe in something too narrow-mindedly, it becomes very dangerous. No matter if it’s a god or if it’s science. I’m not gonna say it’s a “low starting point,” but it’s an easy, understandable war if that makes sense. Whereas the Israel-Palestine war is a little more complex.
The next question is lighter. What were you doing when you found out the show was renewed for a second season? And how did you celebrate?
I was on Zoom with my lovely colleagues! I feel like we are very well taken care of in the hands of Scott Free and David Zucker. He’s always very good at collecting us on Zoom calls and kind of sharing the news with us and making us celebrate together. I think it’s important as well because we’ve spent so much time together on set.
Last question. I’m sure more and more people will start to know you and your work in the coming months and years. What do you want to remember about this moment years from now?
That’s a very good question, actually. I don’t reflect so much on life. I just wake up and take day by day as it comes. But I will probably remember that it has and will definitely put me on the map outside of Denmark, which is a game-changer for me. Not in terms of me necessarily wanting to do more stuff outside of Denmark, but just in terms of working with people on the scale of Ridley Scott, which is so crazy and so much fun.
It’s just so much fun that I think probably it will, in the years from now, put a big smile on me how lucky I was to get this. And to send me off on a journey that will probably give me more fun experiences. I don’t know what they look like, but it’s hard to beat this one though. I was flying. Like every second of the day. I was flying and killing people.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
‘Raised by Wolves’ is now streaming on HBO Max. Watch the trailer here.
This Schön! online exclusive has been produced by