The evasion and distraction of mentally traveling to other galaxies is a necessity. We live in strange times and, sometimes, that’s not a good thing. Not even Hollywood is spared as it is currently going through the SAF-ATRA 2023 strike where thousands of professionals are fighting for their labor rights. Lou Llobell, along with Jared Harris and Lee Pace, leads one of the most acclaimed intergalactic series in recent years. Foundation, which is based on the saga of novels by master Isaac Asimov, features Gaal Dornick, the heroine played by Lou, who immediately became a fan favourite thanks to her vulnerability and desire to improve, qualities that are needed today more than ever.
Schön! had the chance to speak with actress Lou Llobell before the revolution started to discuss the new season of Foundation, the science fiction Apple+ show, and its importance today.
Hi Lou, it’s a pleasure talking to you. I can’t help but ask you about your Spanish roots. Your father is from Spain and you lived there for a short time during your childhood. Do you remember anything from that time? You have also lived in Zimbabwe, South Africa and London. What was it like for you growing up in such diverse cultural environments?
I was incredibly lucky to live in so many different countries growing up. I lived in Zimbabwe, for a year after I was born before moving to Spain and then when I was a little older, South Africa. It was so great to be around my dad’s side of the family and we’d always travel back to Zim to spend Christmases with my mum’s side. My parents really did a brilliant job in merging two completely different cultures and raising us to feel comfortable in both. Growing up in a mixed race home can be difficult for some but I never ever felt torn between the two, which I’m incredibly grateful for. Of course there were challenges of moving around but ultimately it has helped build who I am and made me adaptable to many different situations.
Your mother studied economics and your father biochemistry, gifts that are born from a vocation. Tell me, would you have liked to follow in their footsteps at any point?
I have genuinely never thought of doing anything other than acting – ask any one of my childhood friends or family. I think I once thought a possible plan B was something to do with languages, as I’m bilingual (Spanish and English) and studied French and Afrikaans in school. Or maybe something to do with Geography as I really enjoyed it. But I’m very lucky that all the steps I took to become an actor progressed steadily and I’ve ended up where I am. Being able to work in something I’ve always wanted to do and enjoy so much is such joy.
I would like to know what is the first memory you have about cinema and television.
As a child I was obsessed with the movie 101 Dalmatians and when I was four my mum took me to the cinema for the first time to see the live action version. Although I was about 4 years old and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep halfway through. I think it’s amazing how, for the duration of a film or an episode of something, you can be transported to a completely different world or moment in time that’s equally far apart from your own but also incredibly relatable.
You studied at the Drama Center London, what were those years like?
I spent two years doing my Masters there and it was a great experience. It was a course specifically for screen acting so I learnt many of the skills I use now.
Casting is a key and difficult part of an actor’s career, how do you handle those processes?
I don’t think you ever get used to the disappointment of a “no”, no matter how many times you tape or go in for an audition. You just have to find a way for that experience to propel you to the next audition, and try and learn something each time.
Your career is linked to various science fiction projects such as the movie Voyagers and your latest series Foundation. What is your relationship with this genre?
I kind of fell into it to be honest. It wasn’t something I was actively searching to do but I’m incredibly grateful to be working on this show. I’ve learnt so much on the seasons so far – I feel prepared to dip my toe into everything else!
This year, the science fiction film Everything, Everywhere, All at Once won the Oscar for best picture, being one of the first films in this genre to do so. Don’t you think it’s time to give recognition to other genres that until now were considered simply playful?
Sure! I think there’s space for a lot of things to be recognised where they once weren’t – people of colour, women or the LGBTQIA+ communities represented more in film are other examples.
You currently star in the series Foundation based on the books written by Isaac Asimov, what was your relationship with the author’s work before participating in the show?
I’d heard about it but hadn’t read them until I started on the show. I still haven’t got all the way through them all but from the research I’ve done I definitely understand how important they are in the sci-fi genre and why they’re so popular. My dad had was really into them when he was younger so it’s really exciting to see how much he’s enjoying the show and seeing the similarities and difference between the two from his perspective.
Your character Gaal Dornick, is a woman who fights for a better life and to discover the truth in a world where no one seems to want to know. What was it about this character that caught your attention?
Gaal is continuously learning and doesn’t always get it right. She’s an imperfect hero in this story and that makes her relatable. You also experience the story through her eyes a lot of the time which has been amazing.
What was your experience of working with actors like Jared Harris or Lee Pace?
They’re incredible – as is everyone else that has put time into making this epic show. Not just the actors but all the crew, and writers as well. It’s so inspiring to work with people that are brilliant at what they do and have so much passion for every aspect of their jobs. It makes you want to keep doing better!